“It’s been three f*cking years, BIGSOUND!”
JACOTÉNE has Black Bear Lodge completely packed. The recent triple j Unearthed High winner blows everyone away from the first note of a show that is truly beyond her years. Her voice is unique but powerful and every song is met with applause. She throws out a few disposable cameras for the crowd to capture the set with, which slowly make their way around the room throughout. The night is young and the vibes are high, thanks to JACOTÉNE
It's a tight little space for Brisbane singer-songwriter Monnie over at EC but there’s still a whole bunch of keen punters out early to get loose on the dance floor. Thankfully this truly engaging artist brings the energy needed in spades. Whether it’s the hook synth lines or the eye candy visuals by way of blinged-up activewear and flat caps, there’s a lot going on to enjoy. Monnie is flanked by two dancers and her DJ so energy levels are infectious from the start. But it’s her clear, powerful voice that really makes the whole performance come together. It’s powerful and rises well above the big sound produced by her backing, rather than being swallowed up by it which can happen in small, live settings. The smooth moves that support every electro-pop banger make for a memorable show and the set is a distinct early evening highlight.
Taylor Moss’ powerful vocals fill The Brightside’s outdoors stage with electric energy, as her band run through banger after banger. Running around the stage with unmatched enthusiasm, it’s clear that Moss is giving this show her all. She has both the country and pop down pat, walking a perfect line between both. Rocking an acoustic guitar, Moss dominates the stage, proving that she’s one to watch on the country circuit.
Upstairs at the Woolly Mammoth it’s a squash to find a spot in the snug crowd. Melbourne three-piece Blusher have enticed an eager crowd before them and it’s little wonder they’ve drawn such a crowd; they are on fire. In between picking up the bass, jumping on the keys or just letting their voices shine over their backing, the trio dish out a lot of lines about crushes and falling in and out of love. It’s a shame that sound issues bring their set to an abrupt pause midway, but the crowd are quite happy to wait while things get sorted. They get back on track after about 10 minutes to rapturous applause, and even reward us for our patience with a cute cover of MGMT’s Kids. Catchy, breathy choruses and lilting harmonies work their charm over buzzy synth and chunky beats.
In the dim lounge space of Ivory Tusk, Melbourne soul queen-in-waiting Bumpy rallies her multitude of players onto the small stage. She may have a full band behind her but there is not much that can overshadow the lush, raw voice of this Noongar artist. Phwoar, what a vocal. Gracefully hopping atop her band’s Hammond-style keys or bluesy guitar shreds, the powerhouse chops of this young singer is mesmerising to watch and instantly transporting. To top it off, Bumpy carries the same commanding air as vintage bombshell vocalists. The band get some seriously smooth grooves on for single Falling and they ramp up in finale Leave It All Behind. It’s a bit bass-heavy at the start but soon breaks down into a slick groove that allows the singer to show off her vocal gymnastics and the entire band’s deft musicality.
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Fresh off a support slot on Spacey Jane’s recent tour, four-piece Teenage Dads are in hot demand. They waste no time in getting stuck in, tearing through a tight set in front of a packed Woolly Mammoth. There are quite a few fans in the audience that keep the front section of the venue moving for every track. One of many highlights during the strong set is the band’s latest release Teddy. Vocalist Jordan Finlay is mesmerising to watch as he leads the crowd through the fast-paced sing-along track. Their upcoming headline tour is already selling out and for good reason - Teenage Dads are a band that are hitting their stride at just the right time.
A crowd ready for some pop rock jams await the arrival on stage of WA’s Dulcie under the twinkling string lights of the semi-outdoor venue Summa House. These young musos have had a lot to celebrate in their short years as a band. Singles like Cold Hard Truth have been kicking around on the airwaves for long enough to generate some warranted hype and prick ears with fun guitar lines and catchy vocals. Singer Ashleigh Carr-White is just charming as the lead vocalist, pivoting between belting out her tracks and being genuinely chuffed that the crowd are eating it up. Musically they’re a tight unit, wrangling guitar noodling over pop keys and solid kit work. They pull out previous single Fall, which they tell us was a staple of their 2019 BIGSOUND set and it’s more soulful than ever.
