A Big Day Out in Sydney- Review
With controversy, criticism and backlash from fans, the lead up to this year’s 20th anniversary Big Day Out was a tumultuous one for the festival juggernaut. But if you attended Sydney’s Big Day Out held on Australia Day, then you wouldn’t have notice any difference to previous years . The layout had changed a little: the side stages were separated from their usual location (side by side of one another) to opposite locations across the festival ground. This seemed to make little difference to how the punters experiences the festival.
Rain caught out many early festival revellers as the gates opened to a very gray and cloudy Sydney Olympic Park. For a while, it was looking like a Wet Day Out, with bad weather interrupting the majority of early acts.
Opening the main stage, Perth’s Abbe May performed a solid set filled to the brim with psychedelic rock and roll. Papa Vs Pretty was up next on the adjacent stage, and within seconds of hitting the stage they similarly produced an absolutely rocking set. Coming off of a strong debut album release last year, the boys delighted early birds despite the annoyance of rain halfway through their set.
Thankfully the clouds parted around midday just in time for the punk rock sounds of Frenzal Rhomb. Playing rather earlier in the day, Frenzal Rhomb drew in an intense crowd who continuously chanted out the band’s name even before Papa Vs Pretty had finished playing. The entire day of Big Day Out could be summed up in their song Never Had So Much Fun, to which the crowd exploded into a frenzy of madness.
With the clouds all but gone, it was time for the chilled-out-summery-vibes of Best Coast. Located at the Converse Green Stage, the shining sun was the cherry on top of their set. Frontwoman Bethany Cosentino provided light banter between playing their hits Boyfriend and Crazy For You. Closing the set with the incredibly catchy When I’m With You, Best Coast effortlessly proved that they’re the perfect soundtrack to any summer day.
Catching the last few songs from Parkway Drive back over at the main stage, they were a crowd favorite and certainly pleased their fans with their trademark hardcore punk sounds. It’s interesting to note that that two polar opposite genres of music sharing almost the exact same crowd, with 80-90% of the Parkway Drive crowd sticking around for the indie folk tunes of Boy & Bear.
The 5th band up on the main stage, Boy & Bear were one of the most popular acts on the day pulling an impressively large crowd for such an early set. Winning a slew of ARIA Awards last year including ‘Album of the Year’, they verified their talent yet again on stage with a genuinely splendid performance, with the highlight being their incredible cover of Crowded House’s Fall At Your Feet.
There was no doubting that OFWGKTA (one of Big Day Out’s most hyped acts) would appeal to the U18’s crowd. But if you were at or near the Boiler Room at around 3pm, then you would have seen it completely overflowing to the brim with topless sweaty teenagers pushing, shoving and yelling their way to the front…all before OFWGKTA even hit the stage.
Meanwhile playing at exactly the same time, New Zealand natives Melbourne based King Cannons played to a very small, yet dedicated crowd. They’re definitely an up and coming band well deserving of attention with their mix of ska-punk and bluesy rock and roll. From start to finish, the tattooed cladded band played an incredible set, there was no question about that. The only thing disappointing about their entire performance was that not enough people were there to appreciate it.
Back in Australia for a second round of shows, English indie rockers The Vaccines took to the Essential Stage. Expectations were high for the relatively new indie rock band, coming off of a well received debut album and a strong Splendour in the Grass performance. Whilst they did play a solid set, something just wasn’t quite right about their overall performance. Opening with the moody Blow It Up and moving straight on to the fast paced Wrecking Bar, and later awkwardly throwing in their biggest hit Post Break-Up Sex halfway in. There was a palpable feeling of mismatch between songs during the set. It felt as if something was missing and sadly The Vaccines just weren’t that compelling.
My Chemical Romance on the other hand, had the entire main stage pumping with hit after hit. My Chemical Romance absolutely hit it off as their colourful and attention grabbing Killjoys alter egos. Two songs into their set and the entire crowd was singing along to I’m Not Okay (I Promise). As soon as that had finished frontman Gerard Way yet again had them jumping up and dancing to Planetary (GO) within a heartbeat, effortlessly controlling the crowd to act in unison. As the piano notes laid down the opening of Welcome To The Black Parade the crowd once again worked up the energy for one final sing along.
Mash-up artist Girl Talk was up next in the Boiler Room, and mash it up he did. Anyone not familiar with Girl Talk aka Gregg Gillis work would have been in for a huge surprise. Combining just about every hit song of the past three decades into one cohesive and very much danceable set – and he did this for a solid hour.
I honestly didn’t know that Foster the People were going to be this massive on their Big Day Out tour. Foster the People pulled the one of the largest crowd on the day, second only to headliner Kanye West. Being on a smaller side stage, the crowd for Foster the People extended well and truly into the food stands and covered to the entirely Olympic Cauldron grass area.
Foster the People aren’t a one trick pony, smashing out popular hits Houdini and Call It What You Want alongside their #1 smash hit Pumped Up Kicks, which to the surprise of the audience received a dubstep-esque remix by the band.
The problems that plagued Gold Coast’s Big Day Out were nowhere to be seen at Sydney. It thankfully did not bucket down with rain during Soundgarden, which meant that fans could fully appreciate the 90s grunge rock. Unfortunately, it seemed the majority of people in the mosh were just waiting for Kanye West and were not particularly interested in what was happening on the other stage. But nonetheless, Soundgarden weren’t bothered by this and still performed a very tight and varied set to their fans.
Love him or hate him, Kanye West is a superstar in his own right. His performance was no ordinary set, Instead this was a something along the lines of a theatrical production. Complete with back-up ballerina dancers, pyrotechnics, lights and lasers and of course it wouldn’t have been complete with the man himself Kanye West.
It was an incredible show clocking in at an epic two hours long, playing hit after hit from his extensive discography – Gold Digger, Touch The Sky, All Falls Down and Runaway. And just when you think the show was all over, Kanye would continue through another song or two. After experiencing Kanye West’s three-act epic (having gone over time by half an hour), it’s hard to criticize Big Day Out because that show was truly a world class act.
Ending Big Day Out on a high was Noel Gallagaher’s High Flying Birds, who’s final song was an absolute treat for fans As Noel stated “This will be our last song, we don’t make the f*cking rules but it’s a cracker or as you say a beauty” in his best Australian accent, before heading into arguably Oasis’s best song Don’t Look Back In Anger. Which was sung right back at him word for word by the packed out Converse Green Stage audience.
All in all, this year’s Big Day Out was just as amazing as its predecessors. A simplified or cut down version this was not, this was the Big Day Out in all its glory.