BIGSOUND 2017: Day 1 Roundup (Part 1)

By on Tuesday, 19th September 2017 at 2:00 pm
 

The first day of BIGSOUND is similar to SXSW in that conference sessions don’t really get going until the second day. Naturally, I used the opportunity to pop in and out of afternoon showcases and attend some industry mixers to get a better read of what I was about to experience. A Woman in Music welcome event at Eleven rooftop bar on Ann Street was a nice event on the docket to help situate someone like me who had never attended BIGSOUND before, with several industry luminaries giving both newbies and artists alike tips and tricks to make the most out of their time at the event. An international delegates event later in the afternoon at The Pig and Whistle felt bit awkward for myself from America to attend when surrounded by Australian industry people who seem to all know each other. Still, I guess it’s interesting to see that industry people in Oz act just the way they do in America and the UK?


Jess Ribeiro Tuesday afternoon at BIGSOUND 2017

Remote Control Records, a promotions group in Melbourne, was putting on one of the first afternoon parties of the week. The beer garden at the entry point for The Brightside isn’t big, but its feel is like those you experience at The Great Escape: pretty intimate, yet relaxed enough that going to the bar for a beer isn’t an offence, it’s practically encouraged. Perhaps it wasn’t the smartest idea for Jess Ribiero and her band to use this moment to premiere a new song live, but you have to give her credit for at least pushing out the boat.


Considering from where I come from, I find it highly ironic that one of the first bands I would see at BIGSOUND was a cover band. At least they were from Brisbane. Playing around the corner on the bigger outdoor stage for the Social State party at The Brightside were Bris-182, a collective of musicians usually numbering in sum over 10 and who are in their own indie bands, but they come together to form this supergroup to play songs by their guilty pleasure Blink-182. If you want to talk about surreal, just imagine how surreal it was for me to be thousands of miles away from home at the outdoor stage at The Brightside and see a covers band from my country. They even had a guest star on vocals, Jeremy from Velociraptor, join them on stage for a tune.

Jim Lawrie Tuesday afternoon at BIGSOUND 2017

During the stage break on the bigger outdoor stage, I wandered back to the front beer garden of The Brightside to catch a tune by Jim Lawrie. My initial research on the man prior to coming out to BIGSOUND suggested that I was in for a Bruce Springsteen-esque performance, which in general (for me anyway) would mean I wouldn’t like it. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised with a mélange of jangly guitar and drums more reminiscent of a band important in my early musical upbringing, The Eagles. This is music for lonesome drives down long, lonely motorways, and I like it.

Evan Klar at BIGSOUND 2017 Tuesday

My main purpose of being at The Brightside in the first place was to see Evan Klar, who’s been signed to EMI Australia. A true globetrotter as described in my blurb suggesting him as a best bet at BIGSOUND 2017, it’s good to see a former London session musician coming into his own, making his own music and having been recognised by a major so early on in a new project. Funnily enough, I had unwittingly started a conversation with the currently Melbourne-based Evan when Bris-182 were loading in and got an insider tip that his performance would be a slightly stripped version of what he’d be bringing to his two evening showcases the following 2 nights. He has an interesting style, in that there’s a huge percussive element to his music (with help from his live band) that makes his points come across more emphatically and more vibrantly than the bog standard singer/songwriter. That said, in singles like the already released, dusky ‘Sleep’, he shows his pop music intelligence and writing ability.

Sadly, I left before Brisbane’s own WAAX took to the stage following Evan Klar and didn’t get a chance to catch them before the conclusion of the festival. There’s a lot of buzz around the band. Although simply being local with respect to BIGSOUND must have been a help, they also placed in the top 5 shortlist of acts among over 120 acts entered in Brisbane’s own The City Sounds’ Amplify competition, proving their worth. Despite my best attempt by my feet to see them Tuesday night, I missed them.

My afternoon concluded with what can certainly be named the most awesome venue I had the good fortune to visit during my time at BIGSOUND. Just to the left of the stage for the Spirit Level Records showcase in the basement of The Judith Wright Centre, a tactile, sound-resonating art installation hung from the ceiling (see the header photo at the top to see what I mean). This is where I got to see Melbourne’s Braille Face. A lot of people in America and the UK have become enamoured with the soulfulness of Matthew E. White. The surname of the prolific Jordan White, who releases music under the stage name Braille Face, seems a little too perfect. He’s a Melburnian who has fully embraced and chosen to experiment with the electronic technology that makes one-man bands these days possible but it’s his rich, compelling, soulful voice that will win him legions of fans.

Braille Face at BIGSOUND 2017 Tuesday

‘Koya’, his album released last year, is chockfull of beauteous soundscapes and his appearance on the scene is much appreciated after East India Youth announced last year that he was hanging up his hat. While I arrived to his set late, I was rewarded with songs on which he was accompanied by a violinist, which added a traditional counterbalance, if you will, to what he was doing on keyboards. To get an idea of what this might sound live, watch the live piano version of ‘Because’ below.

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