CLOE TERARE’s set starts with a bang, with smooth R&B vocals fronting heavy bass and funky pop. Dedicated fans sway along up the front and TERARE soaks up the adoration. Frequently taking unexpected sonic turns, it’s clear TERARE is a multitalented artist here to stay. “Bring it in BIGSOUND I wanna see y’all!!” she enthuses, and the crowd hangs off every word. TERARE’s chemistry is a testament to how much of herself she puts into her music.
Sydney’s Nick Ward has been one of the most-hyped artists this week, and his set at The Soundgarden proves why. His blend of heartfelt pop and intricate electronica has the crowd enthralled, including a handful who can’t make it in and watch from the side door instead. The highlight is FMF!, a track that placed Ward squarely on many radars. Even those on the street are dancing and yelling the song’s refrain of ‘fuck a job and fuck my friends’. The set cements Ward’s staying power - there are not many people making music on his level.
Mvlholland starts the show by bouncing around the stage like she’s been waiting for this moment for years. In fact, she has, screaming, “It’s been three fucking years, BIGSOUND!” The audience cheers as she continues to bound around the stage, and her energy is catching as the crowd starts to bob up and down in time with the beat. Lyrically, her songs shine in a live setting, bringing a set of emotions that is just impossible without the live atmosphere.
It’s always hard to believe Adelaide-based Teenage Joans are just two people rather than a full band. Their set at The Warehouse Loft can be heard from the street below; it’s as loud and raucous as ever. Once up the stairs, the full force of the duo is on display. Guitarist/vocalist Cahli Blakers rips around the stage with an impressive energy, alternating between huge jumps and guitar hero solos. Drummer/vocalist Tahlia Borg holds it all together from the back of the stage with some tight drumwork. Last year’s release Wine and debut single Three Leaf Clover are highlights, with the crowd singing along heartily throughout. Rock’s future is in good hands with Teenage Joans.
Summa House is packed as people patiently wait for Budjerah to take to the stage. It's the most crammed show yet at BIGSOUND which adds to the anticipation. To a drum beat, Budjerah jumps onto the stage, singing his hit Higher and getting the crowd singing along. Immediately his talent is palpable, and it’s evident that he is one of the best vocalists showcasing at BIGSOUND this year. Already an established artist in Australia, it's clear that Budjerah will be hitting international acclaim very soon.
Press Club is probably not the ideal place for a late-night set that houses some quieter more reflective musical moments; random shouting between mates, glasses clanging, Brunswick St traffic roaring on the doorstep. But if it phases Sydney singer-songwriter Liyah Knight she does not show it. If anything, she’s far more wrapped up in sharing her appreciation for the polite punters immediately before her. Glistening in silver bling and black mesh, this extremely talented vocalist is a rising star, blending R&B, pop and electro seamlessly and with gorgeous aesthetics. It’s a simple set-up with just keys beside her and together they bust out upbeat jams and intimate ballads, but all with a deliciously soulful vocal. Mine from her first EP is a favourite. She is worthy of a far bigger crowd but if performances like these are anything to go by, it’s entirely likely she’ll be attracting far more attention from fans and the industry alike.
Phoebe Go envelopes everyone in the delicateness of her voice, and the lyrics seem even more poignant while in the intimate setting of King Lear’s Throne. Originally a member of Snakadaktal and Two People, she channels a level of maturity on stage that only comes from years of performing in different genres and settings. Finally, it seems that she has found he true calling in folk pop.
Naarm-based artist BIG WETT proves that she is the undisputed queen of BIGSOUND, performing to one of the biggest crowds of the week at La La Land. A BIG WETT set demands energy, one that is created and reciprocated equally between the audience and the artist. Her set achieves that perfectly, where booming bass, electro and techno beats set the crowd alight as BIG WETT dominates the stage with a glitter-covered microphone. While her explicit lyrics are extremely humorous and ear-grabbing, it’s incredible to see a female act so bold, powerful and sexually expressive in an industry that is riddled with male-dominated spaces and overt masculine energy.
Not so secret headliner Rebecca Black proves her star power and longevity, performing to a huge crowd to finish off the night. Her performance is stellar, mixing choreography with energy, with swagger setting a perfect example for any emerging artist in the crowd. While many attending are anticipating a performance of Friday, once she sets the stage the hit is somewhat forgotten. From hyper-pop to pop ballads, her discography presented perfectly on a big stage. As she returned for an encore, Black performed a cover of La Roux’s Bulletproof as well as the official, 2021 remix of Friday.