2018 BIGSOUND Review Part 2


As a BIGSOUND newcomer, and someone who considers timetabling an extreme sport, I was nothing if not nervous when I saw the 2018 line-up – it was nothing if not big.

Eventually, I whittled my want-to-see list down to a need-to-see list and went on my merry way.

Day One

First up was VOIID, a Brisbane-based all-female, girl-power five-piece, who have been making waves recently with the release of a few singles, along with a mini-tour along the lovely east coast.

They were playing at The Zoo, which was in celebration mode itself, with appropriately festive palm fronds lining the stairway to the venue space. VOIID have a sound that is somewhere between the angry girl-punk of Bikini Kill and the laconic surf-rock sound of Skegss.

They looked like they were having fun on-stage, which is always nice to see, and there is no doubt that their final two songs, 'Twin' and 'Not For You', quite literally bang hard.

Next up was Nice Biscuit, a psychedelic '70s-inspired outfit named after a (in my opinion) criminally-underrated snack. The three (three!) male guitarists performed in reflective jellyfish costumes, while the two female vocalists, who have matching pink hair, wore flares and iridescent bell-sleeve tops; the outfits are just as much a part of the act as the music.

Their set was high in the groove factor from the beginning and got even more danceable as it went on, complete with two jump-suited hula-hoopers appearing in the audience.

By the time they got to fan favourites 'Fairfield Of Dreams' and 'Captain', the audience was a sweaty (but groovy) mess. I danced as well as a completely sober person with a healthy amount of self-conciousness really can.

Next was Sweater Curse, the loveable dorks behind the insanely catchy 'Can't See You Anymore'. Lead singer Monica was still soaked-through from the rain when she got up on-stage, launching straight into 'Don't Call Me'.

Sweater CurseSweater Curse - image © Kalem Horn

Unfortunately, due to my position right next to the speaker, I couldn't actually hear most of their set, but what I did hear sounded fun. They debuted at least one new song and finished up with 'Can't See You Anymore', which got almost everyone in the crowd dancing on the spot.

My final act of the night, Canberra's Moaning Lisa, played at the Valley Drive In, a fun new space behind two iconic Brisbane venues: The Brightside and Holy Moly.

The fuzzy, indie-punks danced their hearts out on-stage and called for all Kims, Courtneys, Florences and (of course) Carries. They're a solid, grungy band with a very strong queer-girl aesthetic.

Click here to read our 2018 BIGSOUND Part 1 Review.

The dynamic between frontwoman Charlie and Hayley, who was on guitar, was electric, and between the two there was quite the show. During a brief inter-song silence, Hayley stepped forward and prepared to tell a joke. “I forgot the joke – but that's BIGSOUND!” she said. I'm still not quite sure what she meant, but I agree.

Day Two

My second BIGSOUND night started out at an unofficial event: a listening party for the new Thundamentals record and ended at a surprise Paul Kelly show, which I won’t be forgetting any time soon.

The Thundamentals listening party, although not an official BIGSOUND event, still drew a crowd, and was a great way to start the evening.

Eliza & The Delusionals were the first act of the night and they didn’t disappoint. Eliza herself is a formidable, glittery force of nature and a natural performer. She appears to maintain eye contact with the audience, giving an intense, personal quality to her live show.

Eliza DelusionalsEliza & The Delusionals - image © Kalem Horn

Even her guitar is a sight to be seen – green and covered in Japanese Kanji. Sonically, Eliza & The Delusionals bring together a mix of Alex Lahey earnestness and guitar-driven Brit-rock.

Click here to view more photos from BIGSOUND 2018.

During a quest to find the bathroom, I stumbled into 256 Wickham (they did indeed have a bathroom) and by complete chance caught the start of Estère’s set. She was an absolute vision, in a matching silver set, and had a very engaging solo performance.

She was using a shell bracelet to create sound effects as well as dancing and even playing her own percussion. It was a one-woman show and seemed almost part music, part performance art. I was impressed.

Next up was Sunscreen, your new favourite dream-pop boppers. Hailing from Sydney, their music feels like lying very still on the beach on a summer’s day. The band have a strong normcore aesthetic, with frontwoman Sarah a beacon of calm in her jeans and sneakers. Their performance was extremely tight and more than a little-bit dance-worthy.

Home-town heroes Bugs were next on my meticulously mapped-out timetable, playing the top floor of Crowbar. They drew a massive crowd and were as effervescent as ever in their delivery of sun-tinged punk-pop.

