On Monday I attended my second Big Day Out and despite my earlier laments with the late 2nd round announcements and ticket allocation the day ended up being a lot of fun.
While the previous 2 years have been held at Princes Park this year the venue was the Flemington Showgrounds. While the site was large enough to accommodate everyone there were still one or two issues with the new site.
Since everything was spaced so far apart, it took about 10 min to walk from the main stages (blue and orange) to the others at the back, which was rather annoying if you were planning on seeing two bands playing at similar times. The second problem with Flemington was the amount of dirt that was present. In front of the stages every time the crowd went nuts it would go flying up into the air and everyone would come out of the mosh pit looking like filthy hobos. There was even dirt where the food stalls were situated (mmmm gritty) and throughout most of the music sets you could commonly hear the crowd chanting “We want water”.
Apart from this two gripes, overall the venue wasn’t too bad as the sound carry over problem noted in previous years was eliminated.
Anyway ignoring these issues how was the actual music?
Something for Numbers kicked things off on the main stage with a number of poptastic energetic songs. Jake Grigg’s spastic dancing and their catchy hit Apple Of The Eye managed to get the relatively small crowd toe tapping away before the next act.
Operator Please continued the pop theme with their youthful and energetic renditions of the opening song Get What You Want followed by Zero Zero, Yes Yes, 6/8 and Ghost, off their debut album Yes Yes Vindictive.
Since most of the people were probably there to hear their major radio hit A Song About Ping Pong, it came as no surprise that this songs received the greatest crowd participation. My highlights included their new single Leave It Alone and a fantastic cover of Devo’s Whip It. Overall Operator Please had a strong set list that proved that they’re more than one hit wonders.
The next act was a major departure from the first two and was the only real punk band of the day as indicated by the number of Mohawks present. Before I knew it Anti-flag had rushed onto stage and had belted out a number of songs off their last album (For Blood And Empire) including ,War sucks lets party, I’d Tell You But…, Exodus, One Trillion Dollars and The Press Corpse. They also played a song off their upcoming album The Bright Lights Of America which went down well. My favorite song was an old classic called Turncoat which had everyone righteously singing “Turncoat,Liar, Thief!”.
Overall the sound quality of the rest of the set wasn’t very good and Justin Sane’s vocals were washed out, making it hard to tell which song he was singing. However it didn’t stop the crowd joining in with the choruses and moshing like crazy. Bassist Chris #2 united with the audience by crowd surfing before the security guards dragged him back on stage. It was obvious he was the real spokesmen of the group when he fired up the crowd with some political and peace messengers. While some of these were a bit lame (turn to the person next to you and say hi), he was meet with a rousing applause when he congratulated us on getting rid of John Howard. It was good to see them kick off the political tone of the day which was later followed by other acts including Billy Bragg, The Nightwatchman aka:Tom Morello and Rage Against The Machine (who they’ve been supported in Australia).
Anti-flag’s forceful political approach did came across as preaching at times, but in the end its hard to beat the amount of passion, energy and excitement they put into their show.
Their explosive set concluded when they played This Is The End and appropriately smashed their guitar in true rock fashion.
Following all this excitement I decided to head out of the D-zone and go for a bit of a stroll. While I was scoping out for some food I strolled past the Green stage and nearly fell asleep on my feet after accidentally hearing some Josh Pike.
