Three Howlers took on BIGSOUND this year for two days of too much beer, 150 bands, 12 stages and a billion good times – and they’ve narrowed it down to just five best moments each. Here is our take on BIGSOUND 2015:
Kate Cebrano Making A Comeback via Dorsal Fins
I knew Dorsal Fins were going to be awesome, having already fallen in love with single Monday Tuesday, but nothing could have prepared me for the downright excellence of their set. Polished, fresh and fun, it was a party from the get-go. And then they went and covered Kiss Me by Kate Cebrano complete with saxophones from the brass magician Ross Beaton, and my jaw was on the floor.
Slum Sociable Reinventing Tambourine Playing
Possibly the best act I saw across the two days, Slum Sociable turned more than a few heads with their eclectic neo jazz set. Despite a schedule that could have you running to three sets in half an hour, feet stayed firmly glued to the floor well beyond singles All Night and Anyway. That might have had a lot to do with the mesmerizing slender front man, who grinded his limbs at interesting angles and made a fine art out of playing the tambourine. I cannot wait to see what their debut album holds.
Banff being Banff
Benjamin Forbes aka Banff was a much-anticipated act for me. Despite hailing from Brisbane, I have never managed to catch him live, so after interviewing him a little while back, he was an absolute must see. I was especially impressed with how his solo tracks translated to being played with a live band, and how his voice transcended all expectations actually somehow managing to sound better in real life. Smooth as honey, all the hype surrounding him is definitely warranted.
Crowd Shenanigans at Porsches
It’s always fun when a band invites the crowd on stage for a dance number, and suddenly your average audience member becomes J-Lo circa 1999. That is exactly how it went down at Porsches Brightside set. As closing number Horses kicked into a gallop the stage was flooded with bodies, and it got pretty loose for those thirty or so punters (special credits go to the young lass who turned the keyboard stand into a grind pole). From a comfortable vantage point at the back of the room it was all sorts of entertaining. The track has been making the rounds in the last couple of weeks and was absolutely scorching live. If only they were allowed to play on into the wee hours.
Tiny Little Houses Soul Baring at Black Bear Lodge
There couldn’t have been a better venue for Tiny Little Houses set than the crammed cavern of Black Bear Lodge. All the 90’s nostalgia seeped into the crevices and floorboards until the outside world of rushing to and from shows became a distant memory, and there was a perfect moment of pause. The unique voice of Caleb Karvountis spun tales of heartbreak so real it hurt. Closing with solo track I Hate You’re Happy, played on electric guitar (cause his acoustic string broke), it was a stunning moment of soul baring that was a privilege to witness.
Green Buzzard hammers their flag in
As a band who hadn’t played a whole lot of shows, there was definitely some anticipation to see whether the hype was real. It is. It is real and it is spectacular. I Oh You’s latest signees blew everyone at The Winn away with their fantastic Britpop throwback wall of sound, ripping through tracks like Zoo Fly and Slow It Down Now with professional aplomb belying their relative infancy as a group.
Baro destroys Oh Hello like it ain’t a thing
I very unfortunately arrived at Oh Hello only in time to catch the back half of this set but was I ever glad I did. Baro absolutely commanded the entire room, his stage presence and charisma was through the roof, his flow was tighter than a fish’s proverbial and he had everyone in the mosh pit bellowing the lyrics back at him. Curtain-closer Resume had the room shaking and the walls almost rattling with the sheer noise of everyone screaming along ‘Bitch I got that work so don’t worry ‘bout my resume’. Absolutely loved it, and this kid is only 18! I cannot stress enough how much noise he is going to make in the near future, look out.
Dorsal Fins come into my life in raucous fashion
My personal best ‘find’ of Bigsound. I am embarrassed and sheepishly scratching my head still at me having no idea how I didn’t know a goddamn thing about these guys. The seething crowd crammed into the outdoor area at The Brightside suggests that I had in fact been living under a rock with a boulder on top of it. I don’t think any other band had as much fun onstage as Dorsal Fins, they are an absolute riot of a group. And those saxophone solos. Good God, Dorsal Fins, those saxophone solos… Is there room on that bandwagon for a straggler?