Bugs have shot to fame in the last year, with their single ‘Neighbourhood’ securing them a place at Falls Festival. Charismatic lead singer Connor had the entire crowd bouncing along to instant classics like 'Glue', 'Instant Coffee' and 'I Know We’re Done'.

KaiitKaiit - image © Kalem Horn

After Bugs was the inimitable Kaiit, the 20-year-old neo-soul juggernaut who has been making waves all over the country. Her backing band, decked out in all-black, played about half a song before Kaiit made her entrance. I honestly have nothing but respect for a woman who makes an entrance like that.

She busted out her well-known tunes like 'OG Love Kush' (both parts!) and 'Natural Woman', as well as unreleased songs from her upcoming EP, 'Live From Her Room'. Her voice is nothing short of show-stopping; there is no doubt Kaiit is going places.

Absolutely exhausted, I was almost relieved that the night was over when it took the most interesting turn yet – I received a text with the news that Paul Kelly was putting on a surprise show at The Zoo.

The line was already well up the street by the time I got there, and it didn’t seem likely that I would even make it in. But fortune prevailed and I managed to not only get into The Zoo, but to a place where I could actually see the stage (a feat for someone as short as me).

Paul KellyPaul Kelly - image © Kalem Horn

Paul Kelly played an hour-long set, complete with nephew Dan Kelly, Peter Luscombe on drums, Bill McDonald on bass and, of course, long-time backing vocalists Vika and Linda Bull, who were as magnificent as ever. All the favourites were played, with Paul saving the iconic 'How To Make Gravy' until very last.

BIGSOUND Day 2 was one of the most eventful nights of my life so far – I can’t wait to bring on Day 3.

Day 3

My third and final night at BIGSOUND for 2018 began and ended with some spectacular acts, and I left feeling tired but accomplished.

First up were RAT!hammock – I came for their absurd name and stayed for their sunny, frenetic indie sound. Hailing from Melbourne, they’re not dissimilar to early Tiny Little Houses but have an almost-folky twist a la Simon & Garfunkel.

The resulting sound is surprisingly rather pleasant. They have a good stage presence, and the bass player’s funky '80s perm is nothing short of mesmerising. Standout tracks include 'Mud' and 'Blood To Bruise'.

I dashed from RAT!hammock to Erthlings, and managed to catch the very last song from the dreamy Sydney four-piece. Lead singer Issy has a beautiful, almost ethereal voice and I just wish I’d caught more of their set.

After Erthlings came Good Doogs, the surf-punk trio all the way from Western Australia. They started out their set by handing out free Triple J stubby coolers; I’m now convinced there is no easier or better way to win over an audience.

Sonically, they fall in step with bands like Skegss and Hockey Dad, with the larrikin aesthetic of Dune Rats. While they might not be doing anything particularly new, they also don’t do it badly.

Next up was The Beths, a New Zealand band who I’d been keen to see ever since they were first announced. They didn’t disappoint either, with songs like 'Future Me Hates Me', their opener, just as catchy as ever.

Frontwoman Liz Stokes has a very dry sense of humour and it comes out well in both her songs and performance. Having only just released their first LP, The Beths are one to watch in the coming months.

The ChatsThe Chats - image © Kalem Horn

I decided to check out The Chats next, keen to see if the Sunny Coast three-piece lived up to the hype they created last year with the release of 'Smoko', the video for which went viral.

Styled as an homage to bogan Australia, complete with mullets, The Chats create fast, loud and cheeky punk. Their songs cover a broad range of topics, running the gamut from pub food to Chlamydia.

On-stage, they didn’t disappoint with one of the most energetic performances of the entire festival. The crowd was also the most hyped I had seen over the three days, with shirts sent flying and light fittings rattled.

The final act of my night was Asha Jefferies, who I’d been itching to see for months. Dream-pop is having a moment and the young Brisbane-based artist is making the most of it. This is one of the first times she has performed with a full backing band at her disposal, and she definitely made the most of it.

She was also joined, at one point, by fellow Brisbanite Hazlett for an entrancing duet. She talked and joked with the audience, which made the whole performance just that little bit more intimate. Her final two songs included her newest release 'Everybody Talks' as well as 'Chaos'.

It was a truly lovely way to end my very first BIGSOUND experience. I know I’ll be counting down the days until the 2019 festival.

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