Australia's Next Crop: The Best Of BIGSOUND 2015

BIGSOUND_REVIEWBIGSOUND doesn’t have a bad track record. If you just look at last year’s live lineup and compare it to where they are now, it should just about justify BIGSOUND’s importance for new artists. This week, SAFIA and Tkay Maidza are touring around the country on sold-out national tours, DMA’s, George Maple, Maidza and more have played international festivals while Hayden James has scored an international hit with Something About You - that is, of course, an abridged version of a long list of accolades. Knowing the potential of these young artists approaching this year’s event made it all the more exciting.

These are our picks of the bunch - the one’s we think we’ll be talking about as the most successful graduates come this time next year.

Day One Highlights


Sydney artist Charmian Kingston AKA. BUOY was hit with one of the more unfortunate mishaps of the week when her sound cut-out midway through the set but it did little to dampen what was a memorable first half. She’s got this effortless, water-soaked sound that washes right over you. Her voice is ethereal and perched in front of the piano, she looked shy but quietly confident. She’s one of the artists here whose music has already extended beyond this country, featuring on a number of international blogs. We reckon a hop over the pond next year could be very easily facilitated.

Set Mo

Sydney duo Nick Drabble and Stu Turner, better known as Set Mo, are proof that one song can really get your career firing. Their Deutsche Duke-featuring track White Dress has become one of the year’s best local releases and from Splendour In The Grass to BIGSOUND, every time they drop it, it sounds mighty. DJ sets at industry-showcase type shows can always feel a bit awkward but Set Mo managed to gather a dense crowd and got them firing with richly melodic house music that’s destined to soundtrack Aussie festivals over the next year as well as make them a big player in Europe.

Ready, Set Mo @setmomusic @bigsound #bigsound

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Life Is Better Blonde

Melbourne producer Life Is Better Blonde may only really have two released tracks to his name, Mine and Follow Me, but they have both been strong enough to gather some serious support online. He channels that James Blake singer/songwriter-cross-producer aesthetic and live he sat at the piano playing with a vocoder, churning out intimate, sonically-interesting tracks. He’s without a doubt an exceptional musician and it seems he’ll really benefit from a full-length release where he has the space to build and diversify his music showing everything he can do - which is a lot judging by his BIGSOUND performance.

??>?? Life Is Better Blonde @bigsound @viceroyaltymusic

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There was a lot of dark, brooding electronica at BIGSOUND this year so it was refreshing to see an act like Porsches with explicit pop sensibilities, bringing a bit of fun to the stage. Fully co-ordinated in Adidas tracksuits, the duo pulled one of the bigger crowds of the week and actually managed to create a bit of a party - impressive for a Wednesday night. Their sound sits somewhere between Jungle and Hot Chip, sounding like it could simultaneously win over a huge triple j festival audience and be added to heavy rotation on commercial radio. Their recent work with producer Kilter on Want 2 has put them in an envious position where they can jump between club music and alternative-tinged tunes with ease. By the sounds of it they have a number of hits at the ready and one of those could be their next single dropping next week. Very high hopes for Porsches.

Slum Sociable

Every year at BIGSOUND you know there are a handful of acts that the label has been hiding away, quietly confident in their immediate brilliance. Last year we saw it with George Maple and this year we saw it with Mushroom’s Slum Sociable. Their two tracks Anyway and All Night had them sounding a bit like a production duo, but what we got on stage was something very different. They presented as a full band with an exploding, soulful sound that felt vintage and nostalgic but also something completely different to everything else we were hearing at BIGSOUND. They spectacularly transferred their bedroom-sounding production into mainstage players that bursted with energy, easily making them one of the top three live acts of the week.


You get the feeling that playing in an industry setting before midnight is probably not the optimum habitat for Melbourne duo friendships but they didn’t let that deter them at BIGSOUND. Their abrasive brand of electronica physically rumbled the dancefloor and amongst all the delicate electronica this week, hearing Pedal To The Medal rumble out of the speakers was somewhat refreshing. This is a sound that’s begging to find a home in the depths of a Berlin nightclub at 5am but the tracks are so memorable that they even packed a real punch before midnight.

