Big Sound 2018
Fortitude Valley, Brisbane QLD
September 4-7, 2018
Featuring: Gravemind, Cast Down, Bare Bones, The Beautiful Monument, Regurgitator, Stateside, Between You and Me, Windwaker, Arteries, Bugs, LudiSTELO, She Cries Wolf and Bad Juju
Brisbane was overcome with bands, music exes, media types and fans for the 2018 edition of Big Sound, Australia’s answer to SXSW where upcoming musicians descend upon the city to showcase their talents over 3 nights. We increased our staff this time around to cover more ground and have collated out thoughts on some of the bands we caught that you should probably check out in the not too distant future.
Completely exceeded all expectations, this pop punk act bounced off each other like they’d been playing shows for a decade, however, they’ve only been together since 2014 and in that time they’ve polished their craft and were an obvious standout at the whole event. Its no surprise why they’ve started popping up on tours with the likes of Simple Plan and Neck Deep. Give them a few more years and we honestly believe they’ll be pulling in crowds on their headline tours. New song ‘Low‘ absolutely rips, keep an eye out for that one soon.
If heavy music if more of your forte, then jump on the Gravemind bandwagon asap. As someone who can appreciate the technicality of deathcore bands (like Thy Art Is Murder and Emmure) but hasn’t officially been sold by the genre yet, seeing these guys power through their set on Wednesday night proved that the best way to experience bands on the heavier side of music, is to get up close and personal with them at a show. All three guitarists including Damon Bredin, Michael Petritsch and Aden Young played along and (I think) played it up for the crowd, tapping their strings in such a professionally crafted manner, you’d think they had been doing it for decades. Frontman Dylan Gillies-Parsons has this soft, yet intimidating persona about him and you don’t know if he’s screaming at you in a loving/caring way or if he’s out for blood. The US has started welcoming these guys with open arms and it’s about time the Australian heavy music community do the same.
Between You and Me
Blink One Eight Who? Being a pop punk tragic (from the 90’s-2000’s era) I have a knack for appreciating great sounding bands within the genre and even though I haven’t been able to get into the new wave of pop punk bands (e.g. Neck Deep, State Champs etc), BYaM‘s blend of old-school punk roots with a new age flavour worked so well, and it wasn’t just me who thought this, the lads (fresh from a tour of Japan) pulled one of the biggest crowds of the week at Crowbar and had one of the funniest fan to band moments when bassist James ‘Bassy’ Karagiozis went out to cheers a bloke in the crowd drinking a cup of water, only for him to grab Bassy‘s beer in what can only be described as a game of swap-ya. The band laughed it off and continued their fun, onstage antics with everyone in the room getting into it just as much as they were.
I’ve said this before and I’ll keep saying it until the day I die, Bare Bones are one of Australia’s greatest hard rock acts to emerge within the past decade. Their blend of southern style rock/hardcore and clean yells from frontman Tom Kennedy prove just how diverse the band can be and explain how they’ve managed to open for the likes of Stone Sour, Zakk Wylde, Andrew W.K. and even the main stage at Soundwave Festival 2015 in Sydney. Their 2017 debut album Bad Habits (our review here) was passed around the Wall of Sound office like herpes at a rave and still to this day gets a spin each week. Their Big Sound shows proved they’ve got the talent and backing, now they need to follow it up with a new album and blow the rest of the world away.
The Brissie boys played a surprise set featuring a whole stack of new songs from their latest album Headroxx and goddamn it was a sight for sore eyes. Having been a fan of The Gurge since the 90’s but never seeing them live before, you can imagine the sheer joy that came up on my (and other’s) faces when they cracked jokes at their own expense about battery pack issues and bring to old to party after 6:37pm. They also whipped out ‘Kong Foo Sing‘ and ‘! (The Songs Formerly Known As)‘ for old school fans and absolutely proved you can get better with age, so long as you’re equipment is ready to roll.
