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BIGSOUND Roundup: Day 1

Every year the cold Brisbane months roll around and we find ourselves with a case of the Winter blues, and then out of the darkness comes the shining  musical beacon that is BIGSOUND. Day one kicked off in true style, and we were on the ground to catch it. This, our friends, is our full BIGSOUND Day 1 Roundup.

Amongst the first of the acts to kick off night one, were Grenadiers, Woodes and Mike Waters.

Grenadiers started the night in heavy rocking form, travelling all the way from Adelaide to grace The New Globe Theatre stage. Their foot stomping sound had a rock purity to it, with relentless and hard drumming and frenzied, shredding guitar. This was backed up with passionate vocals from lead singer Jesse and a great dynamic between the three, with bassist Phil spitting beer into the air in time with Jimmy’s drumming.

Meanwhile, over atThe Brightside (Outdoor Stage) Melbourne based producer and singer Elle Graham, better known as Woodes, serenaded the modest crowd gathered for the opening set. Sporting a beautiful white flowing cape, the 23-year-old delivered a stunning set of soft electronica. Her layering of recorded mixed with live soaring vocals in Byron was just one of the many “wow” moments throughout her set. The set truly showcased her angelic vocal range and her unique incorporation of live vibraphone that looked giant stretched out in front of her petite frame.

Mike Waters, aka Australia’s answer to the likes of Passenger eased us into the festivities with his simple, one man set, taking to the Flying Cock stage with his beautiful voice and guitar. Sharing his heartfelt tunes and personal stories, the crowd was captivated, hushed by the sometimes somber but always stunning music that was being made.

No rest for the wicked, up next Brisbane’s indie punk rockers WAAX were the first act to grace The Elephant Hotel’s stage. Despite some technical issues with amps, microphones and even lighting, the female fronted group powered through and delivered some searing, high-energy post-punk rock music. The almost possessed performance from lead singer Marie DeVita was definitely a highlight, with her facial contortions and commanding hand gestures mesmerizing the audience.   

In quick succession after this act, Melbourne glam rockers Pearls brought their atmospheric, fuzzy sound to a very enthusiastic and packed audience. Lead singer Ryan Caesar had a Freddie Mercury vibe to him, but less of the overt swagger. The group looked impressively glam on stage, but didn’t have much chemistry as a group. They finished with their infectious, slow-building hit Big Shot and all was forgotten as they and the crowd properly rocked out.

Ben Wright Smith was an unexpected surprise, taking to the Foundry stage with his newly formed band. With instrumentals reminiscent of Boy & Bear and vocals comparable to the great Kevin Parker, the set was immediately infectious.

Back over at the Flying Cock and one of the most engaging sets of the night belonged to Adelaide’s Timberwolf, moniker for 24 year-old Christopher Panousakis. Backed by his band, which featured the liveliest bassist at BIGSOUND, Timberwolf delivered a set full of absorbing crescendos and a powerful and passionate vocal performance that would have even sent goose bumps through Matt Corby. Featuring spot on harmonies, a few rocking guitar solos, and a Fleetwood Mac cover, Timberwolf’s set was one of the best of the Wednesday night program.

At roughly half way through the night, Sydney boys Food Court lit up Ric’s small front room with their distorted, heavy surf-rock. The three-piece had a loose, reckless style of playing, but that’s not to say they weren’t musically capable, it was done with a cheeky charisma. Their hit 14 Years Young went over very well with the crowd, with people trying to dance in the cramped space in front of the stage.

Effortlessly powerful and magically captivating, Ali barter took to the Zoo stage and wowed the crowd. With a stellar collection of musicians backing up her band (including Oscar from Holy Holy), Ali shone through to be one of the best acts of the night.

The Foundry was well and truly packed for Melbourne’s slick genre-crossing singer Harts. With elements of funk, rock, blues, and pop, the swoon-worthy Darren Hart and backing band had the audience in the palm of their hands. Harts Michael Jackson-esque shrieks teamed with the psychedelic, shredding guitar brought both Prince and Jimi Hendrix to mind, and the guitar solos in hits like Red & Blue made you feel like you’d stepped back in time.

Opening with fan favourite Bluff the Brisbane four-piece Babaganouj immediately hushed the sizeable crowd in The Elephant’s beer garden. For half an hour Babaganouj transported all listening back to the best parts of the 90’s through their infamous garage pop-rock. Embracing their heavier than usual sound the crowd bopped and sung along without needing encouragement. Recent single Can’t Stop was the highlight, but overall the set was as messy and charming as their lead guitarist Charles’ hair.

Slum Sociable have been getting quite a few spins on Triple J lately, it was a mission to find out if the hype was justified… and boy was it. With the lead singer shaking his tambourine like a Polaroid picture and charming the crowd with his cool, charismatic dancing and look of pure joy to be onstage, it didn’t take long to see that these guys offer up a fantastic live act, well worthy of the love they’ve been receiving of late.

It all felt like a bit of a whirlwind but with determination and a handful of Red Bull’s each, we ventured forward to the final acts for the night.

Closing the night at The Winn outdoor stage, Melbourne’s alt/pop six-piece City Calm Down took to the stage in matching black outfits. After a few sound issues, the group started their atmospheric and tight set, with confident and accomplished vocals from lead singer Jack Bourke and backing trumpets creating a heady, layered sound. However, Bourke had some serious dad dancing going on which was a little distracting, and with the overall volume perhaps a little low, they didn’t end up packing as much punch as expected.

Being one of the biggest names on the BIGSOUND lineup, HOLY HOLY walked on stage to a hero’s reception. Without skipping a beat they launched into History, instantly transfixing the capacity crowd and turning them into one swaying sweaty mob. A sublime drum solo followed in the energetic ballad If I Were You, receiving a deafening applause from the overjoyed crowd. The 5-piece sounded amazing as they tore through their set full of beautiful guitar melodies, long held “oohs”, and the occasional drunken member of the crowd attempting to become the 6th member of the alt-rock outfit. The set finished on their breakthrough single You Cannot Call for Love Like a Dog, causing everyone in the crowd to either sing along, head-bang, pull out an air guitar, or a combo of all three.

Walking away from day one of Bigsound there were many emotions, exhausted albiet slightly buzzed and totally inspired were the front runners. With so many great acts knocked over in only four hours, and oh so many more to go BIGSOUND never fails to disappoint and remind us exactly why we love music. So best of luck comrades, we’ll see you out there again tonight!

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