10 Year History of Rock and Metal Bands at Brisbane’s BIGSOUND FESTIVAL

 

With a legacy building closer to its two-decade milestone, Brisbane’s Bigsound Festival returns in September with its most mammoth lineup to-date, boasting a handful of homegrown heavy acts not only for punters but the industry buffs as well.

With only so much information available about Bigsound’s 16-year history, the nature of the festival parallels those most ancient and precious of artefacts — elusive and dazzling. Trawling through the archives, HEAVY has managed to pull together the best-of-the-best from the last decade, to fondly recall some of the heaviest and most rockin’ acts ever to have graced the Bigsound stages.

Despite the early days of the festival not quite playing host to many heavy acts, in the last decade, Bigsound has seen a spike in this area, and it has come to enlarge its sound with a myriad of bands encompassing some of Australia’s finest.

This includes bands who have dropped off the radar, and in some cases, were lost to the dead cyber space of “old” social media platforms such as MySpace. [Sorry MySpace… we know you are there… It’s not you… it’ us.] It also includes thos who have and are making it.

Whether some acts who have performed at Bigsound have gone on to bigger and greater things, where others have fallen into obscurity, the opportunities awarded relied heavily on support and recognition for great homegrown artistry. Of this, one thing is certainly very clear: the memories gained through this unique, solely-Brisbane based festival has for both performers, speakers and music lovers are something they will surely keep for many more years.

Bigsound 2007

2007 started off pretty quiet for metal at BigSound. With no bands fitting the genre on the bill, one could assume that the Australian music industry was shunning the most important sound facets of all! Or maybe we’re biased? There were a few rock acts, but nothing metal.

Brisbane locals Black Mustang stood out among the blues-rock acts gracing the bill. Combining grungy blues with some Mick Jagger-esque vocals and antics, Black Mustang were unabashedly rock ‘n’ roll, cruise control set to veer through sonic pop licks and clean rock tones. They were wee young whippersnappers when they took to the Bigsound stage, but Black Mustang’s sound was well beyond their years.

Bigsound 2008

Again, 2008 was pretty sparse on the heaviness, and nothing existed in the metal realm except for Deez Nuts, who are still touring strong.

Deez Nuts must have scared the bejeezus out of Brisbane for the following few years because there’s wasn’t much going on at all in the land of Brewtality after them!

Stone Parade were doing Sydney proud at the time and had a mountain of success before and after their 2008 Bigsound appearance. In the same year, the band were receivers of the prestigious International Songwriting Competition for Best Rock Song for their single “Somebody Will Miss You“, an award judged by none other than Tom Waits and The Cure’s Robert Smith. They continue their soft rock vibe and have a new single out and album due late September.

Bigsound 2009

A pretty average year heavy-wise but These Four Walls were plenty meaty!

Bigsound 2010

Nothing to see here, folks. Please, move along in a (dis)orderly fashion because this year totally sucked for metal.

Bigsound 2011

FloatingMe was hailed as the next big thing, but nothing really eventuated there. A shame really because it featured members of Karnivool and Cog. Check out their Facebook page, and there’s fuck all but tumbleweeds since October 2014. However, Karnivool has gone on to enjoy massive success, and Cog has remained consistent.

DZ Deathrays had their first appearance in the spotlight and had since undertaken extensive European and Australian tours. Their catchy borderline heavy, pop-punk-rock tunes have really caught on.

And on another borderline heavy note, since their first appearence in 2011, Stonefield have been so well-recieved they’ve graced the stages three times. This all girl, groove-heavy rock outfit are still putting in the hard yards but have toured internationally in recent years, grabbing the US by the balls.

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The Getaway Plan, with their sultry blues-rock, heavy drums and riffs to suit the ages, as the decade turned anew so did the Bigsound line-up to more heavier features. The Getaway Plan, still making new music and touring the country this September, undertook the alternative rock avenue with grace and guts. Their sound is palatable in every aspect of heavy music, their song “The Reckoning” a prime example of the talents that 2011 Bigsound punters experience.

Bigsound 2012

Twelve Foot Ninja. Heavier and heavier, we rejoice! Twelve Foot Ninja released their debut album in the same year they appeared at Bigsound. Whether you could accredit their constant success since their formation down to their exposure at Bigsound or to their sublime heavy rock songwriting, Twelve Foot Ninja undoubtedly embodied an originality in alternative rock, the likes of which are still to be reckoned with.

