It’s a stinking hot Summer’s day in sunny Brisbane and rock fans are flooding into The Fortitude Music Hall in anticipation of an epic lineup of live music. Dancing is back on the cards, and the green light is now on for one of the first shows of this size to go ahead in nearly a year.
We’re spoilt for choice with ‘The Other Festival’ offering up two stages throughout the evening and night, culminating in the almighty Cog to close the show.
The ‘Roadsick Stage’ kicks the day off with The Atomic Beau Project, a local prog-rock band incorporating electronic and indie pop sounds. The powerhouse on the mic, Emma Beau, gives an energetic performance as she bounces across the stage with an impressive range of vocals.
Brisbane supergroup Total Pace (Violent Soho, Dz Deathrays, I Heart Hiroshima, Tape/Off) pummel through a set of punk rock fury in it’s purest form. The sound is rawer than their main bands, and they blitz through the second set of the day to a crowd larger than you’d expect this early on for a festival.
Singing through a curtain of hair, Rhino’s singer Simon Bensen, opens up the ‘Faction Stage’ upstairs in The Outpost with fans screaming the words back at him. Girls are down the front dancing, and the singer appears to be restraining himself from launching into the crowd. He thanks everyone for coming out to support live music and sends his condolences to Melbourne.
Jay Brown, previously of Sunk Loto, plays against a backdrop of the moon peeking out from behind mountains as they sing about not being desperate enough to make a change. Jay’s solo project brings a more matured sound than his former band and it’s a slower pace from the previous acts of the day. “This is going to send everyone to sleep” someone says, but the applause would say otherwise.
The crowd back upstairs in The Outpost is thick and heavy for Minds?End. Their stage presence is intense, the music is brutal, and the shirtless singer, Jens, is glistening and dripping with sweat. No wait, he just poured a bottle of water over himself. Someone likens his look to “if Iggy Pop was in the Manson Family.”
It’s another change of pace back downstairs on the Roadsick Stage with Free The Genie. Liquid bass lines merge with bush doof beats rendering the audience confused and delighted at the same time. Overheard, “I used to go to doofs, so this works for me.” Turns out The Other Festival is not just a rock festival, there’s already been something for everyone and it’s only just 5pm.
Smoking Martha is the best fitting name for the next band taking to the Faction stage. Fronted by crooner Natasha Doherty, who declares it’s been 468 days since their last show, teases fans of an upcoming album with new song ‘Liquid Sunshine.’ Crushing blues riffs weave in and out of the mix creating great dynamics and space for the lead vocals to captivate the audience.
Local rock n roll cowboys, Hammers, bring massive guitar riffs, ear-splitting screams, and a whole bunch of profanities in-between songs. Frontman, Leigh, hulks around the Rocksick Stage with his signature birdcage mic glowing while the band pumps out song after song with no signs of slowing down.
Back upstairs, Being Jane Lane, an all-female punk band, unleash upon the Faction stage to a huge crowd of waiting fans. Their songs are a punchy pop and metal explosion upon the ears, and it feels like a party. The energy in the room is infectious.
Crowd favourite, Osaka Punch, Brisbane’s cabaret funk metal group take to the stage upon thunderous applause. Singer, Jack Venables, doesn’t disappoint arriving in a purple sequinned jacket which has become customary. He gyrates and dances across the stage to the delight of fans who scream back the words – most noticeably to hit single ‘How We Operate’ – and new drummer Blair shows off his impressive skills. Osaka Punch are wildly entertaining, moving from catchy grooves and pop beats, and then seamlessly into headbanging riffs. What’s your favourite genre of music? They probably play it.
These Four Walls hit the Faction stage with excitement and enthusiasm pummelling through tracks from their latest album, ‘This Is Not A Future.’ With a voice bigger than many, frontman Steve Gibb tears through each song with power and keeps the audience hyped with his banter. Led Zeppelin’s ‘Whole Lotta Love’ is weaved into the set, which could have been a bogan move, but it’s executed with a strong modern style.
After a last-minute stage and timeslot change (Melbourne’s Redhook have had to cancel that day due to COVID restrictions), Patient Lounge own the main stage like they were always meant to be there. Tight musicianship, powerful riffs, and unexpected breakdowns, this band has strong potential. Overheard: “Where’s Redhook?”
The production steps up now with psychedelic visuals for Wolf & Cub, and the band take it up a notch too with their rock swag and showmanship. Lead single ‘This Mess’ from their debut album, ‘Vessels,’ highlights sludgy guitars and dance floor rhythms. It ends with a frantic jam session flooding with waves of feedback from the guitars. It’s a welcomed chaos to the evening. Someone comments that they “didn’t even know they still existed, but I am so glad they do.”
Okay. It’s time. Cog arrive on the main stage at 10pm to close out the evening, opening with ‘No Other Way’ from 2008’s ‘Sharing Space’ album. The full capacity of the venue’s production is utilised with blinding strobes and striking visuals. The tech in front of house looks like he is living his best life and having so much fun with this. Flynn Gower’s vocals are as soulful and commanding as ever highlighted on ‘My Enemy’ and closer ‘Bird of Feather.’ An interesting choice to include in tonight’s setlist is ‘Swamp’ with lyrics “I don’t listen to the government at all.” A conversation breaks out in the back of the crowd that while they love the band, the song makes them feel uncomfortable right now. But hey, this is the band with merch hanging out the front reading ‘Fear Is The Virus.”
Regardless, Brisbane’s appetite for huge rock shows has definitely been whet by the end of the night. Will there be another one soon? People are chatting excitedly upon exiting that this could be the start of these types of shows again. Fingers crossed!
Words and images by Nicole Matthews