BIGSOUND 2014 // Brisbane, South East Queensland, AUS // September 2014
To make a long introduction short, I arrived in Melbourne in July of 2014 and found myself shooting photos for a music conference/festival called BIGSOUND in Brisbane that September. The details aren’t super important but I was a 21-year old hungry for experiences in the Australian music industry - which hosts some of the best artists in the world.
So, I touched down at the Brisbane Airport the first day of the festival armed with only a backpack and camera. Hailing a taxi (foreshadowing), I proceeded to my first stop - a corner stop for wine, well, “goon” (Australia’s boxed wine that’s the only affordable alcoholic option for college kids on exchange). Finally, I was dropped off at Bowen Terrace Accommodations, a quaint bed and breakfast near the conference center. Making myself cozy, I stretched out on my newfound queen-sized bed and messaged my friend Wafia, an extremely talented Australian musician who I had been following since I was 16 (side note - I just saw her perform alongside Ta-Ku in Chicago this past October 2016). I was set to meet up later that night with Waf and friends after attending a few panels at the conference. These panels featured Spotify, sampling, Australian hip-hop, and the nature of pop hooks to name a few. Finally, evening fell and it was time to head out with Wafia et al. to see some shows. The “et al.” consisted of Andre, founder of Paradise Music Festival, manager of electronic duo ‘friendships’ and all around stellar guy, and Dan, principle electrician of the musical nature in the late band I’lls and an all around stellar guy.
Throughout the three day conference/festival I’d see some of my favorite shows to date and meet many more amazing members of the music industry including the founder of Future Classic - look it up, Tim (Vancouver Sleep Clinic), the dudes from Client Liaison, a Spotify Exec, and many more. Essentially, BIGSOUND 2014 was a magical stage for the highest quality of Australian musicians and industry peeps to gather - and I was in the thick of it tagging along with a stunning, up-and-coming Australian singer.
After a jam-packed weekend, I wearily packed up my backpack and readied myself to get back to the airport and head home to Melbourne. Except, due to the outrageous prices of Australian cuisine and drink - I was very broke. Remember that foreshadowing from earlier? I was unwilling to hail a $65 dollar cab to the airport at this point. Alas, Google maps quickly told me it was about a 3.5 hour walk from my bed and breakfast to the airport. Too easy, right? Looking outside, I found myself eager to walk through the city of Brisbane and take in that Queensland sun one final time.
The first hour was great. I stopped along the banks of the Brisbane River and gleefully watched seagulls swoop and soar. Continuing my journey, I peacefully unpacked the past weekend’s events with every step. I was as happy as a clam. I mean, I had decided to say “F*** you” to the money hungry cabby and was walking through beautifully unknown streets in Australia in a tank top. It was glorious. The second hour turned my trek inland. After passing through the restaurant/hotel-laced river banks, I found myself traversing through a somewhat rougher area. Abandoned homes, trash lying dormant on lawns, the occasional truck with young children staring wide-eyed out of the bed (presumably at yours truly). I found myself remembering how every single airport I had ever been to was in the middle of nowhere… because it’s an airport, it lends itself to a large plot of land away from everything nice.
By hour three I was worried. I was tired and I was sunburnt, crisp as a french fry and red as the stage lights from the night before. Oh, and I was still about a 45 minute away from the airport. And my flight, yes, was in 45 minutes. This was when I started realizing how stupid I was. This feeling only heightened as I approached the airport sign accompanied by four extremely large and busy highways. There was no way a cab would pick me up on the side of a highway and, jeez, what would I even say? “Hey guy, I’m by the airport sign on a highway I don’t know the name of! Pick me up! Oh, and I’m very sweaty and sunburnt. Look for the buttered up lobster kid on the side of the highway.”
Annoyed, tired, and soaking up more rays - they felt malign at this point - I walked on the side of a highway whilst cars whizzed by at 110km/h and up. My hair was collecting road dust, my socks were soaked - every last thread - and my backpack scraped my charred shoulders. I was still right on track to miss my flight when I happened to find out that I was walking on the side of the highway that took eager travelers (safely in their cars, of course) to the international terminal. How stupid I felt. Let me tell you, so stupid. I said “idiot” to myself 657 times that minute. I remember feeling hopelessly distraught. It was kind of like a “Why me?” moment of titanic proportions. It was do or die time and I had to keep going, I had come so far. I braced myself to frogger through the dense traffic, hoping to make it safely to the “Domestic Flights” side of the highway. As my dusty corpse turned to make a dash, I heard a voice yell, “Hey, how ya going mate?” Two officers in Brisbane Police Department squad car. I almost burst out laughing, or crying, I can’t remember.
After an awkward silence, the officer in the driver’s seat bluntly asked me what I was doing. I explained my whole weekend (probably with the same gusto as my words in this here monolith) and with a last gasp said, “I’m just trying to get to the airport.” The officer laughed, told me that I can’t be doing this, and looked down at his Timex - “You won’t make your flight at this rate, mate.” Another awkward silence ensued and the officers confided in each other with whispers. I can only imagine what was said about me, a dustman on the side of the highway, under those breaths. “Alright, hop in the back,” the officer said with a classic Australian grin. Sweaty, exhausted, and in disbelief I offered my gratitude and hopped in. The officers proceeded to escort me to the entrance of the airport. The funniest part? Receiving worried glances from fellow travelers after seeing me exit the back of a police car and walk into an airport with a smile.