The final day of non-stop showcases at BIGSOUND ’19 got a move on early, but it wasn’t until one of the conference’s keynote speakers took the stage at Ric’s Backyard that we got a-scribblin’.
Words | Zoë Radas and Bryget Chrisfield
“I will not apologise for taking up this space!” Mojo Juju kicked off her set powerfully with Native Tongue, the title track from her latest album. Performing with her brother and drummer Steve “T-Bone” Ruiz de Luzuriaga today – both sporting matching Adidas ensembles right down to their socks – the pair spread important messages through soulful grooves.
“If you don’t feel seedy today, you’re not doing BIGSOUND right,” she teased as we quaffed frothy hair-of-the-dogs in Ric’s sunny surrounds. Introducing Something Wrong, Juju shared: “This is a song I wrote about growing up in a country town as a queer brown person,” and her presence on that stage is truly inspirational for anyone who has ever felt isolated, judged, or not enough.
As the Brisbane sun blared down onto the stage, Juju joked that it’s actually the heat that’s preventing her from busting out Bruno Mars moves. After strapping on a pastel-hued Fender that matches her outfit, Far Too Late rang out with its infectious, synth-hook beat. We could never tire of hearing Juju call Peter Dutton “a f-ckwit”, and Think Twice – the song she penned that cautions political leaders to “remember how [they] got here” – quickly brought the irresistible funk. A beaming Toni Watson (AKA Tones and I) watched on in awe, and many got their phones out to add Mojo Juju’s evening performance time to their schedules to prioritise a repeat dose of her brilliance.
On The Brightside stage, Sydney quartet 100 called to mind Melbourne’s Eddy Current Suppression Ring, which is a bonus. One of 100 sports an actual aluminium can ring-pull as an earring, which pulled our focus, and multiple bandmembers impressively took lead vocals. Their set was assured – 100 are definitely ones to watch.
Towards the evening hours, there was a rabid collection of dedicated fans down front during Johnny Hunter‘s set at Crowbar. It was difficult to drag your eyes away from frontman Nick Hutt, with his smeared black eyeliner and floppy mullet, as he regularly clambered off the stage into the crowd to screech directly in the faces of individual chosen ones. “We will be all that you want!” Hutt promised, and it’s fun playing the influence game – he’s a bit of The Damned’s Dave Vanian with a smattering of Ian Curtis’ unpredictability/danger, and also sounds like the fabulous Jack Ladder at times. There was a fair bit of moshing action going on during their set highlight and closer 1995 – all thrashing riffs and cymbal-heavy, galloping drums – during which Hutt directed his mic toward front-row fans who knew the chorus lyrics. Johnny Hunter are glam, indestructible and unapologetic: definitely a BIGSOUND 2019 buzz band.
Outright opened their set on The Elephant Hotel stage with the most badass Acknowledgement Of Country we’ve ever heard, thanks to vocalist Jelena Goluza. Their set whizzed by, all ferocious riffage with super-fast phalange work up and down those frets, and a relentless kick drum we felt rumbling through our guts. “This song is about having to negotiate your presence in public spaces because of your f-cking gender!” Goluza spat, eliciting crowd-screams of recognition. Throughout their performance, Goluza lurched around the stage like a boxer sizing up her opponent; this Melbourne quintet totally won us over.
At the Zoo, Gordon Koang spread the joy, colour and beauty of his native South Sudanese sounds; the dance floor was full of punters two-stepping and spinning with glee to the man’s jubilant tracks. “We love you, we love you, we love you so much,” Koang implored us between songs, before introducing his final track as a song he’d written to give comfort to those awaiting asylum – a status he himself has just been granted by the Australian government. Koang is a more than worthy recipient of the BIGSOUND LEVI’s Music Prize, which was awarded to him Friday morning.
We might be a tad obsessed, but we just had to experience the unrivalled fabulosity of Electric Fields for a third time to cap off our BIGSOUND 2019 experience and therefore finish on a guaranteed high. (That’s correct, we were in attendance at every one of their three scheduled shows). “I would like to dedicate this song to all the beautiful women in the house and all the beautiful men who come from women,” Zaachariaha Fielding shared to much applause.
Fielding bursts with positivity, and watching him engage with keyboardist/producer Michael Ross – with whom he obviously shares a beautiful friendship – was heartwarming beyond belief. Ross totally embodied the music throughout, his undulating movements a physical manifestation of what we were hearing. Didge added further resonance to their sound, and the power of Electric Fields totally shifted the atmosphere inside Black Bear Lodge. Clocking the blissed-out expressions on audience members’ faces further demonstratds this band’s transformative ability. If Electric Fields were scheduled to perform another showcase, we would totally have been there.
Punter Of The Day
Old mate at The Valley Drive In dancing off-tap to Mid City’s sound check as if AC/DC were performing Thunderstruck live up on that stage.