Long-been Australia’s biggest festival, the Big Day Out has fallen from its perch in the last few years. After a horrendous 2012 for the festival, which resulted in cut-backs on the western coast events due to underwhelming ticket sales, and the departure of long-term organiser Vivian Lees. The event this summer becomes of vital importance as they attempt to regain their lost credibility.
Started in 1992, the festival grabbed a huge jump, landing the biggest band in the world, Nirvana, to headline. Prospering through the 90s as a popular alternative rock festival which featured the likes of Soundgarden, Sonic Youth, Iggy Pop and The Ramones, if you were a big name in rock, you toured with Big Day Out. It was synonymous with the Australian Zeitgeist.
As the year ticked over in the new millennium, Big Day Out continued to bring the popular national and international rock acts. The Chemical Brothers spearheaded a move to more electronic music, while the likes of Franz Ferdinand and Arcade Fire both performed as headliners as the tastes of Australia began to change away from the grunge fuzz that had dominated the 90s.
By 2010, the world had changed and with it so had Big Day Out. The festival was dominated by international pop-stars. Lily Allen and Dizzee Rascal played for a huge crowd, while Girl Talk and Passion Pit continued the pop-dance revolution. This would be finalised in 2012, when Big Day Out announced their first non-rock headliner, as Kanye West would bring his hip-hop extravaganza to the stages. The news was not received well, and with minimal ticket sales, the promoters were forced to down-size a number of shows to turn a profit.
The last few years line-ups have been seen critically by some fans. With the emergence of the Soundwave festivals, most heavier-rock groups have less of an interest in playing Big Day Out forcing Big Day Out to move further away from their origins. But we should consider that initially, Big Day Out may not have been considered a rock festival, rather a popular music festival and their line-ups will change just how the tastes of the population change.
Bogans at BDO
Crowd: The biggest issue I take with Big Day Out is the crowd. These days, the festival is inundated with bogans desperate to get drunk to the latest buzz artist. you can see them with their Australian flag capes and southern cross tattoos and will generally annoy the hell out of you with their mindless actions. Not to mention the festival is MA15+. This means a smorgasboard of young jail-bit flaunting whatever they can, such is the fashion these days.
Line-up: As mentioned above, the Big Day Out has always brought popular acts. While it has been criticised for no longer maintaining its alternative roots, there is always going to be a degree of quality to the line-up. There has always been a history of Australian groups, with the likes of Powderfinger, Silverchair and Nick Cave making regular appearances. In my experience, the best acts are generally found on the smaller stages, with The Decemberists in 2010 and Grinderman in 2011 putting on stunning performances from the Green Stage.
Grounds: The Big Day Out in Melbourne is held at the Royal Melbourne Showgrounds in Flemington. The day consists of two
The D Barrier and main stages
main-stages, a dance tent (Boiler Room), and two mid-size stages (Green Stage and Converse Essential Stage) and a smattering of smaller stages. The two main stages are next to each other and with acts alternating stages, it allows for quick changes between sets. The mosh area is separated into two areas, separated by the “D”. After the crowd member was crushed to death at Limp Bizkit in 2001, The D was introduced to limit the wall of people inside the mosh pit. These days, it just becomes another obstacle in trying to get to the front for your favourite bands.
What a way to announce yourself as a festival than to have one of the biggest bands of all time headline. Nirvana brought grunge to Big Day Out in 1992
Tickets are on sale tomorrow from the Big Day Out website. They will be going for $165. I don’t think they’ll sell out that quickly but don’t take my word for it.