Aus Day Eve at The Brightside was fucking priceless.
Everybody loves a long weekend so from the outset there’s an air of frivolity to today’s proceedings, local duo Brainbeau starting things minimally with their two fairly light-bedazzled keyboard set-ups offering subtle walls of interesting texture augmented by the odd sample, weird sounds or heavily-affected vocals. The beats rare up at times but for the most part it’s a pretty gentle way to ease into the gathering.
Moving to the outside Car Park stage – or attempting to – finds the headliners still soundchecking so unfortunately locals Primitive Motion miss their opening slot, so it’s back inside for a rousing performance from fellow Brisbane four-piece Thigh Master whose semi-brutal assault gradually unveils a sea of hooks and melodies fighting to rise to the surface. Frontman Matthew Ford spews his diatribes with unbridled conviction over the rumbling rock’n’roll, the perfect mesh of vigour and melody making for a beautiful collision as song after song of perfect dissonance tumble out like they’re an unlimited resource. Ford may be the emotional conduit but there’s a cathartic element to the band’s overall package, Head Of The Witch closing out a rousingly brilliant performance.
The Car Park stage is still not open so the schedule is a bit all over the shop still, and Gold Coast quartet TSUN crash the inside stage with their vaguely psychy take on the standard rock template. Vocalist Karl S Williams has been making waves with his solo incarnation of late but seems equally at home amidst the band construct, playing keys on the atmospheric tracks and seeming to have a blast. They finish an abridged set with Moonshrine and are engulfed by the outpourings of the smoke machines to usher in an aptly hazy finale.
After the regrettable (for fans) end of Bored Nothing early this month, it’s good to see Fergus Miller already back with a new project, even if it may not be a permanent one. Fuck Mountain trades the guitars for samplers and simple downtempo beats, but keeps the laconic vocals, which now occasionally stretch out into ambient drone. The songs don’t seem fully formed yet, but, despite a broken knob, there’s a lot of promise.
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The Car Park stage is finally ready and it sounds great as Melbourne trio The Peep Tempel strut their shouty stuff, their uncompromising rhythmic rock’n’roll going down a treat with the growing crowd. New material such as Big Fish is received well, frontman Blake Scott’s snarled vocals and twisted lyrics offsetting the deep groove perfectly. When Collusion gives way to recent single Carol the crowd goes off, the song a perfectly ferocious syncopation of accessibility and aggression, while rollicking instrumental Keef shows off a different side to the band.
Tincture is stuck in an awkward spot. He is starting late due to overruns on the indoor stage, while How To Dress Well begin a little early outside. The couple of tracks caught are great, and he continues to impress as a live artist, but timetable clashes go against him today.
Tom Krell is sick, and tired, and too hot, but he’s still giving it his all as How To Dress Well takes to the outdoor stage. A rocked-up version of Cold Nites sets the tone for the show: most of the songs have been substantially reworked, but the spirit of the original has been kept alive, so it’s satisfying to see well-known tracks mutate. Krell’s voice begins to show the strain of illness on the high notes of Repeat Pleasure and Face Again, but it’s otherwise hard to tell he’s sick, and he’s a captivating performer throughout the too short set.
The inside of The Brightside is absolutely packed as New Zealand indie legends The Clean take up their positions for their first Brisbane show in an eternity, Hold Onto The Rail giving an early indication of their laid-back brilliance. Every song seems like a primer for how to be effortlessly awesome, the trio – brothers David (guitar) and Hamish (drums) Kilgour and bassist Robert Scott – taking turns on vocals without the quality ever diminishing in the slightest. Every track seems timeless and perfectly-formed, the fervent crowd responding ecstatically to tracks like Anything Could Happen and Getting Older – the only potential criticism you could even fathom is that it would be better if they could play an extended set, but even this is rectified slightly when the clearly chuffed band are coaxed back for a quick encore at the set’s conclusion. Fucking priceless.
Ariel Pink is every bit the showman, as he prowls the stage in impressive blue sequin platform heels, taking over instruments in-between verses. The set leans heavily on last year’s Pom Pom, and it’s easy to see why the album received so much critical acclaim. Thanks to skilled writing, the mesh of psych, glam, goth, and synth pop becomes modern rather than retro, and while the more intricate elements of the songs are lost in a muddy mix, Pink seems in a good mood, and the tracks hover on the right side of controlled chaos.
Dan Deacon brings nothing less than absolute joy to The Brightside to close out the day. Dance-offs in a circle pit, audience-led synchronised dancing, laps around the building – Deacon removes himself from the centre of attention and encourages participation and interaction between audience members, even as he puts together some of the best beats you’ll see live. Breakcore gives way to tribal rhythms, synth-pop melds with techno and it all ends in a crashingly loud metal-hybrid with beats so insistent it’s impossible to stay still.