Live Review: Big Pineapple Music Festival

27 May 2019 | 5:11 pm | Carley Hall

"A solid line-up of fun acts."

Big Pineapple Music Festival. Photo by Bianca Holderness.

Big Pineapple Music Festival. Photo by Bianca Holderness.

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It’s a mild afternoon and the rolling green farmlands surrounding one of Australia’s ‘big things' paint a pretty backdrop for the hundreds of punters streaming through the gate. Now with a few years behind it, Big Pineapple Festival feels like it’s found a solid place on the festival circuit, enjoying sold-out success due to big-name line-ups and a small but fuss-free set-up north of Brisbane. It could almost be considered a pre-cursor to Splendour In The Grass - which will soon be upon us - with mad get-ups, jubilant shenanigans and a twinkling Ferris wheel.

Down in the main amphitheatre on the triple j stage, Adelaide’s West Thebarton are making the most of their early set as one of the few rock acts on this year’s bill. "Reverend" Ray Dalfsen commands his seven-piece with the infectious energy, jagged vocals and self-deprecation they’ve become known for. Tidy yet chaotic, hits like Tops, Stuck On You and Bible Camp go down a treat.

West Thebarton. Photo by Bianca Holderness.

Next door, UK artist Laurel is winning over new fans and satisfying those already in the know at the Sea Shepherd stage with her pretty alt-pop. She tells us it’s “pretty fucking hot out here” in the early afternoon sun, but it has no impact on her clear, trilling vocal. For one so young, her voice has so many nuances, and lyrically, she takes on some deep subject matter. Same MistakesLovesick and Adored are pretty special moments in this live, reactive setting.

Laurel. Photo by Bianca Holderness.

Over on the Pineapple XX stage, KLP has a valley full of worshippers before her. The Sydney producer is infectiously upbeat when she rocks on, decked out in simple tie-dyed tee and sneakers. A crunching first track makes an instant impact on the crowd and that previously calm sea of bodies is now a writhing mass. Hands, Melt and Carried Away are fun, crisp standouts. 

KLP. Photo by Bianca Holderness.

A minute later on the Superlove stage, Brisbane’s Wafia is singing to the masses. The electro-soul singer deftly commands the attention of this amphitheatre’s more raucous punters, offering a sleek run of hits in Heartburn, 83 Days, and crowd favourite I’m Good. The sweet union of crisp beats and her gentle warble are a nice respite from the surrounding antics.

Wafia. Photo by Bianca Holderness.

Perth boys Karnivool bring bassy chugs and jagged guitars to the main stage with a frothing bunch of festival-goers before them. After more than 10 years at the helm of Australian progressive rock, Ian Kenny and co have amassed a passionate following and fans here today make it known. Old favourites Simple Boy, Goliath, Roquefort and Themata are aggressive but tight as always, prompting a bit of circle action down front, and fresher tracks We Are and All It Takes seal the deal.

Karnivool. Photo by Bianca Holderness.

From metal to a metallic-blue fringe dress, a quick switch to the twin stage has us welcoming Vera Blue. “How are you, Sunshine Coast?” It’s safe to say the hundreds of punters before her are pretty pleased they’d made their way over, judging by the response. This unique lady not only possesses a siren-like voice, she also mesmerises with every move she makes, and with every polished track she offers. Settle, Hold and Fingertips are smooth listens, but thumpers All The Pretty Girls, Regular Touch and Lady Powers incite some mad moves in the crowd. Her set is the perfect pick-me-up after the mid-afternoon fuzzies.

Vera Blue. Photo by Bianca Holderness.

They sure named the Superlove stage well; anyone who has graced that stage today has certainly had all the love thrown at them. Much loved Brisbane artist Mallrat looks ready to party in her pink shirt dress, but she is endearingly gobsmacked at the throng before her. With a talent for writing catchy pop that belies her young age, it is supremely impressive to see her command a set in the flesh. Groceries, Uninvited and For Real highlight her clean, almost spoken-word vocals, and they clearly make for guaranteed audience singalongs. Allday runs on stage to join her for UFO and everyone can leave happy.

Mallrat. Photo by Bianca Holderness.

There was never any doubt that Auckland brother and sister duo Broods would attract a large, energetic crowd to the main stage. On the back of their third release and the inevitable attention and huge tours that ensued, Georgia and Caleb Nott are an even more polished and damn likeable live act. The way they jump around and bounce off each other is infectious, but they never miss a beat.

Broods. Photo by Bianca Holderness.

Back over on the Pineapple stage, Brisbane’s Last Dinosaurs get down to business. Despite nearly decade on the scene and landing themselves here fresh off international touring, Sean Caskey and his band of three look as fresh as ever. With fun, colourful, guitar-driven indie-rock, there is nothing but good times to be had.  

Last Dinosaurs. Photo by Bianca Holderness.

Canberra powerhouse Peking Duk pull the big numbers on the other main stage, with a heaving swell beneath them extending right up over the amphitheatre hill. Adam Hyde and Reuben Styles are as affable as ever, doing shoeys, abusing their power to get crowd call-backs and busting out the ribbons for some interpretive dance. In between the antics there are anthems galore – Say My NameStrangerFireFake MagicSugar, all with the knowledge that “this will be [their] last show for a while”. Despite this, and even with glitter cannons and pyrotechnics, many parts of their set oddly fall flat.

Peking Duk. Photo by Bianca Holderness.

Brisbane’s Confidence Man get huge cries from the Superlove crowd. It’s pretty safe to say that there were never any doubts that this set would be a spectacle, to say the least. Janet Planet and Sugar Bones are from another world. With lyrics and music that is steeped in big beats and bold vocals, the duo and their players serve up bangers Boyfriend, Better Sit Down and Don’t You Know I’m In A Band complete with wild dance routines and their mod looks.

Confidence Man. Photo by Bianca Holderness.

As the stage switches to the oncoming PNAU, there is nothing but good vibes and solid dancing. There is very little downtime in between a barrage of opening hits, but Nick Littlemore does take a breather to encourage the high spirits and love to keep on coming. The magnetic Kira Divine joins the trio to bust out her contributions and the many other PNAU tracks that benefit from a leading lady, like Baby, Embrace, Go Bang and Come Together. Chunkier oldies No More Violence and Wild Strawberries incite their own bit of chaos. Chameleon closes things on an undeniable high, and despite a full day behind them punters carry on dancing long after PNAU say farewell.

Tkay Maidza. Photo by Bianca Holderness.

Any shattered PNAU fans racing over to the Pineapple stage to catch Adelaide’s Tkay Maidza are rewarded for the efforts with the ultimate curtain closer. The vibe is mental; with more bassy crunch to previous acts, possessed bodies jump and thump into each other beneath Maidza’s dazzling light show. Trying to keep sight of this powerhouse as she runs, struts and saunters across the stage is a mission, but that’s why she’s the queen of electro hip hop. Brontosaurus, Simulation, Carry On and Do It Right are all doled out with Maizda's razor-sharp versing, making for a distinct highlight among a solid line-up of fun acts today.

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Big Pineapple Music Festival. Photo by Bianca Holderness.