Still working the local pub rock scene, The Drunk Mums have a few shows coming up in Melbs and Sydney. CC your mum on the calendar invite, she’ll love ya for it, for sure!

King Gizzard And The Lizzard Wizzard roll in on the gravy train with their ’70s stoner rock and have since trumped the most prestigious of Aussie music awards, the Arias.

Like Stonefield, Kingswood has also featured at Bigsound repeatedly and have since gone on to tour the US in revered support slots. They do damn well at home too, selling out venues and emptying kegs in pubs.

The Strangers keep scoring some impressive support spots and none more so than the fast approaching Alice Cooper and Ace Frehley shows.

One of the biggest exports to venture into Bigsound are Violent Soho. They are always in the spotlight with spots on Aussie festival bills such as UNIFY, Splendour In The Grass and Groovin’ The Moo. Soho has also toured the US, UK and Europe and just took out the Best Hard Rock, Metal or Punk Album Award at this year’s AIR Awards.

Dallas Frasca has taken the sludginess to greater levels and is still touring home soil, gracing the stages where rock is most needed in places off the beaten path like Mt. Hotham.

Bigsound 2013

Gay Paris. As time ticks on in the Bigsound archives, it gets harder and harder to pull out standout heavy groups – but Gay Paris make the cut. In 2013, Rolling Stone magazine advised of Gay Paris: “Fans of Clutch, QOTSA and Kyuss, meet your new favourite band.” ‘Nuff said. They haven’t really done much overseas yet but have a show coming up at the newly renovated The Lansdowne. Get on it!

Dune Rats and Clowns don’t let the gallons of beer they drink stop them from upping the anty with their stage antics, and with a load of love from die-hard fans they have both gone on to extensively tour Australia, the US, UK and Europe. Ain’t no stopping these fuckers!

Bigsound 2014

The emerging prog-rock scene saw a shakeup in this year’s line-up with Caligula’s Horse and Voyager, while Darkc3ll brutalised the year’s bill. 

It was also the year the already legendary metal bar, Crowbar, entered the scene and from here on BigSound became something else.

Industrial rock heavyweights Darkc3ll experienced a massive surge of success in 2014. From Soundwave to Bigsound to a supporting slot on tour with goth rock king Wednesday 13, Darkc3ll continue to rise and conquer, with their 2016 album Haunted Reality their darkest and best release to date.

Caligula’s Horse just announced a headlining Australian tour while receiving standing ovations on their UK and Europe tour. They headlined last year’s Progfest which saw tickets at the legendary Corner Hotel sell out on the day.

Voyager, have been turning heads overseas, gaining huge exposure after launching “Ghost Mile”. Major publications such as “Metal Hammer, Prog” and Classic Rock” have hailed Voyager as one of the best up and coming band and this year they’ve been nominated for Best International Band in Prog Magazine’s prestigious awards, ahead of a UK and European tour.

Sydonia. For a time, one of this country’s strongest rising bands (having been active on the scene for 20 years), the band released two studio albums and were on the cusp of the release of their third when the sad news surfaced: from January this year, Sydonia is unfortunately no more.

Bound For Ruin has disbanded with former vocalist Shaun joining the ranks of As Paradise Falls, who are kicking arse and no prisoners were taken. Get that!

Meniscus and Toehider have been sporting about without urgency, enjoying the odd support gig here and there… We’re intrigued to check these guys out and see what the future holds!

A Million Dead Birds Laughing disappeared in September 2016 according to their elusive Facebook page. Life Pilot *crickets… tumbleweed*

My Friend The Betrayer has a few more squeaks though and have been busy playing with the good folks in Central and North Queensland.

Kingswood. Again.

Bigsound 2015

With the mighty Crowbar now settled into the scene, we’re proud of our scene and how heavy 2015 was.

A Breach Of Silence now have themselves a deal with Eclipse Records and have since released an album while procuring 20+k Facebook fans and smashing shows across the country.

Chaos Divine thrilled onlookers at Progfest 2016 and have been to Europe and back in time to support Haken in Perth.

Dumbsaint have also popped over to Europe and given birth to a couple of albums and well-produced video clips. 

Earth Caller have almost disappeared off the earth (ahem). Maybe they should call someone? Not sure what’s happening there… Maybe they should call us?

Brutal is as brutal does, and Hadal Maw sure did in Bigsound! Having been hanging with the likes of King Parrot, these boys scored themselves a spot on the Brewtality Festival lineup next month.

