20 things we learnt at BIGSOUND 2017

Words by Lewis Brideson & Courtney Duka
Photos by Georgia Matthews

BIGSOUND, Australia’s annual music festival and conference held in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley, is done and dusted for another year. With conference panels/workshops by day and hot Aussie showcases by night, there was plenty to absorb.

In the wake of our recovery, we rummaged through our iPhone notes and pulled out a few things we learnt.

Maddy Jane.

Maddy Jane.

1. Fortitude Valley feels familiar yet new on arrival. It is an overwhelming (in the best way) hunting ground packed to the brim with new and old faces, venues, booze and fresh Aussie talent.

2. Despite their proximity, every venue has a unique story to tell – whether you duck in for half a set or explore every inch until sunrise.

3. Good Boy’s combination of melody and force match Rian King’s (vocals/bass) socks/thongs combo.

4. “There are so many variables to live music, that’s what makes it fun” - Monte Morgan, Client Liaison.

5. Red Bull triathlon star Courtney Atkinson has some valid notes about sport performance that also apply to music performance. Basically, nerves are a result of anxiety + excitement. But at the end of the day you’re doing it for yourself. Focus on the excitement it brings you and the rest will come.

6. Ruby Fields is a force to be reckoned with live, no wonder our national broadcaster has given her oodles of hype.

7. Baker Boy dominated his set, with powerful live drums and a great mix of his Yolngu Matha language with English.

8. Beware of the big bands. Billy Davis & The Good Lords’ song arrangement and keys are stupidly sexy, POW! Negro bring some menacing Zack de la Rocha grooves, while Ziggy Ramo and band had the audience hanging on every word.

9. MySpace sponsored music festivals not that long ago - according to Cattleyard’s throwback GTM posters sprinkled around their showcase. Oh, how times have changed.

10. Adelaide brought a heavy onslaught of talent, represented by West Thebarton, Horror My Friend, Lonelyspeck, Heaps Good Friends and Tigerilla. Electric Fields also made a special appearance at the Made In Adelaide Showcase. We danced. We cried.



11. Mental health tip for musicians and crew: pick three go-to things to keep you sane on tour - one for the mind (e.g. reading), one for the spirit (e.g. a friend you can call) and one for the body (e.g. exercise). Also ask for fruit in your riders.

12. “Your fans are the media” – Nate Auerbach, Versus Creative. Get others talking about you. Utilise reliable media outlets, target suitable commentators, grow your own media channels, hang on to useful relationships and plan towards defined goals… this panel on media had too many good discussion points.

13. When ‘networking’, being nice, genuine and critical always pays off. Let people know your opinions and always listen to theirs.

14. Overheard: “Haiku Hands are the 2017 Spice Girls, but way naughtier.”

15. Annie Bass, OKBadlands and Exhibitionist deliver electronica your ears need right now and Willaris. K live is a different beast entierly, packing a lot of thump. 

16. There were a few males at the Every Space is a Safe Space panel, but not enough. We need everyone to recognise there is a problem before we can fix it, and be taking steps that are proactive rather than reactive. LISTEN had some particularly great tips posted around venues, which you can find on their Facebook page here



17. “There’s always a place for swagger in stories” – Mary Ramos, Hollywood music supervisor, renowned for her work with Quentin Tarantino. There are some incredible stories behind clearing the use of classic songs for unforgettable movie moments… what a job.

18. Stella Donnelly is enchanting, the growing attention her way is truly deserved.

19. “Australia has made me excited about rock as a genre again” – Cameron Schaefer, Vinyl Me, Please (US).

20. Bigsound upped it's game this year more than ever. It wasn't just the sea of leather and denim jackets swarming the vally that let the general public know Bigsound was on, but also through art installations and visuals that really made it come to life. Plus, the upgrades to the delegate portal and app made it easy to keep track of both the conference and live showcases, and all the official and unofficial parties. Every. Damn. One. 

At the end of the day Bigsound is a mammoth feat where you get pulled in too many directions to stick to any kind of plan, so it’s the effort that counts. Hang on to all the good memories made and good music found, and look forward to continuing to share and discover.


Check out our full Bigsound 2017 photo gallery and feature video.