Sound Summit: Facts and Emotions

I saw heaps of bands at Sound Summit. It’s a waste of time to reiterate how good Primitive Calculators, Royal Headache or Mad Nanna are live, so rather than do a review, here are some key facts or “emotions felt” across the Saturday and Sunday. I couldn’t make it on the Friday. Obviously heaps more happened than this, but these were the highlights:

* The best show of the whole weekend was xNOBBQx in the Croatian Club’s Boardroom. Nick Dan was playing his drums at a 90 degree angle by the time the set ended. Matt Earle was smashing a sole remaining string on a crappy old Ibanez, and sometimes he’d drive the headstock into the crash cymbal. Most people smiled as they watched xNOBBQx, because their performance was one of the happiest experiences at Sound Summit. It was almost like being on pills at Parklife.

* There was a screening for a documentary about the Brisbane music scene called Brisbane 2012.  Created by Joshua Watson, it featured interviews with Joel Stern, Kitchen’s Floor, Scraps, Blank Realm and Matt Earle. It was basically the Gummo of music documentaries. It’s a true disaster that Scraps isn’t as big as AC/DC.

* ‘Sitting Outside Having a Cigarette while Royal Headache Play’ would make a good Anal Cunt song title.

* The Best Newcastle Band Ever, Castings, played at the Pharmacy on Sunday night, which was their first show in over two years. It was incredible. We will publish something longer about this soon.

* The locals at the Croatian Club are very patient indeed. I interviewed one of them. His name was Matthew and he refused to trade a couple of cigarette papers (his) for a pinch of tobacco (mine), which is false economy but I trust he knew what he was doing.

What’s your impression of the music here at Sound Summit?
Not that good, hey. Not really my style. I guess there could be more techno beats and all that. Or a bit more hip-hop in it.

What type of music do you normally listen to?
Mainly techno hip-hop and a bit of country.

What kind of country?

Just before, a guy called Oren Ambarchi played. What did you think of that set?
Me and Doug, we were like “I reckon we should just turn this off, unplug everything, turn it off”. That’s what we were seriously thinking. We all thought it was just shit, all us locals who normally come down to the Croatian every night.

Can you imagine any appeal to noise music? From your point of view, why would people listen to it?
Because they’re just a bunch of airheads I reckon, and they don’t really care what they listen to. In my opinion these people don’t really have much of a life, they just tour with all these people here, and they really start to begin to know all the band members, and I think they’ve ruined their life because they could be in a nice job, nice house and have a good family, instead of touring with them. That’s kinda what I’m thinking at the moment.

Do you think there’s anything wrong with noise music?
Yeah, I reckon it scares the birds away from the neighbourhood. I’m a big bird breeder and I’ve got a friend across the road who’s a big bird breeder, and he said the birds didn’t sleep last night. They just squawked all night. He said he’s getting sick and tired of it.

There are a bunch of artists in Newcastle that have done noise music. What other types of music come from Newcastle, that you know of?
With Newcastle we have a few up and coming rappers, we have up and coming techno people, and we might even have our own country music coming up in the next few months.

What are some of the hip-hop artists?
Bailey Squires, Blocks, One Tonner, they’re up and coming for Newcastle. We might even be able to take over the world with them.


Fellow Crawlspace person Luke Telford also had some emotions to share re: Sound Summit. Here they are below.

* Brainbeau are concerned about sounding too “easy listening”. They’re also a bit worried about how crappy their keyboards are. If you were to take them at face value, you might think these concerns were justified. They play seemingly pithy throwback electronic pop in a similar vein to the likes of Group Rhoda or Paco Sala, but the gently sensuous chord changes and spry melodic sensibility of this set leaves most of the work of those two bands in the dust. Sublime, slightly crusty retro-fetish party music that’s not difficult to weave your own internal melodies through.

* Lasse Marhaug seems to belong to a lineage of perfectly bald, bearded dudes who wreak vengeance on ears. There are points in his set that do sound like a jet engine dismantling itself, but reducing this music to descriptors like ‘noise’ dismisses the depth and character of it. It’s maximal and exquisite, and your loss if you prefer to smoke outside than listen.

* Soft Power is Andrew McLellan of Cured Pink and Joel Stern of Sky Needle – devolved dance pop to soundtrack to dimly fluorescing science fiction street scenes. It slows and expands periodically, as though molten and bubbling in the heat of some immense light. The tiny boardroom that contains this duo is corralled by coloured threads of sticky tape culminating in a precarious stack of chairs that’s bound to McLellan’s Mic stand. Divide and rule.

* High Wolf’s dense tribal polyrhythms and unspooling cosmic noodling belie his hunched self, seated onstage like some electric swami. It sounds superb, but not many people actually get to see him, preferring instead to sit on the bowling green and fill the air with smoke.

* Mist. Nothing misty about them. Richly synthetic progressive techno with tendrils that reach for your mind’s hems. Utterly present, though – you can try and drift off on wisps of texture, but you can’t escape the driving immediacy of this music.

* Lower Plenty live is like finally meeting someone you’ve fallen in love with from a distance, by mail. It’s something of a relief to see them and feel them, to hear the timbre of their voice and to know that they do exist. Those letters were something else though – can’t wait to go home and read them again.


Sound Summit was a festival which you’ve missed, so you can’t purchase it from the Sound Summit website.


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