BIGSOUND is back for another year and more young up-and-comers have descended on Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley to show everyone what they’ve got. With past discovering including DMA’s, George Maple and Ngaiire, BIGSOUND has a great track record for finding the next big thing and judging by night one of 2016, this year will do nothing to detract from that.
Following her firing opening set at Splendour In The Grass this year, Alex Lahey was always going to be a hot ticket for BIGSOUND and she was. Lahey had the triple j Unearthed showcase at Oh Hello! packed out as she brought her relatable but slamming sound to the stage. Bringing a warmth and humour to the stage in between songs, she ignited the fire inside when she launched into song thrashing at the guitar and giving zero fucks where her hair flew.
Wes Anderson and B-Grade University got the crowd rowdy but it was the singles You Don’t Think You Like People Like Me and Let’s Go Out really drove things home. There’s a carelessness to her songwriting but it’s juxtaposed with a ferocity in her performance that bleeds energy. An absolute legend and a set that’s going to be very hard to beat this year at BIGSOUND.
— triple j Unearthed (@triplejunearthd) September 7, 2016
Two years ago Tkay Maidza was on the one’s to watch list at BIGSOUND. We’ve watched her go from vibrant youngster to big-stage superstar in that time and this year she returned with a new set, complete with a drummer, flaunting tracks off her forthcoming debut TKAY. The drummer added an extra live flair to favourites like Ghost and a cover RL Grime and What So Not’s Tell Me but it was perhaps best to see the reaction the new drops got.
Killer Mike-featuring single Carry On has had people raving since it was released and onstage Tkay brought a new found focus performing that. There was a dancehall-flavoured one that got the crowd excited (think Drake One Dance) and a PC Music-esque one that added a bit of sugar to the set. Tkay has bridged a gap in the Aussie music scene between the pop world and the triple j scene and it’s great to see her shining in her own lane and taking complete control of it too.
Brissy teen Mallrat reminds a little bit of Tkay when she first took to BIGSOUND. She has the songs but she’s still growing as a performer and there’s something endearing about that. She looked as if she was performing for a bunch of friends in her backyard, rocking a Yeezy tee and having a good laugh in between songs to lighten the mood. It made you feel as if Mallrat was your insanely talented best friend.
Song-wise, she’s got a seriously solid collection for an artist with one EP to her name. Every song off her Uninvited EP is a smash and the crowd responded appropriately so during her showcase cruising to Tokyo Drift and grooving to For Real. Inside Voices’ perkiness won over everyone at the tail end of the set but props must be given to her drop of her track with Oh Boy and Donatachi Bunny Island which added a whole other dimension.
BIGSOUND 2016 has an interesting cross-section of uber-polished electronic acts and earthy, honest singer/songwriters this year with both winning over in different ways. Smithy sits in the latter category sitting with the likes of Alex Lahey and Jack River. Smithy delivered a no-frills set that won over with his colloquial yet powerful voice and relatable, local lyrics.
His sound is unmistakably Australian but there are elements of International indie rock like Real Estate and Grizzly Bear in there too. Closing track Four Letter Reason is by far his strongest, coupling precise storytelling with a hooky chorus that Aussie crowds would eat up.
Wallace was an unexpected highlight from the night. Hype for the Kiwi singer has been subtly bubbling thanks to a handful of great releases but her live show proved that she’s an absolute superstar in the making. She brings a Kimbra-esque quirkiness to the stage but also oozes rhythm allowing her hands to follow every note as if she was watching them pass in front of her. Her voice is powerful when it needs to be but also beautifully restrained in the quieter moments.
Roses proved that she has the songwriting skills to wrap up all her assets in a tight pop song while Is It You? sizzled with a slow, moody tempo. All the while, her band directed woozy, howling climaxes with experimental electronic work that took the set to another level. Truly spectacular.
— Claire Gormly (@intentmanager) September 7, 2016
LANKS might be one of the most skilful musicians doing the BIGSOUND rounds this week. He shreds at guitar, he’s got a beautiful voice and his production work has become increasingly experimental and exciting. During an interview earlier in the day, he name-checked MØ as one of his favourite artists around right now and while it was a somewhat unexpected response, live you could see it in the jittery, soaring sounds that were delivered in the breakdown of songs like Holla.
He also takes home the award for being the only one to deliver a flute solo which came at a particularly climatic part of the set, solidifying everyone’s love for him and also potentially winning the affection of Ron Burgundy.