The 2023 Aussie BBQ in London was heaps good, too. My takeaways from this year’s event

What’s the best way to spend a birthday?

For me, without a doubt, it’s with music. Ideally, it’s also going to a gig/festival/music showcase.

And because I happened to be in London this year when the Aussie BBQ was taking place, I popped in to see a few artists and say hello to Sounds Australia.


Actually, it was the second time I attended the event. Check out what went down in 2022 in this post.

Just to give you some context, the Aussie BBQ is an informal gathering of the interest groups that make the music industry. On the one hand, you’ve got the musos. Then, there are the industry reps, like record labels, music managers, publishers, etc. And finally, fans rock up to catch their fave acts and chat with them – an opportunity they often don’t get at regular gigs and festivals.

At the end of the day, though, it’s hard to tell who is who because everyone mingles in the bar space between the short sets (approx. 20 mins) that bands play.

For that same reason (short turnarounds and the two “stages” with performances running simultaneously), it’s a grand lesson in making (good) decisions and making sacrifices. It’s just impossible to catch every act, speak to all the people you’re after and productively hang out with friends in those few hours. But that hectic festival vibe also makes it very authentic.

The event takes place periodically in a few locations around the globe, depending on the year and circumstances. Some of them are London, Berlin or New Year. It’s frequently organised around bigger showcasing festivals, like the Great Escape in Brighton, UK.

Sounds Australia – the country’s music export office – is the organisation that puts it together. And in my humble view, they do a great job of bringing Aussie music closer to overseas audiences.

The success of this year’s London edition was a testament to that. The event was packed, conversations were flowing, connections were made, and awesome music was played.

So without further ado, here are my picks from the night.

The Best Set Overall – Teen Jesus and the Jean Teasers

My first encounter with the four-piece was actually in the loo, where they were doing the last make-up touch-ups before their set. And I almost reached into my pocket for a lipstick to lend it to one of the members. But then I thought, “Nah, I’m pretty sure they’re sorted on that front”.

Because the Canberra reps are a full package: from their music to the image and stage presence. Somehow, it also looks like it’s not just an act but an effortless extension of who and what they really are as a band.

I’m also a fan because they are an all-female outfit. And they clearly prove that rock’n’roll life combined with talent, wit and hard work is not only reserved for the Melbourne or Sydney scene. The title of their debut EP from 2021 summarises it in the best possible way: Pretty Good for a Girl Band.

What speaks to their universal relatability is also the fact that they’ve already built a pretty solid fan base overseas. And I know that because I ran into a friend based in London who came to the BBQ with another friend specifically to see Teen Jesus and the Jean Teasers.

And judging by how full the room was at that gig, they were surely not the only ones.

The Biggest SurpriseNice Biscuit

The sole purpose of a showcase event is to discover new artists. Not everyone will impress you. But sometimes, you are nicely (pun intended) surprised by what you see and hear in that short set.

That was the case with Nice Biscuit for me. I knew of the Brisbane-based band but wasn’t overly familiar with their releases. The psychedelic vibe is not necessarily my go-to genre, either. But I was pretty curious about what they had in store.

And maybe it’s the live setting that adds to the whole experience. But I found them really good. They sounded great, looked confident, and delivered a short but sweet teaser of their hypnotising vibes.

I also totally dig their 70s-inspired image. And because there aren’t too many bands that embrace that kind of vibe from Australia these days, I reckon we’ll be hearing more about them overseas pretty soon.

So a nice job, Nice Biscuit!

The Best EntertainerBIG WETT

If you have a song called “NUMBER 1 PUSSY” with those exact words repeated throughout, how can it not become a party banger?

But I’ll be honest. I was sceptical about seeing BIG WETT’S slot because it overlapped with my faves, Crooked Colours. But I soon found out why she was closing the Front Room stage.

The trailblazing electro-pop/dance artist has only released three singles so far. Yet, they have already secured her position as a notorious nightclub fave. And believe me – the explicit lyrics covering the topics everyone thinks about constantly but is afraid to admit it is just a small part of the show.

BIG WETT made a proper entrance like the rising star she already is, wearing a skimpy shimmering pink dress and a matching dressing gown. And then, she showed off her dance moves and entertainment skills.

Long story short, some punters might have unintentionally missed the Crooked Colours set.

The Best Dancer – Jack Kay (Pacific Avenue)

I’m not sure if I’m entirely objective here because – by default – I’m drawn to rock music more than other genres. But I do recognise a good band when I hear it.

Pacific Avenue have just released their debut album, Flowers, which – surprise, surprise – has already earned them a #3 spot on the ARIA Charts. I reckon it’s a pretty rad achievement for a group of friends from a place that is not the music capital of Australia (Gerringong, NSW).

