Live review: Sounds Australia @ The Great Escape, Brighton

Music moves people or makes people move. So said everybody’s favourite long-haired Joseph Gordon-Levitt lookalike Didirri (seriously, prove me wrong). I had the pleasure of growing up in the land down under, where most animals will kill you if the sun doesn’t get to you first [spiders and snakes surely, but the sun yes – born again Aussie Ed]. While I spent a lot of my time there wishing I was living in England, I am able to look back now and say that I love being Australian. We have a ridiculous amount of musical talent.

So you can imagine my excitement at getting to see a bunch of Australian acts showcased by Sounds Australia at The Great Escape.

My stress levels from getting down to Brighton from Guildford are immediately eased by the sweet sounds of Alexander Biggs. His soft, ethereal voice fills the Komedia Studio Bar and the whole audience is silent and still as if entranced. His onstage banter is pretty sweet, making jokes about colonisation, and thanking “Sounds Australia for having me, or as I like to call them ‘Sounds England 2′”.

Next up is Riley Pearce.

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His song ‘Elephants‘  is about how his little brother used to collect little elephants when he was young. Recently, his parents and brother moved to England while he remained in Perth – maintaining a good relationship can be very difficult when separated by half the world. This really hit home for me as I’m in a very similar position with my family back in Australia.

Then up stepped smiley Alex The Astronaut.

Alex is incredibly likeable with her down-to-earth personality; on stage she tells cheesy jokes, funny anecdotes and interacts with the audience. She tries to make every song positive and uplifting, such as ‘Not Worth Hiding’, with such lyrics like “It’s not worth hiding if you think you might be gay/Or different in another way/ You’re perfect just the same”. This song is not only empowering and talks about the story of her own sexuality, but talks about social issues such as sexuality and gender, when she later sings, So tell me, anyone/ If you love them as a daughter, could you love them as a son?”

To round off the afternoon we have Didirri. He is an incredible artist who has had a whirlwind year (support slot to Vance Joy, appearance at Splendour In The Grass) since releasing his first single ‘Blind You‘, an open letter to an ex. He markets his music as “Music for lovers and overthinkers”, printing the slogan on tote bags and socks.

 

His songs have great meaning to them. My favourite is ‘Jude‘, which deals with the subject of mental health. Recalling the emotions and experiences I associate with mental health while having this song sung live in front of me is quite overwhelming and I feel tears stinging my eyes. The highlight is getting to meet him afterwards, though. He’s so sweet: so open, kind and appreciative of the support he gets. I saw him again on Monday night and it wouldn’t matter if he’s playing to 80 people or 800, he makes the time for his fans. He’s real and genuine and he’s made a fan for life in me.

After a long break it is back to Komedia in the evening for Stella Donnelly.

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Once again, she is hilarious with her anecdotes (seriously, must be something in the water back home because many of these artists are quite the comedians). When first looking at Stella, you can’t help but see her as a sweet, innocent singer, and to be fair she is quite sweet. But she has some things to say about the shitty state of affairs in the world. Her most important song to me (and I think it should be heard by everyone) is ‘Boys Will Be Boys’.

It starts off sounding harmless, just a simple, happy-sounding guitar with her soft voice. But the lyrics soon start to get real and you know she’s pissed. This song is about a friend who opened up to her about her experience of being sexually assaulted and is a direct message to her abuser. She’s angry for many reasons too. On the one hand, she’s angry that women are constantly made to feel as if they are to blame for their assault and that the severity of the problem isn’t taken seriously. On the other hand, she hates the phrase “boys will be boys” (man, I hate it too) because it serves to justify and play down something that is a huge issue and shouldn’t be ignored. It also encompasses all men as the same, which isn’t fair because there are so many damn incredible men who shouldn’t be grouped into the same bracket as some disgusting men, just because of their gender. Stella’s doing an incredible job of bringing light to these tough subjects and it’s refreshing.

To round off a stellar day is Mansionair.

All the other artists had been acoustic and solo, so Mansionair are the overdue change I didn’t even know I needed: mouth-watering bass and fresh synth riffs. I’d seen them in 2015 supporting alt-J when they only had one single out. They were great then but the amount of growth has been insane and I feel like a proud mother. They start off with their first single, ‘Hold Me Down,’ my personal favourite (let’s not lie, it’s the only one I really know), and finish off with their hit song ‘Astronaut (Something About Your Love)’. In between, they play a bunch of great songs including ‘Line Of Sight‘, a Grammy-nominated track which they collaborated on with Odesza. The lead singer Jack Froggatt has a heavenly, soulful falsetto and keeps the audience entertained by coming out into the audience. The perfect end to a day of incredible music.

 

To hear more Australian artists I recommend the Triple J Hitlist playlist on Spotify. I also recommend Triple J Unearthed – the platform for unsigned Aussie artists.

 

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