Updated: Dec 16, 2018
The harvest was plentiful with GRAIN Magazine's Against The Grain Festival back for a third year showcasing homegrown artists in Brisbane's lively Fortitude Valley. Over venues three venues were claimed headlined by Melbourne's own City Calm Down, Tiny Little Houses along with Tasmanian Darling Maddy Jane and more. There were just so many quality acts and we endeavoured to write some words about as many as we could dash to.
First off the bat Bloom Parade sounded right at home at Brisbane's intimate Foundry venue. Their moody and synth indie beats melded perfectly with the dark aesthetics of the venue. Punters know the floor sticks to your feet like the melodies stick in your head. An intimate space, that when used properly, can simply roar with sound. And Bloom Parade did just that, opening with ‘Sheets’, straight from their latest EP ‘Sunblushed’. With guitarist Andy in Europe, The Blooms were a man down, but undeterred, they crafted some sweet sounds. After all, the show must go on. Mitchell’s solid vocals carried through the entire show, effortlessly recreating ‘Sunblushed’ live, while Al produced some memorable drum work. The Blooms provided a less bleak indie sound than I expected, but no less emotional, heartfelt and honest. What I can only imagine Morrissey [from The Smiths] would have sounded like if he had stuck to the anti-depressants. PS. D*mn it Andy, get your priorities in order.
It’s nice when an artist feels comfortable on stage, able to just relax and enjoy playing their music. And the guitarist from Blonde Tongues was pretty relaxed, considering he had decided against wearing shoes. Or maybe he is just a big Die Hard fan; We never got to find out. What we did find out is that Blonde Tongues can easily flow between chill indie rock ballads, like ‘She Wanted a War’, and straight up guitar shredding, which ended up in a couple of broken strings and a mutilated pick. After a brief intermission to locate a replacement guitar with a few more intact strings, the band continued on with their set, which largely consisted of music from their new album ‘Safe Like Silk in Polyester Sheets’. Blonde Tongues finished on their breakthrough single, ‘Hey Good Lookin’, that currently has racked up over 1.3 million plays on Spotify. But I mean, who is counting, right?
The Concrete Surfers' 'Miscommunication' is their most refined song to date which they showcased at the festival. Punters were treated to their standard crisp guitar licks thanks to the breezy wielding of a set of stratocasters.
I'll be honest. I hadn't heard a Grace Turner song live before Saturday. So, when she walked on stage with her candy apple red Flying V guitar, I was not expecting the emotional gut punch I was about to receive. It started with the one-two combination of 'Angry' and 'Dead or Alive'. Beautiful and raw indie folk, these both cut pretty deep, and clearly came from a deeply personal place.
Grace let us know it was going to be okay though, after all, "This next song is about dying. Just to lighten the mood". Phew.
I thought I was good, a stiff upper lip and I was ready to soldier on. Then the rest of the band put down their instruments, and Grace started to perform 'Half Dark'. It was magical hearing that performance. Not just the lyrics or the vocals or the guitar, but the way a single person could fill such a large room with so much emotion. I'm a grown man, I'm not meant to cry in public. But it was close. Finishing on 'Healing Phase', we were given a chance to piece ourselves back together, before we continued onto the next shows of the night. Hopefully I can see Grace perform again soon, but this time I'll be ready to talk to my therapist about all the things her songs are going to open up inside me.
Afterall, Grace isn't the only one "addicted to feelings".
Squeezed in at The Foundry, sweat dripping down my face, the floor beneath my feet bending from the heaving crowd, screaming 'I'm a garbage bin!' as loud as my lungs will let me. Tiny Little Houses have been the undisputed Australian champions of anxiety riddled rock since 'Easy' first aired on the radio. Their set started pretty tame, but with the explosive choruses of 'Short Hair', and the devil may cry attitude of 'Team Player', it isn't hard to see why the crowd collectively started to lose their shit after a couple of songs. By the time 'Entitled Generation' dropped, the room was in full sing(or scream in my case)-along. It was the exact song we needed to hear, whipping us into a frenzy with it's punk rock middle finger to older generations. Which bring us to 'Garbage Bin'.
It was going to be the last song of the set, that we'd been told, but it could well have been the last song we ever heard with the way that the floor was flexing under us. There was a lot of energy in that room and I wasn't sure if it or us were going to survive the experience. But fate was on our side that evening, and I got to live to see another set. Guess I'll just have to see Tiny Little Houses again the next time they arrive in Brisbane, and roll the dice again.
Festival co-founder Chris Langenberg said, “The first year of Against The Grain was literally just an excuse to see our favourite bands in a space that wasn’t a conventional venue.
“We hadn’t thought about how much work and risk goes into organising and executing a festival. In all the shows Grain has booked, we have always carried the ethos of showcasing our favourite bands and this year is no different.”
The festival certainly goes Against The Grain and we can see many years of quality live music ahead!
Against The Grain Festival 2018
Saturday, 3rd November
City Calm Down Tiny Little Houses Good Boy Maddy Jane Totally Mild Moaning Lisa Sweater Curse Vacations Fritz First Beige Eliza and the Delusionals Candy Pool Shop Grace Turner Concrete Surfers Sleepclub Blonde Tongues Skivvy Season Bloom Parade Start Together