By James Adams.
Whales migrate. Ducks and all sorts of birds migrate. Everyone knows that. What people might not know is that the animals that make up the Australian music industry also migrate.
Once a year, early every October, they assemble en mass in Brisbane for the annual Big Sound Music Conference. The migration isn’t due to climate or breeding, although both become factors. The primary reason is to view artists with folder arms, execute a reverse crowd formation (where the room is busiest at the back and spacious at the front), send nods to each other and select the next crop of Australian musicians that’ll saturate Triple J and the youth of Australia’s taste.
And it’s also about getting pissed. It’s massively about getting pissed.
Amid the chaos and conflicting schedules, these are some of the artists that make the migration worth it and that we trust will be gracing our and your earholes a lot more frequently in the near future.
The Buoys are girls. They are a four-piece from Sydney that exude a level of mutual intuition that leaves you to believe they live in each other pockets. They might do so but after seeing them perform it becomes understood that their intuition comes from enough time spent onstage to read each other without words spoken. They have a brand of music and charisma that coheres the audience to love them and to engage with their music. They aren’t quota fillers, they won’t be on the next festival bill to make up the female numbers. They’ll be there because they write strong songs and have enough stage experience to afford them a real presence live. They aren’t selling their looks or a feminist regime. They don’t have a message that is designed to keep the band afloat. They let their music do the floating, the way it should be.
It’s hard to put your finger on 100. Even the name, I feel like I’m saying it wrong somehow. And their sound. When someone is struggling to put a band in a genre I ask them who they sound like. I asked myself this question with 100 but it didn’t work as I don’t really know who they sound like. That is a breed of unique. It’s part confronting and jarring but also hooky and melodic. It’s a push-pull feeling and the push is as enjoyable as the pull. After seeing them the first time I left with a good impression and returned for round two more so to wrap my head around their sound. Over two weeks I watched them play five times and am just as intrigued as after the first time I watched them. Maybe not being able to figure them out is why I like them. I’m starting to know the songs but I’ll never know how they came about. Liking the songs should be enough but even if it’s not enough, half the reason I’ll keep listening to 100 is because i’m still intrigued.
You know Bad//Dreems by now. If you don’t, catch up by reading this masterpiece.
Needless to say, they’re the veterans of the BigSound cast and used that experience to school the fresh and coy. As unapologetic and in your face as can be banging heads with songs that excrete lyrical and music depth that leaves you feeling like they only came to Brisbane to put on a master class. One of the only bands that drew a crowd rowdy enough to warrant security. But there was no security. Only a room full of fans that viewed a set full of new sounds and could go home to rest easy with a head full of Bad//Dreems.
Shady Nasty are harder to explain than 100.
They’re comprised of three young guys from Sydney’s west and they’ve developed the most aggressive trap/punk fusion. The bass is loud, the cymbals crash hard and the vocalist spits lyrics with nothing short of rage. If I knew I was about to get into a confrontation, a life or death confrontation, a kill or be killed confrontation, this is what I’d listen to before the fight. This sound of aggression made it all the more surprising when linking up to meet three of the mellowest most pleasant guys. School friends, of which only one had been in a band before. One of them is a tennis coach that plays a 5 string bass. Nothing about them makes sense and when I probed to try to get answers as to where their sound came from the most I got was that about 4 years ago listening to some bands changed their lives.
I’m happy with the lack of answers, I’ll keep it a mystery. It’s jarring and challenging to listen to but it’s unpredictable and you get the feeling that it's part of the future of music. If you were to turn away now you know you’d miss something. But if you stay and listen you don’t know if you’ll be the same person come to the end of the set. Your choice. I’m staying.
But I’m also leaving. Leaving Brisbane as a broken down vessel. The migration was great for the music but hell for the soul. Rest will cure the weary and fingers crossed we retain what we learnt. What I learnt is that I don’t need to know everything about everyone. Some mystery is part of the recipe for a great band and I think I’ve flown away from the week with a few new favourites in my pocket. Mystery and all.