It’s quite exciting walking around Bigsound this year because there is such a well deserved buzz surrounding the female artists on the line up. With the spotlight on artists like G-FLIP, Eilish Gilligan, CXLOE, Eliott and Kota Banks we will hopefully see that translate to more bookings for festivals, higher set slots, bigger show attendance rates and an increased radio and media traction. Because over these three busy days the female acts are leading the way with captivating, fun and vulnerable sets that perfectly compliment the rainy atmosphere and party vibes.
Kicking off the night two shenanigans, Kota Banks burst onto the Family stage for her second showcase of the festival with the catchy ‘Prize’. With colourful visuals and a whole lot of energy she smashed through crowd favourites ‘Holiday’, ‘U Changed’, ‘Florentina’ and ‘Toy’. Thanking the crowd for coming out to watch her she perfectly delivered this carefree vibe that embodied the fun nature of the songs and had you dancing through tracks like ‘Child’ and the euphoric ‘I’m It’. She closed the vibrant set with the infectious ‘Zoom’ which will instantly be stuck in your head for hours. As an artist she has shown a lot of growth over the past year and has really seemed to find herself as an artist and is unapologetic about it.
As I ran over to The Elephant Hotel to witness the end of Mane’s magical set, it became quite noticeable that I really shouldn’t have missed the first half of her performance. With a crowd that were spellbound by her mysterious presence, theatrical sound and raw vocals she offered raw vulnerability with a cool sense of confidence.The production has this grand feel to it which helps create the aesthetic atmosphere. But she should try to interact with the crowd more as her banter was a little awkward. Between the songs ‘Save Yourself’ and ‘Change For Love’ she delivered pure emotion whilst also delivering rhythmic indie-pop production. Her songwriting and powerhouse vocals are there, she just needs to do is keep performing regular and she will continue to grow as an artist.
One of the artists I was most excited to see was Sydney singer-songwriter CXLOE and apparently I wasn’t the only one with her packing out The Family to capacity during her first BigSound showcase. Launching straight into ‘Monster’ she grooved her way onto the stage but had sound issues riddling the first half of the song with her microphone not working. As soon as her mic kicked in the whole venue roared in support. With only three songs officially released the set featured a couple of new songs that continued her moody indie-pop sound like ‘Tense’ and ‘Bad Guy’ but it was ‘I Can’t Have Nice Things’ that truly impressed. The polished synth track had this Selena Gomez ‘Hands To Myself’ vibe mixed in with the sonical flavouring of Banks and Tove Lo. It perfectly compliments the direction ‘Show You’ headed towards which also received a massive singalong. Throwing in a cover of Billie Eilish’s ‘Bellyache’ for good measure she then closed her set with the first single she ever released, ‘Tough Love’. Throughout her whole set she oozed this confidence that not many new artists have and it was so captivating watching her work her way across the stage.
Ella Hooper is no stranger to the stage. The frontwoman of Killing Heidi has been dabbling with solo music for a little while now but she has reintroduced herself to listeners with her groovy, synth layered single ‘To The Bone’. Thanking the crowd for coming out to see her she lowered her microphone stand and kicked off a set packed with brand new material. ‘If This Ain’t Love Anymore’ had a slightly more reserved sound to her usual pop-rock but with ‘Freeworld’ she really nailed the 80’s synth rock sound that she has been experimenting with recently. The only older song in her set was ‘Dead Stars’ from her 2014 EP ‘In Tongues’ but even that song had a little synth makeover.
There’s just something about Didirri which will have you falling in love with him so easily. He released his debut EP ‘Measurements’ earlier this year which heard him perfecting his vulnerable sound and articulately delivering a collection of strong and powerful tracks. Opening his packed set at Ric’s Backyard with a solo rendition of ‘Breathe’ before his band then joined him on stage for a cover of The Monkees ‘Randy Scouse Git’. In his live show he always manages to perfectly mix together a blend of raw vulnerability with a real sense of his personality that shines through his in-between song banter. Rambling to the crowd about how his guitar got smashed on a flight home from Singapore he stopped himself and proclaimed “I really should just play a song shouldn’t I?” and laughed. ‘Bird Sounds’ and ‘Blind You’ followed and had the crowd swaying, swooning and falling further deeper in love with him. His vocals and stage presence are so mesmerising that you will find yourself questioning how he can be so well and truly perfect.
Bigsound is not only about the live music showcases but during the day some of the industries biggest heavyweights take part in very informative panels that cover a lot of interesting and sometimes political topics. One of this years keynote speakers was the Australian folk legend Paul Kelly and something Bigsound is also notorious for is some secret and pretty special performances. So it only seemed fitting that Paul Kelly closed night two with a secret and intimate showcase at The Zoo. With a line that looped around the block it was safe to say nearly everyone at the festival was trying to get into this very special show. As Paul took to the stage the whole crowd erupted in applause and he kicked off his hour long set with ‘Little Wolf’ from his upcoming 24th studio album ‘Nature’ which will be released on October 12. He told the very excited crowd that he would be premiering some new songs before he performed some of the hits and everyone respectfully indulged him. ‘And Death Shall Have No Dominion’, ‘With Animals’ and ‘A Bastard Like Me’ followed before launching into the greatest hits portion of the show with ‘To Her Door’. He continued with some cool singalong moments during ‘Firewood And Candles’, ‘Josephina’, ‘Deeper Water’ and ‘Rising Moon’ and even handed over the reigns to one of his backing vocalists for the soulful ‘My Mans Got A Cold’ whilst he played guitar. He thanked the crowd for always supporting him and closed his set with ‘Dumb Things’ and ‘How To Make Gravy’. His storytelling is so unique and special and has inspired so many Australian artists and listeners alike over the years. So this was a very special and memorable show that the lucky people in attendance won’t forget about any time soon.
Photo credit: Bianca Holderness