The King Street Crawl is an annual event that celebrates the Sydney music scene. Last Father’s Day, over 30 venues along King St, Erskineville Rd and Enmore Rd played host to a massive 130+ artists. With no entry fees and hours of live music, it was a testimony to the volume of talent that Newtown houses. The following is part one of five in Backyard Opera’s King Street Crawl series. For more, stay tuned HERE.
On a corner outside Newtown Station lies the Town Hall Hotel, or Townie as the locals know it. Boasting a central location on the crawl and $6.50 schooners of Grifter’s Ales, locally brewed in Marrickville, it was the perfect starting destination. While the streets were already alive with grouchy rock music blasting from venues like the Newtown Hotel and Kelly’s on King, as well as a surprise set from the Pist Idiots at the Thrills Pop-Up Store that had crowds overflowing onto the footpath, the Townie’s day began at 2PM. Making their King Street Crawl debut, Big Sky Mountain had the daunting task of kick-starting the event. What followed was an easy-to-listen to but fast paced set from one of the most musically talented acts of the day.
“We went for high impact. We knew we pretty much had to get the crowd warmed up right away so we went for the jugular. I think we succeeded,” said keyboardist Gabby.
“Like a punch in the face,” added guitarist Sharon.
Big Mountain Sky are a seven piece all female band that draws on a distinct Americana style of pop music, with flavours of country, folk and jazz. Their set up consists of keys, percussion, brass, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, bass and a whole lot of singing. The result is a wildly varied and eclectic sound that is held together through their unique sound. Every link in this chain works in complementary synergy, making the other parts exponentially better. Electric guitarist Sharon’s sharp licks are grounded in other guitarist and ukulele player Viv’s acoustic strumming, bassist Rachel’s dynamic rhythms are chugged along through drummer Kelly’s tireless performance, and lead vocalist Dominique soars over the top of the other four harmonising vocalists.
“I’ve got a tambourine solo in this song, hope I haven’t forgot how to play it” Gabby joked in between tracks.
As this was the first set of the day, the Townie was initially very quiet. Whether because of the early start time, the band’s soft Americana sound or because everyone was saving their drunken rowdiness for the thrash heavy mosh pits that would follow later in the day, the crowd was relatively still. Instead, they stood transfixed on the musical complexity that unfolded before them, gently bobbing and swaying. However, as the show went on, a crowd started forming around the little staged tucked away in the corner of the bar. Blasting through tracks at a breakneck pace, the band didn’t take the time to show off their virtuosic ability, but rather sped through the set to light a fire under the audience. Rising harmonies, roaring instrumentals and a flurry of songs set the mood for the day.
One punter, an older gentleman from Marrickville who was unaware of the event, noted that the band was “way too good” for a Sunday afternoon pub gig, watching with wide eyes and a sly grin. Following the set, the band were all smiles and excitement, clearing the stage for Deni El-Rassi. All seven had plans to enjoy the festivities they’d helped kick off. The more mature half of the band were discussing other artists and venues that they had their eye on for the crawl, joking that they had time to put the kids to bed before coming back out to see the Andy Golledge Band. The younger half of the band, like Viv who couldn’t remember the latter part of her 2018 King Street Crawl, planned to see acts like M’Leigh and the Moo Moos, Dande and the Lion, and Gaia Rising.
“I think we’ll roam a bit today, check out some of the other venues. Then pass it on to those who don’t have children, we’ll high five it off. With seven of us, we can tag team,” said Gabby
As their first time on the crawl the set acted as Newtown’s introduction to Big Mountain Sky. Like many other artists on the Crawl, they named the community as the King Street Crawls primary beneficiary.
“People can come out and see live music in the day, which is normally an evening thing. I think anything that brings the community out and about is very beneficial. Live music has a great way of doing that,” said drummer Kelly.
Big Sky Mountain are releasing their debut album All Our Minutes on September 14th, available on all online streaming platforms.