thoughts on Big Sound Live – Day 2

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I ditch my plans and stick to the Artisan Gallery Outdoor stage for the Thursday night. I’m glad I do, as the line-up is great. The vibe is a lot more relaxed than it was for the indoor venues on the Wednesday night, and people are more willing to move around.

The night starts with Richard in Your Mind. The band have been labelled psychedelic, but there’s a lot more to these guys than extended jams and trippy guitar effects. I could have watched them for a lot longer than just a 30-minute set – strong basslines, rhythmic drum beats, funk guitars and the most energetic frontman I’ve seen in ages.

It’s synths galore when New Zealand act The Naked and Famous take the stage. The seemingly mismatched five-piece produce a pretty decent sound, despite the fact they don’t seem too confident in themselves. Nerves aren’t helped when the bass cuts out midway through the third song – noise complaints, apparently. Their set is still extremely enjoyable, especially ‘Young Blood’ and ‘Punching In A Dream’, and I’m glad to see people singing along – something that doesn’t happen much at smaller local shows anymore.

I’m a pretty big Ernest Ellis fan. I enjoy his/their (the name applies to both solo artist and band) set, but tonight isn’t their best. As usual ‘Pulse’ detours and becomes the middle-section of ‘The End’ by The Doors. In a normal set I don’t mind this, but for a 30-minute set that is supposed to showcase your own original talent, it’s time wasted. The rest is pretty standard, the band ploughing through their better-known songs, ‘Want For Anything’, ‘Loveless’ and ‘Heading For the Cold’. Ellis has a pretty diverse album that he never seems to take advantage of live. One day maybe.

I really want to like [local band] Last Dinosaurs more. This is the third time I’ve seen them, and I still have the same feeling as the previous two times. They play well, their songs are good, but there’s nothing fantastic about them. ‘Honolulu’ and ‘Alps’ are good to listen to, but the rest of the set is too average.

Sydney band Parades are easily the highlight of my Big Sound Live experiences. Their sound is incredibly lush, and pretty different to anything I hear over the two nights. Strong in vocal harmonies, and with musical influences ranging from post-rock, jazz to indie pop, their live set is seemingly flawless, calm but with a good amount of energy. They are my best ‘new’ find of the event.

Overall no, I don’t think that the acts I saw over the two nights were a showcase of Australia’s best and original talent. I think it was a better representation of what has been popular so far this year. I think that Brisbane could have been better represented, especially considering the event was held here. It was also disappointing to think back about the Brisbane bands I did see and realise they were some of my least favourite acts of the event. But the event succeeded in introducing me to some new bands, and for the most part I had fun and enjoyed each act I saw. And isn’t that supposed to be the point of live music anyway?

11 Responses to thoughts on Big Sound Live – Day 2

  1. Tim September 11, 2010 at 9:15 pm

    So who do you think are the best Australian bands out there right now? And who from Brisbane would you have liked to have seen on the bill? You are silent on both….

  2. Bianca September 11, 2010 at 10:20 pm

    Some Brisbane bands I”m liking right now are Lion Island and Hunz, and of course Ball Park Music who I didn’t see at Big Sound. On a more national scale, Steering by Stars and Goodnight Owl are pretty good too.

  3. Jodi Biddle September 12, 2010 at 4:06 pm

    I was surprised Ball Park Music didn’t make the cut, but maybe their popularity surged a little too late to put them on the bill this year. I love Lion Island but they might be served by waiting till next year, when they’re more established? It won’t hurt them anyway. Hunz, well, I have no answer, they/he should have been there. Hunz in singular form apparently killed it at the Pocket Music mini festival in Mana Bar though.

    Maybe Everett’s been in my ear too much the last couple of weeks but I think the line up only backed up his opinion that Big Sound is losing relevance.

  4. Tim September 12, 2010 at 10:53 pm

    Bianca – Ball Park Music did play. They played the same night as this review in fact. Hunz played last year. Jodi – losing relevance? you gotta be kidding right? On what basis are you saying that? The line up this year was great – so many fantastic bands. What about Halfway, Kyu, Pikelet, Bridezilla, Disco Nap, Guineafowl etc… etc…??

  5. ed September 13, 2010 at 8:38 am

    Hunz did play last year but so did The Optimen, Hungry Kids, Oh Mercy, Parades, The Cairos, Washington, Last Dinosaurs and My Fiction. I somehow managed to see 35 bands in the 2 days: not one really blew me away and a lot weren’t very good.

    As for its relevancy, I guess it depends if you consider it a true representation of what’s going on in Brisbane or whether it just represents a very narrow range of music. Most of what gets said at the conference at any of the sessions is a repetition of “write some great songs, have great presence” if you want to be successful. It’s mostly relevant but most people could tell you that without having to pay a few hundred dollars to hear it from some guys from major labels and the industry establishment.

  6. ed September 13, 2010 at 9:02 am

    And Hungry Kids also played in 2008 which obviously makes them the best band in Brisbane. Or something. The Optimen have also played 3 years in a row.

  7. Everett True September 13, 2010 at 9:21 am

    Jodi, in fairness – I don’t think Big Sound in particular is losing relevance. I don’t like music industry conventions, per se. They’re not aimed at me – so why should I? Pretty much none of the bands that played this year’s Big Sound filled me with any enthusiasm but again, they’re not aimed at me – so why should they? Does it matter? There are plenty of other great bands, right here in Brisbane, for me to see. And these are ones don’t require a government grant or industry backhanders to exist.

  8. ed September 13, 2010 at 1:14 pm

    ET – have you read the Big Sound blog? http://bigsoundsummit.posterous.com/

  9. Darragh September 13, 2010 at 3:50 pm

    I didn’t go, because I thought my time would have been better spent elsewhere. Annoying that people have to pay money to go hear a message (i.e write good songs) that is completely obvious.

  10. Tim September 13, 2010 at 8:59 pm

    Ed – you seem to be a man of impeccable taste, passing judgment from on high on the Australian music scene. You obviously think you have a better idea than most. Hmmm.

    Well I saw some great sets. So tell me, you thought Halfway and Kyu were ordinary? Let’s throw The Gin Club in while we’re at it eh? We obviously have different tastes. So where does that leave us?

  11. ed September 13, 2010 at 9:33 pm

    Kyu were probably the best thing I saw. Maybe it was a shame they were the first band on for everything that came after them. Didn’t see either Halfway or Gin Club, seen them both plenty of times before, good bands.

    But based on what I did see, and what I posted in Day 1 of this series, there was nothing that made me think “Our Band Could Be Your Life”. Do I have a better idea than most? I dunno. My nerdy spreadsheet tells me I’ve seen 235 bands this year, some have been really fucking great, a lot of the ones at Big Sound weren’t.

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