Sunday, 15 September 2013

BIGSOUND Live 2013

While BIGSOUND 2013 is well and truly over for another year, we can still bask in the beauty that was. Two mid week nights in Brisbane's Fortitude Valley, many diverse and sometimes interesting fans of music, twelve diverse and sometimes interesting venues and a whole bunch of diverse and sometimes interesting musicians, BIGSOUND Live is a music event like no other. While Matt and Nayt have already given their opinions on the event and there's a whole bunch of BIGSOUND pics, videos and loving going on over at It's My Kind Of Scene on facebook, for now it's Jo and Katie's turn. Good? Bad? Indifferent? Diverse? Interesting? Probably all of those things and a little bit more...

The Music. It's All About The Music
by Jo Michelmore

Music showcases are such an interesting concept. Heaps of musicians, fans and music industry professionals (read: people who wish they were musicians) in one small space all looking at each other, chatting to each other, drinking with each other, judging each other and sometimes, every now and then, actually liking each other. While the BIGSOUND conference aspect is something I'm yet to experience, that's not really the part I'm interested in anyway, for me it's all about the music. Less analysing and more listening, discovering and dancing. So it was with a sense of discovery and adventure I made my way to BIGSOUND Live 2013, with an (almost) complete IMKOS team all ready to experience one of my favourite things in the world - live music. 

The night started with Mama Kin and wow, what a start. Bakery Lane is such a funny little spot to watch music, it's almost like walking in on a suburban wedding reception or a regional RSL's beer garden. Once you've made your way through the (annoying, chatting) line up at the bar, you're faced with a marquee and a stage, which is absolutely no indication as how good the music is going to be from that stage. I thought Mama Kin was going to be a sweet, pop start to my night, but I wasn't prepared for the awesome full sound from the band and the incredibly soulful tunes and voice of Danielle Caruana. This was a hard band to leave, I really wanted to see more but knew I'd have to move on to get the most of my BIGSOUND experience and even though I only saw three songs, they were three that left a huge impression. 

Yes, well, here's where the music showcase thing gets annoying. Katie and I both made our way to Oh Hello for a band that I was totally looking forward to seeing, MTNS. I have fallen totally in love with this band since seeing them at the Black Bear a couple of months ago and it seems I may not be the only one. There were quite a few people at Oh Hello, clearly wanting to see this incredible, reasonably new Brisband, but they've obviously been christened somehow a 'next big thing', which is so great for them, but not for the people who were at BIGSOUND to see some live music, as opposed to the back of photographers heads. I counted twelve at one stage, all lined up at the stage all taking awesome shots, I'm sure, but I would have liked to see that cute little drummers face once or twice and I would have liked to have caught the intense look on Tom's face as he crooned some of his delicious vocals to the breathless crowd. While I'm really, really hoping these guys achieve some of the commercial success that's predicted for them at the moment, I'll just keep my fingers crossed that they play another (non-showcase) gig for me to enjoy, soon.

So, it was with a little disappointment I left the photographers at Oh Hello and made my way to the Press Club to see Lakyn. I'm going to be honest and say this one was a guess, I was closest to the Press Club and it was the easiest place to be in between some other artists I really wanted to see. This is the great thing about BIGSOUND though, because sometimes you discover things you wouldn't have otherwise known. Lakyn had a beautiful voice, exuded and unassuming confidence and even managed to (mostly) keep my attention while the person next to me screamed at their friends (?) at the bar; "Red! I said red! No! Not white! I'm drinking red! Yes, red!" Well done Lakyn, I look forward to discovering more of you in the near future. 

Yukon Blonde - Photography by Damian Comans

After deciding not to get myself my own glass of red, I decided I should head to The Zoo and see what the fuss about Yukon Blonde was. They were my first Canadian band of the night (is it just me, or is there a weird Canadian connection with BIGSOUND artists?) and they weren't disappointing. 'My Girl' and 'Radio' were both incredibly catchy, with cute harmonies and an almost 60s surf rock feel, these guys weren't even put off by the sole man standing at the very front of the stage staring at them. They were great and I declared myself a fan quickly. These are the kind of declarations you have to make at this kind of event, because there's always something else mind blowing you have to see at the next venue...

