Big Day Out is a force to be reckoned with. I wanted to begin this article by entering into some lavish introduction about how Big Day Out is over two decades old, with 101 shows so far exhibited nationwide. I wanted to display in words the enormity of this music festival that trumps all in its wake with its sheer size and phenomenal line-up. However, this is the kind of festival that needs to be experienced to be truly believed – and that’s the beauty of it. This is the fifth Big Day Out that I have attended, and the third I have reviewed. I have previously compared Big Day Out to a religious movement and a patriotic traditional. It is both of those things. It is overwhelming, and big and loud – and a hell load of fun. It is like a lavishly set up banquet table of musical genres – electronic DJs, rock superstars, heavy metal contingents, pop lasses, indie crowds and hip hop’s elite. It is like a yearly feast, that punters and musicians alike take with both hands and devour with fervour. The best way to approach Big Day Out is head on.
So (insert deep and dramatic breathe), here goes. Kicking off the day on the Orange Stage was Perth quartet, Sugar Army. Rocking out No Need for Lovers and Tongues in Cheek, they turned out to be quite the crowd favourite. At the same time Melbournians Miami Horror, carved up their set on the Green Stage. On the other side of Flemington Racecourse, the Aussie influence of Australia Day was being heavily felt, as Sydney-siders Bluejuice were pulling in the masses with their upbeat and energetic tunes like Broken Leg and I Ain’t Telling The Truth.
Whilst next door at the Orange Stage, the tremendous sounds of another piping hot Aussie act Karnivool, were emanating from the throbbing speakers. The heavy rock sound continued, but finally with an international act – Mastodon, whose mosh pit was a veritable cloud of dust, as the constituency thrashed to the hearty sounds of the band hailing from Georgia, USA.
Enjoying a Smirnoff in one of the many beer tents to the sounds of Magic Dirt was an enjoyable but short lived affair, as we then raced to catch a glimpse of Kasabian all the way back at the Orange Stage. Getting anywhere near the front of these inundated stages is near impossible, but the throng was soaking in the atmosphere these Leicester locals were creating, as they rocked out songs like Fire and Where Did the Love Go?
Making our way back through the crowd of 50,000 festival goers and on to the Converse Stage for Passion Pit was an endeavor, but we were truly rewarded. Only new onto the music scene, the group from Massachusetts had the Melbourne crowd in the palm of their hands as their audibly pleasing hits such as Little Secrets and Sleepyhead had the crowd in the immediate vicinity and beyond singing along in unison. People were on each others’ shoulders and clambering up onto the sound and lighting tent to get a glimpse of these five guys that are currently rocking the charts. Another crowd pleaser, or more accurately a crowd confuser, was when Michael Angelakos sang a rendition of The Cranberries’ Dreams. Admittedly it took me and my troop more time than it should have, to guess the original.
Having walked past the Boiler Room already several times thus far that day, it was time to venture into its depths for the Midnight Juggernauts set. Having had the pleasure of interviewing the lads a few years ago when they launched Dystopia, it was a delight to see that their popularity hadn’t dwindled in the slightest, as the pressure in the Boiler Room escalated with tracks like Into the Galaxy and Shadows.
Dizzee Rascal was sending a mob of revelers ‘bonkers’ with his deep and dirty beats on the Blue Stage, as I decided to get in amongst a different type of crazy, and that was the much anticipated Rise Against set. Hailing from Chicago, I was eager to see this substantial, passion filled rock punk band. Front man Tim McIlrath’s poignant lyrics coupled with the bands heavy and infectious rock sound is the outward layer which supports a refreshingly honesty and humble attitude from within, not just towards their music and their fans, but the world at large. With a social conscious and political commentary Rise Against’s strengths lie in their never back down attitude that resonated throughout the multitude gathered to see the band rock out such anthemic songs from old and new albums such as Savior, Audience of One, Rumors of My Demise Have Been Greatly Exaggerated and Paper Wings.
Witnessing my own off centre romantic ballad, Swing Life Away was a real treat as we all sang along. Enjoying the softer side of McIlrath as he strummed his acoustic guitar to Hero of War was not at all tainted by his forgetfulness; the crowd was there to give him a helping hand.
Then the trek back to Lily Allen was an anti- climax as we could not get anywhere near the Orange Stage, but I could still make out the British pop brat, with the acid tongue yet sweet voice. She was wearing an Aussie flag kaftan and finishing up her cover of Britney Spears’ Womanizer. This odd scene escalated as she delved into a rant about racism towards Indians, referring to the spout of recent attacks in the news here in Melbourne. In my humble opinion it was unnecessary for her to bring up, as it incited an obvious misunderstanding and misinformation on her part. She should stick to flashing her pink lov-ely bits to peeps in the crowd. Away from Miss Allen’s misdirected patriotism and back at the Boiler Room the producer, DJ, singer- songwriter and Scottsman Calvin Harris was enchanting the crowd into a state of euphoric bliss. The Boiler Room floated to the sounds of his latest hit Flashback. It was literally as though we were all rocking it out in one of Calvin’s chic and fun film clips. This fabulous vibe radiating from the Boiler Room continued as Londoners Simian Mobile Disco displayed that yes, nerds can produce wickedly deep and dirty beats. Having checked these guys out the night after at Groove Armada, it is safe to say they know how to rock a party right!
Tearing myself away from the Boiler Room as nighttime was beginning to fall, I meandered over to the highly anticipated Peaches set at the Converse Stage. The stage antics of this Canadian born musical rebel and sexual pioneer not only precede her, they come waving a pussy light in your face – literally. She jumped, grinded and provoked her way through her awesome set, with old and new songs alike such as I Feel Cream (the title track from her new album) and of course the sexually explicit track Fuck the Pain Away (a censor’s absolute nightmare). This song is the definition of pushing the envelope to the extreme and the crowd lapped it up, as Peaches’ ‘pussy light’ made certain you knew where she and her feminine asset were at as the sun went down.
Dashing from Peaches to see the headlining act Muse was thrilling – until we got close to the Blue Stage. I have been a fan of Muse for years and was hanging to see them play live to tens of thousands of fans. But, alas my little heart was broken by the revelers running along the top of the beer tent. Now, this is an annual occurrence, the only disappointing and downright annoying thing was, that not only were these (excuse my french) dickheads about to cause themselves and others harm, it meant that a few thousand other dickheads were turning around to laugh and cheer. Obviously seeing pissed people is more entertaining than a mega international band of Muse’s calibre. Needless to say, I decided to cut my losses as Undisclosed Desires was played out and head to Sasha’s set in the safety of the Boiler Room. Thankfully, it looked like most of the punters were trying to check out Muse (or those wankers on the beer tent) as Sasha played a riveting set to an enthusiastic crowd. Gearing up the growing crowd for the utterly sensational, charismatic and booty shaking prowess of Groove Armada. With newly appointed front woman Saint Saviour at the helm, the last set of the day went off with a bang! Along with MC Mad whose Superstylin’ track had everyone jumping in a frenzy, it was a phenomenal last gig, which capped off a tremendous day of extremes and experiences.
Now, breathe in and exhale.