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Live Review: The top ten best bits of BIGSOUND 2018

11 September 2018 | 2:41 pm | Staff Writer

Across the five days that the event runs it is absolutely packed with highlights, but we worked out the ten best bits of BIGSOUND 2018.

Like the mecca of new music, BIGSOUND is done and dusted for another year. For a week, Brisbane is completely taken over by tons of new and upcoming talent showing what they've got. On top of that, the event puts on a whole stack of keynotes by artists, industry heavyweights and other important people giving invaluable insight about issues facing the industry today.

Naturally, across the five days that the event runs it is absolutely packed with highlights, but we worked out the ten best bits of BIGSOUND 2018 - from performers to speakers - to make your FOMO just that little bit bigger.

Yù Yī

Off the hype of their bouncy earworm ‘Peaches’, Mister Hugo and Ellen of Yù Yī brought a little taste of Planet FRÖÖTI to Brisbane for Bigsound. With their unreleased tunes sounding like a twee hybrid of Kero Kero Bonito and Mura Masa, their infectious energy and future facing pop got smiles on the faces of new fans and serious industry types alike. Their shows over the weekend were the first of the project, and with such a tight performance and even more hypercolour tunes under their belts it’s only looking up for Yù Yī.

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As a fiend for future pop and dance tunes, my love of Candy was a sweet surprise at Bigsound. The bedroom alt-rock/pop project of Calum Newton is packed with low fi guitar jangles, self deprecating lyricism and really smart pop composition. Alongside the frontman’s explosive energy, Candy’s live show delivered a sneak attack dose of realism under wistful coastal sounds. It made for a bittersweet half hour that was over too quickly bust has us overly excited for his upcoming album release.


With the music industry shifting around social media algorithms and changes in the live music scene, educating its up-and-comers is more important than ever. Across panels on the importance of diversity, challenging your inner critic and content creation; delegates were able to learn from some of the best in their fields. Alongside the opportunities to make connections with speakers and other attendees, the panels educated musos on how to move with even more confidence within the industry. 


One of the many international offerings on the lineup, was Fortune Shumba, bringing his empowered rap from Johannesburg, South Africa all the way to Brisbane. In a shimmering crystal wig and tinsel skirt, his addictive energy got everyone at Heya Bar moving with him. Between climbing on the DJ booth and bouts of twerking he schooled everyone on slut shaming and taught the Australian audience a bit of Zulu in the process. His joy while performing was intoxicating and as cherry on top of a brilliant performance, he hugged every single audience member of the crowd when he was done.


Sydney’s own dark pop queen CXLOE made quite the impression over the week at Bigsound with both of her showcases packing out, and for good reason. Her take on pop themes with a refined level of grand spectacle and brooding emotion were delivered with the emotive movement and crowd engagement of a seasoned pro. The intense swells of electronica were no match for her powerful vocals, as she delivered a performance that left jaws on the floor. CXLOE proved at her showcases that she is no doubt a rising star in the Australian music scene and a force to be reckoned with.


Look, when listening to the hyper-pop wonderland that KOTA BANKS crafts with every song, you can tell that she jam packs each moment she can with energy and sass. When you put her on a live stage, like when she performed at The Flying Cock on Tuesday night, it’s almost like sensory overload in the best way possible. Commanding the stage with every bounce and every note, Kota Banks gave us BIGSOUND’s first hyper-energetic set and really set the bar high for all the acts to follow.


Right before Kota took the stage however, EILISH GILLIGAN mesmerised TFC’s crowd with her unique and refreshing on-stage energy. She’s incredibly gifted at bewitching listeners through her stunning vocal heights and devastatingly real lyrics in her songs, but that transfixing ability is only amplified on stage. By no means is she an ‘in-your-face’ performer, but she’s still an artist that is overflowing with personality and will have you talking about her long after she’s left the stage.


In the midst of all the chaos of BIGSOUND, it can be hard to find yourself centred. Enter HAZLETT, who took to Black Bear Lodge on Tuesday night, to give punters some much needed calm amongst the storm. It’s no easy achievement to get a packed out room to remain in utter silence as they stay completely enthralled by your performance, but Hazlett pulled it off with ease. His tender voice, that reached powerful heights, was all anyone could focus on, because if you lost focus for a second, you might miss some of the most beautiful moments the festival had to offer.


This guy is the future. Hands down, no questions asked - this guy is the future. Despite literally turning 21 the day he closed the festival’s Unearthed showcase, his lyricism, production and explosive energy rival - or even exceed - that of his far older Aussie rap peers. There’s just something about KWAME that you have to love. Star power exudes from his as tears up the stage, and as his crowd jumps around and hangs off his every word, you can tell that this wild ride is only just taking off.


A vital part of BIGSOUND are the keynotes - a chance to get some seriously priceless insight into some of the biggest names in the industry. It was no different when Paul Kelly took to the stage to discuss his illustrious career, but came as a sombre relief when he revealed that, at least in part, that he suffers from imposter syndrome too. The feeling of not being worthy of your success is one that looms over many, if not most, creatives, and to see it runs all the way to the industry’s biggest legend is a sobering reminder. It’s obviously still a problem within the community, but you’re not alone. If BIGSOUND teaches you anything, it’s that the Aus music community is exactly that. It’s supportive, it’s helpful and no one is shy of pouring their love to another person. It’s what the world needs right now, and we were lucky to see it in full force in Brisbane. Til next year, BIGSOUND.

Images: Tiff Williams + Supplied