Review: Hannah Collins
[Archive Photo: Stuart Blythe]
|An introduction to BIG DAY OUT out need not be overdone. We can outline the usual journey to the venue, the mass of colourful crowds milling around the stages and the blistering heat of the scorching Australian summer, complimenting those in their BDO attire. With all of the following making continual appearances, Mexican hats, BDO coolers and an array of prominent band shirts, BDO 2010 marked the beginning of a new decade of international music in superbly fine form.
Kicking off the Australian BDO roller coaster, that will set up tents in near every capital city in the country and twice in Sydney this year, the leg begins with a line up of mammoth proportions at one of the only places that surf lifestyle, trip hop beats, ghetto tricks and divine diva’s meet our very own rock and roll sub culture.
With ticket sales up at the 55000 mark, the Gold coast parkland’s was full to the brim before the stoke of mid day, where epic sets and front line acts filled the day with both musical and visual splendour.
As this one reviewer found out, trying to cover as many acts as possible proved a difficult task. Sunscreen in pocket and juggling beer, map and time table in hands, I make my way over to the Hot Produce stage at the far side of the oval, to catch a glimpse of Butcher Birds, Triple J’s most recent Unearthed winners. Recognising the singer as a local guitarist, I’m stoked to see another Brisbane band grinding their way into the lime light.
Energetic and encouraging, three beautiful ladies and a male drummer with a fro like someone out of the early 90’s hit sitcom Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, they were something…. The grungy sludge of the guitars reminds of old Nirvana, pitch perfect reverberating vocals meshing the vocal styles similar to that of Garbage and Magic Dirt, the fuzzy rhythm guitars and driving classic rock beats, their show kept me intrigued from start to finish. Amazed at the bassists ability to produce growl like backing vocals, the rhythm guitarist being left handed and the drummers effort to sing lead in a whole song unto himself, the tent began to fill as those on the outskirts picked up their gear and headed in for a more focused listen Playing all the favourites from their latest album “Set My Bones” like “Dig Me” and “Sweet sweet cones” ( no grunge rock influence here!) and finishing with an epic 10 minute opus, they only slow down to swig a beer and have a few puffs on a quick ciggy as it’s passed around.
Heading back towards the main stages and looking forward to my stint in the guest area (complete with cash bar) I trundle past the rides set up in the far right corner of the main oval and notice that they’re already full. Festival goers determined to make the most of the day by getting the adrenaline up early, can be heard screaming with what might just be nervous laughter as they’re thrown into the sky. It’s still early, the venue’s slowly filling up and there’s currently plenty of room to move.
With full intentions of heading back across the oval to see Lisa Mitchell, my plans are averted as the sun rises higher in the sky. Being just left of the Blue and Orange stages, I’ve got a perfect view of Bluejuice from just where I am, and the pop rockers bounce into their set with a variety of colour. Yellow in fact…. the jumpsuit form. They’re all wearing the wearing the same outfits, these crazy full length jumpsuits and it must be hot. But no ones here to complain. There’s no shortage of staff and volunteers with the traditional BDO water guns at the ready to cool down a dance loving patron, who might just have gone out a little to hard to fast.
The Bluejuice team make em dance, prance and sway to the beats, as they pop out their grates in festival style. Complete with Blow up octopus.. or that’s what it looked like to me, they fill up the stadium with the sounds of “Broken Leg” and “Telling the truth”, the latter being the obvious crowd favourite as the chorus is echoed word for word by the now 10’s of thousands that have packed in the D area front of stage. Even if they have played almost every festival in Oz this year, this would have to be their stand our performance. Practice truly does make perfect.
Immediately after on the alternating main stage, Perth rockers Karnivool see those thousands pack towards the main stages like sardines. The overwhelming popularity of a band that’s toured the country 10 times over is fascinating. Their fan base just grows and grows, blatantly apparent at a festival of these proportions. Ian Kenny and crew open with “Simple Boy”, and the grounds are now completely full. It’s just half twelve as I see my first fatality being carried from the mosh pit to the safety of a nearby medical tent.
Although there’s bound to be some injuries and mishaps at such an epic event, I have to make a point of saying just how well behaved everyone was. I saw no malice or bitchiness, violence or indecent behavior whatsoever. But then again, I was watching the bands, not the crowds. Friends stood with friends and the odd dude who got separated from his party, had a new bunch of buddies in minutes. No one was lost, no one was lonely. The giant screens at the font of the oval flashing one liners like “stick by your mates”, “Help anyone who appears to be in trouble” and “Drink lots of Water” solidifying the good natured spirit of those all around.