With @friendshipsau like these, who needs enemies? @bigsound #bigsound

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Ngaiire is kind of a veteran in the industry. She first came to the public’s attention in the first season of Australian Idol before collaborating with Paul Mac. Since then she’s risen up the ranks on triple j and has finally landed on a sound that’s really working for her. She pulled a massive crowd for her night-ending showcase that was full of powerful vocals atop subtle electronic arrangements. The album sounds like it’s going to be a stellar collection of future soul that showcases her beautifully textured voice alongside really strong melodies and electronic soundscapes. Once is an unbelievable entrance to that album and live it sounded beefed-up with backing vocals that made the chorus soar. She had everyone dancing and nearly everyone in awe of her voice.

Getting some serious @liannelahavas vibez from @ngaiire ??? #Bigsound

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Day Two Highlights

Gill Bates

Day Two was all about the new wave of Australian hip-hop and Gill Bates kicked it off with a sound that’s more influenced by Future and Travis Scott than Hilltop Hoods. He’s obviously grown-up devouring stateside hip-hop and he interweaved his set, sampling those tunes amongst his own. He’s the type of artist who could easily score a radio hit and craft a critically-acclaimed album because he lays down pop-infused hooks alongside impressive verses. BIGSOUND crowds aren’t the most lively at the best of times but he did a phenomenal job of getting Oh Hello going and once he’d gotten everyone to step closer to the stage it felt like a firing club show.

Oh hello, @gillbates_aus! #bigsound

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From one hip-hop act to the next, Rara are also inspired by US hip-hop. Chatting to us earlier in the day, they said they weren’t afraid to enter into the world of pop and cited influences from Justin Bieber to Travis Scott. On stage, they brought exactly that. At one stage they had all four mics front and centre of stage, looking like we were about to get a Boyz II Men show. That’s not what we got, obviously. Instead, they bounced off each other, delivering verse after verse over beats that ranged from slow-bangers to thumping house tunes. They dropped a number of new tunes off their forthcoming EP Planet 2016 with the title-track sounding particularly appetising.


Like so many of the young-guns who performed at BIGSOUND this year, cln has only been in the public-eye for about a year. In that time he’s gone from a bedroom beatmaker to a singer, at the request of his manager. He’s obviously still not completely comfortable singing as he let the crowd know a number of times but it would’ve been hard to tell had he not told us. Hold Me and Found off his latest EP are his strongest tracks to date and live they felt intimate and stirring. He makes stunning electronic soundscapes and manages to make them sound atmospheric while still being a “banger”, as he put it.


Baro feels like the Remi of 2015 - not that Remi has disappeared. He has a really international appeal but also has this organic quality to his beats that sound distinctively Australian. He’s got a huge musical palette and it comes across live as he fuses jazz with international hip-hop and pop, amping up the crowd with immediately catchy hooks while throwing down intricate, left-centre verses. He really understands rhythm and melody, finding sweet spots in places you wouldn’t expect. He dropped cuts off his latest EP 17/18 with This Is For You, Fuck Everybody getting the crowd particularly rowdy. It took him and his sidekick Marley a little bit of hyping but they weren’t going to give up until the whole audience was moving - and by the end they were.

@barryisrichard (Baro) dropping a ??? unreleased track. #BIGSOUND ps. pls release.

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We were already pretty convinced that Olivia McCarthy AKA. JOY. was brilliant and BIGSOUND just reaffirmed that for us. From the minute she walks on stage she’s utterly captivating, holding her hand out in front of her and rotating it as if that’s her wand to put everyone in a trance. Filling up the set mostly with songs from her debut EP Ode, she easily pulled one of the biggest crowds of the week and justified it with a stunning set. Her vocals are so effortless that sometimes it feels as if they fall from her mouth without her even opening. From the enchanting opener Crazy For You to the four-to-the-floor beat of About Us, McCarthy delivered a near-perfect set that made everyone either fall in love with her or cry from jealousy.

