Sugar Mountain comes to us revamped this year, after a 12-month hiatus. It has a new location at the VCA Southbank campus, where the extra space has allowed for a bigger line up than ever before. The festival’s profile is also at its highest level, with a push from the promoters at Mushroom Group, Sugar Mountain’s new partner in crime. This good fortune is well overdue for Sugar Mountain, which for years has been curating the most exciting set of acts of any festival in Australia, whether blockbuster or boutique.
While the Big Day Out flailed around trying to please everyone from Metallica fans to the triple j set and Laneway slavishly booked every band with a ‘Best New Music’ accolade, the closest thing to a ‘white whale’ that Sugar Mountain has bothered with is ESG – a cult act from the no man’s land that was South Bronx in the 1980s. Instead, these guys have displayed an adventurousness and a consistency of vision that’s brought acts like Sun Araw, Prince Rama and John Maus together on the one bill.
This year is no exception, despite the event now catering to a larger audience. As if the promise of Swans, Nas, iceage and a Boiler Room stage weren’t enough, there’s also a huge array of local talent on the bill. These are some of the artists we’ll be going to see.
NO ZU + Sal P (Liquid Liquid)
Melbourne septet NO ZU have been bringing together cowbell, saxophone and happy pants in a frenetic post-disco amalgam for quite a few years now. On Saturday they’ll be joined by spiritual forebear Sal P of no wave legends Liquid Liquid in what’s bound to be an interesting collaboration.
Terrible Love feat. Kirin J Callinan
Kirin J Callinan has already caused his fair share of trouble for Sugar Mountain. A set at the 2012 event saw audience members streaming from the auditorium in confusion and disgust as the boundaries between concert, performance and reality dissolved. It was probably the best thing I saw all day. This time Callinan’s teaming up with Terrible Records, a US imprint founded by Grizzly Bear’s Chris Taylor. I have no idea what’s going to happen here, but the teaser is promising: