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BIGSOUND Live Review - Krissi Weiss

Wednesday 07.09.11

After a day of insight, information and controversy (I’m looking at you McGee), the Valley opens its doors to industry-types set on discovering the “next big thing” and pundits excited to see who may rise to the top of the cream over the next year. Big Sound Live is an opportunity to do business, make your mark and be seen by all manner of music lovers that are open and ready to absorb something new. For little old Brisbane it is becoming quite clear that careers can be made in this two night series of showcases.

Starting off at Woodland, a relatively modest crowd assembles for Brous. As the set unfolds the venue seems to get fuller by the minute and it becomes clear that this project is firmly a forum for frontwoman Sofia Brous to shine. With a powerful voice that hints at classical training, swung rhythms and other-worldly melodies take me back to post-WW2 Europe. Captivating from the very beginning, Brous bring something different to a night dominated by indie-guitar in its pop, rock and garage forms.

After waiting over 10 minutes past the scheduled start time for Ruby Frost, the sound of drums going through a lengthy sound check is bordering on tedious. With a tight schedule I am aware that I am not going to get to see all of the New Zealander’s set at Woodland. What I do see is overly manufactured and forced. This is essentially quirky, disposable pop but with a weak vocal delivery and a self-conscious presence, Frost also has to battle exceedingly loud drums which render the extensive sound check a waste of time. In time, however, she may find her feet as a performer.

Heading into up to The Aviar, the air is thick with humidity and sweat – a perfect setting for Jackson Firebird. These brother-in-laws from Mildura smash me in the face with their chaotic, bluesy rock. While they may be compared to The White Stripes (mainly due to their simple drums and guitar format), they have a far more punk attitude than that. Natural, charming and unruly, these lads twist the standard formula of song writing with fluctuating tempo’s contrasting extremely tight riffs. Jackson Firebird are a surprise highlight of the night.

The Zoo welcomes one of the most hyped performances of Big Sound Live, Emma Louise and I am excited to see what this young artist has to offer. Maybe I am missing something here but I find it hard to concentrate on her music and I don’t think the chatter of the excitable industry types that have flooded the room is the reason. Yes she has a lovely voice and there is a certain charm to her gentle songs but I keep asking myself “why all the fuss?” This is the sort of pop-folk that attracts the accusation of being tiresome and boring. Well played but entirely forgettable.

Lanie Lane has Black Bear Lodge at near capacity for her set. With a voice that is truly unique and a ‘50s sentiment to her music, Lane delivers her contagious songs with an unaffected presence and an almost eccentric charm. While these songs essentially stand well on their own, the absence of a backing band, most notably a rhythm section, leaves me wanting. Despite that, she really leaves her mark as a must see act.

I am ending tonight on a curiously mainstream note after seeing a number of left of centre artists. With Bakery Lane about half full, Calling All Cars are taking the brutally male approach to rock. While they have flirted with a little success over the past few years, it seems that they haven’t quite solidified the audience that they need. Heavily influenced by the Cog/Butterfly Effect brand of ‘00s Aussie rock, Calling All Cars are confident and musically tight. Their sound, however, may be a few years too late.

After an evening that has reignited my excitement for the music that is yet to come this year, I head home, ears ringing from forgotten ear plugs and reminded that Australian (and Queensland) music is setting a hectic pace with the current scope of talent almost daunting.

Krissi Weiss - AAA Backstage

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