..and welcome to the mind blowing part of BIGSOUND for me: Jones Jnr. Oh my. This I was not ready for. Two guys, one on decks and technical things, one at a microphone and a sound I almost find indescribable. I can call it all the things they do on their facebook page: gospel, soul, hip hop...none of those words do justice to the sounds I heard on Wednesday night. None of those words describe that thing that sometimes happens at live music gigs, where everything around disappears and the music completely encompasses every part of your self. These are two musicians that managed to stop me completely, caused the most incredible goosebumps and almost had me at tears with their fabulous sound. I desperately wanted this to be a full gig, not a showcase, I wanted to tell everyone else to go home, these guys should be on all night. Alas, I only saw three songs before they ended, but they were three songs I haven't forgotten and three songs that I am now desperate to see again. At the end of the night, Jones Jnr. are the ones I declared my definite favourites. Amazing. Mind. Blown.

It took me a little while to make my way from The Rev to the next venue 633 Ann, because I was so taken with what I'd witnessed in Jones Jnr., but the band that took the stage Little Bastard, were the perfect combination of fun and bouncing to slam me back into the reality of where I was and what I was doing. Seven members, all with the same amount of energy and smiles, this was just a good time. The crowd were dancing, the band were jumping and the words controlled chaos come to mind when I think of what I saw. Fun is exactly what was called for midway through the night and fun is what was delivered. 

Sidney York - Photography by Cordell Sanders

I was surprised to walk into the Press Club and see....virtually no one. What? What was going on here? Another Canadian act, Sidney York deserved a lot more people than eventually turned up to see them at the small venue that the Press Club is. Having said that, the lack people there showed me what kind of band Sidney York are and you know what that is? An awesome band. They played with all heart and soul to the table of five and myself at the front of the venue, they played like they were playing to thousands and they played like they love what they do, regardless of who is watching. I loved that about them and it's something to be completely admired about musicians who play because they have to, because music is everything. I saw these girls the next night, buying themselves a late night pie, so I hope they had just as much fun supporting other musicians on night two. They definitely won me over with their cute lyrics, bouncy dancing and weird instruments on night one. Sidney York? Declare me a fan.

I felt like I kind of had to make my way to the Black Bear to see Darren Middleton, after all, he was a member of one of Brisbane's biggest bands in Powderfinger. One day they might have a bridge named after them and I'll be able to say "I saw that Darren character in the Black Bear once, he was alright" except I'll probably say he was good, because he actually was. There's a definite feel of the middle of the road rock that Powderfinger were so good at, but that's not a bad thing. I even managed to take one of the seats on the side of the very full Black Bear so I could stand above all and see what was going on and although there were obviously a lot of people there so they could say the same thing when the Powderfinger Bridge is opened, there were a lot of fans nodding along to some solid guitars and vocals. I also enjoyed the part where Darren said "this was meant to be an acoustic set, but I had an acoustic disaster, so fuck it...". Oh well, either way, it was an impressive set.

Money For Rope were my filler band, the band I saw while on my way to another band, but I'm going to say, they weren't disappointing. It's hard not to create a full sound with six members, but while some bands might just create a mess with that many instruments, Money For Rope create a sound exactly as they describe, it's a surf garage pop rock sound that is kind of delicious. They've just reached their target in a Pozible campaign to send themselves to Europe and from the couple of songs I saw, they're a band that deserve every success they achieve along the way. 

I have been a fan of Halfway for a long time now, so I was kind of a little more than excited to see them on the BIGSOUND line up. I made my way to the front of the Black Bear to be completely swept up in the beautiful sounds this band have always managed to make. I was lost in the perfect country sounds and was swept away with their story telling ways, the way all good country bands should tell heartbreaking and life affirming tales. Halfway managed to finish my night in the perfect way, a fabulous reminder that regardless of genre, regardless of style, a good musician is a special thing to see, a good gig is one of my favourite things in the world and regardless of how much you talk about it, whether you are an music industry representative, a fan, a person selling beers at the bar or the guy at the door of your favourite venue, ultimately, it's the music, because the music is that bit that makes you smile, makes you cry, makes you dance and makes you come back for more, every time. It's the music, it's always about the music.