Coming back to the stage 20 min later I was all set for Gyroscopes set, but was surprised at how many people had staked out their spot at the front of the stage 1/2 hr before they were scheduled to begin. After an agonising wait (the heat was getting pretty bad at this stage), the massive crowd was pumped and everyone was talking about how much they looking forward to see these perth based boys again. Someone even mentioned the small gig they would be doing at Ruby’s Lounge, so let that be a lesson to get your tickets as they’re bound to sell out quickly. When Gyro finally hit the stage they were greeted with a rousing reception and they kicked things off with the ever popular song Beware Wolf and continued with Dream Vs Scream and Fast Girl which were as fantastic as ever. After asking whether anyone had seen them play in Melbourne before (3 times & counting) they then played an old song Driving For The Storm. Even though they don’t play it very often anymore it got the crowd going even more nuts. It was amazing to see how pumped everyone was and it was also great seeing the massive smiles on everyones faces and to hear them shout out every lyric word for word. They also played a few songs off their upcoming album Breed Obsession which all went down well. Their latest single 1981 was very impressive live and it will surely become a stable addition to future set lists. They then played their biggest hit Save Forever which caused a massive snake pit to open up with people waited for the break down to bounce right on in. At one point during the song Daniel just gave up singing the chorus and let the crowd take over while he decided to join them in the mosh pit. They then followed on with Don’t Look Now I’m Sweating Blood, Doctor Doctor and Confidence In Confidentiality. The strong set was then finished with their newest hit single Snakeskin, which rocked as hard as any of their other songs. All in all I would say it was one of the best Gyroscope moshpits i’ve ever been in and was undoubtedly the best Australian gig of the day. It’s just a shame they couldn’t play on one of the major stages and Daniel even sarcastically said “Thanks for putting us on a stage so far away from everything else”. I can’t wait to see them at a more intimate venue at Ruby’s Lounge.
Following this fantastic show I strolled back to the main stages to check the end of The Regurgitators set. While old songs like Kung Fu Sing, Black Bugs and Want To Be A Nudist still sounded good their new material was lacking a rock vibe. They did start to play Welcome To The Jungle, but right before the main rock riff they abruptly stopped. I think the bands career was probably best summed up when Quan said something along the lines of “This is a song from the 80′s, back when people knew who we were”.
Since I couldn’t see much of the act from where I was, I decided to give a shot at getting back inside the D-barrier. After a shitty 20 min wait the green light finally came on and there was a massive push through the cattle like barriers. It was the worst crush I’ve ever been in and it came as no surprise when the announcers told everyone off for pushing later on.
By this stage I had missed the end of Regurgitator but caught the Hilltop Hoods bombastic set. While I’m not really a fan of their style of music, the crowd seemed to love jumping up and down and clapped their hands whenever told (Now it makes sense why they used cattle barriers earlier). It was also kinda of funny to hear the audience’s boo’s when he mentioned that we were the state responsible for party boy Corey. They also had the backing of a orchestral accompaniment which was kinda cool and all their major hits went down well (don’t ask me the name of the songs).
At this time of the day someone had decided to crank up the volume another 10 notches and the bass was pushed up so much you could feel your bones vibrate. The same problem occurred with the remaining bands of the day but luckily I had some earplugs otherwise my hearing would have been permanently damaged. In fact it was so loud that most people had their fingers blocking their ears or had tried to stuff paper into them to avoid the excessive noise.
Grinspoon started their set, with the rock heavy number Black Tattoo and then flew through a number of other great tracks including Secrets, More Than You Are, What You Got? and Sweet As Sugar. While Phil lacked spark at the beginning it wasn’t long before he warmed up and got the crowd moshing hard with perennial classics such as Lost Control and 1000 miles. Slower numbers like Chemical Heart and the Phil’s acoustic rendition of Minute By Minute had everyone singing along and their new song Business = pleasure showed that they’re still capable of writing some great tunes 10 years later. Overall it seemed like the set just flew by and before you know it they had finishing up with the old fan favorite Champion.
Next up was the Canadian band Arcade Fire, who played an energetic set that was amazing to watch. It’s hard to explain their style of music to someone who hasn’t heard them but it probably fits somewhere in between instrumental folk music and Indie rock. All up there was about 10 people in the band that would all jump from one musical instrument to the next including guitars, violins, a mandolin, xylophone, keyboard, accordion and a crazy wind up fiddle called a hurdy gurdy. There was also a drum set at the front made up of bike helmets and a couple of cymbals which band members would constantly go over to and hit. The only downside to the set was that it seemed to drag on a bit. Most songs were over 6 mins long and at one stage one of the singers mentioned that they better hurry up a bit as they only had 30 min to finish their remaining 3 or so songs.
