BigSound 2017: Day 3 – Friends everywhere

Posted on: Fri 8 Sep 2017

Our Music Director Luke Penman is in Brisbane for BigSound – Australia’s biggest music industry conference – and will be checking in over the next few days.

Here’s his wrap of Day 3:

“Don’t just spend your time hanging out with Adelaide people. Make sure you meet someone new.” That was the advice Emma Coyle from Music SA’s gave me on day one. I haven’t really followed it yet.

There’s a display of bun options at the counter of Oporto. I assume they put out fresh ones each day but it really looks like those experiments of leaving out burgers for ages to show how they don’t decay.

I’m heading to a panel on the importance of local content quotas. It clashes with the Made In SA party but I guess I should go to at least one panel, and that one is pretty relevant to my interests.

Reps from MTV, the local Hit station, triple j and Screen Producers Australia.

Of course, everyone loves Australian content and wishes they could use more.

It sounds like there was an invite-only panel discussion from AIR earlier in the week, about radio content quotas. Some stations are missing their Australian content quota [minimum 25% Australian music on most music stations] by “double-digit” percentages.

Chris Scaddan from AMRAP says their data says similar – some stations in Sydney are getting away with as little as 8% of their music being Australian made.

“This is a condition of their broadcast license. These stations need to operate in a manner that meets those conditions. If they can’t, that’s not the music industry’s problem.”

Hear, hear!

James Cheatly from Screen Producers Australia explains that he’s essentially a lobbyist for the film industry and maybe the music industry needs to create a similar role to push the government to investigate these content quotas and how they’re being met, and hold stations to account if they aren’t.

triple j’s Nick Findlay makes the point that – while respecting that it’s not the ABC’s place to comment on legislation that impacts commercial broadcasters – plenty of community stations have been on the verge of completely losing their broadcast license for much smaller infractions.

The conversation turns to streaming services. Many people are now discovering new music through Spotify playlists and the like. Should they have local content quotas enforced? Everyone seems to think it would be good. I guess I’ve always thought lots of the big Spotify playlists were international. Surely it wouldn’t be possible to meet all those obligations from every country across a playlist.

But there are Spotify-curated Australian playlists that have tiny amounts of Australia music. Maybe there’s room for quotas there?

The panel wraps and I’m over to Ric’s for the Made In SA showcase. It turns out Electric Fields were showcasing after all.

Music SA’s Lisa Bishop tells me they killed it. “People were crying, it was so good.”

Heaps Good Friends are up next. They are so bloody fun. Emma melts everyone’s faces with her guitar solos. Dancing all round.

Members of Horror My Friend and West Thebarton give me a hug for the third time this week. It’s nice to be reminded that, even if you’re a tiny fish in a gigantic pond, we’ve also got our own damn pond where everyone knows each other and there’s plenty of love to go round.

More Adelaide friends are constantly found. Ben from Urtekk. Thom Lion. Sarah from The Gov.

Branko from 4ZZZ introduces himself. We chat about community radio. It sounds like they’re working on some really cool stuff and he’s keen for Radio Adelaide and 4ZZZ to work together and share live music content. Hopefully we can make it happen.

Lonelyspeck plays another beautiful set. There’s a drum kit still on stage and the front skin of the bass drum reacts to each kick from Lonelyspeck’s music as I get lost in sound once again. “Have a good rest of your… time… in life,” they wish us with a smile.

Lunch, a break back at the hotel, and it’s back out again. It’s 9:30, I’ve just finished dinner and I’m writing these notes before it’s too late to remember.

It’s the last night.

I’d better go see some bands.

Except just as I move to get up, a voice says, “Are you Luke?”

Niriko from Wonder Management. Taj Ralph’s manager. She read my article yesterday. We chat for a good while about Adelaide and about Taj. That makes two interstate industry people I’ve met and had great chats with.

“Taj is touring all dates with Kim Churchill soon, then another tour on his own. Then finishing high school.” He’s 16. He’s been playing since he was 10 so my quip yesterday about “he looks like he’s played 1000 shows” is actually probably an underestimate.

He’s going to be huge.

“Where are you going now? Because if you’re not going to see Miss Blanks, you’re doing it wrong. She’s the most incredible performer I’ve ever seen. She’s a trans woman rapper and she’s got so much sass. She sends all the men to the back and brings the women to the front.”

