Hear Us Roar: Female & GNC Artists Firing Up BIGSOUND 2022

15 September 2022 | 10:07 am | Sisi Sparkle

"These bands have a way of inciting a good rage; as they did at BIGSOUND and as they will again."

Platonic Sex (pic by James Caswell) and WIIGZ (pic by MACAMI)

Platonic Sex (pic by James Caswell) and WIIGZ (pic by MACAMI)

This feature has been published as part of The Music Writer’s Lab initiative, developed between MusicNT and Australia Council of The Arts. For more information, visit www.themusicwriterslab.com.

It’s funny that the Southern Hemisphere’s largest music industry gathering plays out from Tuesday to Thursday, so all of the brilliant musicians, journalists and artists can get back to working our hospo jobs over the weekend.  

BIGSOUND has been an explosive showcase of Australia’s upcoming and established performers. This year, the women went wild. 

Meanjin is generating a force of fucking firey femme bands with WAAX and VOIID well established in this league. Other Meanjin-based bands like WIIGZ and Full Flower Moon Band embrace femininity in their distinctive styles. 

The first night saw two of the three secret headliners with women leads. Both Sycco and WAAX generated a legion of punters churning up the Valley.  

Yet, a common theme brushed upon amongst the chaos and joy provoked by these artists is also their experiences as women – specifically negative encounters with men.

The music industry is often a safe place for self-expression, but despite efforts, a handful of people can make it a toxic place for women.

BIGSOUND has partnerships with the Office for Women and Violence Prevention, and a bunch of services to keep people safe at the festival, yet the protection of women can’t just be up to safety services. The protection of women lies in the behaviour management of men.

Still, this feature paying homage to female musicians will not give any more oxygen to the men that tear them down. These women are the ones on the up.

Some acts not to miss were Jacoténe and BIG WETT, both Melbourne-based artists. Jacoténe isn’t old enough to party at BIGSOUND, but sings about love like she knows more than most of us. She has a vocal range and talent that makes her easily comparable to Amy Winehouse, which isn’t an easy comparison. 

BIG WETT “makes songs for sluts”, which are poppy and provocative. Her pig-tailed, fanatical sets can be compared to the erotic icon, Peaches. 

I love Platonic Sex. The band consists of lead singer Bridget Brandolini, guitarist Jane Millroy, bassist Mikki Hain and drummer Ryan Hammermeister. The alt-rock four piece fires up their audience with whimsical and vastly impressive vocals and tunes.

It’s a strange experience walking through the curtain of The Beardo, up the stairs of The Zoo or navigating your way into The Brightside indoors for BIGSOUND and having a voice wash over you that would fit in at The [Sydney] Opera House. But it works, the four of them together have forged a pretty voice into a folky, grungy soundscape, and incorporate a message with a kick. 

Their single Devil’s Advocate is a punchy comment on toxic masculinity. “I’m so sick of these young girls not knowing how worthy they are / So stop teaching her how I was taught,” in their song Teeth is a raw and wrenching lyric that is just a minute insight into the depth of the band’s lyrical capacity. With Platonic Sex’s skill, there’s no wonder why they all had to run off on Tuesday night after their set to play in their other bands.

Unlike The Brightside which is familiar for Brisbane music lovers, The Warehouse was a welcomed surprise to many of us this BIGSOUND. What the venues do have in common is their split stages, unlike heading outdoors, the Warehouse leads you up or down a set of stairs, and to get to Full Flower Moon Band, head up. 

You realise pretty quickly that lead singer Babyshakes Dillon is a femme fatale. It felt like I was walking in on the rowdy rock band doing something naughty to the throbbing crowd. The bass pulsed to the point that you couldn’t really understand where you were feeling it, and just as the whole band tamed their instruments into sonic submission, New Rocket took off and left the flushed crowd swelling.

It’s no wonder that this space is used most often as a wedding venue, vows were made tonight between new time punters and Full Flower Moon Band. 

Full Flower Moon Band is an experimental powerhouse led by vocalist and guitarist Babyshakes Dillon, with Luke Hanson on drums, Christian Driscoll and Caleb Widener on guitar, and bassist Marli Smales. Their latest release Diesel Forever was mixed by producer/mixing engineer, Michael Badger, whose proficiency went into the likes of King Gizzard’s ARIA Award-winning album Nonagon Infinity.  

Full Flower Moon Band pollinates a crowd with their stamina, leaving audiences agape - sometimes along with Babyshakes Dillon who bears her tongue like it’s the most complete bodily extension of her passion.

Anji Greenwood of VOIID does this too, she sings with her whole face, with eye-rolling, ardent intensity. VOIID embodies a Queensland incarnation Riotgrrl punk movement. Their ferocious feminism seems unintentional in the sense that this band doesn’t have to try to be political. 

Their songs shave it and silly girl are comments on the day-to-day comments that women have to endure. No matter how punk you are, people will say something, VOIID just knows what to say back. It’s also a song like Sour, where lead singer Greenwood and guitarist Kate McGuire sing in the chorus, “I didn’t say yes / But I didn't say no / You turned me sour.” 

After performing this song at The Zoo, Anji said to the crowd that it’s the first time she’s opened her eyes singing it to a crowd.

The songs women can relate to are ones like Devil’s Advocate, like Sour and like WAAX’s Labrador, the latter stating, “You're a girl / And a girl isn't welcome in here.” 

They’re relatable but they shouldn’t be. 

These bands have a way of inciting a good rage; as they did at BIGSOUND and as they will again. Hopefully, that rage will ripple its way to Meanjin’s emerging generations.