At the risk of being branded a dangerous lunatic by everyone who’s still in recovery mode almost a fortnight on, I’m going to come right out and say that BIGSOUND is one of my favourite weeks of the whole damn year.
It’s Australia’s sun-drenched, beer-soaked music industry summer camp; part thinktank, part music festival, part networking orgy and part four-day bender, where you can’t turn a corner without bumping into a handful of familiar faces, where the balmy spring evenings are spent dizzily bouncing between endless live gigs like a giddy ping-pong ball, and where your bed is never more than a few boozy steps from the spot you decide to call it a night. What’s not to love?
2019 marked my third straight year crashing the Fortitude Valley festivities, but this time, there was one big fat difference. This time, I wasn’t just wearing my journo hat, I was also a showcasing artist.
Yep, those cheeky devils at BIGSOUND put my thing down flipped it and reversed it by selecting my mutant rock crew RedHook as one of the lucky up-and-comers to showcase at this year’s conference, which meant a few things for ya girl: a) I couldn’t let myself get as muntdaddy as usual (because performing) b) I spent the whole time feeling nervous as absolute fuck at the fear of choking in front of “the industry” c) the artist sched was so balls to the wall I had to dog a bunch of PR meetings (sorry frens) and d) the realities of loading in, warming up, manning the merch desk etc. before & after the showcase wiped out a whole bunch of time that would have otherwise been spent checking out showcases.
BUT: I still managed to catch a solid bunch, so I thought I’d share a few flickering rising stars with y’all who each had their respective crowds frothing harder than a schooie of pale ale with their fierce live game.
So with that, fellow mosh fiends, here’s 8 BIGSOUND-slaying rock & metal acts you need to get around right the hell now!
PS also just wanna say I feel so genuinely privileged not just to have been a part of an event that goes above and beyond to nurture its artists and their future careers — through everything from teeing up delegate speed-dating hookups, facilitating media interviews (SGC Media & Title Track — you guys bloody killed it) to linking up with sponsors to provide free accommo and save us all some vital dollarydoos (onya YouTube). Cheers up, BIGSOUND. We’re all very lucky to have you.
This Singaporean female-fronted hardcore fivesome pretty much had punters picking pieces of their brains off the back wall of Rick’s Big Backyard with their absolute jaw-dropper of a live show. Ripping through a seven-song set to cap off Wednesday’s Hear65 Showcase, Caracal proved they could thrill, no pit required. The international guests had barely cracked into their post intro-track ‘Manicenigmatic’ before every gasbagging delegate in the place had fallen dead silent (maybe turning briefly to an acquaintance to utter a stunned “holy shit”) and paused to watch in what can only be described as absolute fucking awe as the band delivered visceral, manic hardcore goodness supercharged by frontwoman Rachel Lu’s showstopping screams. Fresh track ‘Mouth Of Madness’ pummelled eardrums with exquisite intensity. Every unsuspecting spectator walked out a convert. Let’s hope these guys return to our shores for a full tour very soon!
PS I dug this so much I stole their setlist as a memento:
4. God Damn Tree
5. Mouth of Madness
7. Numbers Game
2. PRIVATE FUNCTION
Look, everyone who witnessed Private Function literally light up Crowbar Black on Tuesday night is probably lucky to be alive. Their set was pure reckless endangerment and will undoubtedly become the stuff of BIGSOUND legend for years to come. From band members scaling the rafters and pegging beers into the crowd (one of which hit one of the BIGSOUND programmers square in the head; an event that he would later go on to describe as an “honour”) to the singer lighting the guitarist on fire only to extinguish the blaze with a cool, bubbly stream of Mountain Dew, this Melbourne supergroup (featuring current and former members of Clowns, Mesa Cosa, and Night Birds) put on a punk rock clinic that was one of the most talked-about sets of the entire festival. See. Them. Live. ASAP.
3. THE DEAD LOVE
Full disclosure, I have seen this ripper grunge trio tear up many a stage in my time, but they just keep rising to new levels of world class. Their sweaty, anthemic live show feels nothing short of arena-ready and it’s a wonder the sheer force of the raw punk rock energy that was pressurised onto the intimate Crowbar Black stage on Wednesday night wasn’t enough to explode out the windows like a shaken up bottle of Coke and knock down unsuspecting pedestrians along Brunswick street.
Delivering masked nu-metal mayhem and heartfelt hardcore in a set peppered with thought-provoking reveries from frontman Christopher Mackertich, these enigmatic Melbourne misfits are a singular entity in the Aus heavy music space and a you’d better believe a live force to be reckoned with.
Starring the impressive lungs and high-kicks of keyboard-dabbling power front-lady Monique Pym — and RIFFS — these Central Coast progsters brought soaring melodies and a dizzying dose of tech metal finesse to The Elephant Hotel stage. A live show so impressive I choked on my vodka lime soda more than once.
Frantic, ferocious and fiercely political (just the way punk should be), the Jelena Goluza-fronted Melbourne crew stole hearts with their feminist, fuck-you spirit and pulverised ear cavities with their combustible hardcore energy.
The only negative thing you can say about LOSER is their name smacks of flagrant false advertising. The new slacker rockers on the block feat. ex members of The Bennies & The Smith Street Band are riding a wave of hype triggered by their debut EP Restless Noise, and BIGSOUND proved once and for all that they can back it up live. The Crowbar Black was a tangle of hair and grunge-infused guitar riffs when LOSER hit the stage to wow punters with their multi-pronged vocal attack anthems, and a rousing Acca Dacca cover for good measure.
The future of Aussie rock is in safe, sweaty hands.
Wither’s live set straight up crushes. When it comes to screams, frontman David De La Hoz (also of Belle Haven) has one of the most versatile in the game. From pulverising death growls to piercing black metal-esque shrieks, he brings a palpable emotional texture to this Melbourne band’s dark, menacing heavy soundscape. The anger and anguish in every exhalation is palpable, and guaranteed to trigger an outbreak of goosebumps in the pit.