Yellowcat Redcat at Valley Fiesta

Christmas comes early for Brisbane music scene


Fortitude Valley has wrapped up two of its largest events for another year after showcasing 10 days of performances from some of the city’s and the nation’s best talent.

Eliza & the Delusionals
Eliza Klatt of Eliza & the Delusionals said the band was thrilled at the chance to play at BIGSOUND. Photo: Habitat Music Company

Held from August 28 to September 7, the Valley was host to two back-to-back festivals: The Valley Fiesta and BIGSOUND Festival and Conference.

The events featured an impressive array of live music, street and theatre performances at local venues in the area.

The Valley Fiesta was revamped for its 22nd year, expanding to a new five-day format.

Organisers also pushed the event closer to BIGSOUND, so the two events could run back-to-back.

Lord Mayor Graham Quirk said in a statement that the Valley Fiesta welcomed about 65,000 punters and more than 500 performers at 48 venues in the Valley Precinct for a variety of performances styles ranging from live bands to theatre and cultural performances.

The 2018 program of events included music, performances, food, workshops, competitions and visual arts throughout the Fortitude Valley precinct, including a pop up Main Ring in the Brunswick Street Mall, which hosted free entertainment including headline act Le Coup Cabaret, a high-flying, high-energy performance by Brisbane’s own contemporary circus troupe, Company 2.

“Over the five days there [were] more than 70 free events, including a themed performance stage in Brunswick Street Mall and a special program of active events, in addition to a range of other performances in local entertainment venue,” Cr Quirk said.

“Valley Fiesta has been showcasing the best of Brisbane’s cultural scene since launching in 1997, celebrating the work of local acts and showing just why our city is regarded as a great place to live, work and relax,” he said.

BIGSOUND Festival and Conference, which is in its 17th year, brought national and international delegates from a range of different fields in the music industry to showcase, converse and celebrate Australia’s the young talent and live music.

The four-day event ran from September 4 to 7 and included 270 showcases held at 18 venues around Fortitude Valley.

BIGSOUND welcomes more than 1,300 conference delegates each year as well as close to 14,000 festivalgoers.

Pushing the Valley Fiesta and BIGSOUND closer together provided local talent with a great platform to showcase their art and potentially gain some new fans along the way.

Hot Reno at Valley Fiesta
Gold Coast band Hot Reno played at Heya Bar in Fortitude Valley during the Valley Fiesta. Photo: Gabrielle Zgrajewski 

Gold Coast band Hot Reno was one of the many groups that took part in the Valley Fiesta, playing at Heya Bar in the Fortitude Valley.

Hot Reno drummer Ben Wilcox said it was exciting to be part of the Valley Fiesta so close to BIGSOUND.

“Only a year prior I attended [Valley Fiesta] as just a punter,” Mr Wilcox said.

“I got to see my mates play in the same line up as bands like Gooch Palms, The Creases and The Jungle Giants, and I would never have guessed I’d be a part of the same event a year later,” he said.

“Events like Valley Fiesta and BIGSOUND are so important for us because they put us on a platform and expose us to a larger, more diverse audience than what the standard gig at a club or bar provides.”

“The more events like these we have, the more chances local bands like mine – who are grinding on the scene every single week – will find success.”

Many other rising bands took part in the festivities in the Valley Fiesta’s Main Ring in the Brunswick Street Mall, drawing in a diverse crowd, many of whom were also attending BIGSOUND.

One such band is Yellowcat Redcat, whose drummer Adam Head described the experience as “eclectic” following, as it did, a lineup of circus acts and aerobics.

Yellowcat Redcat at Valley Fiesta
Yellowcat Redcat performed at the Main Ring in Brunswick Street during the Valley Fiesta. Photo: Yellowcat Redcat

“It was crazy because we followed a circus act and aerobics, and there were all these families watching,” Mr Head said.

“Then unapologetic punk music followed, so it was eclectic, but it was surprising at the amount of people that stayed around,” he said.

“They’re putting artists from situations that haven’t been able to draw their own crowd and putting them in front of people.”

Yellowcat Redcat guitarist and singer Isaac Rogers said Brisbane’s music scene was quite different to that in other major Australian cities due to the distance from other big cities and the mixing of genres in the music scene, both of which made it harder to get a break in the business.

“Getting notoriety in Brisbane is harder compared to anywhere else in Australia,” Mr Rogers said.

“Touring in Brisbane is really hard because it’s so far away from all the major cities,” he said.

“Brisbane is just that bit further away.”

But Mr Rogers said the Valley Fiesta had to be commended for giving local talent a platform to perform publicly on.

“I do like the scene in terms of friendship, but everyone is playing different music,” he said.

“Whereas in the other cities, they have their own emo scene, but here everyone is moving into each other’s scene.”

Mr Head said having events like Valley Fiesta and BIGSOUND scheduled back to back really made a hub for Brisbane to showcase all their talent to national and international representatives in the music industry at once.

“I feel like Valley Fiesta and BIGSOUND are two different things; Valley Fiesta showcases Brisbane music, and BIGSOUND is a hub for all music around Australia,” Mr Rogers said.

“I think it’s definitely a good idea to have all the events at once,” he said.

“At BIGSOUND I’ve met so many international music representatives, so to get them here for a few weeks when all these events are happening at the same time would be great.

“They get to explore everything at the same time; no one wants to stay here for one weekend five times a year, whereas they can stay here for a long period of time to see everything at once.”

Eliza Klatt, who is front women of Eliza & the Delusionals, and a part of the BIGSOUND lineup, said the band was very happy to be involved in the festivities.

Ms Klatt said the band had wanted to play BIGSOUND for some time.

“We’ve been wanting to play [BIGSOUND] for so long now,” she said.

“We did a showcase last year that was really fun, but it’s really cool to actually be a part of the festival this year.”

“We were stoked.”

“I don’t think there is anything like BIGSOUND in Australia that we have been to,” Ms Klatt said.

“Any kind of show that is a part of or around BIGSOUND is definitely so helpful and worth it.”

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