From the dramatically underwhelmed response of Big Day Out’s potential punters alike to listless last minute lineup cancellations, I think it’s pretty safe to say that it’s been a bumpy twelve months for the team over at the BDO headquarters. The Big Day Out usually prides itself on being one of, if not, the biggest music festival in Australia. It caters to all aged patrons, and tries to be as diverse as possible when considering acts to book. 2014 played the immense spectrum of Australian and international talent alike, with the lineup featuring the likes of the reggae-rap combination of Snoop Lion (aka Snoop Dogg), local Western Sydney hardcore boys Northlane, Swedish absolute heart-starters The Hives, and Perth’s favourite psychedelic outfit, Tame Impala. I went along to the Big Day Out, timetable in hand, notepad in my bag and with the knowledge that there would be more short shorts than I could comprehend slinking about before me.
It’s interesting to me, going to the BDO a couple of years back, and seeing the difference in the two shows. 2014 seemed… empty. Not literally, but there was some emptiness to the atmosphere, like there was a huge gaping hole in the day. This didn’t really stop the music though.
The day went from early morning face-melting riffs and head-banging drum beats from I Oh You 2-piece DZ Deathrays, to an even heavier set from I Oh You boys Violent Soho. I’ve got to say, I Oh You are totally killing it right now. Violent Soho kept their sea of fans on their toes, opening with Dope Calypso, and seeing the set out with favourites Covered In Chrome (HELL F*** YEAH) and Tinderbox. The experimental madness continued with Alaskan outfit Portugal. The Man and Perths’s own psychedelic favourites, Tame Impala. Live, both bands delivered some crazy jam sessions, centred on a single riff. As the day rolled forward, it was actually pretty clear that the only thing making BDO seem different from any other BDO was the lack of atmosphere. The bands were fantastic, and all had energy.
Swedish absolute nuts, The Hives, put on their “best show ever” (as they probably say at all of their shows), and proceeded to put on probably the punchiest set I’ve ever seen. Arcade Fire backed that up with their transcendent tendency to make a ten-piece band on stage feel like an absolute orchestra; they had almost every instrument under the sun on the one stage. Breaking up the day, hardcore connoisseurs, Deftones filled the JBL Essential stage with the sweet sounds of screams from the band and the crowd itself, and Australian dance prodigy Flume, dropped sounds to a rowdy crowd only capable of the boiler room.
Big Day Out 2014 was good to me. I saw the bands that I wanted, wasn’t pushed and blocked out by those purple-wristbanded, short-wearing, flower-adorning girls and their gaggling clans, and enjoyed the show. I just can’t shake this feeling, that this huge gaping hole in the day is only the start of the decline of the Australian festival scene.