When Silverchair hit the stage they received rather of a luck warm reception with their slow opening song Emotion Sickness. The set list mainly consisted of their
newer wanky material which was a shame as it was often distorted with too much synthesizer and the backing vocals couldn’t be heard at all. Supposedly Silverchair don’t like to play as much older material live anymore which is a shame as the highlights of the set included Anna’s Fire, Freak and Israel’s Son. Throughout the show Daniel Johns kept commenting on how he couldn’t hear the crowd and his attempts to get them more involved only resulted in him being slandered and having things thrown at him. In between one of the songs someone behind me pelted a thong which managed to ricochet off his guitar with a perfect twang sound and resulted in Daniel calling him a cunt. This abuse continued when people questioning if he was gay since he was wearing a garter over his leggings to which he responded “I’m not gay, I recently got engaged” the offender was then singled out when he said “This next songs is dedicated to everyone but you”. While Silverchair’s music wasn’t too bad it did highlight that their best days are behind them and that Daniel Johns is a tosser.
At this point I would have loved to leave the D-zone and check out some Brand New on the green stage. However considering it would be impossible to get back in to see Rage Against The Machine I opted to sit through Bjorks set. She received a rather energetic greeting from the relatively small crowd, when she marched out in what looked like a clown costume and she later proceded to shoot some streamers out of her sleeves . However after a couple of long and boring songs I’d had enough of her
eccentric crazy music and decided to sit down and rest my weary legs (at this stage I had been standing for about 9 hrs). Things did pick up a little at the end with a couple of tribal techno infused songs and a laser light which had the hippy fans dancing like crazy. The hour long set was concluded by two massive jets of confetti shooting out into the crowd.
Thankfully struggling through Bjorks noisy set was well worth the wait as I was rewarded with a prime position to see headlining act Rage Against The Machine. Situated 4 people from the front left of the stage I had a perfect vantage point of the whole stage. The air was electric with anticipation for a band that hadn’t played together for over 7 years. After a short wait Rage started in style with their massive hit Testify. Straight away the crowd was energised into the most receptive mosh pit that I’ve ever been in. Everyone in sight was bouncing up and down and shouted every chorus with as much passion as Zach de la Rocha. It was great to see him enjoying himself so much and for every song he was either jumping around or had a giant grin on his face. Luckily the excessive bass volume heard in previous acts of the day was non existent and the whole band was in top form. Drummer Brad Wilk belted with power and conviction, Tim Commerford complemented with tasty bass licks and Tom Morello confirmed his guitar hero status with his patented and unique guitar riffs. They then followed on with all their classics including Bulls On Parade, People Of The Sun, Bomb Track, Down Rodeo, Bullet In The Head, Know your enemy, Tire Me, Guerrilla Radio, Calm Like A Bomb, Sleep Now In The Fire and Wake Up. The tireless energy and enthusiasm from the band and crowd didn’t let up for the hour long set which was only stopped when one of the organisers came onto the stage before the encore. I couldn’t see most of it where I was but supposedly during the show people had climbed scaffolding, marquee and trees to get a better vantage point. A couple of dudes ended up falling off the beer marquee with one suffering a dislocated shoulder and another with spinal shock. While the police and security guards dragged away most of the offenders, there was still one guy in a tree that wouldn’t get down. I saw everyone threw bottles, shoes and rubbish at him, but the best moment was when someone shot a flare at him (so much for security checks). I will forever remember this moment as the whole 46,000 strong crowd went woooh! Even though it missed him, he eventually got down and Rage Against The Machine quickly came back for their encore. Just when I thought they couldn’t top their previous performance they smashed my expectations with Freedom and the closing song Killing In The Name Of. Zach needn’t to have bothered singing the chorus as when the lights lite up everyone was jumping up down, flipping the bird and shouting “Fuck you I won’t do what you told me!”. That moment would have to go down as my most favorite live event of all time and I would have payed $130 just for that song.
Despite the dirt, overall this years Big Day Out shat over the 2004 one I attended in Adelaide and I’m already looking forward to the next one.
Woo! My Biggest Post Ever (2,800 words)