Following three wildly successful years of 4 Walls Festival featuring acts including Matt Corby, Last Dinosaurs, and The Medics, Youth Music Industries continued their goal of providing a legitimate forum for young artists to engage with an all-age crowd at Kelvin Grove’s creative arts precinct on Saturday.
Kicking things off in The Basement was Jackson James Smith, with his time-proven blend of sweet lyrics and confident guitar-work. “I Got You” filled the cavernous, fairylight-embellished space with mellow vocals which were received well by the audience, reclining on bean bags and couches scattered through the large but wholly occupied space.
Effortlessly possessing his laid-back vibe, Smith played a generous set, including tracks from an upcoming EP. “Far Away” was a standout, a much needed up-tempo inclusion to an otherwise pretty but slightly placid set.
The main stage was christened with a strong performance from Stephen Smith, playing with his recently formed band. Opening with “All I Can”, Smith showcased the layered sound that he and guitarist Sam Ryan have developed since last year’s appearance at 4 Walls, culminating in last month’s release of the Take Your Time EP.
This new sound was carried by Josh Iselin’s percussive contribution, though Smith still excels when playing solo with his guitar (and a borrowed guitar, following an unfortunate string snap early on). “Bright Eyes”, from last year’s EP, featured a great combination of this solo sound and a rousing build courtesy of the new band additions.
Heading up the stairs (also bedecked in fairy-lights) to the Skyline Stage, Twin Haus delivered an overwhelmingly holistic set, featuring melodic guitar and heavy but controlled vocals.
Despite looking a little incongruous, their sound was big, with frontman Daniel Grima engaging casually with the young crowd. Vocally very strong, Twin Haus’ performance was underpinned with confident guitars and effortless control of irregular beats from Nick McMillan.
Back at the main stage, Tourism requested that the crowd be standing for their set, a largely unnecessary request considering the pop/rock vibes they delivered. Accents aside, their undeniable similarities to Arctic Monkeys had the crowd moving, particularly for their latest single “Float Away”.
Jozef Wisniewski appeared comfortable as a frontman and was vocally very strong, with the band playing with extreme synergy and the feel of a much more mature group.
Back in the basement, Jack Paterson (playing as one-quarter of Hushka) delivered a beautifully pared-back set, winning the crowd with a likeable shyness and friendly manner. Sitting vocally in the middle of his register with a tone similar to Pete Murray’s, “You Don’t Look Back” was entirely honest and powerful as it built.
Those who left early missed out on a beautiful encore that took Paterson by surprise and further showed off his voice, wrapping up a set that vastly differed from the music played by Hushka as a complete band.
Later at the Skyline Stage, power-pop trio Sports Fan took the crowd by surprise with impressive levels of sound and energy for a three-piece. Demonstrating enviable musicality and witty lyricism, Sports Fan played a vibrant, wildly enjoyable set including crowd favourite Little White Lies, within which they cheekily played around with stops and volume.
Revealing a secret as restricted as Splendour’s mystery band, new single “Shallow Water” saw Ball Park Music’s Jen Boyce take to the stage, pairing sweetly with lead Dion Read’s warm vocals.
The much-hyped Jeremy Neale came out to the main stage with all instruments blazing on the ever catchy “Winter Was The Time”. His surfy-pop ambiance was particularly strong, carried by his own guitar work and Liam Campbell as second guitarist.
With a slightly peculiar persona, Neale played a confident set that drew a solid crowd, with new track “Merry Go-Round” a soon to be released standout.
Andrew Markwell (who also played a Keaton Henson-esque solo set early in the day) and Declan Mewes, playing as The Real Eyes, embodied the spirit of 4 Walls as the day darkened over the Skyline Stage.
Only recently 18, both boys played their blend of quirky grunge technically very well, with Markwell a curiously engaging frontman. Playing an array of short, garage-pop tracks with extreme confidence, they nailed a genre that potentially lends itself to average quality.
Another act who played last year’s 4 Walls Festival, Graham Moes brought his chilled R&B groove to the basement. Blending effortless guitar foundations with his laid back, soulful voice, Moes was a charismatic character, sipping water from a gin bottle between tracks.
“Vortex” was a beautiful song with a sweet introduction, reflecting on Moes’ sharehouse experiences. As he’s done in the past he closed with a cover; this time Ray Charles’ “I Got A Woman”. Well suited to his bluesy voice, Moes had fun with the track reflecting a light-hearted set that was a treat to witness.
Following Moes was the young but wildly talented Wafia Al-Rikabi. After building a following through 2012, the musician mesmerised the crowd even whilst sound checking. With a sweet and enchanting voice, a cover of Daughter’s “Youth” was entirely appropriate and nicely performed.
An original song “The Woods” saw Al-Rikai hush the basement with her vocal clarity, though a cleverly looped cover of Chet Faker’s version of “No Diggity” was not only the highlight of her set, but amongst the top moments of the day.
Thoroughly engaging the fortunate audience at the main stage was Pigeon, bringing their clever dance-electronica sounds via an exciting array of instruments. Ridiculous energy levels ensued on and off stage, as they delivered a spectacular set featuring groovy woodwind and brass contributions, heavy but refined drops, and the eternally-enjoyable cowbell.
As expected, their Daft Punk medley was arguably the highlight of this year’s 4 Walls Festival, and had the boys demonstrating complete musical proficiency with a fool proof blend of Daft Punk tracks from their entire discography. In terms of energy and overall performance, Pigeon played the strongest set of the day.
Closing the festival was local cuties Cub Scouts, only days after the release of their latest EP. Kicking things off with “Pool”, their single released earlier in the year, Cub Scouts played a musically strong set, but slightly lacked energy compared to past shows.
Nonetheless, their fans clearly enjoyed their sweet beachy-pop, with “Sherbet” the standout track from the Paradise EP. One of their oldest tracks, “Do You Hear” was the best received from their set, following the lower tempo but extremely well-played “Scream”.
As a festival, 4 Walls provided the perfect blend of established and upcoming musicians the chance to interact with a younger audience- a key demographic, particularly for the Brisbane scene. With countless acts catching many people’s attention for the first time, it’ll be interesting to see the direction acts like Sports Fan and Twin Haus take in the recent futureWrite a Letter to the Editor