Bigsound, Brisbane's annual music industry conference, has fast become the most reputable local platform for the discovery of new acts, as well the discussion of emerging issues and technology facing the industry. Rolling Stone Australia editor Rod Yates is currently in the thick of it, taking a small break from the chaos to compile a rundown of the opening day.
1. Don't Eat The M&Ms
Upon taking the stage to open Bigsound 2014 with a Keynote Q&A, Neil Finn warmed into things by eyeing off the big bowl of M&Ms on the table in front of him and telling us they were "chock full of LSD". Things got even more entertaining from there, as the singer songwriter talked about his childhood, joining Split Enz, the success of Crowded House and, of course, the art of songwriting. At one point he revealed his dad used to grade all the songs he and his brother Tim wrote in whatever band they were in at the time. Nothing ever got below a seven but, he said, "if you did get a seven you knew he didn't get it at all". Of joining Split Enz as a teen before he could actually play guitar properly he said "I came in as an intern, but I was immediately onstage, jumping around like a lunatic. I gave it everything." Quote of the day? "Music is like an alchemy in the room." That's Bigsound off to a good start then.
2. Could Spotify Determine A Band's Set List?
Amongst the areas covered by Spotify's Director Of Economics Will Page at his mini-keynote – of which music piracy was one; figures show it's on the decline in Australia – he talked about the ways in which Spotify has the potential to change the way bands approach their live set, suggesting that data from the streaming service could help acts determine which songs to encore with in whatever territory it is they're playing. If a particular song was streamed more, and is therefore more popular, in Australia than anywhere else in the world, for example, they could make sure the night ends with a bang by playing it at the end. He also outlined the Top 5 Australian Acts Streamed on Spotify, which are: Flume, Vance Joy, Iggy Azalea, Sia and Bliss n Eso.
3. Shihad's New Album Sounds Even Better Live
Bigsound hadn't officially started when Shihad took the stage at The Zoo, but you couldn't have asked for a better way to warm into the week. Dressed all in black, the New Zealanders played their new album FVEY in its entirety, and it sounds even more intense live. A three song encore of "the hits" – "You Again", "The General Electric" and "Home Again" – was the icing on one monumentally heavy cake, but the pummelling riffing of their latest effort was easily the highlight.
4. Bad//Dreems' Debut Album Will Be Dark
Lyrically, at least. Chatting to Rolling Stone, guitarist Alex Cameron and frontman Ben Marwe discussed the upcoming recording of the Adelaide band's debut full-length, with Cameron revealing that the dark stories of their home city's underground have informed some of the lyrics on their new material. One track in particular, called "New Boys", focuses on the bikie gang of the same name. After heading to America in October, the band will start recording in December with producer Mark Opitz, who handled their latest single, "My Only Friend".
5. How Many Acts Can You See in One Night?
Was the question faced by everyone at Bigsound on night one. With 70 acts performing across 14 stages, the streets of the Valley were flooded with punters madly pin balling between venues. Highlights of night one? DMA's swelling to a six-piece to channel their inner Oasis at The Brightside, D.D. Dumbo proving he's the ultimate one-man band at Alhambra, the gorgeous melodies of All My Exes Live In Texas at The Press Club, former Hungry Kids of Hungary frontman, Dean McGrath, showing off his new band Rolls Bayce at the Zoo, which is also where Steve Smyth put on a typically passionate performance, while New Zealand singer-songwriter Marlon Williams and Sydney soul-funk act Olympic Ayres were two standouts at the Native Tongue party.