When drawing one of the biggest crowds at @bigsound ain't no thang... @joyaus_ #bigsound

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Koi Child

If you’ve heard Tame Impala’s Currents you’d know that Kevin Parker’s taste is pretty damn good, that’s why you’ve really gotta pay attention to a new band that’s been produced by Parker purely because he thought they were great after seeing them live. It’s easy to see why too. They combine hip-hop with jazz and Badbadnotgood-style instrumentation on-stage to create a rhythmic party driven by frontman Shannon Patterson’s unbelievable flow. Put simply, there wasn’t a live set that came close to the quality of Koi Child’s. Given they have only had one song, the excellent Black Panda, they managed to keep the crowd entertained for the entirety of the set and even had them asking for an encore. Their chemistry together is infectious and they bounced off each other the whole time looking like they were having the time of their life. You’ll be hearing a lot more about Koi Child before the year is out.

@koichild were so fly ??????

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This Week's 5 Gigs Under $50


The music scene in Sydney is bursting with talent, but between the plethora of international acts and growing number of lesser known artists performing each week, it can be tricky to choose where to spend your time and cash. Here at the interns, we make it our mission to fit in as much music into each week as humanly possible. This week we’ve gone a tad over budget on some of what’s on offer (and excluded those who have been sold out for weeks), but for those of you still suffering FOMO over Splendour In The Grass this is your last chance to catch some of the best acts who are still lingering around this week.

The Vaccines
Tuesday 28th July @ The Metro Theatre


How Much: $64.90

Having dropped their third album English Graffiti a couple of months ago, The Vaccines promptly announced an album tour that included Splendour In The Grass and some more intimate performances. From all reports they absolutely killed their sets at Splendour and Fuji Rock Festival in Japan, so don’t miss out on their show in Sydney this week which is almost inconceivably not yet sold out. Tickets here.

The Districts
Tuesday 28th July @ Newtown Social Club


How Much: $42

Another band straight from Splendour, The Districts will be down at Newtown Social Club on Tuesday this week to play their version of contemporary, raw and energetic rock for a very intimate show. This official Splendour sideshow promises to be a very different beast from the festival set, with The Districts often thought of as small-venue specialists. The only way to know for sure will be to grab a ticket and head down yourself.

Read our interview with The Districts here.


Josh Pyke
Wednesday 29th July @ The Soda Factory


How Much: $40

To celebrate the release of his fifth album, Josh Pyke is doing a small run of intimate shows for fans. He’s picked The Soda Factory as the spot in Sydney to perform his unique style of modern day storytelling, and you can catch him this Wednesday evening for what is sure to be a classically quirky and warm performance. Select tickets still available here.

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Thursday 30th July @ Goodgod Small Club


How Much: $18.40

To celebrate the release of his debut EP 17/18, 2014 unearthed high finalist Baro is taking his brand new tunes across the country on a debut tour. His style of music holds an essence of jazz rap infused with a raw brashness, drawing comparisons to Earl Sweatshirt and Joey Bada$$. This Thursday he brings his silky smooth hip hop to Goodgod, and tickets can be purchased here.

Read our interview with Baro here.

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Jinja Safari
Friday 31st July @ Oxford Art Factory


How Much: $28.70

Picking up their big break in 2010 through Triple J unearthed to play Splendour In The Grass, and invited back twice since, Jinja Safari have graced festival bills such as Big Day Out, Falls, Southbound and Bestival (UK). They've also enjoyed sold-out club shows across the country and overseas in London and New York. To celebrate the release of their first single in two years, Jinja Safari will pack up their collection of unconventional instruments and hit the road for a string of shows starting this July. Tickets here .