Although Karnivool’s set list was much the same as usual, played in much the same order as usual, with the usual crowd favourites being those punch tracks ex 2005’s debut release Themata, they had the audience captivated on every riff, every lick, and every line of Kenny’s soaring voice. Beach balls flying, shirts now swung over the backs of some very sun burnt kids, and water guns ablaze, they make room for Mastodon.
Mastodon; one of my most anticipated bands of the day; sees me on a brief trip to the throws of the D section. Absurdly surprised that by the time I get to the front of the stage, the Karnivool hoard had mostly disbursed, It’s dawning that Mastodon are still a pretty underground name, and it’s lucky for me I got on the wagon early. Having played little to no shows in the country to date, and doing only side shows in Melbourne and Sydney, the lucky few Gold Coast fans that did get to see them, sat back and enjoyed what was the crunch and slow grind of modern day prog metal that many have said will hold the flag for this niche throughout the duration of the next decade. Citing all favourites from their last three albums, “Leviathan, Blood Mountain” and “Crack the Sky”, with a stage show to match the likes of Tool, these boys don’t dick around. Security creeps in during a brief circle pit, but that’s about as intense as it got. Mastodon are too progressive to be considered extreme metal, and were mostly appreciated by onlookers on the day, preferring to take in the rarity of a live Mastodon show, than spend their entire slot in the throws of a headbanging comp.
Kasabian are up next, but it’s well past the time I ate something,… so I head out back to sus out the food situation. Much the same as previous years, there’s certainly no shortage of culinary delights, if that’s what you’d call a Dagwood dog or chicken roll with gravy…. Either way, at least parents know their youngins are getting fed. By the time I navigate my way back across the main oval, I’ve near missed Kasabians set, although hearing from a distance, it would have been a show and a half.
Platinum sellers from Fremantle Eskimo Joe make up for it, Kav taking the time to thank the hordes for assisting their careers and securing a place for them on this years line up. At this point, if you’ve moved away from the stages, there’s no hope at all at getting closer than 50 meters to the front without tackling some seriously sweaty peeps. Thank you organizers for creating a pitch perfect sound system set up that not only carries the music note by note to the far reaches of the parklands, but ensuring it runs all day without a hitch. “Black Fingernails Red Wine”, “Foreign Land” “London Bombs” resonating guitar work, echoing vocal effects and captivating stage presence makes them a highlight of the day. Even though Kav did happen to say “It’s an absaloopadoopa pleasure to be here!” (Wha?) The unity of the day becomes apparent, people are dancing all around me. Dancing with friends, dancing with strangers, Eskimo Jo well done, and it’s not even 4Pm.
Time check, band check. It’s bout time to bust it up a lil, with some good ol’ fashioned Aussie hip hop. Hilltop hoods are all funk. Out in front with a monster showcase of all their hits, the boys from Adelaide crack their rhymes the only way they can, with perfect punctuation. There’s a massive response from the audience again at this point, with everyone who doesn’t know the new songs from their 2009 release “State of the art”, holding out until they can sing along to old favourites like “Hard Road” and “Nosebleed section”. I even felt like a bit of a gangster, even if it was only for 15 minutes. Goin down the hard road……. Rippin set, bangin crowd response, the only problem, the sun! It’s now heading over the height of the sky, and is beginning to drop, right on the main stages. Even from a distance, you can see the sweat dripping off their heads. Dressed In urban apparel, it’s time to take of some tee’s… yo.
Having now soaked my shirt twice under the tap only to re-adorn myself in dripping cotton, It’s time to make a choice. Oh dear. Rise against? Dizze Rascal? Rise Against are playing on a stage at the other end of the oval, it’s a military mission unto itself just to get there. And without Prince William at my side, it’s decided… Dizze it is!
With approximately 35 000 people listening to his set, the sheer power of numbers in chorus sent shivers down my spine. His individual performance was entrancing… most of the time finding it hard to make out the lyrics during his fast past rhymes, thicked with the accents of (south) London, his electronic fills and electronic dance beat’s covered in hip hop was no short of epic. What a wordster. Even the emo kids were busting out their grooves when Dizze took to the stage. The line of the chorus for Bonkers, really rounded a general vibe, oozing over plastic cups and up the tongues of many a Chuck Taylor…. Seeping through the grass, and setting fire to the audience……
“Some people think I’m bonkers, but I think I’m just free, and I’m just livin my life there’s nothing crazy bout me!”