And if this wasn’t enough, they are a powerhouse live act, too. I said that to Harry O’Brien (vocals and guitar) after their performance, but I’ll repeat it here. As an entertainer, you either have that ability to connect with fans at a gig, or you don’t. It just can’t be faked. Pacific Avenue definitely have it.

You can also tell they enjoy being on stage as much as the audience enjoys seeing them play live. Plus, they won everyone over instantly when they played “Leaving For London” – one of the bangers from the debut album. In general, the whole band showed contagious energy on stage. But it was their bass player, Jack Kay, who stole the show when he decided to mingle with the crowd. At that point, I was completely sold on their rock’n’roll vibe.

And so was everyone else.

The Most Moving Set – Eliza Hull

I found out about Eliza Hull in a slightly different context.

I saw her in a Q&A episode on Aussie TV where she talked about being a disabled musician in Australia. Access and accessibility in the music industry is a pretty new topic in the music industry debate globally. And Eliza’s advocacy on that front has been truly unrivalled. But let’s not forget that she’s a musician in the first place.

Eliza’s music provides that sort of intimacy and reflection that is sometimes missing at these hectic, dynamic events where everyone seems to be running from one place to another without really taking in what they’ve just witnessed.

She’s a well-respected member of the music community as well. At the event, she mentioned songwriting collaborations with fellow female Aussie artists, Gordi and Odette, that will appear on her upcoming EP. And she’s currently supporting UK artists Ruth Lyon on a national tour.

So I was really happy to see her name on the Aussie BBQ line-up. And we’re due to catch up for an online chat soon. So watch this space for the results.

The Underrated Underdog – Tasman Keith

It’s inexplicable to me how underestimated the First Nations artists still are – in Australia and overseas. Tasman Keith called it out when his (may I say – excellent) album, A Colour Undone, didn’t meet the criteria for Best Hip Hop Release or Album Of The Year at the 2022 Aria Awards. (Long story short – streams are not considered for a nomination).

The Gumbaynggirr man from Bowraville, NSW is a talented, creative, genre-bending rapper who has been releasing music since 2017. I’ve been following his career almost from the very beginning. So it was a treat to see him perform at the Aussie BBQ.

And I wasn’t the only one who was vibing to his set. I spotted Milan Ring (an Australian R&B artist) in the crowd dancing and singing along to one of his songs, too. So – in a way – it’s great to see his fellow Aussie musos appreciate Tasman Keith‘s craft.

But one thing’s for sure: he deserves a much bigger audience and much more attention.

Hopefully, his short visit to the UK will secure him that recognition soon.

The Ultimate Banger Makers – Crooked Colours

Since it was my birthday when the Aussie BBQ was taking place, a bit of a party to close the night was in order.

And yes, I realise it might sound like I’m contradicting myself now. But I’m also (not so secretly anymore) devoted to some electronic acts from Australia. One of them is Crooked Colours.

The thing was, though – I’d seen the Perth-natives live at Laneway in 2019. And I’d had a great time then. So my expectations for their appearance in London were pretty high.

And they delivered. Firstly, by nailing the song selection and including my fave tunes, “Do It Like You” and “Feel It” (which the drummer, Liam Merrett-Park, introduced playfully as “it’s a bit of a banger”). In the short time they had, they also managed to create a proper clubbing vibe. And by that, they made everyone sweat on the dance floor, including myself.

So thanks for the boogie and making my day, Crooked Colours.

Honourable mentions also go to:

  • hip-hop/R&B/pop muso Ashwarya for reminding everyone that “I know it’s an industry event, but I wanna see everyone move to the music”;
  • a reggae/dance hall artist Gold Fang for being honest about what it means to be an emerging artist (not being able to afford to bring your crew along);
  • singer-songwriter Jem Cassar-Daley for playing two sets on the day and
  • the punk rockers from RVG for proudly repping heavier vibes at the event.

Carousel pics: Gold Fang, Pacific Avenue, Tasman Keith, Ashwarya, Teen Jesus and the Jean Teasers, Chanel Loren, Eliza Hull, Crooked Colours

And if I were to magically return to that Sunday to see one act I missed, it would be Mindy Meng Wang – a contemporary Guzheng performing artist and composer accompanied by Tim Shiel.

Last but not least, I had a bit of a fangirl moment when I met… my music journalist hero, Zan Rowe, from Double J. I religiously listen to her podcast, “Take 5 with Zan Rowe”, and always envy her that she gets to interview all the cool artists.

So a shout-out to Sounds Australia and the London venue, Colours Hoxton, for another great day filled with Aussie music. See you next year?

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