Usually, for one week each September, Brisbane becomes Australia's live music capital — even if a Melbourne survey generally claims otherwise. When BIGSOUND hits the city, it typically seems like every venue in Fortitude Valley is packed to the rafters with bands, industry folks and music-loving punters, all enjoying the latest and greatest tunes and talent the country has to offer.
There's nothing usual about 2020, though. And, yes, that applies to this beloved music-fuelled celebration. In fact, after announcing back in July that it would still forge ahead this year as a physical, BIGSOUND switched to a virtual-only affair.
Rather than four days of conferences, live festival showcases, secret shows and official parties, music fans can look forward to keynote addresses, online workshops, panels, discussions and an Australian artist showcase called The BIGSOUND50, all across a condensed two-day online program — on Wednesday, October 21 and Thursday, October 22.
Announcing the change in an emailed statement, BIGSOUND management advised that the shift in direction stems from "ongoing COVID-19 restrictions and domestic border closures"; however the festival will adjust. It'll also address the challenges of 2020 and what that means for the industry moving forward by focusing on three specific themes: community, survival and re-futuring.
Overseeing the virtual program are Janne Scott, BIGSOUND's creative director (and Splendour In The Grass' senior creative manager); Alethea Beetson, the event's First Nations producer and programmer; and conference programmer Tom Larkin. Beetson, as well as festival co-programmers Dominic Miller and Ruby-Jean McCabe, will select the artists featured in The BIGSOUND50.
Past BIGSOUNDs have showcased everyone from Gang of Youths, Flume, Tash Sultana and Courtney Barnett to San Cisco, Violent Soho, Methyl Ethel and The Jungle Giants, so its program is usually a very reliable bellwether of current and up-and-coming talent.
Top image: Keynote speaker Mo'Ju at BIGSOUND in 2019