Before you looms the monstrous River Stage, with 3 enormous tubular curtains in its maw, hanging around different parts of stage. You can only imagine they will fall, and our heroic minstrels will be revealed. We've got the hardline in the back, with a collection of Orange amps, effect peddles & a drum kit atop tiered platforms. Clouds adorn an impressively large backdrop. We're going sky high for this one.
"It's time to dance!" A random girl screams behind me; a portent for things to come. We get some opening acts. The first duo is a combination of synthy dream pop and slap bass funk. They've got distorted, cascading sample vocals, a scouts-bandana bass player, and a black-spectacled twenty-fingered pianist. They sweep us away on some long jams, piano slides and wiggly-worm bass strings going there and back again, by Bilbo Baggins. It's like a classic dance music set, as if you were at the clubs, but live. And then the slapper becomes the tapper, and they join up for an epic synth duet. You know they're startin' to feel it when the John Frusciante teeth come out on the Piano Man. These guys really earned a beer. Next up the smoke machines start hissing and the lights come on. We're getting serious now. The second set starts with jungle drums. A lone DJ takes to the stage, and whisks us away to a 2000s club. Take me back to Matrix trench coats, smoky dance floors, sticky floors and no phones. With noodle-hair Justin Timberlake on the air waves.
I'm told he's half of the musical duo known as Bag Raiders. He moves seamlessly from track to track, ranging from disco, to rock, to Ibiza. Drum and bass kicks in like electrodes on the tits, and he moves into DJ-dancin-behind-the-desk territory. Doin' the tiny walk. It goes from dirty break beat to essential-oil silky sections. And then he goes MC-style: "Brisbane! I want you to make some noise for Jungle fucking Giants! They're about to come on stage!" And the crowd takes it up a few decibels. He punches it up a notch and goes to vigorous bop town with 'Shooting Stars'. the multitudes swell. A look behind reveals a sea of faces, as thousands have come to see The Big Friendly Giants. He takes his bow and the main course arrives.
The smoke machines spit some venom, and the crowd erupts. The lights drop to black.
Our heroes have come.
The ground begins to shake. You can feel the sound in your chest. The band emerge the old fashioned way, dangling sheets still holding their secrets.
It starts with a blast beat.
We've got Shiny Pants McLonghair on the guitar (Cesira). The Blue Wiggle on bass (Andrew). Jason Akermanis on drums (Keelan). And rounding it out on Guitar and vox, we've got The Dad (Sam). I say this with love, because The Dad is simply enthralling, with soaring tenor highs and honeyed words. He's engaging. Sweet. And a shchralp lord in both strings slung and words sung.
The second song starts fast and loose. The crowd is singing every word. It's like interactive karaoke.
I like the guitar in this one from Shiny Pants. Long Weis ice cream mango and cream summer licks. Fruity. Nutritious. And honestly, she's shredding.
Then the slow build-up section. Big lungs from The Dad. The song goes out, the lights snuff and then we get some crowd work.
A big shout out for their latest album, Love Signs. The Dad hypes the fuck out of us and the frenzy begins.
Song number 3 is a new song, we're told. And a very special guest is invited on stage.
Enter Sycco. And when she sings, the crowd goes wild.
What unfolds is simply insanity. It's a quizzical little number. Freaky guitar from Shiny Pants - I can only describe it as the sound of ants. There's some beautiful call and response from both singers. They're both pulling shapes. The bassist moves to the piano and we get hit in the schnozz with some big ol' Jeff Buckley notes from The Dad. Massive applause and props for Sasha (Sycco)!!!
Number four takes out out to dinner, with some guitar stabs that build to some blues smoky haze. Shiny Pants is carrying this, popping off on the back of the worm-wrangling Blue Wiggle. A spicy high-note ditty from Dad, into a grotesque schralp-session from Shiny. Before this song simmers, they show us the true meaning of shred.
Number five drops in, with hectic bass rolling the spine and into the bowl. All four wheels clear the coping, as we go into a funky little tinkle. More incredible audience interactions and an audience united in song. The lyrics blaze through the night air. Jason Akermanis and The Wiggle are in perfect unison here.
Every audient has their hands heavensward, and we get some cool staccato jolts from Shiny Pants. All I have written in my notes here is an entire page taken up by the words 'DAYM SON,' as we break into a spicy section with The Dad utilising every part of the stage, be it step, platform or speaker. All must feel his fatherly tread.
Shiny Pants is taking us on a journey through the universe with colours unseen shooting out of each string. The notes collide and ooze, dripping out of her amp.
And then Dad takes the mic:
"We're from Brisbane! All of us are born in Brisbane, and this has been a dream of ours to play the River Stage!"
He gets the whole audience involved with the call and response '1, 2, 3, 4 YEAH!' And we're told to participate in the next song. He throws the crowd a camera, and we're trusted to take some shots and return it at the end. Here we have masterful showmanship, with vocal participation and audience interaction all bundled up with a Father's Day bow on top. I would love to see how the photos turned out.
By my count we're at song number 6, and it starts with a robo intro. Dad sheds his guitar and we jump down the rabbit hole of funk. It's grooving, freaky and wet. Some really interesting chords & notes from Shiny Pants again, and punchy vocal delivery from The Dad. All the while we're joining in with the '1, 2, 3, 4 YEAH's and sweating out dance moves like it's no ones business.
#7 starts with Dad swinging his acoustic and the tingles come in oozbundance. We're greeted with a futuristic uplifting bridge and a slow-clap begins like a 90's movie. Dry ice dyed purple as we get more crooning and the song draws to a close. The audience is earsplitting.
