Big Day Out: Gold Coast

Big Day Out: Gold Coast

Featuring Pearl Jam, Arcade Fire, Beady Eye, The Hives, Snoop Dogg, Tame Impala and more

The Big Day Out is a beautiful thing. At no other festival can you see metal heads, indie kids, ravers, under-age hip-hop fans, and your old high school physical education teachers mixing in peace. This years' lineup appeared murky at first, but once the timetable was released, the Triple J bands, big room DJs, and ageing rockers were structured into pleasingly neat streams. The organisers proved that Big Day Out remains the Make Your Own Sandwich of music festivals.

Opening in the shade of the JBL Stage, Brisbane's Jungle Giants surprised everyone by not actually being Two Door Cinema Club. Who could have known? This didn't make them any less expert at butt-shaking or groove making, however. Bass player Andrew Dooris laid down dance moves any mother would be proud of, making up for what the band lacked technically.

Do you ever worry that you can't sing? It's ok, you can be like Bluejuice and shout instead! If their musical tirade ever fails, they have promising careers appearing on the choruses of Australian rap songs instead. There were six men on the main Blue Stage and zero shirts; instead the boys wore only gold spandex tights. And you wondered why their songs were so full of self hate. Nonetheless, they brought out the sweat patches on the crowd's leggings too.

Big Day Out: Gold Coast

Back in the shade of the packed-out tent at the Red Stage, Violent Soho were the sweet metal malaise to your mayonnaise. They had quiet guitar playing, followed by loud guitar playing--it was like they expressed all your feelings at once! Thanks, Violent Soho. Remember these emotions while getting your next Southern Cross tattoo.

Loon Lake know how to party, which isn't easy to do at 12pm. With a dress code of shorts and blokey shirts, they opened with 'On Fire' and blazed through a set of equally catchy almost-hits. The lads were less tight than usual, but kept the party going with a touchingly-dedicated performance of 'Cherry Lips' and a cover of 'Valerie', which makes more sense when you remember it's by The Zutons.

Toro Y Moi hit you with enough funk to knock the highlights out of your hair. Opening with a slow build-up, Chaz Bundick led his band through a perfect set, climaxing in a meteorologically-validated weather system of synths from dance-floor stomper 'Rose Quartz'. Shout out to the glittered couple dancing down the front. 'New Beat' thickened the atmosphere further, before 'Say That' closed off the set as a final offering to the balearic sprites.

Tame Impala soon scared the disco fairies away with an overly-rehearsed set of gargantuan riffs and organ solos taken from their dad's progressive-rock records. 'Half Full Glass of Wine' sounded like Foghat's 'Slow Ride' had taken a turn down Haight and Ashbury streets in San Francisco. The rest of the set was Deep Purple's 'Smoke on the Water' played five times differently--that's one hazy body of water. The band pierced the psychedelic mist with their one relatable song, 'Feels Like We Only Go Backwards', which then took on a new meaning.

Sometimes you don't realise how vapid your favourite artists are until you see them live. It doesn't matter how many people know the words to their songs, or how many colours their hair is. But something about a catchy chorus unties us. It's in Grouplove's name; it's the communality in pop music. It's why 'Get Lucky' was the best song last year, why the crowd sung 'Ways To Go' louder than the band, and why 'Itchin' on a Photograph' exists.

Bo Ningen looked like characters out of a Jim Jarmusch film. Their long hair and androgynous robes were the perfect cultural counterpoint to their acid-punk music. They were completely unintelligible, which only made them more metal, and played like no one was watching; which wasn't far from reality. Leader singer Taigen Kawabe worked himself and the band into a frenzy, shivering and biting himself, before leaping down into the crowd. He moved his bass guitar in front of his face, and then behind his head, playing all the while. Each note brought a different facial expression, because each note was a new expression of his self.

Big Day Out: Gold Coast

The Hives were another band that worked hard for the money. Toot too, beep beep; tick tick, boom boom. Lead singer Howlin' Pelle Almqvist directed the band and their ninja roadies through the hottest time slot of the day, burning their breakneck hits like 'Walk Idiot Walk' and 'It Won't Be Long' in such fast succession that the band members were sure to lose a few kilos in sweat. It was some hot stuff.

