BIGSOUND 2018 (DAY 1): Rachel Maria Cox, The Merindas, Hazlett, Eilish Gilligan & more

My day one dispatch from Brisbane’s annual music conference, Bigsound

BIGSOUND, Brisbane’s annual music conference, is kind of like the bed I’m sleeping in at The Mantra On Quay while we’re away – It’s two beds pushed together, soft on one side and hard on the other.  And while that might sound like hell to some, I kind of like it that way. Sometimes you need soft nurturing and other times you need hard reality.

Home Party
The Valley Drive Inn

I like to tell my boss that BIGSOUND is all about the conference, but to be honest it’s really all about the parties. Parties with live music. Today’s welcome party at The Valley Drive Inn (that’s what they call the back section of the Brightside in Warner Street now) was a small sandwich and wraps kind of affair punctuated by some of the country’s most promising new artists.


Alice Skye: You know when you’re at a gig and you keep hearing songs you know but have never attributed to the artist in front of you? That was how Bigsound experience Alice Skye’s set yesterday. Pop powerhouse after pop powerhouse.

Nooky: Indigenous Australian rapper Nooky who is signed to Bad Apples, a small label that’s also home to artists Birdz, Philly and the A.B Originals was on fire yesterday. The performance was fun and powerful all in the one breath. We think you’re gonna hear a whole lot more from Nooky.

The Merindas: The Merindas were like nothing I’ve ever seen at Bigsound before. It was refreshing and fucking awesome! Killer voices, great hooks delivered through charismatic interplay and choreography. I’ll be hounding every agent and booker I know to bring them to Newcastle so you can all see it for yourself.

Rachel Maria Cox
The Crowbar

It’s hard not to feel emotions when you’re watching a Newy band playing to a packed room on a Tuesday night in Fortitude Valley. Rachel is a boss on stage, and it’s hard to look away. Backed by some of our cities most talent musos, it’s easy to see why Rachel Maria Cox has ended up on festival bills all around the country.

We can’t wait to see Rachel speak on the How Music Shapes The World panel as part of the conference later today.

Black Bear Lodge

You know when you’re totally buzzing to see one particular artist on a bill, and then they don’t play your favourite song? That’s what happened at Hazlett’s showcase slot last night at the Black Bear Lodge. But to be honest I didn’t really care because this is an artist with a full bag of amazing tunes.

Backed by a percussionist on the skins, pads and loops, Hazlett’s performance saw the small Brunswick Street venue packed to capacity. Expect big things.

256 Wickham

I can see how Samsaruh would absolutely nail an afternoon / early evening set at a gig like Groovin’ The Moo. But for me, tonight, it’s not working. It was like all the parts were there and kicking arse, but they just weren’t working together. It’s a bummer, and probably a lot to do with the mix because it’s easy to see that Samsaruh is an enigmatic performer with lots to share.

I should note that 256 Wickham is one of the coolest venues in Fortitude Valley. There’s something about a club you go downstairs for…

Eilish Gilligan
The Flying Cock

A little like the Samsaruh gig, it sounded like all the bits needed a little bit of glue. But the songs are so well crafted and THAT VOICE is just so amazing to hear live that it didn’t take away from the first of many Eilish Gilligan I plan to see in the future.

Kota Banks
The Flying Cock

Yes to Kota Banks!

My old big sound buddy wasn’t into hip-hop, so in the last 4 years, I’ve not seen a lot of it during my time at Bigsound. However, my new Bigsound buddy (Hi Eliza) is totally “down on that shiz”  which is awesome because if she had not insisted on catching this set I would have missed seeing one of Australia’s most magnetic performers kicking arse and taking numbers.

If you get a chance to see Kota live, click that BUY TICKET button immediately.

The Elephant Hotel

It’s interesting to see an artist you thought you knew everything about reinventing their sound right in front of your eyes. Sure FIG Jam, Yo Momma, Get Up Out Of The Dirt and I Love Work are the crowd favourites but watching Butterfingers nervously pick up his Gibson SG and front the microphone to perform new material, that could best be described as punk rock, was sublime.

The Foundry

There’s nothing like walking into a secret Youtube Music party featuring Olympia to really cap off your night. There’s not a lot to say here except, Olympia is everything we’ve always loved about her – An intense pocket rocket who knows how to craft a tune and nail a live performance.