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8 out of 10
For this review I’ve decided the DSD method needs a little tweaking, I will still give an overall score at the end for the event, but I felt that each act that I was able to give my full attention to also deserved scores of their own. That said, I will do my best to cover all of the others aspects of this most antipodean of festivals.
Now unlike many festivals the Big Day Out is just a one day affair, otherwise the name would sound silly, and as such they need to pack a lot in to that day. Therefore, they have a very interesting method of constant entertainment and that method is: the double stage. This means that when one band finishes, the next start up straight away on the other stage, the only drawback is that if you’re down the front you hear the sound checking at the same time as another band is playing. For an example of this see my photo here - http://www.facebook.com/#!/photo.php?pid=4010042&id=707082018 you can see other pictures from the day in that album too. They have also devised a way to ensure the people at the front don’t get too crushed. It’s not clear on the photo, but they have a D fenced around the stage, and when it gets full, they don’t let any more people in.
However, you don’t want to hear about organisational logistics, but I will say that holding the festival in and around the grounds of a stadium meant seating, which is something that hasn’t always been available at prior festivals I’ve attended. When we got to the fest, we found it was well laid out and with many things to see and do other than the acts. This included fair ground attractions, including one right in the stadium and stalls selling the usual tat which you will find at any festival. There were also fenced off bar areas: for some reason the organisers didn’t want alcohol to get into the main arenas and so a person would have to queue to prove their age, before getting a wrist band which would allow them into one of the bars. The only bar we went into was Lillyworld and by the time we got there the bushes in the area had sprouted cans and bottles of many varieties. Suffice to say, we didn’t stay long, it was quite horrific to look at and the DJ was spinning tunes that weren’t to our taste either.
Anyway, the first band we saw was Karnivool who sounded OK but we didn’t see them for long enough to give them a rating. So onto the first band we saw all the way through, Mastodon. I’ve heard good things about them so was disappointed to get bored half way through their set. I think they had sound issues though which might have contributed to the dullness. I will say though that the singer/guitarist had a very impressive ginger mullet, handle bar moustache and mutton chops. The next band we gave our full attention to and headed down into the D for was Midnight Youth, currently one of the top bands in New Zealand. What I didn’t know was that they all mostly look like they are barely into puberty, which came though in their sound and stage presence. They were entertaining enough but didn’t really cut it for us, plus they murdered War Pigs, which I find hard to forgive them for personally. Then on the adjacent stage Kasabian came on and showed the crowd what a seasoned band could do. It was amusing to see a band on the other side of the planet that are from a City only about 30 minutes from where I live in the UK. They were certainly on form and the only real drawback for me was that they only did one song from their first album.
After Kasabian we went for a wander to see another NZ local, Ladyhawke. However as the area around the stage she’d been put on was totally rammed, we couldn’t see much of her, a poor choice by the organisers. What was good was local TV channel C4 giving out free hats, which I was in desperate need of, as we didn’t realise how hot and sunny it would be that day and my bald patch was burning! We then sampled the delights of the silent disco, which involves dancing to music on head phones, odd to watch when you can’t hear the music yourself. I think that I must mention that the BDO have a local talent stage and while we didn’t actually watch any of the bands on the stage, it is the only big festival, to my knowledge, that really gives up an entire stage for this purpose.
Now back to the main arena and we watched Aussie band Powderfinger, who we found to be a bit lifeless and not at all memorable. However, we put that experience behind us as next up was the UK’s very own Dizzee Rascal and what an experience he turned out to be. Not knowing any of his material wasn’t an issue and he did his level best to whip the crowd into an energized frenzy. His set was extremely enjoyable and quite a departure from the mainly guitar based bands we saw that day.
Another UK act was on next in the form of sexy minx Lily Allen; she did all her hits and well known songs, plus a couple of covers. These filled out her set nicely with some singalongability for those people who didn’t know her own material. The Mars Volta were straight up after Lily and did their utmost, it would seem, to do an uninterrupted hour long set in tribute to Led Zep. While it was impressive that there were no breaks, we simply got a bit bored, not knowing their songs probably didn’t help either. Another hindrance was that we were sat on the other side of the stadium from the stage the Mars Volta were on. The reason for this was because we’d had to get ourselves into a good position four hours prior to watching headline act Muse. The Devonshire rockers gave a magnificent performance, belting out every song we could have wished for them to play. Their visual show was also astounding and did not appear to be lessened by the fact that it was part of a festival rather than one of their own gigs.
After Muse we attempted to see Groove Armada in the Boiler Room, which was a massive tent adjoining a stage at one end. However, it seemed thousands of other festival goers had had the same idea and getting anywhere near it was impossible. So we wandered over to the stage where Fear Factory were playing, though the majority of the band are so big now they should be called Fudge Factory. After Muse though they were a bit of an anti-climax, so we left them to play to the few goths and metallers in attendance. The feeling I got as we walked away was that people wanted more and didn’t want to leave just yet. This festival doesn’t have camping and as I said before it would be silly to have more than one day for an event named the Big DAY Out, but maybe leaving people wanting more will mean they return for next year’s bash and so on.
1. Mastodon = 5/10
2. Midnight Youth = 6/10
3. Kasabian = 8/10
4. Powderfinger = 4/10
5. Dizzee Rascal = 9/10
6. Lily Allen = 8/10
7. The Mars Volta = 6/10
8. Muse = 10/10
Overall Event Score = 8/10