Eves The Behavior caps the first night off in style
Not technically on the Bigsound lineup but these trivialities matter not. Still positively swooning after our chat with her the other week, I slithered down the stairs to the underground part of Heya to end my night catching her playing a showcase and was promptly floored. Her sound, so beautifully layered and immersive on record is somehow even cooler in an intimate live environment with a backing band. It was so immense that when I stood next to the speaker it got rid of a bout of hiccups I’d been suffering with for the better part of an hour. Because science probably but also because Eves The Behavior is just amazing. Saying hey to her post-set and again confirming what a lovely person she is was a really cool moment too.
Skegss. Are. (My) Bigsound.
I cannot stress enough what absolute legends these boys are. They were undisputedly the friendliest, most genuine and affable dudes at the entire Bigsound Festival. From giving us a straight ripper of an interview including shouting us an ice cold Coopers to ease the nerves, to the amazing and energetic surf punk set they played at Ric’s (can someone get them a residency there???). I was by myself and I have a general aversion to dancing by myself. But goddamnit did I dance by myself because I simply couldn’t stay still listening to the infectious sound of tracks like Fun (it’s a whole lot of it) and L.S.D. Not even a broken string fix break mid-set upset anyone, the vibe was that great. The beers and chats with the band post-set were great fun too and I’d like to say a big old cheers for making a rookie like me feel right at home and welcome boys. The moral of the story is that don’t sleep on Skegss. Not ever.
Honourable mentions and special shouts to the gentleman behind me in Banff who I overheard tell his friends ‘I just had a XXXX Gold… it tasted like a Broncos game’. You win ‘Quote Of Bigsound 2015’ by a landslide.
And for the general vibe at Bigsound too. Just a melting pot of music makers and music lovers of all backgrounds, all having a cracker and getting along spectacularly. Definitely one of the friendliest, most welcoming vibes I’ve ever experienced at a festival and I can’t wait for next year!
Friendships destroying Woolly Mammoth
I think I told just about every person I came into contact with that they should see this duo. Describing them as “batshit fucking crazy techno industrial rave music”, a few people actually took my word for it and came along to see the pair in action on Wednesday night. With bass so heavy my nose ring was vibrating to the point where I actually held it still, the duo reigned chaos on a steadily swelling crowd. Obviously, they would be more suited to a suitably fried crowd at 3am, but they made the best of their before-11pm time slot and then some The audio visual project was something I had never seen before, totally surpassing my already high expectations and blowing them out of the water. Special mention to the guy that stripped down to his underwear during a spoken word monologue during the insane When I Feel Like Killing, I Murder.
Koi Child winning BIGSOUND
Hands down, Koi Child won BIGSOUND. Packing out the Woolly Mammoth for the last set of the last day, they absolutely killed it. Their upbeat, party brand of jazz meets hip hop proved to be a floor filling set packed with ultimate good vibes. Vocalist and rapper Shannon Patterson was born to be a frontman, and controlled the rowdy (in the best way possible) crowd with ease. Shout to to Rui Cruz Vieira from Brisbane’s equivalent, Astro Travellers for getting up on the mic for a freestyle. A perfect way to end a truly fantastic two days, Koi Child are something else entirely.
From acts like Woodes and Olympia packing out one the bigger stages, The Brightside Carpark, early on in the evening, to ladies like Gabriella Cohen ripping it up at The Press Club, girl power was in fine form at BIGSOUND. Not to mention the incredible panels and discussions held during the conference in the daytime (especially this one by Jessica Hopper), there was no shortage of sisters doin’ it for themselves! Ella Thompson playing not only a solo set, but multiple sets fronting Dorsal Fins; High Tension being one of the most talked about acts; JOY., WAAX, Pearls, Mangelwurzel, Stonefield, Tired Lion and many more showing how it’s done across a variety of genres – BIGSOUND was brimming with talented ladies who have a lot to give!
Two words you should remember forever. The master of sophistication and sexual tension, Donny Benét provided some serious starpower for the closing act of my Wednesday night, delivering a performance I won’t soon forget. A one-man-band, Benét cut a rug or two on stage in front of a crowd of wriggling bodies – all lucky folks who made the right decision to finish up their Wednesday night. I’d heard the rumours and legends, but nothing prepared me for a live Benét show. Changing from showing how it’s done on a synth to searing hot guitar solos, with some of the best banter I’ve heard in a long time, Benét was a sight for sore eyes and one of the most enjoyable acts of the whole thing. Benét forever.