Live Review: 4 Walls Festival

7 August 2012 | 9:55 am | Sky Kirkham

There's a lot to like about the 4 Walls Festival. Now in its third year, it's one of the very few all ages events in Brisbane these days; a three-stage, 21 band extravaganza, featuring a mixture of unknown and established acts. Held in the Queensland Academy for Creative Industries building in QUT's Kelvin Grove precinct, the stages have (mostly) impeccable sound and there's a great vibe among the excited punters.

Cub Scouts have pulled a massive crowd into the main stage as they kick off with some highly professional indie pop. They're skilful musicians and the music is well-constructed and catchy, but it all seems a little generic after a few songs, and the band is drowned by the massive stage.

Down at the Basement stage Bandito Folk are putting on a solid performance. It's rather safe indie rock, but it's well performed and has enough hooks to keep the crowd bopping. Stephen Smith follows with a well-constructed folksy set that is reminiscent of the work of The Trouble With Templeton. The room's pitch-black, but when the door opens to let some light shine in it's clear that the room is packed out with an appreciative audience.

The Skyline stage is the place for heavy music at 4 Walls and it's in a beautiful setting – up on the roof, with a view behind the band – but they're suffering a run of bad luck up here tonight. Payne Rd's guitarist dislocates his knee during their first song, and while the band soldiers on, they sound a little hollow without the instrument and the injury rather overshadows the set. The next band, Trepidation, have been unable to make it, and sound problems cut short the performances of the artists brought upstairs to fill in.

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Back at the main stage Millions have taken over and, looking impressively dapper, are cranking out a great set of sunny, '60s-inflected pop (a cover of The Ronettes' Be My Baby fits comfortably into the set). They've been touring all over the place recently and the experience shows, as their presences dominates the stage, with tracks like These Girls justifying their rapidly increasing national profile.

The Medics hit the floor next and are in perfect form; their reverb-drenched pysch-pop filling the room. Heavier live than they are on recording, the increased intensity benefits the music, giving it additional immediacy and drive. Single Beggars is an obvious highlight and the crowd screams their appreciation.

While it's exciting to see such a professionally run all ages event, at an unusual venue, they've adopted a few of the worst aspects of festivals (no pass-outs), and created a few unique problems of their own. The main stage room gets emptied at the end of every set, with the crowd forced to line up outside in the stuffy indoor car-park while the next band sound-checks. It's a ridiculous setup and isn't something that would or should be seen as acceptable at a normal event. Hopefully next year a few more kinks get worked out and the festival can continue as an even better all ages showcase event.