More impeccable crowd work again, as Dad teaches us the lyrics for the next song: "Hey, never gonna let you go / Not this time!"
It starts with chugging on the strings and us screaming the words. And we're off on our journey. The next track is happy and clappy, with the singer doing some expert low mic leans.
Number nine is a fan favourite. Or at least I figured as much, based on the hearing loss from the cheers. Dad is back on the guitar, and this track's a jumper. Funky bone-rattling bass attacks us from all sides and then my mind is blown with one tap of an effect peddle:
SHINY PANTS HAS TRANSFORMED HER GUITAR INTO A FUTURE VIOLIN. She's re-tuning on the fly and scoops us up into a big build. A sea of hands, as the singer rips out some experimental dance moves. He thanks us for supporting them through all this bullshit over the last two years, and we move into the next song.
Song Number Ten is "Here I Come," and it roundhouses us with a cool techno intro, some rich voice and a big fat guitar charge from The Pants. This one's dreamy and tall; a huge texture with long, held notes. And then I get way too excited as the tubular stage sheets are finally pulled to reveal light towers. The mystery is solved.
Dad does a fantastic twirl on the steps, before giving us some sonic boom lung bursts. This song is infectiously boppy and inescapable. Jungle Giants deliver the party.
Eleven begins with a creepy intro. Electronic. Dissonant. Bass rumbling in your sternum. Drums sweep us away into a gliding Cuckoo Clock Concerto, complete with freaky falsetto vocals from The Wiggle and long, cutting notes from Shiny's fingertips. "Anything for you." The singer interjects seamlessly mid-lyric:
"Hey it's my mum! Hey mum, what're ya doin' down there!? I gotta keep singing this song!"
This song causes goosebumps, and I like the creepiness.
Nombre 12 gets jiggy with an electro-fuzz opener. More of that freakish violin guitar. And straight into the overdrive.
This one's a swayer.
The bassist is getting into it, travelling the stage and perching on the speakers. Some big stabs, and we build: Shiny Pants whisks us away with a daft punk guitar solo from the future. Dad does some sensual dance moves and excites us all.
The next one starts with a guitar swap from The Pants, and a BIIIIIIIG cheer from the crowd. Some sultry guitar runs over a chunky monkey bass line gives us the wheel. Shiny whips out some ringing highs, and the jumps are incited. Each pair of boots in the crowd left the earth, and each goosebump on every flesh was activated.
A sexy cowbell and bass duet romance between four strings and a drum kit ensues, and we get more insanity from Shiny. Dad leaps into some huge notes, and all my pen manages to scribble is the words 'Fcuk yeah,' spelled wrong and everything.
Number fourteen begins with a gift from Dad. The gift of their names.
Coming in hot and bothered on the bass in blue, we've got Andrew.
Hitting the skins and taking names, it's Phil on the slappers. Although Wikipedia says it's Keelan. So don't quote me on that.
Taming snakes and master of the plectrum, we've got Cesira on the 6-strings.
And leading the charge and father to all, we have Sam lassoing hearts with the mic. He's holding back tears and giving us more of that beautiful crowd work.
"This one's called Love Signs!"
Ethereal dreaminess from Cesira. And then the bass kicks us in the balls. Big bops on the drums. Smooth vocals. Audience united in verse.
"Are you ready to jump? 1 - 2 - 1, 2, 3, 4!"
It's easy to listen to and entrancing. We go on a musical journey and run aground on an emotional big ballad section. They have such energy!
Next up is the 15th song of the evening, and we're told it's our last. This song is called 'Used To Be In Love.' Papa Sam gives us a sermon:
"We want to see some dancing! We want to see some energy! Let's see what you got! Let's shake your tree a little!"
It begins with crooning. The bass leads us down the steps to the basement where they keep Cesira's guitar. And it's angry.
After some brief melting of the guitar strings, we go back into the rapturous verse and the drum-blasting chorus. Before the melts come back to haunt us. And then, THE BUILD. Sam raises brows as he unleashes the longest note yet.
Have you ever felt the ground bend beneath you? Warped by the romping gambols of the many? Because I have.
The stage lights cut to black. We scream the obligatory ONE MORE SONG. But will we get it? We will.
A sample comes in, and the players return to the stage.
Holy Ruthless Randy, we're in for some fat funky bass. Some wicked water-drop notes plop out of Cesira's strings, before the long strums come to take us on a date. Huge notes from Sam. Big energy, and the crowd are hyped. Those hip gyrations.
And then another.
"We've got to thank you from the bottom of our hearts. You've made our fucking dreams come true! This one's called 'Heavy Hearted'"
Ballad piano from The Wiggle. Shredding, scary guitar from Shiny. Shrieking, screaming gretchling children eeked out of every string. The crowd is roaring. The floor has gone back to bending again. And the siren bends on those guitar strings compel us to dance. Cesira is putting her whole body into those strings.
Queue a slow clap, and you've got a recipe for a build. The lights go down.
And straight back into it. An overdriven guitar solo speeds us through the night.
"Thank you Brisbane! We've been Jungle Giants. Have a lovely night!"
Our players take a bow. And my eardrums burst. (From the rapture).
Put it this way; at the beginning of the show, there was a roped off section up the front. There wasn't a rope by the end.
Thank you to the Jungle Giants. Sam with his paternal wisdom, Cesira with her pants of wonder, Andrew with his big red car and fruit salad, and the mysterious Phil/Keelan, always kicking goals. Thank you so much. It was a night to behold.