Loud T-Shirts, Paparazzi, Beards And Liquor
by Katie Langley

Jo and I made our way to the front to watch Mama Kin and I fell in love. I found myself mesmerised, particularly during “Red Wood River”. The combination Mama Kin’s soulful voice and ukulele tugged at my heart strings. Other notable mention is the keyboardists amazingly loud t-shirt.

All of the cool kids told me I needed to see up-and-comers MTNS. Watching their set was quite frustrating as a swarm of paparazzi milled around the front of the stage. Nevertheless, the band did their thing well, and the crowd enjoyed. The paps were too much for me though, so I made an exit.

After reading Pataphysics described as “soulful guerrilla hip hop” I knew I had to see their set. And I’m so glad I did. Amazing hip hop full of political lyrics, and trumpet. That trumpet won me over.

I was pleasantly surprised and delighted by Jones Jnr. It’s unlike anything I’ve listened to before. I squeezed to the front so that I could fully appreciate their creepy disco and gospel sounds. I can’t wait to hear more of their music.

I love an all-girl band, so there was no question that I was going to see She Rex. I knew nothing about their sound, but really enjoyed their hip hop/rock infusion. Vocalist Nikkita had so much energy, she was amazing. The best way I could describe She Rex is if the members of Rage against the Machine had daughters and they all formed a band. Love!

My decision to see Little Bastard was based solely on name. I came part way through their set and knew I was in for a treat when I saw seven members on stage. There were guitars, bass, fiddle, banjo, harmonica, mandolin, beats, and loads of sweet sweet harmonies. At times it was chaotic, but always amazing. All of the guys are extremely talented musicians.

Sidney York, a collaboration between an opera singer and bassoonist was something I had to see. Beautiful, soulful and best enjoyed with a nice glass of red.

This was another decision I made based on band name. And it paid off! I really loved Canada’s The Harpoonist and the Axe Murderer blues vibe.

Karl S Williams - Photography by Cordell Sanders

I caught part of Karl S. Williams recently supporting Kira Puru and the Blue Murders and knew I had to come back for more. He is truly captivating, with an aura that radiates. I was lost in his amazing music, particularly “Darkest Cloud”. Karl S. Williams is truly a gem.

I caught the end of Citizen Kay’s set and was blown away. He had so much energy, bouncing all over the stage. It was infectious – the whole room was moving. The drumming was phenomenal. Would definitely like to see more!

Gay Paris - Photography by Cordell Sanders

After meeting the lovely Barefoot Alley in the audience and actually introducing myself as “Katie from It’s My Kind of Scene” (cringe!) I found myself a prime position near the front of the stage. There’s always an element of fear and surprise being so close to Gay Paris, but that’s part of the charm. Their set involved crowd surfing (by the audience, and band members), requests for drugs and liquor, thrusting, cheering, and a whole lot of getting up close and personal with the front row. I was hoping for more nudity, but I suppose there’s always next time.

There’s no doubt about it – Gay Paris delivered the best set at BIGSOUND.

I couldn’t believe how many beards there were in the audience to see Grizzly Jim Lawrie. Even the band members were rocking some sweet facial hair. Suffice to say I was in my element. Oh yeah, the music was pretty good too! Lovely, relaxed, free of pretension.

When I heard that New Zealand rockers Villainy are known for their no holds barred performances, I knew I had to see them. It was great to see heavier music being represented at BIGSOUND. All of the band members were full of energy, particularly front man Neill. I dug it.

For me BIGSOUND is all about opening my heart and mind to new music. I would never have imagined that I would enjoy a country/rock band. We The Ghosts were polished and impressive.

I was absolutely blown away by Willow Beats.This electronic uncle/niece duo has such a unique sound. The best description I can think of is Skrillex meets baby M.I.A. – but that doesn’t do them justice. Their music took over my body and I found myself writhing around on the dance floor. I can’t wait to hear more of their music!

 Your Favourite Enemies 
- Photography by Cordell Sanders

I came mid-way through Your Favourite Enemies set and was immediately struck by two things – the amazing hair of both guitarists (our children would have great hair), and the energy in the room. The crowd had all moved quite close to the stage. These Canadian rockers are clearly skilled at their craft. Again, it was awesome to see heavier music being represented.

Loved the grizzly blues that Harry Hookey delivered. Apparently Harry gave up a career in law to pursue his music. I think that’s a decision that’s paid off.

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