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BIGSOUND Live Review - Brendon Rosolen

Walking into the Bakery St stage was a somewhat surreal experience. In what is usually a grungy side street in the valley, had been transformed, by the BigSound elves, into a trendy, urban hangout. With a stage taking pride of place in the narrow laneway, between palm trees and the ever-present bar, it was clear what this was all about: the music.


I arrived a few minutes early to catch The Sheepdogs running through a final sound check before they laid their smooth, southern rock upon the crowd of, mostly, industry folk. Reminiscent of Lynyrd Skynyrd and Creedence Clearwater Revival, the Canadian band brings their own flavour to a timeless musical genre; this is music you could road trip to. The crowd of musical industrialists all seem too-cool-for-school to really get into the music or are too busy schmoozing to really pay attention, luckily there are a few eager punters loving what The Sheepdogs are bringing to Brisbane tonight and I think we’ll be seeing them back on our shores sooner rather than later.

A common motif in music and fashion lately has been the modern re-interpretation of vintage classics, so it is appropriate that the old Troubadour venue has been reborn as The Black Bear Lodge. The layout of the venue hasn’t changed much and the décor looks like the share house living room of my grandparents and some hipsters. It is both familiar and new, much like Gossling, the Melbourne songstress I am here to see. Sitting alone on the stage, behind her keyboard, Gossling’s sultry vocals seduce the crowd quickly and she doesn’t let go. A quirky joke about Snoop Dogg’s umbrella (“for drizzle, my nizzle”) lightens the mood before she slides into the next song. Gossling has a cutesy, almost childlike, vocal style, similar to Julia Stone or Alex Winston, that you will either love or hate, but I think she has nailed her sound and we will be seeing a lot more from this talented young singer.

From one talented vocalist to another, I arrive at The Tempo Hotel, to catch Darwin residents, Sietta. This self-proclaimed ‘futuristic R&B, hip-hop and soul’ duo easily live up their bragging, pumping out melody laden, beat driven R&B with front woman, Caiti Baker, belting out vocals that would put Alicia Keys to shame. Sietta are unique, in my eyes, in that they don’t try to emulate the ‘American’ sound of R&B, instead they put a distinctly Aussie flavour into their music. Currently touring in support of The Herd and Illy, I would highly recommend catching one of these shows if you get the chance.

One show I haven’t caught before is The Cairos, a Brisbane band that has been working tirelessly for the last few years and one band that I have repeatedly heard great things about. They have toured with Julian Casablancas, Powderfinger, The Temper Trap, and You Am I among others, yet tonight is the first time I have seen them live and I am cursing myself that I haven’t done it earlier. Combining vintage rock with post punk and electro influences, The Cairos sound like everyone and no one at the same time, leaving me to come up with my own genre for them: Sexy Rock. It is clear that despite their youth, they are battle hardened musicians who know how to keep it tight and when to let loose. I’d say expect big things from these guys but I think I’m too late for that, get along to see them whenever and wherever you can, you will not be disappointed.

Disappointed is what I am when I arrive at Amaya Laucirica, not because of the quality of the music, but simply because due to some technical gremlins the sound check takes longer than expected and as a result the show starts about 15 minutes late. Once the music starts it’s clear to see why she was Triple J’s feature album late last year with her album Early Summer. She has a presence larger than the small stage at Ric’s would suggest as she takes the crowd on a journey through her music. Sadly I have to leave after only 2 songs to get to the next show. But Amaya Laucirica is touring next month and I will be sure to be in attendance at her Brisbane show.

My final gig for the night is Melbourne band, The Chemist, at Electric Playground, and I’m glad they are the last band I will see tonight because nothing could follow-up what they deliver. The Alchemist would be a more appropriate name due to their ability to turn guitars, drums, synth and vocals into pure gold. Much like The Cairos they span multiple genres, from west coast rock, to folk, to prog-rock and electronica, making a sound all their own. Truly one of the most surprising bands I have seen tonight, and that is no feint praise. Singer/songwriter Ben Witt has a nervous stage presence and a sometimes unorthodox and violent guitar style, breaking a string during the first song, but that just adds to the complex drama of the music. The Chemist are a band that deserves success, simply because of the honesty and raw energy they bring to their shows. I look forward to seeing big things from these guys.

All in all the first night of Big Sound Live was an enlightening and enjoyable experience, I found tons of new music to keep my iPod happy for a long time to come and I have found a few new venues around Brisbane to keep an eye on in the future. If you’re looking for a great night out come out for the second night,  if you are busy keep and eye out for the round up of the second night here.


