Hot Dub Time Machine, Cub Sport and Confidence Man Brisbane Festival Review @ The Riverstage

Alister Wright (Cloud Control) joined Cub Sport at Brisbane Festival's opening weekend celebrations (7 September, 2019).

A dust cloud hung over Brisbane, putting much of the city in a haze.

Dirt stung eyes, blocked sinuses, and sent asthmatics into coughing fits, but it didn’t dampen spirits at The Riverstage (7 September).

For 30 years, The Riverstage has invited local and international artists to grace its stage – my own experiences include seeing The Saints, Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds, and Portishead. To celebrate its 30th birthday, the cultural institution opened 2019's Brisbane Festival with a line-up of the best music the city has to offer.

The fog was heavy as Clea opened the festival. The dream-pop artist described the fog as “apocalyptic”, but her synth-heavy melodies soothed like a lullaby.

CleaClea - Image © Pixels and Spice Photography

Her set was filled with trilling keys and booming beats, except for her cover of Mark Ronson and Miley Cyrus’ ‘Nothing Breaks Like A Heart’. The song was stripped down to an acoustic guitar and Clea’s drawl, and strong howls of wind, filled out the spare arrangement, adding doom to the song’s heartbreak.

Representatives of the various Indigenous tribes of Brisbane and its surrounds gave a spirited Welcome To Country. The group taught festival attendees each of the tribes’ greetings, their dances, and traditions, showing the deeper history of the area.

Click here for more photos from the show.

Another history lesson came from indie rockers Last Dinosaurs in the form of ‘Time And Place’, their tribute to inventor Nikola Tesla. The strong winds made the trees sway to their upbeat hooks, and lead vocalist Sean Caskey let himself have fun with the crowd.

A fan asked Sean to do a shoey. “All of your shoes are way too nice for shoeys,” he responded, instead offering to take their photo from the stage. “Can you play acoustic?” asked a fan, which was met with Sean shredding the intro to Jack Johnson’s ‘Taylor’.

Last DinosaursLast Dinosaurs - image © Pixels and Spice Photography

As the band readied to zip through ‘Zoom’, Sean asked an enthusiastic fan if they’d like to be their backing dancer. The fan relished the opportunity, flailing his limbs behind the band, eventually taking over Sean’s mic for his only chance to shout the chorus from The Riverstage.

The setting sun brought a chill, with many fans covering their festival fashion with jumpers. Those who didn’t prepare for cold weather warmed themselves in the mosh for Confidence Man.

The electro-pop group have a reputation for energetic performances, and they did not disappoint. Singers Janet Planet and Sugar Bones strutted across the stage to the beats of their masked musicians, sometimes breaking out into choreographed dance routines.

Confidence ManConfidence Man - image © Pixels and Spice Photography

The hill atop The Riverstage was practically empty as most fans were drawn closer to the tunes, while one fan held an inflatable cupcake above his head and raced into the crowd like a surfer going to the water.

Cub Sport’s Tim Nelson stood alone on The Riverstage, sweetly crooning ‘Unwinding Myself’. The rest of the band arrived on stage, filling the venue with lush synthpop.

The performance held significance for Tim: “Last time we were on this stage we were supporting Vance Joy. [Bandmate Sam Netterfield] and I had just gotten married.” Vision of the couple’s union, and their dog, were projected onto the screen behind them.

Cub SportCub Sport - image © Pixels and Spice Photography

The band filled their set with other surprises, including their cover of Billie Eilish’s ‘When The Party’s Over’ and the debut of new song ‘I’ve Never Cried So Much In My Whole Life’.

Surprise guests made unexpected appearances mid-song in the form of Cloud Control’s Alister Wright and local pop sensation Mallrat. Tim gushed over his friends, and together they covered Cloud Control’s ‘Scar’ and “a song that has made me cry a bunch of times”, Mallrat’s ‘Charlie’ making the party an extra-sweet affair.

Closing the festival was Sydney’s Hot Dub Time Machine. From the mind of DJ Tom Loundes, Hot Dub presents itself as the “best party ever”, and the group had a special set in mind for “the home of ‘Bluey’”.

Joined by a horn section, Tom took the crowd back to 1954 with Billy Hayley’s ‘Rock Around The Clock’, and taking in plenty of hits from the years. Tom was an enthusiastic host, pumping up the crowd with chants of “oi” to AC/DC’s ‘TNT’ and stomping to Queen.

Hot DubHot Dub Time Machine - image © Pixels and Spice Photography

Special guest singers Owl Eyes and Wes Carr gave more energy to the recordings, with the latter performing a spirited rendition of home-town heroes Powederfinger’s ‘These Days’.

It was one of many great Brisbane songs Tom aired, including Savage Garden and Regurgitator, showing the rich history of Brisbane, and the part The Riverstage has played throughout it.

Here’s to many more years to come.

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