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Kicking things off at The Foundry, Naked opened the second night of BIGSOUND with their infectious blend of noise and pop. The low-end rumble of caustic garage anthems proved there’s no end to their ragged charm. Disarmingly charismatic vocalist Kieran Sullivan took centre stage, leading bandmates Ronnie and Jordan into a calamitous mix of crashing riffs and growling disillusion.
Performing songs like the provocatively subversive Giant Cock, the Hobart natives were received with cheers and hollers by their bristling crowd. The shambolic trio sits at the centre of a talented web of criminally under-appreciated Tasmanian acts. Their inclusion crystallised the diversity the 2016 BIGSOUND lineup seemed intent on striving for.
Whether cultivated or organic, Mossy exudes a gravitas of stardom. As a result of technical calamities at The Brightside’s Outdoor Stage, or perhaps simply poor health, it was obvious that some of the punch had gone out of the singer’s vocals since his electrifying set at Title Track’s BIGSOUND Pre-Party on Tuesday night.
Perhaps sensing a need to compensate for a flagging energy, Mossy mustered everything he had from Electric Chair onwards. With the song came the recognition that these are the moments that true music fans crave. The facade of well-rehearsed renditions and generic banter falls away, revealing something raw and genuine. Rugged sincerity trumped vocal acrobatics; slick songcraft and a tight backing band took care of the rest. If Australian music is missing the presence of powerful frontpeople, there’s one here.
Terrible Truths tore up a set at The New Globe. Lost in focus, the trio’s live dynamic was flawless. Yelps, hooks and rhythmic masterstrokes kept the audience more than pleased.
Concurrently, Middle Kids braved the punishing humidity of a packed triple j Unearthed Stage at Oh Hello. So crowded was the venue that even at a safe distance from the stage it was all but impossible to take a step in any direction. Having released their debut single Edge of Town a little over five months ago, it was this group more than any other that bore the mantle of festival buzz.
The Sydney three-piece were eager to please and their fine-tuned pop was more than ample for the task. Revealing a stack of unreleased and undeniably catchy tunes, their live sound was ambrosially polished. Far from a guitar mangling pitfall, this angst-ridden power pop resonated with an eager crowd.
Follow-up Tiny Little Houses plied a similar sound while instilling an effortless sense of continuity. There were plenty blistering solos. Admittedly their decision to deploy a college rock rendition of Kasey Chambers’ Not Pretty Enough at the closing end of the set came off as a little bizarre. That said, music is not all about po-faced rock; it was good to see a group willing to take some light-hearted risks. Composite showmen regardless, Tiny Little Houses enjoyed the mutual appreciation of the crowd. At the Woolly Mammoth’s Alehouse Stage the unfettered industrial throbs of Brisbane’s Rebel Yell had bodies moving.
Having only recently returned to Australian shores, The Gooch Palms made their presence known closing The Empire Hotel. Fan favourite Eat up Ya Beans lightened the mood before We Get By and You provided the emotional gut punches. Pushing vitality into the all too often stale confines of punk and doo-wop, there’s a quiet perfectionism beneath the Wollongong locals’ easy-going live delivery.
Coasting on the buzz of their closing songs and with a manic gleam in his eyes, Leroy scaled the bar and indulged fans in his time honoured tradition of ritual pants dropping. Ever the more level headed counterpoint of Leroy bandmate Kat seemed unsurprised, although the venue staff may not have shared the indifference.
Back at the Zoo, DZ Deathrays re-emerged after a surprise set with Ecca Vandal the night before. As usual Brisbane’s perennial shred-heads seemed intent of thrashing their set to pieces. Drummer Simon Ridley doled out pummelling rhythm while Shane Parsons wove rush-inducing riffs. The power duo met with the delight of the surging audience at hand. How either DZ or Gooch Palms draw such a powerful sound from a two person set remains a mystery. Maximalism would be an understatement.
Image: Chronolyth @ BIGSOUND 2016 / Photo: Rebecca Reid