In a strange but welcoming occurrence, the Melbournians performed one of their songs which sounded very similar to Bring Me The Horizon‘s ‘Sleepwalking‘, only for the band to jump into a medley of BMTH‘s songs including the aforementioned single and ‘Can You Feel My Heart‘ before wrapping up the nine-minute song with their own. For some, coming to Big Sound to play someone else’s song is a big no-no, but in this case, it actually worked well in their favour and shows the potential these boys have in a live setting. Definitely one to watch if you love your melodic-hardcore.
Tipped to be one of the best of the heavy bands on the lineup, these lads wasted no time in showing the full force behind them. Smashing through the set, there was minimal talking and more “showing what they’re made of, through their music” which wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. While the sound was a little off during their set at The Zoo, they made up for it at the larger, wider 256 Wickham.
The Beautiful Monument
Not even a new lineup could fault these ladies of darkness with their massive sounding blend of heavy metal, riffs and enough touches of emo, hard rock and medlodic-hardcore to please every taste. New members Amy McIntosh and Alex Henderson have firmly cemented themselves in the group like they’ve been present the whole time with Amy offering her own lungs during the screams in the band’s songs, which were conducted by guests in the past. Keen to see what they’ve been working on with this new album coming soon, we’ve been told…
Arteries had the pressure of opening as the first official metal band at The Brightside. The progressively influenced hardcore band from Sydney still gave the energy of a headliner but unfortunately lacked the crowd for a mosh to reflect it. I have so much respect for the bands who don’t throw in the towel with motivation at that point. Lead singer, Brendan Dafter must have pissed off his neighbours developing his high focused scream style which glued relatively well with the aggressively developing guitars. ‘Prisoners’ from their debut album seemed to give off the best balance and display of the band’s sound and potential. Keep an eye out. Arteries set up Big Sound to be a killer festival.
Over at The Valley Drive In, Bugs took to the stage in front of a completely packed out crowd. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Bugs, think about what would happen if Dune Rats teamed up with The Wombats and drank a little less alcohol. They’re by no means a heavy band, but for the style they play, they tick the boxes and then some. I found myself humming along to all of their catchy melodies, especially with songs like ‘Stuck Around’ from Social Slump (2018). With the way they’re handling sets, expect Bugs to be riding at the front of Australia’s next wave of indie rock.
Not all bands have the luxury of simple plug-in-and-play performance gear. After a small delay of technical difficulties at The Flying Cock, LudiSTELO broke into an electronic-rock set that put a very strong foot forward for the South Korean music scene. Originating from Seoul, the trio form a balanced triangle of live performed electronic elements, funk/rock guitar and jazz/pop rhythms on the drums. Considering how intuitive and successful this sound was, it was one of the top Big Sound highlights for me. Their performance was a little dry with the guitarist having his back turned to the audience, but would I see them again? Absolutely. Someone fly me to Korea.
She Cries Wolf
“You make me fucking sick.” When the band pauses and front man, Luke Harriss, of She Cries Wolf screams that into your soul, don’t stand in the middle of the crowd if you favour personal space. There was no warming up downstairs at The Crowbar on Thursday night with these Gold Coast hardcore canons. Check out the stage next time you’re in Brisbane and count how many places there are to climb. Add about 3 to the number in your head and you’ve got a good idea of what this She Cries Wolf show was like. All in the band who weren’t sitting accompanied Harriss with phenomenally powerful backing vocals which made the show one of the most impactful openers displayed at Big Sound.
Big Sound dealt out yet another strong Australian up and coming heavier rock/punk act. Bad Juju travelled up from Melbourne and hit the stage to give us a hearty meal of melodic punk rock. Take Violent Soho’s anthemic approach to vocals, remove the garage elements and inject a more refined metal approach and you’ve got the basic idea of Bad Juju. Following She Cries Wolf at The Crowbar meant that topping the performance quality game was borderline impossible, but the boys had the full attention of all ears and eyes in the crowd. With their manic debut EP Hidden Desire out now, I’m putting bets on Bad Juju being a marathon ahead of their position this year.
Revisit our ‘Big Sound Big Chats‘ special episode of Wall of Sound: Up Against The Wall featuring interviews some of the best performing bands we caught right here
Big Sound 2018 (In alphabetical order)