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Sydney rockers Gang of Youths should be playing stadiums.
That’s not to say that closing the second night of the hallowed BIGSOUND Live isn’t a honour, but this group is more than ready for the big time. Selling out shows across the country touring their Top 5 debut The Positions, all this band’s hype is justified. BIGSOUNDers packed into The Zoo to see frontman Dave Le’aupepe let loose onstage and gnash through Restraint & Release, Poison Drum, Vital Signs and signature track Magnolia.
The songs are slow to build, with brooding lyrics drawn from Dave’s past struggles with his ex-girlfriend’s cancer diagnosis and their relationship breakdown. He’s one of the country’s fastest-rising and most authentic rock troubadours. “Thanks for believing in the album,” Dave told the crowd. “Nine months ago no-one gave a s**t. You have no idea how much this means.” Make getting Gang of Youths tickets one of your highest priorities.
With much colder temperatures on the streets of Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley than BIGSOUND Live’s first night, the second half of the taste-making festival’s 150-odd up and coming acts got their turn playing the Valley’s bars and spaces. With just 30 minutes at each performers’ disposal, all fat was trimmed from their setlists to make lean, mean (but often also maddeningly brief) showcases of their strongest material.
Brisbane band Hey Geronimo‘s signature 2012 track Why Don’t We Do Something (the one with the super-cool Angry-Birds-in-real-life video) hasn’t aged a day. Lead vocalist Pete Kilroy led breezy harmonies on the tracks drawing on influences The Beach Boys and The Beatles (see Carbon Affair) and their newer, so-damn-danceable indie-pop material. They premiered new tracks Waste Yourself and Bake A Cake from their upcoming debut album. Bring it on boys, can’t wait!
Next, take some of the same throwback sounds and add a healthy dose of melancholy and wistfulness to get Sydney five-piece I Know Leopard‘s brand of celestial ’70s-era pop. Playing tracks like Hold This Tight and their haunting debut She from last year’s brilliant Illumina EP, they also excitedly spruiked new single Close My Eyes from their new EP, Another Life, out today.
Earlier, Sydney blues rock lunatics The Snowdroppers were in fine form as The Winn venue’s opening act, with effervescent lead singer Johnny Wishbone – all gelled hair and maniacal grins, equal parts Mick Jagger and Jim Carrey – taking cheeky potshots at the music heavies in attendance in between cuts from the group’s album Business.
Brisbane band The Belligerents, one of the acts riding the Australian psychedelic wave begun by the likes of Tame Impala, delivered a set of their psych space rock/dance tracks. Shaggy blonde frontman Lewis Stephenson’s delightfully warped and androgynous vocals were capped off with echoing falsettos, whoops and shouts. The crowd were jumping as the band finished with In My Way, letting Lewis’ vocals echo out into a haze of roaring feedback.
And Stonefield, comprising Melbourne’s four young Findlay sisters, are bonafide rockers living the dream. They won the triple j Unearthed High prize in 2010, played Glastonbury based on the strength of a couple of EPs and released a self-titled entire album of old-school ’70s-era psychedelic rock sounds. Looking for all the world like The Runaways for 2015, lead singer Amy also channeled Stevie Nicks on the standout track Love You Deserve, which is fitting, given the girls will open for Fleetwood Mac on the band’s Australian tour next month.
Image: Stonefield Live At BIGSOUND 2015 / Photo: Rebecca Reid