If it wasn’t for the surprising amount of attention Big Day Out has received for not selling out as in previous years, you wouldn’t have known that the Sydney Big Day Out wasn’t a sell out. Lines were still long (but reasonable), stages were still packed, more people arrived before noon than we had seen in the past and the enthusiasm as high as ever. And by the time tens of thousands of people were chanting along to Kanye West, as he was suspended above the crowd, following Soundgarden bringing everyone to their feet for “Blackhole Sun”, you realised there was very little different about this Big Day Out than in previous years.
There were some notable changes: Lilyworld was gone (replaced by the smaller Lilypad), the Hot Produce stage had moved to where the Annandale Stage was last year (and was packed for every performance we witnessed), and the Essential and Converse Green stages were separated to other sides of the venue, but these all felt like appropriate changes – especially given how crowded the two stages would usually become. But more important than anything else – following some brief showers in the morning, the afternoon saw the sun come out and the typical Big Day Out Australia Day weather kicked into gear!
Mariachi El Bronx saw one of the most enthusiastic crowds of the day, on the packed out Hot Produce Stage, graciously telling the crowd: “Thank you for coming to and supporting a big festival like this and still coming to see a little band like us…”. Foster The People were just as gracious, commenting on their rise in Australia before everyone else, in front of one of the day’s largest gatherings at the Converse Green stage. Electro outfit Royksopp (unfortunate strangers to our shores) proved impressive in the Boiler Room, being the favourite for many on the day.
Tony Hawk and a group of skaters gave crowds plenty to look at in the main arena, while 7-11 brought out the Slurpees. While plenty skaters tumbled, no one fell as hard as Haydn Ing, the lead vocalist from Calling All Cars, who was “knocked unconscious early in the band’s set by a stray elbow delivered by an over enthusiastic punter”, after he had jumped into the crowd. We were told by the band shortly after the incident that he was OK and the hospital visit was just to be safe, but they were notably bummed that it cut their set short (it was during he second song!) He was one of five BDO attendees taken to hospital on the day, and we are assured he’ll be good to go in Melbourne on the 29th. You’ll see our interview with the band in the next few days.
Lupe Fiasco reportedly took the stage with Bassnectar, in a suprise appearance, while Kanye West performed an incredible near-two hour set that saw the main stage fill to its largest size of the day, as Kanye commanded the crowd with every verse. Following Kanye, Noel Gallagher and his High Flying Birds closed the festival for many with some much loved Oasis tracks, including “Don’t Look Back in Anger” which closed out the set, while others danced the night away to an anticipated live set from Nero.
The Big Day Out continues next to Melbourne, on the 29th, before moving onto Perth and Adelaide.
Photo from Soundgarden by Andrew Wade, taken at the Gold Coast Big Day Out.