9 September 2011 | 8:00 pm | Shane O'Donohue

"As a DJ, Alan McGee makes a very good property mogul."


It says something of the music on offer on night one that the chance to see a 'secret' performance by Sydney hipsters Wim on the rooftop of a Brisbane hotel is dismissed because the ten-minute walk to said venue is deemed too far. Instead we stay put at the well-attended NZ On Air/NZ Music Commission party.

Opening act Ruby Frost plays to the biggest crowd (the free booze and 5pm start time, with only a Virgin Australia party competing with punters, no doubt plays a big part); Tiny Ruins puts in the first of two killer sets for the evening; the Jon Toogood-led Adults rock hard (in very un-Shihad kinda way); and Street Chant are good, but nowhere near as rough and tumble as we were expecting (and hoping).

The retro kitsch Woodland is the perfect venue for Brous. Brous are a band, but all eyes are on frontwoman Sophia Brous, who proves the buzz that has been steadily building around this very talented singer in her hometown of Melbourne over the past year or two is well founded. Current single and Triple J fave Streamers is sped up, but delivered with even more soul than the recorded version, and perfectly distils everything we love about Brous' atmospheric lounge-pop-with-smarts. The last song is even better. Bring on the album.

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Racing from Woodland to the Aviary (another killer venue, by the way), we force our way into a packed room to catch the second half of the set from Sydney psychedelic lords The Laurels. We loved these guys at Boogie festival earlier in the year, and in a small room they're even better, snappers clamouring to get shots of one guitarist as he flings his instrument around his body.

The outdoor Bakery Stage is rammed with punters hoping to get an eyeful of Boy In A Box, so with no chance of seeing them we head to Electric Playground to see Adalita. We have even less luck there, the nightclub's low stage not suited to gig-viewing crowd.

The last few songs of Split Seconds are very impressive, the band rocking much harder than we expected, the three vocalists' harmonies right on the money. We head back to the Black Bear Lodge (the revamped Troubadour) for Lanie Lane, but with a queue out the door there's no way we're getting in.

Jinja Safari get a party started at the Zoo, their infectious Graceland-inspired rhythms producing one of the biggest audience reactions of the night. We close our night out watching a ferocious set from The Vasco Era, whose new songs hint the band's forthcoming album could just be the best thing they've yet recorded. Always a killer live act, the band play with even more intensity than normal, clearly relishing the chance to showcase their new material.


[By Shane O'Donoue] The Amity Affliction turned down the opportunity to showcase at BIGSOUND because they didn't see the value in it, claimed UNFD's Jaddan Comerford at the Punk & Hardcore Music Scenes: The Outsiders panel. With only a few heavy acts appearing over the two-day live showcases – Trial Kennedy, Calling All Cars and The Getaway Plan flying the flag – Comerford said acts in the punk and hardcore scene didn't rely on usual industry channels – “hype, hipsters and blogs” – to achieve success (though he made a point of praising the achievements of BIGSOUND).

Dave Shapiro from The Agency Group (USA) said that while alternative radio in the States is “slowly dying”, punk and hardcore acts regularly sell more gig tickets than acts on the radio and he sees a day when punk “becomes the new mainstream”. The panel all agreed that major record labels are increasingly looking to the punk and hardcore scene for tips on how to establish and break acts.


Punk and metal bands bemoaning their lack of airplay on radio should ask themselves one important question: did you send your music to your local community radio station? That was the message to emerge from The Future Of Radio panel. Prompted by a question from an audience member, a community radio presenter who cited a lack of acts sending music to her punk/hardcore show, Chris Johnson from AMRAP (the Australian Music Radio Airplay Project, an initiative that forges ties between artists and community broadcasters) admitted heavier genres were under-represented in the organisation's AirIt catalogue.

Johnson also used the panel to officially launch AMRAP's new Airnet service, which allows artists to promote their community radio airplay on the internet. Currently live on seven broadcasters around the county – 4ZZZ (Brisbane), RRR (Melbourne), FBI (Sydney), Bay FM (Byron Bay), Fresh FM (Adelaide), Edge Radio (Hobart) and CAAMA (Central Australia) – the service gives acts the opportunity to compile videos, images, info and shopping links to match the music on radio playlists. Artists can stay up-to-date with the rollout and check out demos at

Mike Walsh, from British commercial alternative station Xfm, said that while FM “was still king”, in five years most people would be accessing radio through their mobile phones. The panel stressed the importance of 'tastemakers' – be they presenters, radio programmers, bloggers, etc – with Walsh citing as an example a failed Xfm experiment that let listeners choose the station's playlist. (It turned out listeners had no interest in what music “Sheila from Croydon” was digging.) He said that with more humans making more music than ever before, it is a massive challenge to filter that.

Johnson said the future was bright for community broadcasters, as the stations best placed to survive were ones that identified, “there's a fragmentation [of music], let's celebrate that, let's be really good at what we do”.


Fortitude Valley is much safer when it's full of live music punters.

Alan McGee was only a drug addict for seven years.

Jinja Safari will own festivals this summer.

Brisbane's climate is much better than Melbourne's.

Velociraptor are very, very good.

DZ Deathrays are very, very popular.

As a DJ, Alan McGee makes a very good property mogul.

You should never tell bouncers how to do their job.

The Elephant & Wheelbarrow should be an official BIGSOUND venue next year.

The Tempo Hotel thinks The Getaway Plan are actually called The Gateway Plan.

It's very hard to see bands in long, narrow band rooms when they're full of punters. Which was basically every show.

King KSSR (pictured) are like Empire Of The Sun, only good.

It was a struggle to find three albums to vote for in this year's Best Album ARIA awards category.

People will be nice to you for at least six minutes when you buy them alcohol.

In five years' time most people will be listening to radio through their mobile phones.

Eagle & The Worm are Australia's most fun party band.

At least 2500 people are hungover in Brisbane today.