Even though he did take time out to tell off an audience member for throwing a deodorant stick at his head, it’s all gud. It’s all gud.
There’s barely a minute gone between the moment Dizze leaves the stage to the moment Lilly Allen appears. She’s showcased in a very fitted black sequined leotard, complete with orange waist belt, heels and sunnies and does more than appeal with her music alone. Making her way through glittering girly ballads followed with her in your face this is life song sequences and here we are gazpacho, she prances across the stage and takes a moment to sit herself on the steps and address the audience.
The sun’s now setting behind us, and the venue’s cooling down. Lilly’s prominence as a lone diva doesn’t die off for the duration of her set. She’s cool, calm and collected and has everyone dancing their way to it’s end.
The day is long, but the nights are longer, and as we near darkness the tempo of the masses picks up. Ladyhawke’s on just after Lilly in one of the far tents, and to ensure we don’t miss her, I cut my viewing of Lilly short. Sorry Lilly.
The throngs are heading her way, and we struggle to get a place in the tent. Clad in wispy white, backing band at the ready, she runs through her self titled album in close entirety. “Another Runaway” , “Better than Sunday” “Paris is burning” and of course, the track that put her on the map as she staked her claim on the international music scene; “My delirium”. Every lady in the berth of her voice is buying a ticket on the train that is Lady Hawke. She’s individual and real, and unlike Lilly Allen, doesn’t have the stage show to match, but it doesn’t mean her performance was more meager whatsoever. Quite the opposite. There was more soul, more realism and more individualism than I’ve seen in solo artist for quite some time. No wonder she’s on the line up.
Powderinger next, and with a few new tracks to tour after the release of “Golden Age”, they play a combo of all the old vs new favourites. “These Day’s” Sunsets” (appropriately selected for the Gold Coast shows!) and “The Day you come” among others. Although they’ve carved their place in Australian music history, on completion of there set, there was something found missing… an energy of a new band trying to make a name for themselves perhaps? They played well, but the push to take their stage performance to new levels was lost at this festival. They were there, they played, and they were gone. The 4/4 timing and the graduation of progressive chords as guitar work was making some people sleepy…. ? Great band yet very mechanical in their production. Perhaps they would have been better suited on an earlier slot this time around. …. Then again, I wasn’t in the throws of the D, and without being closer to the stage. I shouldn’t be pointing the finger… insert remorse here.
If the main stage couldn’t get any more packed than it already is, it does. Surprise Surprise Muse are about to play! If I get it right, most people here would happily pay the price of a BDO ticket to see these guys ….alone. Their stage show’s are epic, and this year was no different. Lights of every colour flashed across the parkland as an opener, filler, and ending to the systematically programmed show. Down to every last beat, perfect stage production and the sound to boot, Muse deserve a page unto themselves during this review. Having the number 1 song on last years Hottest 100 “Knights of Cydonia”, and having been on the BDO lineup numerous times, they’re popularity isn’t about to wane.
It’s getting a little messy, and some are starting to stumble, but hey, it’s all in the festival spirit, and we have been here for almost 12 hours. Some are slowing down, some are stepping up, couples and friends with tired feet finding quiet time enveloped in each others loved up embraces. The tents are full, the oval is packed, the stands at the rear hill of the venue are brimming with music lovers of all ages, shapes and sizes. No matter how many times you attend one of these events, it never gets old, and the understanding of the mood in the stranger next to you, is always apparent, even at a glance.
I can’t help myself, and head over to the Green stage before Muse are done to catch Fear Factory. With guitarist Deno Cazares’s now back in the pack, it’s still not quite the original Fear Factory Line up. Their show, maybe not as energetic as it may have been in the late 90’s, was just as full. Playing old favourites from “Demanufacture” and “Obsolete” and mixing them with a taste of new material from “Mechanize” I found myself, um, in the throws of a mosh pit, trying to get closer to the front row. Industrial, grind, death, and groove metal they’ve been labeled many things, but for BDO 2010, let’s just call it awesome.
Well, that calls it a day. Damn it! Can we go again tomorrow? Please?
For a festival that’ll have it’s 20th reunion in only two years and with an ever changing line up, the formula still works. And you know what they say, if ain’t broke, don’t fix it!
Big Day Out 2009 Gold Coast Review
Live Review: The Mars Volta – The Tivoli – 18th January 2010