As the doors opened, I walked in with no idea what to expect. Would the stages be outside? Would there even be stages? But to my surprise, the show was placed on three different levels of the building at the Queensland Academy of Creative Industries.
To get to each particular stage was not difficult if you were able bodied, but as the ‘Skyline Stage’ was on the rooftop, you had to climb stairs to get up there, and the ‘Basement Stage’ was downstairs. I am sure there were some fitter teens by the end of the day as they sprinted between stages to catch some of the best acts in Brisbane.
The opener of the Skyline Stage was high school indie-pop quartet Tundra. The boys have had a huge amount of interest lately, and there was a solid turn out for the set. They belted out some Last Dinosaurs and Hungry Kids of Hungary inspired light hearted pop music to the crowd in a very entertaining fashion. The set wasn’t all smooth sailing however, as guitarist, Rob, had some instrument issues and left the stage to find another guitar. The rest of the band held the fort while Rob recovered, to complete a solid set, including some great tunes, including the impressive time-signaturing-jumping 33rd Degree. As people begin to leave to catch Fairchild Republic, frontman Rohan threatened the audience to ‘get back here’ in a very entertaining fashion. Big things to come from these teens as they build confidence and gain talent!
Fairchild Republic are a well known name in Brisbane, and they have been given the opening duties on the Main Stage, which is a large amphitheatre down a flight of stairs. The band make mention of the massive stage, and how they are used to playing on stages where things don’t fit. The dance-pop sounds of the 6 band members fill the room and make the crowd very happy. They play a song from their upcoming album, which is quite relaxed and ambient, where the keys and vocals shine through. The set ends on a high note as the band play a slow but hearty track to warm the bodies of the audience as they venture off to see some other acts.
While I waited for The Belligerents on the Main Stage, I wandered down to The Basement Stage to have a listen to someone I knew nothing about. It was Amela’d, acoustic guitar songstress. The room was jet black, with fake candles scattered throughout to shed some light. It was perfect for the 19 year olds folk styled music, lined with a jazz and country influence. Amela has a stunning voice, and with a bit more experience and work, she could rival our other Aussie Darlings; Sally Seltmann, Holly Throsby, Bertie Blackman, Sarah Blasko, and the rest!
The Main Stage had a long line building, as The Belligerents were set to get the place jumping. Their start was slightly delayed as the synth player couldn’t get his machines working, only to find he wasn’t plugged in. Once they get going though, the band get off to a high energy instrumental jam. They are an explosive act and got the audience on their feet, as they then blast into an old favourite, These Hands. They then got into the title track from their latest EP, She Calls the Shots, which is more of a rock song than many of the others by The Belligerents. One adolescent in the audience seems to be showing off his dance moves for possibly the first time, and appears to be swatting flies. He is serious, and it is hilarious. The rest of the audience were dancing like civilised people, however, and this hyped the band as well. They played some other favourites like Bye Bye Bye, and then a new one called Von Strudel to finish of the set. A great set by the indie-dance group.
Red Revolver are an old school American Rockabilly inspired three piece, and they play it up, as they took it to the Skyline Stage for a set of traditional Rock’n’Roll. With a stand up bass and a beautiful hollow body guitar (Gretsch) being used by the band, they look the part to go with the music, which is fantastic and very entertaining. Unfortunately, the fly-swatting kid made a return, this time being invited on stage. After several very awkward minutes of him flailing his arms (and the audience and band laughing at him), he left the stage very satisfied with themselves, and Red Revolver were left in peace to play songs like He’s A Charmer and Western Witch to a massive applause from the audience! An awesome afternoon set, from a band with talent that is very hard to find nowadays.
The next act to play on the Main Stage was quite disappointing, to be completely honest. It is easy to tell why they were selected to play at the event, as the room is crammed with adolescent girls. Cub Scouts are a tight musical act, with a lot of talent, but their set was quite boring. While the lead singer appears to be about 15, with his backwards baseball cap and feminine voice (not an insult as some of the best male musicians have high voices, note Sparkadia, The Darkness and Birds of Tokyo) and is just annoying. Every member of the 5-piece played an instrument. Both vocalists played synth, so they were unable to move around the stage. This restricted their stage presence and made the show quite boring. The high point of the set was when the singer introduced a song, speaking about his anatomy class at uni and how a certain girl was ‘really into the cadavers.’ It made the song a little more interesting, however poppy and un-original the instrumentation. It is very hard to be original in a world where everything has been done before, but unfortunately, the band did not appeal to this reviewer in particular, as well as a number of other audience members spoken to. The low point arrived when they performed Jumping Jumping by Destiny’s Child *FACE PALM*. Next act please.
Fortunately, Millions are there to clean up after the previous set. They explosively take the stage with their garage rock riffs, sporting their trademark suits. Their sound is very easy to be connected with the surfer and stoner stereotypes, and there is nothing wrong with that, as they are extremely good at playing their respected instruments! Triple J are to thank for their popularity, as they were given the opportunity to play via Unearthed at Splendour In The Grass in 2011. And they can also be thanked for the epic applause during their lead single from their EP, Guru, as it has received a warm reception from the radio station. The band appeared to be slightly uncomfortable on the massive stage, but the distortion and wah wah quickly filled that space and got everyone dancing to their classic style of rock.
The headlining band for tonight has been hyped massively of late, with their debut album, Foundations, being the feature record on Triple J earlier in the year. However, none of these tracks had appealed to me in the past, as the lead singer, Kahl, sounds like he is gasping every time he sings. When you see them live though, it is apparent that this is passion and pain, coming from deep within, and takes over the music. It is an amazing feeling. The band are indigenous, which is a very important part of the lyrics, I believe, as there is a sense of experience, and as though the expression through song is how they can overcome the heartbreak, pain and despair.
The four piece, Kahl, Charles, Jhindu and Andrew, have a lot of energy, but it is a negative vibe. While the music is very rock, it is not happy, which is enchanting. The way each band member conducts themselves on stage almost tells a story in itself, as if it is choreographed to help the audience understand their pain and suffering. Songs like Griffin and Beggars bring a large applause as they have both had a fair amount of air time, and of course are fantastic tunes! The use of guitars is similar to Children Collide, as it is loud and hard hitting.
The only negative thing about the set by the Cairns boys is that they had quite a minimal amount of crowd interaction. This is forgivable though, as the band ended with Joseph, my favourite song from their record. The song is very emotive, but when Jhindu, the drummer, left his seat and jumped into the crowd, the people were shocked. Not only did he walk through the audience, but he scaled the seats of the packed amphitheatre, using peoples heads as rock climbing tools. While he did this, he was screaming the line from the song ‘You build walls to cover your pride,’ and almost abusing the audience. This was alienating, but oh so entertaining. He reached the very back of the room, where he stood on top of the sound desk, continuing to scream the hard hitting lyrics. The band are still playing, minus the drum kit, at this point. Jhindu makes his way back down to the stage where he keeps screaming into the Kahl’s mic. They leave the stage, and the crowd is dumfounded. We want more. This is an unbelievable set, to top off a great day. Great job by Youth Music Industries, and a great time was had by all.
Tom Noyes - AAA Backstage