After the heavy rainfall of the first day, BIGSOUND attendees finally saw that famous Brisbane sun. Most people would have rested from the late night of enjoying the best up-and-coming bands, but a mid-morning keynote talk with Aussie legend Paul Kelly made the early start worthwhile.
Chatting with The Australian’s Andrew McMillen at a packed Judith Wright Centre, Kelly discussed his approach to songwriting, including his love of Kendrick Lamar and the creation of his many beloved songs – ‘Dumb Things’ came from overhearing a conversation at Melbourne’s Corner Hotel. He explained that songwriting involved “mostly boredom” while waiting for an idea to click into place and aimless play until he surprises himself. His advice to aspiring songwriters was to “have lots of idle time so you can catch [ideas]” and to write ideas down “straight away because you’ll forget it”, but also added that “a song that’s any good will come at you sideways”.
The afternoon saw Hear65 – an initiative by the National Arts Council of Singapore – showcase the best of Singapore’s musical offerings at Ric’s Big Backyard. Attendees witnessed a diverse range of music from the country, beginning with the intricate jazz stylings of The Steve McQueens. Next act Charlie Lim mentioned technical problems cut his last set short, but he made it through a fun set of electronic soul. The final two acts took electronic music in different directions, with songstress Linying singing delicately over understated pop and producer Intriguant constructing chill-out beats alongside Calvin Phua making ambient guitar noise.
Catching our ears first amongst the individual showcases was Perth musician Carla Geneve. Getting into her packed set at Hey Ya Bar involved a lot of squeezing through the crowd, but her slice-of-life lyricism and rocking guitar solos were worth the lack of personal space.
More space was available at the outdoor venue The Valley Drive In for Brisbane rockers Tape/Off. The 4-piece recently released their long-awaited album Broadcast Park and played selections from it at a much louder volume. The set’s centrepiece was a storming version of their krautrock reminiscent ‘Micronations’, dedicating it to Scott Morrison, “Our next ex-Prime Minister”.
Spewing from The Foundry was the discordant noise of New Zealand trio Wax Chattels. We named the band as a must-see ahead of the festival, and they more than lived up to the hype. Singer/keyboardist Peter Ruddell stared with wide eyes at the crowd as he slammed his fists into his instrument, with bassist Amanda Cheng and drummer Tom Leggett played brooding post-punk at intense speeds.
Rumours spread that Paul Kelly would be gracing BIGSOUND with a surprise midnight performance at The Zoo. The word on the street proved to be true, and what appeared to be hundreds of people lined-up outside of the venue to witness the icon in action. Having heard the struggles Kelly has experienced with songwriting, hearing the fruits of his labour – those adored anthems – was a perfect way to end the day and a sure inspiration for the aspiring musicians gathered in Brisbane.
Stay tuned to the AU for more from BIGSOUND! Photo of Tape/Off by Jasmin Osman.