Thursday 8.09.2011

Ahh, the second day of any festival is always an interesting prospect, much like a second album, it must be better than the first; appeal to a greater audience, but not alienate the established fans. With such a great first day, full of surprises and intrigue, I am excited to be at The Zoo to see The Jungle Giants as they kick off the final night of Big Sound Live 2011. Having first heard about The Jungle Giants a few months back with their song ‘Mr. Polite’, and being a fan of lead singer Sam Hales’ solo work (find his song ‘Shooting for the Stars’), I have been keen to see their live show for a while now. It seems quite a few people share my sentiments as The Zoo quickly gathers quite a crowd and the band does not disappoint. Launching into a set of luscious indie-pop songs with a heavy jungle drums, tight guitars and brilliant vocals. Providing a fantastic start to the night The Jungle Giants are proof that Brisbane has a huge pool of talent just waiting to be discovered, catch them when they play Valley Fiesta next month.

It is with much amusement that I walk into The Aviary, atop Birdees in The Valley, with minimalist white walls and stuffed birds perched on the rafters, it feels as though I have walked into another world. The birds lend a light hearted, if somewhat creepy, air to the venue, but tonight I am here for one songbird, the delightfully named Melissa Tickle, lead singer of Little Scout. In this room her smoky vocals enhance the enchanting atmosphere of the room and there is no doubt that we have yet another set of supremely talented young musicians ready to take flight. Gliding through a set of expertly crafted songs in the style of any of the members of Seeker Lover Keeper, the crowd is taken on a journey that ends all too quickly. It’s easy to see why Little Scout have spent time on the road in support of Jens Lekman, Josh Pyke, and The Middle East.

I leave The Aviary and it’s menagerie and visit The Press Club to witness Avabereé perform their brand of harmony infused folk. A friend of mine once described them as ‘caramel for the soul’ and I couldn’t put it better myself. From the first note to the last this trio of girls bring some of the finest and sweetest harmonies you are likely to hear outside of an opera house, combined with excellent songwriting that highlights their talents and a few covers that will bring a smile to your face, it’s an enjoyable set. Consider my soul caramelized. Catch them when they play outside the Speigeltent 6-7pm as part of The Brisbane Festival, on the 14th and 20th of this month.

I make my way around the corner to Oh, Hello! to see Charlie Mayfair play to a full house. Back in Brisbane fresh from an east coast tour, the band seem eager to play to a home crowd again. Warning that this might be their last show for a while, as they record their next EP, they give it their all, bringing every ounce of energy they have to the stage. Hannah and Dave switch up duties as lead vocal, giving a wonderful juxtaposition of sound, Charlie Mayfair bring a lot to the table with a wide stylistic repertoire. From rock to country to folk, there aren’t many genres that aren’t covered in this set, but each one still carries the Charlie Mayfair sound. Expect big things.

I head back early to The Zoo to catch Eagle and The Worm, straight away it’s clear I’m not alone in this thought. Although I wasn’t too familiar with their music, Eagle and The Worm are one of those bands that just has buzz about them, and after hearing their cover of Janelle Monet’s ‘Tightrope’ last week on Triple J, I am keen to see if this buzz is justified. Yes, yes it is. Bringing a huge amount of sound to the stage, with guitars, drums, saxophone, trumpets and great vocal harmonies Eagle and The Worm deliver with style to spare. The lead singer has an interesting voice that doesn’t sound quite natural, but it works with the music being played. They put on a great show and I’m glad to have seen them before they head overseas to do a string of dates in the UK.

Finally, to wrap up the night and Big Sound, I head to The Tempo Hotel to see Trial Kennedy, these guys have been quiet for a while but have a new album and are back bigger than ever. They solidfy their position as one of Australia’s best post-punk rock bands around, the new songs being more mature than earlier releases but not losing any of their rawness. They are playing a host of dates around the country in the coming weeks so get along and rock out.

So that was Big Sound, a very small sample of it anyway, I had an awesome time discovering and rediscovering music and bands, talking to some great people, seeing some of the more interesting venues this town has to offer. Certainly it has reignited my passion for music and confirmed that Brisbane and Australia have a huge amount of talent at our fingertips. It has also made me realise that without our support a lot of these bands will go by the wayside and that would be a huge loss. So get out there and support your local music scene! Now!


Brendon Rosolen - AAA Backstage

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