Thursday, September 22, 2011

Review: BIGSOUND Live Part 2 for Mood of Monk

Read the original here.

Making my way down The Valley mall early on Thursday night, past the club blasting a cover of Wham’s ‘Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go’, past the pub crowd and onwards to Woodland, I was sceptical. Sceptical that BIGSOUND could deliver a night of equal quality to one before (see why here) and that conference-goers who had been shooting the musical shit since 9am Wednesday would have any energy left. An hour and a half later the event had sold out completely and there was egg all over my face.

Given the scores of ‘must-see’ new acts, fresh young faces and hyped radio favourites, you’d need a Harry Potter-style time turner to make the most of the experience. I don’t have one of those (yet), so I set out to simply cram in as much noise as possible. 

This is what I saw.

  1. A healthy crowd out bright and early to see Triple J unearthed winners, Brisbane sextet Founds fill Woodland with their almost-ethereal sound. Still more festival-goers fuelling up for the night on pizza slices and burritos.

  2. Brisbane indie-popsters Little Scout playing to steadily growing crowd despite being awkwardly scheduled in-between larger acts. Their quiet energy and joyfully silly dance moves were so endearing it was hard not to root for them. You didn’t want them to screw up; you wanted everyone to run out afterwards and buy their record. They didn’t, and hopefully, a few punters did.

  3. Sydney’s Jonathan Boulet proved an early highlight at The Aviary, with a lingering pre-set crowd there to give him a warm welcome.  The show itself was faultless; from his band giving off a modern-day interpretation of a ‘rock star vibe’, to Boulet’s searing vocals. Energy levels dropped only once when, midway through the set, he asked the crowd to shuffle to the left so more bodies could squeeze through the door.

  4. A line stretching at least 500 metres down Ann Street preluding Big Scary’s set at Bakery Lane. Half-hour shows don’t allow much time for waiting around, and I suspect many of those punters left disappointed. Inside there seemed to be plenty of room to move if you were content without a view of the stage.

  5. Melbourne’s The Getaway Plan back from recording their new album in Canada, and excited to be playing their first gig in over eight months. Their heavy sound provided a welcome chance to feel my eardrums thumping in their cages and the floor rattling the beat. Even though they played mostly new material, the sheer enthusiasm of the crowd was palpable.

  6. Buskers on nearly every street corner and cheering masses spilling out of live venues not associated with BIGSOUND reminding me that our live music scene doesn’t just exist when and where we choose to celebrate it.

  7. Back at Bakery Lane, the crowd for Papa vs. Pretty was smaller than anticipated. Once again, the degustation-style schedule was to blame and by a few songs in the crowd had filled out. Musically this Sydney outfit were fun, but the on-stage persona of frontman Thomas Rawle really drew me in. He’s a slightly awkward ‘please’ and ‘thankyou’ young man, seeming genuinely appreciative of the thirty minutes we’d given up to see his band play.

  8. Before Brisbane’s Ball Park Music had even begun sound check, Woodland was packed to the rafters (quite literally) with hipsters, and the venue’s original aroma of cheap cider was infused with sweat. From the killer opener ‘iFly’ it became clear this misfit crew of lanky rock stars had come to party – and why not, with an album dropping the following day. They banged out new tunes as well as hits that had hundreds of people singing along, albeit off-key and poorly timed. During the anthemic ‘It’s Nice to be Alive’ the audience launched into a chorus prematurely but they kindly paused and offered for us “all to do it together” next time.  There was love in the air and I left choking on Brisbane pride.

  9. Many revellers partied on, with Last Dinosaurs and Bleeding Knees Club both making a late-night appearance. I had a last train to catch, a warm bed to go home to and a fuzzy feeling that guaranteed a good night’s sleep.

 Fighting my way out of Woodland, back past the pub crowd and the club blasting Linda Lyndell’s ‘What a Man’, I was convinced. After a decade, music-makers and punters alike are finally recognising the true power of summits like BIGSOUND to transform the local music scene. Let’s do it again, sometime – perhaps in 2012, when half the bands on show this year will be playing the summer festival circuit and making a living from their beautiful music.

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