Live Review: FBi SMACs Festival

11 January 2016 | 11:25 am | Melissa Borg

"FBi SMACs Festival was a downright fun way to spend your Sunday, with the added bonus of getting bragging rights..."

Ahead of FBi Sydney Music, Arts and Culture Awards on Tuesday, the community radio station decided to celebrate with a little shindig that included some of Sydney's most exciting under-the-radar musicians, artists and eats.

Holding the first timeslot at Stage 2 was MC B Wise, who kept the earlybirds vibin' and bouncin' with his slick rhymes and bounding energy. He commanded the stage well, replicating the moves of great MCs — let's hope he too becomes a household name.

By now, everyone is familiar with The Preatures, but not many are familiar with their guitarist Gideon Bensen and his solo project, but damn we will be. It's a shame the early slot meant that the turnout was small, but this just meant that his fellow Preatures, whom came out for moral support, couldn't do so unnoticed. His set melded together '70s rock influences with '80s synth, adding in a touch of psychedelica for good measure. Unfortunately, the set suffered mix issues — something that was ongoing for Stage 1 throughout the day, but it was resolved in time for single All New Low and the finale which saw Benson bring Montaigne along for the ride.

Stage 1 had an unusual spectacle in the form of DJ Albo ie. MP Anthony Albanese dropping some decent tracks between sets, before it was time for Gordi to jump up on stage. Her unique, mellow blending of acoustic guitar, electric sounds and live drums piqued the interest of punters, gathering a decent crowd. Suffering the early signs of laryngitis, she almost didn't cover Is This How You Feel?, but felt it was a necessity due to The Preatures being present today.

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Polish Club thrashed through their set of short, pulsing numbers. The crowd was in awe of Novak's distinctive vocals and of the fact that two people could make that much beautiful noise. Back at Stage 1, The Walking Who played some psychedelic rock'n'roll for us, and although they displayed exquisite musicianship, their set didn't quite have enough oomph to hold the crowd's attention.

This provided the perfect time to sample some of the food on offer, including Monster Rolls, which were delish, or perhaps a BBQ cooked by the one and only Donny Benet, then it was time to let your full stomach settle with a putt at Rosie Deacon's colourful, glittery mini-golf course, before heading back to dancing.

We skipped the queue for Sampa The Great, which was present due to Stage 2 capacity restrictions, but seriously wished we hadn't. Instead, we caught Dustin Tebbutt doing his thing, airing some new tracks, as well as a great rendition of The Breach, which featured some great falsetto.

Vallis Alps were playing a musically competent but not overly interesting set, so we cut out early to catch Montaigne popping up again over on Stage 2. This girl has got pipes and the stage presence to match. She was engaging and talkative, the crowd appreciative of it. She did a fantastic rendition of I'm A Fantastic Wreck, standing at the front of the crowd to ask "Would you love me still?", and the resounding reply was yes, yes we do, Montaigne.

Being from a bit further south of Sydney, Hockey Dad surprisingly brought a fanbase with them. They powered through their set with ease, with punters grooving and dancing throughout, finishing up with popular tracks I Need A Woman and Seaweed.

Anna Lunoe was DJing over at Stage 1, but her set grew boring quickly, so we cut out early to see Palms, and aren't we glad we did. They thanked Vallis Alps for the guitar strap and launched into their high energy set. They wrote us a song, and things started to heat up, then they launched into Beatdown, and it got fucking rowdy. There was flailing, dancing bodies everywhere and a moshpit up front for the remainder of the set, which closed out Stage 2 and left everyone sweaty and satisfied.

Stage 1 was still kicking on with Cosmo's Midnight at the helm. Their original set just kept producing banger after banger, keeping spirits high. Props to whoever did their background animation though, because it was damn good. They brought us a surprise in the form of singer Kucka, who provided vocals for a number of their songs, including stellar track Walk With Me, which closed out their set, much to the crowd's dismay.

With Stage 1 the only thing still kicking on, at a mere 9pm mind you, some punters started to filter out. Those who stayed were treated to an interesting, varied set from Wave Racer.

FBi SMACs Festival was a downright fun way to spend your Sunday, with the added bonus of getting bragging rights for seeing these acts before they inevitably become the next big thing.