Big Day Out: Gold Coast

If you were thinking Beady Eye is a stupid name for a band, it is. Each band member was wearing appropriately rockstar sunglasses; where Liam Gallagher found clones of himself is a mystery to us all. They played Beady Eye songs, which no one cared about. They played '(What The Story) Morning Glory' and a few other covers, which the comically tiny crowd cared slightly more about. Gallagher clapped his own song at one point. With a final gracious goodbye, 'You've been good, but we've been better,' they walked off the stage to silence and boos. Who invited those guys?

Big Day Out: Gold Coast

Arcade Fire are normal people who appeal to the teenagers inside everyone. They can write a song about not being normal people, and even open with that song, but they put one shoe on at a time (unless they're wearing slip-ons). Decked out with plenty of mirrors, broken CDs, and Caribbean percussionists, the Montreal band led the crowd through a set of collective emotional outpouring, introducing their newest secret-communal-weapon: dance music. 'Sprawl II', 'Reflektor', and 'Keep The Car Running' were all huge high points of the nighttime set, with 'Afterlife' and 'We Exist' proving too thematically heavy to move feet. However, papier-mâché masks, confetti, and stage movement right out of the Talking Heads handbook kept the performance impossible to leave (sorry CSS). Lead singer Win Butler posed a representative of the common man, sticking it to all the 'normal people' and rococos out there. Despite all their posturing and demands, it's still the 'ooh's on 'Wake Up' that crowds connect with the best.

Pearl Jam kicked out the jams in ways MC5 would have been proud of, but nighttime at BDO means checking the ravers at the Boiler Room tent haven't passed out.

It's hard not to have heard Flume's music by this point in his career (a solid three years). There's not much to say about his live shows other than he plays his own music and remixes, and is terrible at crowd banter--however, he has a hype man now (which is cute). The rhythm, the rebel!

It makes sense that Snoop Dogg travels in a pack (or Snoop Lion, what have you). With a posse of four on stage, plus plenty offstage and the live band, Snoop Dee-Oh-Double-Gee was at his charismatic (i.e. illicit and misogynous) best. If you were worried his reincarnation was Snoop Lion would mean his not playing his old doggy hits, fear not! There was all the hits from the old school, like 'Gin and Juice', mixed with all the hits for the new public schools and disenfranchised-private-school-goers, like 'Young, Wild and Free' and 'Sensual Seduction'. What can I say, he's a reformed man. A slew of one-verse and one-chorus hip-hop covers from 50 Cent to Notorious B.I.G. kept the crowd entertained--a wise move for a man named Snoopy.

In a final surprise turn of events for the night, Steve Angello was not Steve Aoki. Not to be outshone by Flume's glowing prism, Angello's DJ table spanned the stage as a giant LED screen. Of course, no headline DJ set would be complete without steam geysers, fire, lasers, confetti, and a Eurythmics tune to prove you're a people-person, though. Take that, Flume!

Closing the night, Major Lazor presented their turnt-up, soundsystem style of party to the remaining festival goers. Remixing and appropriating songs to fit their aesthetic, the three DJs took turns mixing selection from Bingo Players, A-Trak, Knife Party, Joel Fletcher, and Zombie Nation with their own music. These guys were pro party-ers--that's why they wore suits. Diplo is not a businessman; he's a business, man. The Mad Decent label owner rolled over the crowd in an inflatable ball, and it was soon apparent the suits were only worn to be taken off. It turns out all you need for a crazy party is to play 'Watch Out For This (Bumaye)' four times. Now you can be Major Lazor too!

While it may not have looked promising, this year's BDO delivered the usual smorgasbord of quality and choice it's known for. The absence of Blur allowed for a more even lineup, and all jokes about BDO being shady aside, there was more shelter from the sun than ever before. As Snoop Dogg's pal Ice Cube once said, it was a good day.
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