BIGSOUND 2017 Day One Review

Revellers at BIGSOUND 2017 5 September, 2017 Revellers at BIGSOUND 2017 5 September, 2017 Image © Kalem Horn
Bizarre to consider that just last year I immersed myself in BIGSOUND culture as a fresh-faced punter, ecstatic though admittedly still a little confused by the concept.

Fast-forward 12 months and I’ve instead been counting down until the event, crossing each date off the calendar as it passed in excited anticipation for what is undoubtedly one of the most brilliant initiatives in the Australian music industry.

Having spotted a bunch of fans sporting groovy ‘Nice Biscuit’ merchandise I was curious to see the band play (clever marketing); their 8pm set at Oh Hello! was both exactly, and exactly the opposite, of what I expected. With an opinion shaped entirely by the t-shirt designs and the characters wearing them, I could guess the musicians’ quirks from a mile away. Though what shocked me was their genre; it’s extraordinarily psychedelic.

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At times, the two front-women missed the mark in terms of harmonies; I attempted to pick whose voice was throwing off the vocals, but I think the problem may instead stem from the meshing of two very different voices. The bass player was a palpable standout, incredibly talented and driving a much-needed element of structure into the wavy musical hues.

Parts of songs I enjoyed more than others though as the set progressed, it strengthened infinitely and there’s no denying I (and others) were grinning from start to finish, ceaselessly entertained and not just because the singers were performing synchronised dances wearing lycra body suits and glowing floral jackets.

West Thebarton
West Thebarton - image © Kalem Horn

A quick stroll to The Brightside’s outdoor theatre seemed to be priority for a lot of the BIGSOUND crowd; I couldn’t name a single song of West Thebarton’s, but the group’s sheer size (seven members!) and previous name (West Thebarton Brothel Party) are two winning factors that would surely pique the interest of any listener.

They are NOISY; strictly Australian-noise (roots evidently still grounded a little by debut album producer, Dylan Adams). The band’s relentless energy is hard not to get wrapped up in. It’s the kind of music that works better in spades when performed live; watching the boys attack their instruments with that much passion and vigour adds so much to the experience it’s like they’ve mastered a whole new instrument; the benefits of being born entertainers.

I snuck in a glimpse of Alexander Biggs at Blackbear Lodge just briefly; a detour worth taken. He was beautiful to witness, a wonderful songwriter with harrowing vocals and quite a shy personality, seemingly unaware of his incredible abilities.

Folk musicians seem to be far and few these days although he’s certainly a shining example of somebody who’s not only keeping the genre alive, but refining it too.

Maddy Jane
Maddy Jane - image © Kalem Horn

Maddy Jane was once a stranger on my radar though no longer; her performance has etched its way my memories and her music filed away in an internal folder labelled ‘to listen to’. She’s EXCEPTIONALLY natural on stage, whether that be from practice or born ability (I presume it’s more the latter); you can’t help but get the impression that performing is exactly what she’s supposed to be doing.

I can’t help but wonder whether she’s established her own ‘sound’ yet, each track a little similar and a little genre-neutral, though I believe she has the potential to pave her way through an all-new, unexplored facet of music. It will be exciting to see if she finds her niche.

WAAX - image © Kalem Horn

The band that seems to have blown up overnight, WAAX attracted the enormous crowd numbers I expected. Though they didn’t fall into the public eye by accident, no sir; besides performing like a well-oiled machine, totally in sync and strong from start to finish, there’s something truly nostalgic about these guys, bringing back sentiments of the early 2000s; angsty teenagers with a head full of heartache and ears full of Paramore.

I’ve been fascinated by the negative response to Confidence Man’s live take of ‘Boyfriend (Repeat)’ at Splendour In The Grass circulating online. I didn't see the performance live, but my immediate reaction was “this is wicked”.

Confidence Man
Confidence Man - image © Kalem Horn

Sure, the band don’t exactly specialise in instrumental ability (a quality they’ve received the most flack for) but they’re an ELECTRONIC piece, and hell they do it well. As an anti-dancer, even I boogied from start to finish of the set and was stunned by both the mix of music and just how well it was executed.

They’re utterly UNPREDICTABLE, quite a rare characteristic, and one that will undoubtedly see them attract a multitude of fans, critics and curious listeners throughout their career.

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