In a baking sense, when you put a bunch of really great ingredients together, mix them up and put them in a hot environment, you get a cake. But in a musical sense, you get BIG SOUND. Two full days of expert music industry panels, parties and live music, all situated in much needed 32- degree weather – at least for Melbournites anyway.
I was luckily enough to head up to Brisbane last Tuesday armed with a BIG SOUND pass, a bunk bed at a questionable hostel and a bag full of ill advised clothing. I hadn’t been there long before I realised I was in for a pretty freakin’ awesome week.
My conference experience kicked off with Billy Bragg’s keynote. A bit of a hero of mine, the last time I saw Billy speak I used a laughable fake ID to get in and ended up falling asleep under the mixing desk as it was a school night. This time however, I was all ears.
Billy reflected on activism, the music industry and entertained us with tales so punk they made all today’s punks look like Mr Darcy. While he was a political songwriter and activist during Margaret Thatcher England, one thing he said that really resonated with me was that social change is in the hands of the audience and not those making music. Most eloquently put, Bragg says “if you want change, it’s your responsibility, not mine”.
During question time I asked Billy about the role of radio presenters today with the digitalisation of music and his answer reassured me that we’re not a dying breed.
See it at 3:15.
Understandably, Speaking to Billy Bragg was a pretty fine start to big sound.
I saw 2 more panels on Wednesday and felt that by 5pm I was already drunk off excellence from music gurus, but the music hadn’t even begun.
With such a crammed program, I was forced to choose between my children (well it felt like that) and see only a few of the artists on offer. I started off my evening with WA’s Mama Kin, a musician whose between-song banter I enjoy almost as much her music. Billy Bragg came on after and performed a set featuring old hit, and my favourite song, Sexuality. This moment was improved only by Billy dedicating the rendition to the equal love cause in Australia.
I then did some hella J walking to get to the venue where Adelaide’s incarnation of sass, Tkay Maizda was set to perform. Although playing only her fourth show ever, Tkay was undoubtedly my pick of the festival. In fact, she was too much for even the sound system to handle. Despite her youth, her rap was effortless and her beats were dirty enough that she could potentially deviate Aussie hip hop from its rapid downward spiral into being the worst ever. Not to be controversial.
The rest of my night included absorbing the beats of Cosmo’s Midnight, almost colliding with the crowd-surfing singer of Bleeding Knees Club and becoming furiously jealous of the pink jumpsuits worn by Regurgitator in a set that caused everyone in the room to mourn the passing of the nineties. That and a sardine-style I OH YOU party, the deets of which are a lil sketchy.
The morning of day two was an eye rubbing affair where the yawns from the crowd were not symptomatic of boredom, but of enthusiasm and commitment to Amanda Palmer’s early keynote. Seeing Amanda Palmer, whose antics I’ll admit have had me off side in the past, was enlightening. I was won over by her her justification for what she does and inspired by her passion.
In fact day two was a day of convincing justifications, anther notable example was Megan Washington talking about pop star-factory television programs on a panel discussion called ‘Pop is not a dirty word’.
The music continued over night two, and for me it started with Rainbow Chan who is most definitely my other pick of the festival. I’m always impressed by live looping but Rainbow didn’t just create music on stage, she created some kind of dream world where I was the queen and everything was amazing.
Rainbow’s set was followed by a mind blowing offering from Willow Beats, who make the kind of music I was I could take intravenously. You’re hooked from their trademark opening featuring an Excerpt from the movie, Dark Crystal and everything after that you can feel in your veins.
The electronica continued for me that evening, with a small break to cram myself into a crowded room to see Thelma Plum, and finished with festival hot tip, Sinking Teeth.
Then there was the after party. Oh god. The after party.
Check out the podcast of my BIG SOUND coverage featuring interviews from Spender, Damn Terran, Chance Waters, Jeremy Neale and MTNS as well as some festival goers I met along the way.