BIGSOUND 2018 – how Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley has become ground zero for new and emerging Australian artists

BIGSOUND has become the ‘must do’ event for up and coming bands in Australia. For those bands that are relatively unknown out of their hometowns, this showcase can expose them to a new audience and opportunities. It can also provide the opportunity for visual artists, sound engineers and photographers to showcase their craft.

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The Zoo (Photo – Bec Harbour)

First night out on the BIGSOUND circuit met with crisis straight away – an unhappy punter (not with me – just the world in general) decided that no one was getting past her and damaging a camera was an effective way to ensure that.  An iPhone is an effective substitute for capturing the installations and buskers on the first night.

Night 2 began at The Zoo – the iconic venue that helped pave the way for the Valley to be the centre of live music in Brisbane. The bands kicking off here were Bare Bones, an energetic group with shades of the So-Cal hardcore movement influencing their sound. Next up was Arse – their bio on the BIGSOUND website said they were pissed off – they pushed a wall of sound through the venue of reminiscent of Black Flag or Minor Threat.

Next up to the Valley Drive-In (the scene of last nights camera destruction) to see Tape/Off, a band that had a lot of coverage in music forums. They did not disappoint – half an hour is too short for these showcases.

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Pool Shop at Black Bear Lodge (Photo Bec Harbour)

Next destination was Black Bear Lodge for Pool Shop. Pool Shop was a must see, they ticked all the boxes, dream pop fun. Pool Shop was an outstanding experience – beautiful music, audience engagement and an enthusiastic audience – The crowd they had will guarantee when they play next in Brisbane, they will have a bigger crowd.

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Voiid at The Foundry (Photo by Bec Harbour)

And for a change of pace – it was across to The Foundry, still coming down off the bubbly high from Pool Shop and was not expecting the full punch of Voiid live. If you were to mash Sleater Kinney, L7 and Kathleen Hanna together you might get something approximating this band – they have their own sound. Their raw energy and attitude worked the crowd up (no mean feat on a school night) and we all should be catching them again when they support Clowns at the end of the month also at The Foundry.

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Cable Ties at the Valley Drive-In (Photo Bec Harbour)

Cable Ties were on late at the Valley Drive-In, missed them the night before due to the camera incident so was not going to miss them tonight. Earlier this year they had their single launch at The Foundry with Hexdebt and Marville and drew a decent crowd. The crowd was small tonight, which could have been disappointing for them, a sentiment echoed by singer Jenny McKechnie. Little did we know that Paul Kelly was doing his secret show over at the Zoo, and everyone who knew was trying to cram themselves in over there.

Day 3 – Thursday – things kicked off with Sweater Curse. This band has their shit together. They drew a large crowd with a bunch of loyal friends/fans down the front and played a quick paced set that the crowd knew.

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Alice Skye at Laruche (Photo Bec Harbour)

Next was Laruche for Alice Skye (I somehow managed to get one of those throne chairs they have in front of the bar – win!). Laruche was packed right up to the door. Alice Skye played beautiful music, that the crowd was happy to sit and relax with before moving on to the next showcase.

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East Brunswick All Girls Choir at the Elephant (Photo Bec Harbour)

Aside from the mouthful of a name that everyone keeps getting the parts of, all in the wrong order, the thing I learned from Marcus Hobbs tonight, is that other people think that Bendigo is a shit town. (Yes, it is mate, I lived there until I was 10 and went back from a slightly less shit place every year. It’s a soul-crushingly boring place).

I had no idea what to expect with East Brunswick All Girls Choir, they were a band that no one I’d spoken to had heard of, however, they were really well attended. On the Milk! roster, I was keen to check them out (everything else on Milk! is great…). I was not disappointed – the band creates the perfect backing for their singers intense delivery. In fact, I bought tickets to their show at the Bloodhound Bar in November the next morning.

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Gabriella Cohen, band and Billie and Grace from Nice Biscuit (Photo Bec Harbour)

The next stop was Black Bear Lodge for Gabriella Cohen. It was packed, hot and sweaty, no one seemed to care. Gabriella started her set off with a few solo songs, then brought the rest of the band on. As a nice surprise when wrapping up her set, she brought out Billie and Grace from Nice Biscuit to sing harmony – I’m sure the crowd went wild but we were jammed in so close no one could lift their arms.

I watched Mane from the McWhirters pedestrian bridge along with several dozen other exhausted festival goers who like me had been going for 3 days while attending day jobs. The general consensus was that this year had been an amazing experience with a brilliant line up.

Day 4 – there was no showcases, however Milk! Records had taken over Ric’s Backyard. Let’s talk about Ric’s Backyard as a venue – the place is effectively a converted driveway and the floor slopes away from the stage – for shorties this was a challenge. I do like the backyard feel but….

First up was Hachiku, a dream popper, and a nice mellow start to the Milk! showcase. In fact Milk! seems to be cornering the market on fuzzy dream pop as Jade Imagine took the mantle and carried in on next. Next was Loose Tooth – a heavier thumping pop than their more ethereal labelmates. Which paved the way for East Brunswick All Girls Choir’s more intense sound. Milk! has an impressive roster with just these bands – it was a fantastic line-up.

Wrap up from the BIGSOUND festival and conference – will be going again next year. There were a dozen bands that I wanted to see but did not get there (Bugs, The Beths, Psychedelic Porn Crumpets, Nice Biscuit and Wax Chattels just to name a few) use the BIGSOUND app for scheduling. I recommend comfortable shoes, a coat that is easy to transport and remove in the hotter venues and pay for parking so you have back up equipment when yours fails (or gets broken). Eat well and stay hydrated and don’t work your day job that week.

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