Hands up who’s seen The Castle? You know, the most Australian movie ever. Apart from …
BIGSOUND Festival, Night One
5th September, 2017
Fortitude Valley Entertainment Precinct, Brisbane
We decide to kick off our BIGSOUND 2017 live experience just right, descending deep in to the bowels of Crowbar for a quick shot of Campari occult courtesy of Melbourne Giallo metal outfit Pagan.
Frontwoman Nikki Brumen is a full-blown demonic songstress: clad in a white tee, stamped with an ‘I’M HELL’ declaration, Brumen throws sassy winks and casual hair-flips at the crowd in between every devilish banshee shriek. It’s easy to see why this quartet are the most recent signees to metal imprint EVP Recordings, with tonight’s showcase being nothing but walls of screeching feedback and punk-rock grit with a frost-bitten, black metal tinge. Drummer Matt Marasco hits some disco beats with riding hi-hats, while Brumen announces a new song from the band’s debut album that’s “still being written.” Closing out their frantic set, Brumen asks for a shot of Amaretto and thanks her “La Familia” in Clowns for coming out. If tonight’s bat-shit set is anything to go by, Pagan’s full-length is going to hit 2018 like a god-damn wrecking ball.
Crossing Wickham Street, we make our way over to The Brightside and head inside just in time to see metalcore crew Drown This City run through a brief soundcheck. When the band kicks off, the live sound is epic in scope but comes out thin-as-fuck, harsh enough to cut a diamond in thin air. Running through singles like Bend/Break and tracks from their 2016 False Idols EP, it’s blatantly obvious that there’s an over-reliance on backing tracks going on here, which stretches the suspension of disbelief to the point of incredulity. Frontwoman Alex Reade is certainly formidable, but it’s difficult to hear her impressive vocal range over the top of glitzy, dubstep electronic samples, ghost falsettos, and a mechanical metal mix that sounds like someone’s blaring Digimortal at an ear-piercing volume through a set of bargain-bin laptop speakers. There’s also more photographers in the mostly-empty mosh pit taking happy snaps than actual onlookers, which is slightly disappointing. It’s clear that Drown This City have potential, yet we think that the band might benefit from loosening up a little, rather than relying on those cringey, synchronised stage moves.
Moving outside, there’s a massive crowd eagerly waiting for locals WAAX to take the stage, and enough industry hype in the air you could get a contact high, even without a fancy delegate lanyard. Bathed in blue and red hues, the Brissy five-piece run through a blistering set, proving why their one of the most buzzed-about bands at this year’s festival. Singles like Wild & Weak and Same Same are unfurled on a throbbing crowd with raucous energy, alongside chanted, call-and-response vocal lines from magnetic frontwoman Marie DeVita, who stalks the stage like a caged animal. The band debut some new material, as DeVita maternally quips that she birthed this new song from her womb, informing everyone that she’s “a mother now.” Closing out their set, DeVita declares that she “loves y’all” and to “keep safe,” and there’s nothing but good vibes running through the crowd right now, as industry pros rub shoulders with sweaty fans drenched in ciggie smoke and bad decisions.
Fresh from what’s undoubtedly a 35-hour-long daisy-chain of shitty airport connections, Norwegian punk boppers Sløtface make their Australian live debut with infectious energy and radiant smiles. Vocalist Haley Shea is a bottle-blonde pocket rocket: small in frame, yet large in stage presence, with smooth, bright vocals and the occasional scream lending just enough high-end grit to percussionist Halvard Skeie Wiencke’s punchy fills. The band showcase material from their new album, Try Not To Freak Out, with cuts like Pitted and lead single Magazine (shout out to Patti Smith!) warming up the crowd, despite a blustery wind sweeping through the Brightside car park. It seems that the Stavanger quartet have managed to drag some summer vibes all the way from the Northern hemisphere, as the crowd sways along to their feel-good rhythms, bathed in alternating red and yellow hues. With Shea imploring the crowd to move around and enjoy themselves, it’s a set that’s equal parts short and sweet for Sløtface, as the group are tight, focused and clearly stoked to be rocking out Down Under.
Back inside once again, we see Melbourne alternative outfit The Beautiful Monument have a crack at a nearly-midnight set, with their Paramore meets A Day To Remember sound pushing through the walls of The Brightside with every resounding double-kick burst. With an all-female line-up, it’s great to see girls at the front of this year’s BIGSOUND. Unfortunately, those pesky backing tracks rear their naughty little heads once again, which does take some of the charm away from undeniably catchy tunes like Manifestation, and vocalist/guitarist Lizi Blanco’s melodic yet gritty delivery. Despite these misgivings, the drum sound is punchy as fuck, and there’s plenty of folks bobbing heads to the ear-worm choruses from the group’s debut record I’m The Sin.
Watch out for our Night Two wrap of Bigsound tomorrow!
Disclaimer: Nikki Brumen was a fill-in co-host for the Hard Noise Podcast, produced by Hysteria Media.