Ecca Vandal, Totally Mild, WAAX: The Best of BIGSOUND…so far

‘Twas the night before BIGSOUND, when all through the Valley,

Not a showcase was playing, it was quiet as a mouse.

Except for the pumping opening parties running at venues across the Valley, as well as a few thousand punters, delegates and musicians beginning their BIGSOUND 2016 frivolities early. Unable to wait to dig into the smorgasbord of artists, the author attempted to spread herself thin across eight venues, failed abysmally in the process, and had a peek at some of the bands to watch over BIGSOUND and the future.

ECCA VANDAL @ THE SECRET SOUNDS OPENING PARTY, THE TRIFFID

You couldn’t have asked for a better act to kick pre-BIGSOUND shenanigans off with than Ecca Vandal owning the stage of the Triffid, down to fabulous yellow tartan pants. She’s an artist to watch, bringing dance punk/meets Beastie Boys/meets the Refused/meets M.I.A – it’s a sound that’s uniquely hers, bringing her South African heritage through. She emulated an unmistakably cool kind of control across the stage, enthralling the crowd and showcasing her beautiful vocals.

JARROW @ THE REMOTE CONTROL RECORDS PARTY, THE ELEPHANT

The beer was flowing freely and the mood was undeniably chill, with Jarrow opening proceedings for the night. Their jangly, upbeat, solid garage pop lulled in and out of atmospheric guitar and shamelessly rock and roll moments. The dynamics matched the buzz of the crowd – their jiving jams were more than enjoyable.

GABRIELLA COHEN @ THE REMOTE CONTROL RECORDS PARTY, THE ELEPHANT

Gabriella was her normal charming self, immediately winning the crowd over with her unique indie-pop melodies – stay tuned for more coverage of her in the days to come. The writer was a bit too blissed out to remember too much more, but the song “I Don’t Feel So Alive” definitely had audience members considering how they’d be feeling the next morning.

SOLID EFFORT @ THE POPFRENZY AND FARMER & THE OWL BIGSOUND PARTY, GREASER BAR

In the intimate band room of Greaser Bar was a highlight of the night. They’re a folk-punk sort of outfit, mixed with The Smith Street Band, maybe some Go Betweens or Paul Kelly – it’s a sound that’s so familiar yet impossible to pin – uniquely their own, with talent to boot. There was a distinct lack of elaborate pedal boards, giving a refreshing guitar tone, and the lead singer’s bass was heavy featured throughout the set – so much that he managed to snap a string.

 

GIDEON BENSEN @ THE NIGHT BEFORE BIGSOUND PARTY, THE FOUNDRY

This is a talented artist to watch – he’s playing stuff that’s not reminiscent in the slightest of his previous band, The Preatures. It’s fantastically varied, getting Joy Division, Lou Reed and Talking Heads vibes, with even moments that touched on early Nine Inch Nails in the distortion. The 80s influence was undeniable, down to his tartan pants and leather jacket.

A.D.K.O.B @ THE NIGHT BEFORE BIGSOUND PARTY, THE FOUNDRY

Expect more hype coming your way soon; this is an infatuating act that deserves attention. They’re dreamy indie rock, that builds to danceable and memorable tunes, complete with layered synth and singing Gretsch guitar. A Different Kind Of Busy were definitely not a busy sound, with smooth lo-fi and psych influences. A great set, and definitely worth keeping an eye on.

WAAX @ THE NIGHT BEFORE BIGSOUND PARTY, THE FOUNDRY

WAAX were definitely one of the highlights for the night – the five piece, led by front woman Maz DeVita. They’re a punk-influenced indie rock group, who showcased at last year’s BIGSOUND and are renowned for their high energy live performances, and Maz’s near ferocious, dominating on-stage presence. They’ve just released a new single, which we were lucky to see played – and definitely check them out on their upcoming tour.

HEADS OF CHARM @ THE TITLE TRACK PRE-BIGSOUND PARTY, THE BRIGHTSIDE 

Well, damn. These guys were my pick of the night – driving, groovy, dark, menacing, and fabulous. Stay tuned during and after BIGSOUND for more coverage; a three-person band shouldn’t have such an atmosphere (we’re going to have to learn their secrets). They presented a disjointed kind of beauty between the grinding riffs and melodies, and an understanding that was evident between band members.

TOTALLY MILD @ THE RICE IS NICE v SPUNK PARTY, BLACK BEAR LODGE

Rounding out the evening were Melbourne darlings Totally Mild, a humble band that gives the best kind of spacey tunes and saccharine melodies, led by frontwoman Elizabeth Mitchell. It’s nearly hypnotic, and definitely heart-wrenching; the intimacy of Black Bear Lodge matched the sound perfectly.

…And there was more, there was so much more. There was also ample beer, so some things will remain unwritten. The spring break of the music industry has started, and it’s a doozy – don’t miss out.