Thursday 7 September
17:00, POW! Negro, The Oztix BIGSOUND Party, Freya
POW! Negro stole BIGSOUND for me. They were by far the most energetic and transformative act of the event, with front Nelson Mondlane transforming a single showcase into a moment of sheer transcendence. With a recent EP release, the boys were filled with energy, giving their absolute all on stage. Drawing the audience in with their furious blend of funk and hip hop, POW! Negro left nothing at the door. With each breath, they moved from the romantic, to political, to social, holding the crowd with an unforgiving stare. Rarely does a show leave me absolutely lost for words, but POW! Negro had me stammering trying to describe their performance. Acclaimed track Money For Portraits received a huge response, and Mondlane’s interludes captured everybody, their mouths ajar in wonder at his eloquent and proud declaration of unity and love for his fellow people. I was left feeling as though I had seen one of the best shows of my career as a writer thus far. POW! Negro are a sensation; an act so brilliant beyond their years it is almost a certainty that they are going to redirect Australian hip hop into a sphere we never thought possible.
20:10 – Taj Ralph, Ric’s Big Backyard, Freya
triple j Unearthed High runner up Taj Ralph shone brighter than ever before Thursday night. At just 16 years old, Ralph demanded attention. His charismatic and mature vocalism trumped any preconception one might have had as to his fresh-faced stage presence. Ralph has crafted an act that speaks to adolescent experience and vulnerability without even a hint of uncertainty. He commanded the set like nothing I have seen from a performer this new to the stage. Standout track Nightcatcher shook everyone to the core, beautifully crafted and effortlessly presented. If there is one artist who you should keep in your back pocket it’s Taj Ralph, a highlight of BIGSOUND and a performer with an enormous future.
21:10 – Jess Locke, The Foundry, Mick
Her casual style fit right in to the Brisbane vibe. Jess Locke is the sort of musician that, despite her laid back attitude and self-referenced ‘sad-pop’, attracts attention with her impressive songwriting and surprisingly sardonic wit. Her songwriting makes you listen for the clever wordplay but ultimately it’s easy to listen to and very well written. The mostly full Foundry room were not left disappointed.
21:50 – Miss Blanks, The Flying Cock, Brynn
This year’s BIGSOUND has been an active and heartening player in culture change surrounding inclusivity and diversity through both their live and conference platforms. Miss Blanks – rapper, hip hop artist and extraordinary all-round performer – took to the stage on Thursday night to a room absolutely bursting at the seams with industry and punters alike. With Sullivan Patten on DJ duty and her Mum front and centre, Sian Vandermuelen spoke to the crowd about self-love, owning your confidence, being unapologetic and booty appreciation between songs, making sure everyone in the crowd was included in the conversation.
Clap Clap and fierce new single Freq U have been played enough over the intercoms pre-conference that even those new to this explosive, honest and fun-loving act were singing along. Sian brought up a stream of incredible guest performers, the stage crowded with women spitting fire and singing their soul into the mic, while the audience clamored for more. For me, she was the most uplifting and uniting artists of BIGSOUND, and I can’t wait to see Miss Blanks take on the industry one kickass performance at a time.