It'll be a bit hard describing the atmosphere at the Pig City Festival as it was unlike anything I've experienced before, but I'll give it my best shot. First off a massive congratulations to the Queensland Government, 4ZZZ, and anyone else involved in organising the event. I was unsure what to expect but the Festival definitely exceeded all expectations. Around 6,000 people turned up to the University of Queensland on the day, and they squeezed into the big top marquee. Another congratulations is in order, this time for the sound crew. Pig City was probably the first festival I've been to where there hasn't been a major technical fuck-up. But now to the performances.
First off were the Apartments. The opening slot is a hard ask for any band, and Peter Milton Walsh led the band through a well preformed set; albeit one lacking in any sort of fanfare. With a selection of old and new tracks the Apartments set an excellent precedent for the day.
Next off the mark were Screamfeeder. The trio, sporting stalwarts Tim and Kellie and new recruit Steph on the drums, launched into a set made up of some of their more energetic songs. 'Explosive Friends', 'Hi C's' and '1 2 3 4 5' were stand out tracks and the band left the stage with the crowd salivating.
The Ups & Downs were the only band on the lineup I was unfamiliar with, and after their first few songs I was still skeptical. I was soon swept away by their beautiful melodies, however, and by the time they broke into 'The Living Kind' the entire crowd was singing along. 'In The Shadows' and 'Perfect Crime' capped off a perfect set; one which the band seemed to enjoy as much as the crowd.
While at first glance Kev Carmody may have seemed an odd participant in the festival, his banter in between songs demonstrated how integral part of Brisbane music he is. Kev is as much a storyteller while speaking as he is singing, and his tales of Brisbane's past entranced the crowd, as did the songs 'Thou Shalt Not Steal' and 'Images of London'. A beautiful rendition of 'From Little Things Big Things Grow', in which the entire crowd sang out the chorus (as they did for Kev's take on 'Midnight Special' also), had to be one of the highlights of the day.
Following on were the ever-entertaining Pineapples From The Dawn Of Time. The seven-piece, which included go-go dancers and clergymen among its numbers, got the crowd rocking and dancing with its quirky psychadelia. 'Saha' and 'Too Much Acid' were set highlights (probably the only band who you'll ever hear sing "one day I'll shave my back for you").
My failure to read the set times properly meant that I missed the one-song set by The Parameters and thus the next band I saw were Dave McCormack and the Polaroids. Kicking off with one of my all-time favourite tunes, 'Bedford', Dave & co. played a tight set comprising mostly of Custard songs (with a little laser gun thrown in for good luck). An amazing performance of 'Alone' was followed by 'Girls Like That' and 'Apartment'; both of which got the crowding singing and dancing again.
The singing and dancing didn't stop as The Riptides hit the stage. While many of the songs lacked the rawness of the recordings nothing could stop the crowd from jumping around. The Riptides upped the ante towards the end with 'Shake It' and 'Sunset Strip' both of which received rapturous applause.
Regurgitator were the first band of the night to run into trouble (keyboard and microphone malfunctions, both of which were soon rectified). Fortunately they were also the most energetic band of the night, and blew away the problems with and excellent set. The band mixed a set of classic songs ('I Sucked A Lot Of Cock', 'My Friend Robot', 'I Wanna Be A Nudist' some of the best) with two excellent sounding new songs (the questionable 'Blood & Spunk' being the best of the two); all in all a perfect entree to The Saints.
Next up was the Go-Betweens tribute featuring Kate Miller-Heidke and the Brisbane Excelsior Band. While the set may have been awkwardly placed between the two loudest bands of the night, the crowd enjoyed the short set comprising of soaring versions of 'Streets Of Your Town', 'Clouds', and 'Cattle And Cane', the latter of which ended in some opera from Miller-Heidke; something which seemed to unsettle the elderly punks standing behind me.
Well, what's there to say about The Saints? Arriving on stage to tumultuous applause the original trio, aided by a stand-in bassist and a three-piece brass & saxophone section, quickly launched into a searing version of 'Swing For The Crime'. While the band perfectly executed the first three numbers they didn't hit their stride until 'No Time'; a song frontman Chris Bailey claimed resulted in the band being kicked out last time they played it at UQ. The song, now with added brass section, showcased the amazing roar of Ed Kuepper's guitar. A crowd sing along to 'A Minor Aversion' preceded a hilarious monologue by Bailey which segued into the Saints' trump card '(I'm) Stranded'. While Bailey mistimed the first few lines of the song it was difficult to notice with thousands of people singing along. The set reached another highpoint with 'Know Your Product' with it soaring trumpet and Bailey's massive stage presence sending the crowd into hysterics. Following this was a soaring rendition of 'Messin' With The Kid', a song that benefited greatly from the touch of horn the Saints added. The band rounded up the set with an epic 7-minute rendition of 'Nights In Venice'. Returning to the stage for the encore they performed a haunting version of a song I can't for the life of me name (points for you if you can tell me what it was) as well as a fired up version of 'River Deep, Mountain High'. Overall I enjoyed The Saints first proper gig in over 25 years. While a few people were taken back but the achingly over the top performance Chris Bailey gave (To quote MP: "the self-indulgent little turds."), the contrast of Ed Kuepper's and Ivor Hay's excellently subtle performances combined for an amazing spectacle in my eyes.
All up it was the best day I've had all year and here's to the Queensland Music Festival rocking it out next year!
Check out the photos I took here.