thoughts on Big Sound Live – Day 1

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I spent about two weeks trying to figure out who to see at my first ever Big Sound Live. I wouldn’t say the line-up was spectacular but there was certainly a decent amount of acts to choose from.

My night starts out at the Club House, under the Tempo Bar, waiting for New Zealand artist Kimbra with her pop-soaked mixture of funk and soul. Kimbra has a voice to match Florence Welch and a good amount of energy and charisma, not that you’d know it from the audience, who are all standing back, arms crossed. Typical Brisbane. It’s like being at a high school dance where the boys and girls want to dance, but are too scared to ask. You just need that one person to set it off. Despite this, Kimbra powers through. The layered vocal loops of ‘Settle Down’ are amazing, and ‘Love is a Two Way Street’ sees Kimbra practically howling into the microphone. By the end of it, a few punters are even shuffling their feet.

I dash across the road to the Artisan Gallery’s outdoor venue for Hungry Kids Of Hungary. As expected, it’s packed. What isn’t expected is that they’ve already started. I still manage to catch a few familiar songs – ‘Let You Down’, ‘Scattered Diamonds’ and ‘Wristwatch’, which is responsible the only real dancing I see all night. The set lacks intimacy, but it’s decent enough.

Next stop is the Troubadour, where Central Coast singer-songwriter Daniel Lee Kendall is playing. This is exactly the kind of show I want to see at Big Sound – relatively unknown but talented artists who are still unsure of themselves. Kendall mostly performs on his own, but is occasionally helped out by his laptop on keys or strings, adding depth to the sound. It’s obvious from his guitar-playing and ear for a good melody he has potential to make something good from this. Or maybe I just have a thing for boys who play guitar.

After Daniel finishes, the crowds rush in for Boy And Bear. The Troubadour is packed to a ridiculous degree, and my Twitter feed informs me there are people lined up past McDonalds. The band play through their singles – ‘Rabbit Song’, ‘Mexican Mavis’ – much to the crowd’s delight. The signature vocal harmonies are pitch perfect. The only downfall is a new track with a much more country flavour which falls a bit flat. As singer Dave Hosking says as the song finishes, “I warned you all it was a country song…”

I catch the end of Disco Nap at the Club House and am surprised to find the place practically deserted. It must be hard for bands to maintain a decent level of energy when the crowd is so sparse, but these guys don’t handle it well. The two or so songs I see are fairly bland and it seems like they couldn’t wait for the set to be over. Maybe next time, guys.

I have higher expectations for Bridezilla. I don’t know if it’s an off-night for the group, or if the balance of sound just isn’t right. It feel like every instrument, including the vocals, is drowned out. I’d love to see them again in a better context, because on record they’re brilliant, but this performance is a mess despite their enthusiasm.

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