Big Day Out Sydney

Big Day Out Sydney

This year’s Big Day Out had close to everything. It had the heavyweight grunge greats, it had the saviours of rock and roll (depending on who you ask), and it had a dizzying array of quality acts from home and abroad.

The only thing it was missing was the crowd.

Barely scraping 30,000, ticket sales for this years Sydney leg of the Big Day Out were miles away from the usual capacity of 55,000. The silver lining was that this year’s instalment of the travelling lacked the restriction created by sheer numbers, putting it simply there was plenty of room to move.

Beginning the days proceeding were Violent Soho, who finally cracked it last year. In an age where pop stars are made by faceless men in suits and quality electronic music is rolled out faster than the daily news, it is so good to see a rock and (fucking) roll band finally earn the recognition they deserve. Naturally 'Covered in Chrome' garnered the strongest reaction from a growing crowd, and the Brisbane boys never abated in their ruthlessness or visceral performance.

Portugal. The Man’s bumpy brand of psychedelic pop transitioned relatively well on the main stage, but the size of the crowd affected the ability of the punter to truly get involved. The Alaskan quartet are good, but their not good enough to make you forget that there aren’t enough people in the crowd.

The Drones are a band that should never be missed, they’re also a band that don’t garner the recognition they deserve. Last year’s release I See Seaweed was one of the best album released in the year, and it was a shame that only a handful of people were there to witness such mind numbing intense tracks like 'I See Seaweed' and 'Laika'. A double time rendition of 'The Minotaur' was also a highlight.

By this time the sun had finally begun to split an overcast sky and Californian rockers Primus had begun to confound crowds with their flippant and quirky approach to funk and rock. In what was essentially a greatest hits set, Les Claypool and co. also managed to give a rendition of the Oompa Loompa song without any proper explanation as to why. Great stuff.

You can’t really go wrong with The Hives, the effort and consideration they put into their live sets is almost beyond compare and it is impossible not to move your arse and leave with a smile. Which is why Liam Gallagher and his Beady Eye can sod off. Gallagher has never really put in any effort in on stage, but that was when he was in Oasis, and Beady Eye just simply aren’t good enough to get away with being such a disengaged prick to his fans. Apparently they did a Stones cover later in the set, but I was too busy digging into my gozleme to give a shit.

Due to Blur’s very public pulling out of the festival a few months back, Arcade Fire were afforded an extra half an hour on the main stage, which resulted in probably the highlight of the day. Opening up with probably the most generic rock song they’ve ever composed, 'Normal Person', the Montréal natives then proceeded to cannon into an extremely unselfish greatest hits set. Cuts from all four albums were played much to the joy of one of the first truly ecstatic main stage crowds of the day. Win Butler has always been one of the most energetic and charismatic front men in the business, and the way he cannoned himself around the stage and throughout the stage was a testament to that. It had been 6 years since Arcade Fire last walked these lands, but boy was it worth the wait.

In face all his lions, zillas and general notoriety; it is sometimes easy to forget that Snoop Dogg is one of the greats of hip-hop. His performance was a timely reminder of his strength and place amongst the greats, producing a set of originals and covers that acted as a perfect alternative for those of us that believe two and a half hours is too long for any band to play, even Pearl Jam.

Another year done and dusted, but walking out of the festival grounds the conversation that was to be heard was whether or not the Big Day Out would be around next year. The answer at the moment seems to be, unless the can change the game like they did in the early 90s or like they did in 2004, a resounding no.

The Big Day Out simply can’t get away with it anymore, there’s too much competition. The reason it was so successful in the 90s and early 00s was that it satisfied every niche, but now that specialist festivals like Soundwave, Future Music and Stereosonic are in full swing, Big Day Out has lost a fair portion of it’s market.

There will always be a place for the Big Day Out, but with
less room to move, AJ Maddah is going to have to ask the hard questions before they consider putting the show on again.
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