I lost count of how many bands I saw, and the same goes for how many beers I consumed. It was nothing if not an awesome time full of great music, interesting people and general debauchery. The massive selection of artists playing made it impossible to choose who to watch, so I just rolled with it and didn’t plan too much, which was a great way to go. Initially I was flustered with the amount of clashes I had to contend with, however I still saw a tonne of acts, and those that I missed I’m sure will be kicking around Melbourne in the not so distant future. There are so many that I can’t wait to wrap my ears and eyes around. Notably and repeatedly recommended; Hits, Mansionair, The Harpoons, Holy Holy, Jesse Davidson, Jack Ladder, Airling and Blank Realm.
The pre-BIGSOUND evening was a bit of an electro night for me, I hung around the Wooly Mammoth to catch a very attractive line-up which included electro darlings/total babes LUCIANBLOMKAMP, Banoffee and Oscar Key Sung. I have no idea how I’d not gotten around to seeing a Lucian show before despite the hype, I ended up catching both his sets because I fell pretty in love the first time around. The guy’s a beat savant, as well as being incredibly accomplished on guitar and violin. When his girlfriend Rosebud Leach came on stage to lend her vocals for a couple of tracks, it was an undeniable chemistry that brought the house down amongst the “Naaawwws”. A++, would go see a million times over. It was also my first time seeing Oscar Key Sung properly (last time was Golden Plains — needless to say it was fuzzy), and he seriously got the crowd going. Lots of booty shaking and girls swooning. I kind of wanted to get up on stage and have a dance with him. The dude can move. Following this, I gave myself a break from the synth action and headed across the road to catch Adelaide’s BAD//DREEMS tear up the stage at The Flying Cock for the Mushroom party to get my garage fix for the night. I then decided to wrap things up early, go and get a kebab and prepare myself for the huge few days ahead of me.
The first official night of BIGSOUND Live started off with the hypnotic Kathryn Rollins who has made the bold but wise move from folk to electronica. Keytar-wielding Yeo impressed with his dance moves at the Wooly Mammoth, where he’d drawn a huge crowd. All of my main BIGSOUND Live highlights all occurred on night one; with LANKS, Hayden Calnin and Dorsal Fins leaving me mightily impressed with the quality of music being produced in Melbourne town. LANKS is the solo project of Will Cuming, who is no stranger to the Melbourne music scene, having previously played in several projects, including Poco La Pax with Saskwatch’s leading lady. His relatively new solo project takes a turn into the realm of experimental electronica, which at times can be quite dark with melodies that stick in your head for days. The multi instrumentalist who’s vocals can at times be likened to Thom Yorke had his band along for the ride. This meant gorgeous harmonies and live drums that were a real driving force behind the performance. Hayden Calnin has been gaining momentum for some time now, and rightfully so. His songwriting is intelligent, creative, and sometimes heartbreaking. He had his four piece band with him for his outdoor show at The Elephant, which made his beguiling, melancholic sounds into something quite epic. I walked away from his performance feeling as if I’d taken a piece of his soul with me. The wee hours of Wednesday night/Thursday morning were all about dancin’ at the Brightside. Old mates Saskwatch were brilliant as always (Nkechi Anele, whatababe) but the stand out for me were super group Dorsal Fins. Cute as a button Ella Thompson of the Bamboos and Eagle and the Worm’s Jarrad Brown lead this Melbourne 9 plus — piece made up from but not limited to members of Eagle and the Worm and Saskwatch. Their hyperactive live show is a stupidly good time which leaves you jumping up and down trying not to drop your camera/phone/drink. It’s brass infused indie pop of epic proportions with a touch of soul and 80’s synth thrown in for good measure. Total party happy fun times.
Night number two was a marathon. I started off at The Elephant with D.D. Dumbo and beats wunderkind SAFIA, before scooting over to see puke-punk outfit The Sinking Teeth at the Brightside, where hilarious banter and my own stage dancing ensued. I then went BACK to the Elephant for the gorgeous Tully on Tully, who gracefully overcame some sound issues and gave a cracking performance including a guest appearance from Hayden Calnin. I got stuck there for quite some time because beer and mates and was convinced to stay for Coach Bombay, who I wasn’t familiar with but thoroughly enjoyed. Back to the Brightside for electro hipster bros I’lls, then I was off to The Press Club to get a dose of country in the form of Roy Orbison’s illegitimate offspring Marlon Williams, who wooed us all with his guitar and generally charming character. I used to be scared of country music, but after seeing top notch acts such as Marlon and like all-girl harmonisin’, banjo twangin’, accordion squeezin’ darlings All Our Exes Live in Texas the previous night, I can feel myself becoming a convert and wishing I was at Americana fest in Nashville right now. Well-played.
Despite the hangovers I dragged myself into town to see some really interesting panels as part of the conference side of things. One in particluar that really highlighted the importance of BIGSOUND’s existence was the Big 20 Questions Q&A. Director of Street Press Larry Treweek’s panel included guests representing UK’s The Great Escape conference, New York’s Panache Booking and Texas’s Bonnaroo Festival. It was so exciting to hear how stoked they were about the quality of music that is currently coming out of the country. They sang BIGSOUND’s praises for not only the array of fantastic artists, but also how well organised it was and how much of a freaking good time they were having (a couple of them were clearly VERY hung over, and questions often had to be repeated. Made for quality viewing). They also shared the opinion that BIGSOUND is such a supportive community of music makers, lovers and the like, who will usually be more inclined to say “hey go check out this band”, instead of plugging their own. It seems almost as if everyone is mates with everyone and therefore creates the ultimate environment for amazing networking opportunities. Just a rad, friendly place to be. Go us.
I felt incredibly fortunate to be immersed in such a vibrant and creative hub for a few days, and getting back to reality gave me the post-BIGSOUND blues. It’s such a cool thing to be able to rub shoulders with people at all levels of the music industry and share experiences, advice, beers and maybe even a boogie with one another. I feel that it’s also an important event for the Brissy community of music lovers as they can be exposed to an array of acts that might not have had the opportunity to make it up North. With the only real downside being not able to be 10 places at once, I am aiming to make this week in the September sunshine an annual vaycay, as I feel it can only get bigger and better.