Actually, High Tension is brutal as too! With fierce female growls and savage drums, you can’t help but lose your shit in the pit. We say there should be more of it!

The deep darkness rolled over into 2015 and Witchgrinder brought it. Taking their cues from ’80s dark metal and industrial elements of the ’90s, Witchgrinder proves that dark metal was, and still is, a relevant and in demand sound in Australia’s underground scene.

Hellions have continued, growing stronger and stronger, slowly but surely. They are booked in to support You Me At Six this September.

Jericco, RIP 2016.

Still rattling bottles The Rumjacks, are balls deep in what you might call a world tour.

Bigsound 2016

With Crowbar firmly secured as the mainstays and hosts of heavy music, 2016 saw a solid list of heavy acts tearing Fortitude Valley a new one.

Circles
It’s so great that heavy metal has been given such great representation in recent years and Circles are perhaps the most underrated metal band to have made a Bigsound slot. Circles soar, Circles inspire, and they rock! Currently unsigned, Circles is a band who need representation for more to be able to enjoy their music and majesty. Like, now!

Hollow World has started off small but is gearing up to something big. Watch out world!

A sunny, beach loving city, ‘ol Perth, Sanzu is more likely to kick the sand in your face with death metal. Same with Chronolyth, Brisbane’s answer to melodic death metal.

Totally Unicorn is just fucked up, and if you have ever seen them live, you fear for the singer’ life. And underwear. He likes rolling on the floor in his underwear… or nothing at all… We won’t ask.

Bigsound 2017

With one of the biggest lineups in Bigsound history, it’s nigh-on impossible to draw out bands you should keep your eyes on at this year’s event. But we tried, and here are a few you should make sure you see. Actually, get a pass to see them all! Support Australian HEAVY music!

Like High Tension, Pagan is fronted by a ball-tearing female vocalist who will surely echo up the Crowbar’s stairs and onto Brunswick Street, choking hipsters as they venture past.  Again, we say there should be more of it!

Deadlights. For fans of Underoath and Circa Survive, 2017 saw the release of Mesma, the debut release from Deadlights with Greyscale Records.

sleepmakeswaves. Sydney prog-rockers have been much in the limelight this year. Selling out shows on their own headline tour, supporting Underoath and their latest album garnering massive critical acclaim – fans of 65daysofstatic, Karnivool and Tangled Thoughts of Leaving, look out, these guys are making an impact.

Scalphunter. Stealing hearts as ever, punk-hardcore act Scalphunter hit the Bigsound stage ahead of the release of their debut album. Not one to be missed.

Be sure you don’t miss Polaris! These guys know how to play. With a mix of prog and metalcore, there’s a good chance they are going to be doing some big shows in big countries real soon.

Full-list of heavy acts for Bigsound 2017:

Boat Show – https://www.bigsound.org.au/artists/boat-show
Clowns – https://www.bigsound.org.au/artists/clowns
Deadlights – https://www.bigsound.org.au/artists/deadlights
Endless Heights – https://www.bigsound.org.au/artists/endless-heights
Horace Bones – https://www.bigsound.org.au/artists/horace-bones
Introvert – https://www.bigsound.org.au/artists/introvert-3
Pagan – https://www.bigsound.org.au/artists/pagan
Pandamic – https://www.bigsound.org.au/artists/pandamic
Polaris – https://www.bigsound.org.au/artists/polaris
Scalphunter – https://www.bigsound.org.au/artists/scalphunter
sleepmakeswaves – https://www.bigsound.org.au/artists/sleepmakeswaves-1
The Beautiful Monument – https://www.bigsound.org.au/artists/the-beautiful-monument
WAAX – https://www.bigsound.org.au/artists/waax

Conclusion:

In closing, what we see here is most of the bands in the last ten years are alive and well and some are flying to new heights as we type. Sure, there’s a few who have fallen by the wayside but the consensus is that it pays to get in front of industry types at Bigsound.

If you are in a band and aren’t on the list, get yourself up there anyway and mingle with the industries best. Ask questions, network; it’s the way forward.

We have one request however, we want more metal bands on the bill! More thrash, death, power, punk and prog!

For all you music fans, get a pass to see them all and discover your new favourite group. Support Australian HEAVY music!

Written by Anna Rose

[INTERVIEW] Outright Resistance

Contents – Digi-Mag #27