Wednesday 6 September
17:00 – Levi’s Music Prize Launch Party, Ruby Fields, Winston Surfshirt, Maddy Jane & Hockey Dad, The Brightside, Freya
Levi’s knows how to put on a sick party! With a line-up consisting of Ruby Fields, Winston Surfshirt, Maddy Jane and Hockey Dad, the night was off to a cracking start. Ruby Fields delivered a set similar to those I have seen in the past. Her gruff and distant stage presence is really starting to turn the attention away from her music and onto her seeming incapacity to engage with her audience.
Winston Surfshirt were uncharacteristically reserved in their set. Performing new tracks and old favourites, the Sydney boys seemed to hold back, perhaps due to the nature of the showcase and pressure to perform. Maddy Jane, on the other hand, is a welcome contrast with crisp, witty and truly honest music that makes her a defiant and refreshing addition to rock’n’roll.
Wrapping up the night was Hockey Dad. Having already seen them a number of times before, I had certain expectations. In a similar way to Winston, I found that they held back a hell of a lot more than I was used to. Still a great show, it lacked the raw energy I have come to know and love. Thanks for the wicked start to the evening Levi’s. You sure know how to make a girl feel pumped for the night ahead!
20:10 – Slow Dancer, Ric’s Big Backyard, Mick
Away from the hustle of the second day of BIGSOUND, Slow Dancer brought the laid back vibes to Ric’s Backyard to kick off the evening sessions. With a minimal backing band, his Jack Johnson-esque vocals gave everyone a chance to sit back and appreciate a voice that is as warm as it is cool. It Goes On is a highlight of the set with its brighter and positive lyrics from his second album, In A Mood. Seriously smooth, but older track, Leave It To Me leaves us in a better mood than we walked in with. I think that’s the intention.
21:00 – Odette, The Elephant Hotel, Brynn & Mick
Giving possibly the most melodic “check one two” of BIGSOUND, Odette hushed the crowd with a gong reverberating out from the stage. Giving us a mix of soul, pop and spoken word that combine to create a show worthy of a more experienced artist, the 19-year-old is confident, whether fronting a drummer or completely solo.
A voice that pierces the crowd and makes people shut up and listen. Spoken word and beat poetry are finding their way back into soul and hip hop, and her complex fluidity in the spoken verses of Watch Me Read You drew our collective breath. A rich, honeyed tonality and power beyond her years, Odette mesmerised and soothed, strong beats moving our hips in a few tracks and lyrically-dense balladry mellowing us into stools and around tables in others. Can’t wait to see her perform with a complete chorus of backing vocalists echoing her recorded refrains.
Odette is on the cusp of something huge if her appearance at this conference is anything to go by. Fractured Glass closes out a huge set that is sure to launch this talent into something potentially huge.
21:00 – Baker Boy, triple j Unearthed Stage, Oh Hello!, Mick
Baker Boy is set to be this biggest star in Australian hip hop. Delivering an almost perfect set at Oh Hello! The Northern Territory rapper invited mates on stage to deliver hit Cloud 9 and new tracks including a moving new remix of Yothu Yindi’s Treaty. Managing to mix lightning-speed rap with seamlessly performative style and a bit of didgeridoo in the mix, there is no doubt in my mind that Baker Boy will dominate not only Australian stages, but those across the globe.
His wild confidence and phenomenal stage presence is meant for the world to see. Baker Boy is phenomenal and in my top selection of BIGSOUND acts.
21:50 – Haiku Hands, triple j Unearthed Stage, Oh Hello!, Mick
Haiku Hands are so new that their only gigs have been to friends and family. That didn’t stop them from being at BIGSOUND and drawing a huge crowd at Oh Hello! The four-piece all-women singing and dancing act wasn’t helped by poor sound, but their energy on stage suits their music which is constant, upbeat and bloody fun. The hit, Not About You, is a crowd favourite and the group throw in a costume change to add to the spectacle.
There’s a feel that this group are still fresh, but there’s a lot to like from this unique act.
22:30 – The VANNS, The New Globe Theatre, Brynn
It was an interesting experience walking past a row of signs screaming “GIRLS GIRLS GIRLS” not a hundred meters from the main BIGSOUND hub. Though the New Globe was a little away from the action in a slightly seedier area, throngs gathered in line outside to catch The VANNS.
Classic rock’n’roll got everyone grooving, an eager crowd packing out the larger venue. It was awesome to see less purple lanyards swinging from delegate’s necks and more un-tagged punters dancing uninhibited. Familiar riffs from Skinny Legs and Harder To Find had the room clapping and jiving.
Our own Lachie Jones was totally immersed in his craft on the drums, ignorant to my catcalls about needing more cowbell in Sunday To Sunday and Dane’s camera in his face. Jimmy, Cam and Tom rocked out comfortably in the front – a GOY-inspired butt wiggle from Cam here, a smoldering look at the crowd from Jimmy there. Exactly what we needed to set us in the right mood for one more dance after a long day.