Sign me up.

Another Adelaide friend, The Bakehouse’s Brett Pike, is working on the door to the Flying Cock. A quick hello, but he tells me to get in there already. “Miss Blanks is slaying.”

He’s not wrong. She’s the kind of performer the word “slay” was invented for. She’s not just owning the stage, she’s owning the whole world right now. Her mum’s in the front row and her lyrics are dirty as hell. She should be headlining Feast Festival.

I’m too late to catch Jess Ribiero. It’s 10:30 and I’ve only seen one artist. I’m doing very bad at this tonight. I’ve got time to catch Horror My Friend and Donny Benet and that’s it.

I walk past a busker sitting on the corner strumming a guitar. Another is just outside The Elephant. This one’s singing Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life). Some people behind me start singing along as we walk past. They get half the words wrong.

Horror My Friend are tuning up and droning out their guitars. The drone stops and the disco house music can be heard. The band disco dances.

“Hi, we’re Horror My Friend Dance Party, I guess,” says singer Josh Battersby as they launch into their first song.

The moshpit has already begun before the second beat hits.

“Thanks so much, we’re Horror My Friend from Adelaide, South Australia, Australia. Here’s another song by us.”

It’s Stay In. I have my first proper singalong of the festival and choke up when I realise realise I used a grab from this song in the Local Noise theme for nearly two years now. We’re a million miles from home and hundreds of people know more words to these songs than I do.

I’m gonna be thrashing their album for weeks now.

On my way out, I bump into Ray and Brian from West Thebarton next to the sound desk and take a minute to appreciate the massive complexity of the system as the engineer tweaks tiny variables during their last song.

I make it to Black Bear Lodge in time for Donny Benét. He kicks off with Working Out before playing a new song, You’re Too Good For Love The Love Game. It features the line “I want to know your favourite artists and chefs,” which is probably the most poignant observation of love in 2017 ever uttered.

“It’s a love song,” he clarifies, as though literally every one of his songs isn’t a love song.

His character is amazing. He’s like the Saul Goodman of lounge singers. His character believes he was born for this, yet is oblivious to the slimy ways he works to get what he wants [in this case, love.]

But, every now and then, Benét plays a keyboard solo, just to remind us that it’s not entirely a joke. He’s an incredible musician, playing bass in Jack Ladder & The Dreamlanders as well as collaborating with Olympia, Art Vs Science and more.

His appearance as the closing act for the Double J stage is a bit funny at this point in time. Certainly, his appeal is likely strongest amongst cynical over-30s but his exceptional memeability can’t be ignored. Now is the perfect time for him to be put to a younger audience.

It’s 11:49pm. Donny’s playing his last song and I’m tossing up my options.

I need to check out at 10am.

But it’s also the last night of BigSound 2017. At 11:49, the night is young.

Heaps Good Friends were a last-minute addition to the official showcases. They’re at Heya Bar. I nod and say “heya” to the bouncer as I head in and try to not giggle as I realise how silly that was.

This is an interesting place. A long hallway-type venue with pool tables and pinball down one end, various booths and tables through nooks and crannies, a couple of arcade machines [Tekken Tag Tournament and a multi-machine, in case you’re wondering] and a small band room. Maybe 100 or so capacity. Like every other gig I’ve seen this week, it’s completely packed.

The small venue and static white light is perfect for them. I never thought I’d say that about static white lights, but here we are. Everyone’s dancing like this is their all-time favourite band and the somewhat chaotic vibe suits the somewhat chaotic nature of the music. Drummer Dan hits the cowbell and his smile lights up the whole room.

It’s impossible to get a photo of any member standing still.

It’s past midnight and the room has cleared. I’m catching up with fellow Adelaidians and tossing up options. But it’s late. I’ve gotta check out at 10am. No need to go crazy.

I grab some food and head back to the hotel. Zaachariaha Fielding from Electric Fields is out the front of a venue. He spots me and embraces me like a family member he hasn’t seen in ages.

Everyone knows each other, and there’s plenty of love to go around.

“You good?” he asks.

“Yeah, I’m good. You good?”

“Yeah. When do you fly back?”

“Tomorrow. You?”

“I’ll see you Monday,” he says, before realising we have no such meeting planned. “I mean, I’ll be back on our land on Monday.”


It’s good to get away, but I can’t wait to get back.

Luke Penman

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