THE FUTURE OF AUSTRALIAN MUSIC IS YOUNG, LOUD AND TAKES NO SHIT. WORDS BY MATT DORIA • PHOTOS BY ZAK KACZMAREK
For its 16th consecutive year, the BIGSOUND music conference and festival dropped on Brisbane like a flock of seagulls on abandoned chips. Matt Doria hit the pits for three full days and nights in search of Australia’s best up-and-coming talent.
For its 16th consecutive year, the BIGSOUND music conference and festival dropped on Brisbane like a flock of seagulls on abandoned chips. Between countless catch-ups, parties and free burritos, we spent three full September days and nights traversing the city in search of all the best industry insight. From the daytime keynotes, we learned a lot about how our local music industry is evolving – in short, it pays to go with your own flow, shove cynical types to the side and embrace change rather than fear it – but come nightfall, we stripped off our blazers and slipped on our mosh shorts, stocked up on pints (an exciting new discovery for this sheltered New South Welshman) and hit the pits with youthful conviction.
With a lineup notching over 150 of Australia’s freshest and finest, it’s impossible to even list all the artists that blew us away: there were the carefree vibes that pop gem Ruby Fields brought, the punishing riffs and callous mosh fuel that Polaris doled and the deep, driving prog ebullience of sleepmakeswaves – amongst, of course, an overflowing dam of acts spanning every genre this side of Spotify’s HQ. We’re yet to know who’ll be leading the next generation of homegrown heroes, but if their BIGSOUND sets gave us any inkling, here are some of the names we think will find their way up the food chain...
ALEX THE ASTRONAUT
As upbeat as she was emotive, the chill-pop trailblazer brought the festival its most potent and stirring set – and, to that extent, with only her bright acoustic strumming and cozy, honeyed vocals to drive it. And though she reigned in a laidback ambience, it was hard not to leave her set feeling energised and/or elated.
THE BEAUTIFUL MONUMENT
Noughties post-hardcore with a cripplingly modern spin; axes cranked to 11, the trio of terror proved that ‘scene’ ain’t dead with a throat-straining showcase of cuts from their underrated debut LP, I’mTheSin. Alas, the only sin here was the lack of size in their crowd.
Lacquered in tight and thundering wallops from guitarists Rod Goon and Will Robinson, Clowns’ venue-stuffing set was an exercise in
weeding out the week amongst us and stepping as far over the line as those manning the mixing desk would tolerate. Scuzzy punk royalty.
The pained howls on new cut “December” proved that Introvert’s best music isn’t even out yet. A little grungy, a little emo, just a tad hardcore and intensely enigmatic, Introvert are exactly what Australia’s alt-rock scene is dying for right now. Their inevitable assault on the mainstream will be merciless.
Drowsy, deep and damn enchanting, the homely allure of Locke’s melancholic indie melted every ounce of the our meeting-driven stress. Her sets were loud but decidedly lowkey, the Melbournite tying the intimacy of an acoustic set with the boisterous gravity of her full-band setup.
Jane strummed with a woodsy twang, her sprightly southern-tinged indie fuelling an infectious feel-good romp. Matched with unending energy and a healthy shot of millennial relatability, we’re betting 2018 will see her take a Tash Sultanian leap to arenas.
Like a fistful of prosciutto chased with a shot of Campari, Pagan were both brutally hardcore and brutally Italian. Their beats were slick and sour, a vicious blitz of djentle string-bashing laced with cadaverous howls courtesy of frontwoman Nikola Brumen. This is some metal my Nonna could f*** with.
A scatterpaced assault of screamed rapping, jazzy sax and pulsing funk guitars stacked over glassy percussion and punky strums – nothing about this genre smoothie should realistically work, but goddamn it, POW! Negro had their crowd in an effortless fit of passionate dancing. It was impossible not to join.
The fuzzy chugs of debut single “Headwreck” burst to life as the four-piece thrashed with incandescent indignation. Meddling kinetic pop-rock scorchers with a Violent Soho-esque slacker edge, these Melbournites are set for a wild national breakthrough. TWO STEPS ON THE WATER
Equal parts powerful and polarising, the heavy-folk troupe threw their crowd into a rollercoaster of emotive chaos with frontwoman June Jones coupling harsh, battered yells with gritty acoustic plucks behind a wall of whistling violins and chimey synth.
Somehow topping their standout set from last year, the local vibe-punks left us in a haze of sweat and delirium with their 30-minute onslaught of searing grunge-pop and venomous punk. Chris Antolak and Ewan Birtwell were both unyielding with axe in hand, belting out a tight, yet turbulent maze of riffs for enigmatic frontwoman Marie DeVita to trapeze over.
Four guitars and two basses shouldn’t sound this spotless, but as the crumbly hums of “Red Or White” and soaring riffs of “Moving Out” proved, the septet (take a guess where they’re from) have a surprising amount of their shit together. Loud, livid and powered by pale ales, their rough and ragged brand of party-punk brought out the floor-sweeping moshlord in even the most reserved of A&R hopefuls.