Every year we’re saying BIGSOUND has its ‘biggest year yet’, but that’s especially true this year, as not only is the lineup as stacked as ever with bands we want to see, but they’re all playing twice.
We were hoping that would mean that we’d be able to see every band on our checklist (and it’s a long list), but after the first day it’s already clear that it still probably won’t be happening. Despite that sad realisation, we got to check out a bunch of great sets last night, and took some snaps to prove it.
Here’s our quick rundown of the 10 best sets we caught last night at BIGSOUND 2017.
This one was an absolute treat to round out an already successful night at the triple j Unearthed stage, as the young singer songwriter had the place enthralled. People had packed in to see her after her DIY single ‘I WANT’ pricked up ears across the country a few months back, and new tracks like ‘P Plates’ shone in the dim green surrounds of Oh Hello.
Exiting the venue, someone muttered to a friend “she can go absolutely anywhere she wants”, and off the back of a set like this one, it’s hard to argue with that assessment.
Speaking of the Unearthed stage, Perth’s Stella Donnelly made the long trip over well worth it, as she gave us what is already guaranteed to be one of the best sets of the entire festival. Her banter between (and even during) songs was top notch, and god, that voice.
The crowd was left astonished that she plays in punk outfit Boat Show, but isn’t even the lead singer (not that the band’s Ali Flintoff is any slouch in that regard), and we’re tipping very big things for Stella off the back of this one.
Direct from Norway, the rowdy pop punks emerged in style at BIGSOUND, giving a heaving Brightside one of the highlights of day one with a fierce set. The sound was a bit dodgy, sadly, but it wasn’t enough to hamper a killer performance too much.
Apparently, after wrapping up their set after midnight, they had to be checked out at 5am to catch their flight to Sydney ahead of tonight’s show, so extra respect for that effort.
Cousin Tony’s Brand New Firebird
These guys have been kicking around Melbourne for a little while now, but the addition of some extra synth into their repertoire has really turned things a notch – and who doesn’t love a keytar, seriously? Both singers are a joy to watch, with frontman Lachlan Rose clearly having fun in his brooding way and demanding your attention throughout, but Francesca Gonzalez’ soaring vox in the closer really stole the show.
We only caught the tail end of this set, but that was enough to get across the sheer emotive force behind Fierce Mild’s live sets. Dressed in matching white (some with bloodstains, some without), the brief exposure kept things dark in the best way possible, echoing the theatrical performances of someone like The Horrors in a way. With so many musicians packed onto the small stage, along with projections to match, it was a wonderfully overwhelming place to be, and a full set may have sent us to bed early, exhausted but happy.
The Flying Cock was packed for this one, as half of Brisbane seemed to want to see what all the fuss over Hatchie is about – probably helped by being a local. Her immaculate shoegaze dream pop jumped onto people’s radars with the release of ‘Try’ earlier this year, but her BIGSOUND showing proved she has plenty more where that came from.
And the others…
Confidence Man was a set that everyone was hanging to see, after their Splendour in the Grass performance sent tongues wagging, and their BIGSOUND showing had just as much choreography and audience participation as you’d expect it to. It won’t be to everyone’s tastes, but you can’t argue with the result when there’s a sea of people dancing along.
Didirri proved that he’s one of the best storytellers in Australian music right now, an engaging and charismatic presence that drew us in further with every song. Jeff Buckley comparisons are a big call, but not a ridiculous one. Brilliant.
Donny Benet gave a teaser to the Remote Control party early in the day with a solo set packed full of wailing keyboard solos and oozing charisma, but it was really just a teaser: the main course arrives when he plays his full-band set with his brothers, and we can’t wait.
Finally, while the Jeremy Neale-fronted jam that went down early in the day wasn’t ever going to win any critics’ choice awards, it’s hard to deny the sheer force of a stage packed full of far too many musicians belting out a string of Blink-182 covers. How many guitarists does it take to play ‘All The Small Things’? Eight, apparently. The local legend knows how to please a crowd.