You know on election day when there’s a bunch of volunteers handing out pamphlets instructing you to vote for their respective parties? Well, imagine that, but instead of pamphlets they’re all carrying instruments, and you’re about halfway to comprehending the inspired chaos that is BIGSOUND.
After two years of virtual events, the long-standing music conference and festival returned to Meanjin’s Fortitude Valley for the first time in three years. More than 180 bands and artists played across dozens of venues during the three-day marathon. Here are Music Feeds‘ highlights of BIGSOUND’s rock music programming.
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Tuesday hit the ground running with hard-hitting sets from Brisbane acts Dopamine and VOIID. The former get their hooks in early and often, matching this accessibility with plenty of rougher edges. The latter are vying for the country’s alt-rock crown with their tough, fuzzy and fist-wielding instrumental assault. Both bands are on the constant up, so if you haven’t hitched your wagon yet, you’d best do so post-haste.
Speaking of: Where the fuck did ENOLA come from? Wherever it is, make yourself a resident. The Naarm/Melbourne-based artist delivered one of the loudest, meanest and heaviest-hitting sets of the week. Leading a four-piece band, ENOLA used loud-quiet-loud dynamics to lure the audience in and then wallop them with riffs and drums that sounded like they were coming from heavy machinery.
ENOLA’s vocals recalled the likes of Patti Smith and Cash Savage with a sinister, booming lower register. Their gut-punch lyrics continued to bowl you over just when you thought you’d recovered. Few acts felt simultaneously this good and this dangerous across the festival.
ENOLA – ‘Strange Comfort’
Full Flower Moon Band are blossoming right now. Having dropped one of the year’s best local rock records, Diesel Forever, they backed it up with a shit-hot live show. It was near impossible to peel your eyes away from multitasking front person Kate Dillon, who provided sneering vocals, shredding guitar and grinding hips.
Out in the 4ZZZ carpark, Screamfeeder, while not officially part of BIGSOUND, performed with the same bounding energy that they did in their 90s heyday. Over at the freshly-minted Stranded Bar, Press Club gave a sneak preview of their third studio album with their usual push-and-shove live experience – all hair flips, grinding guitars and flurrying drums. Their next single, ‘I Could Stay’, is going to dominate your brainwaves for weeks and months to come.
Perth power trio Ghost Care packed power-pop sensibilities into a set of robust indie rock, while Brisbane newcomers Talk Heavy offered a blend of fourth-wave emo and Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater soundtrack music. Newcastle quintet dust stuck out like a sore thumb with a set of blunt force post-punk with acidic sax and guttural deadpan delivery.
The Brightside welcomed Yorta Yorta storyteller Scott Darlow and Melbourne heartland-rockers Eastbound Buzz to share some pub-ready takes on vintage guitar music. Blute’s scored a cathartic performance from New Zealand indie kids Soaked Oats that made an indelible first impression – not every band can get an entire bar singing a song they’re hearing for the first time that night.
The Warehouse was rocked by Hope D’s bustling pop-tinged bangers, while Stranded was heaving beneath the weight of brutalist Sydneysiders Enclave. Throw in the deafening industrial shoegaze of Rinse, the throat-tearing folk-rock of Adam Newling and a surprise set from red-hot Queenslanders Beddy Rays, and it’s clear that rock music is in very capable hands.