Big Day Out '09 Overview
My first Big Day Out (BDO) since '07, but it seems longer than 2 years. Not much has changed, the line-up was arguably excellent, the organisation was superb and the overall experience; close to perfect. Time tabling was done excellently (only 1 bad clash) and I was able to see at least a little bit of every band I wanted to see.
My main gripe with the racecourse as a BDO venue is that it's not as well set out as princess park (long walks between stages - absence of a second set of twin stages). OK so I did paralyse my quads playing laser tag for 1.5 hrs on sunday, forcing my to walk around like a zombie for the day but there was a lot of walking! As usual it is an all ages event and therefore has drinking pens, but it's always so hot and expensive to drink booze that I don't think it was such a bad thing. I did have to miss the annual Triple J (non-commercial alternative radio station) Hottest 100 countdown party because this year BDO fell on Australia Day (aka: Hottest 100 day, invasion day, etc.) in Melb and not Sydney as is usual practice. I dare say it might have actually been as good as that party (that coincidentally my co-blogger hosts anually).
In the reviews below a (P) next the band name implies that I only saw Part of the band's set. also due to the nature of big day out and the popularity of the bands I'm not going to give many details about each band but I will encourage you to google it.
Trial Kennedy (P)
Only caught the end due to the Melbourne public transport system's failings but it was ok because I caught a song I knew of theirs which I thought was from guitar hero but have found out it wasn't. I came expecting punk, but it was much more interesting. It encouraged me to investigate them further. Great on-stage energy considering they were first off the ranks for the day.
I only knew one of their songs going in, but according to the hottest 100 lots of people know more than that! They put on a good, solid performance. They didn't stuff around, played the sh!t out of their songs and it sounded good.
Birds of Tokyo
Considering their music is all over comercial radio the crowd weren't half bad. They had the first massive backdrop for the day, looked quite spectacular - some kind of monochrome artwork that has significance to a fan, I'm sure of it! As for the BoT (heheheh) they were pretty good, I knew about 5 more songs than I thought I would (zero).
Ultimately (and sadly) dissappointing, was hoping a bit more than usual for The River Song given the presence of Ezekiel Ox (singer of Mammal) at BDO (I have previously seen a Cog set where Ox jumped around the stage doing the spoken word section of the river song - in my top ten live moments of all time). They basically played a trimmed down version of the same set I saw at Solar, good but I'd seen it before.
Bullet for my Valentine (P)
Excellent live performance and I'd even go so far as to say that they were biggest surprise of the festival. It was obvious that they too had studied up on their hair metal and knew all the moves; my favorite being the one where all the guitarists line up at the front of the stage facing the same direction with one foot up on a speaker and solo-ing generaly. It is a moment in rock, and a most excellent one at that! They also told the crowd to make one of those massive running/tumbling circles, the crowd obeyed and it ended up the diameter of the stage width (50m?) but they cant get everything right.
TV on the Radio
Good Show; it didn't occur to me until I was standing in front of them how many similarities exist between them and the dandy warhols. They opened with Young Liars then continued to play the majority of their latest effort Dear Science as well as throwing in the yelly song (Wolf like me) and I liiiiked it! Then a strong finish with staring at the sun, such a great song.
Another surprise here, I'd previously heard some pendulum and was expecting a DJ with some mad skillz but no! There was a 5 piece (I think) band playing the remixes...which got me thinking at what stage does a band just become a cover band? Save that debate for later, Pendulum rocked the grass I was sitting on...and it was fun! (edit: I assumed they were remixes at the time because I recognised them and in particular Voodoo people by the Prodigy but have since found out they were mostly originals - nice!)
Simian Mobile Disco (P)
Saw 10 minutes of their set, not sure how many songs that was but they were rocking it old school with upright synths and many cables that needed re-plugging, Respec!
Tex Perkins (P)
While Simian was on we thought we'd see what we were missing over here, we managed to locate the entire over 40s crowd. It was fun, not ground breaking but it was fun to see some local cameos (the jet and magic dirt singers).
Funk metal up-and-comers mammal are always awesome live. Ox managed to bully a tired, sun dazed crowd into singing for long periods of time and waving their hands in any direction he wanted while constantly reminding us that he could see us... These guys have an excellent live show that I would recomend to anyone that likes live music.
Hot Chip (P)
Didn't see much of this set due to time tabling issues, only 2 songs. A couple of these guys looked particularly nerdy, the crowd loved them!
Arctic Monkeys (P)
Hardly worth mentioning, but I did see about one song while I munched on a dagwood dog. (Advice for festival goers: if a dagwood dog is available go for that over the hotdog, it's more australian, cheaper and tastier) I really cant say much except that they were palying a song I didn't know.
Awesome: Fantomas are so crazy, Mike Patton is a legend! True to the rumors they performed their 2001 release 'The Director's Cut' in full and they did so with a four piece band (!). Excellent performance with the missing performers replaced by machines controlled by Patton. Not an empty sounding moment yet completely live - including pauses in reactions to crowd yelling. Excellent performance and I would say the best of the day.
Neil Young (P)
He was playing for ages, I was watching for about half an hour and only noticed 1 break between songs. The lights weren't as fantastic as previous years headliners, which was a little dissappointing. Judging from youtube clips of his hayday, I think time has tired him but the music still sounded good.
Packed out the Boiler room tent as the final act of the night, the crowd loved it. They gave a different performance to the last time I saw them (BDO '02), the two main guys had ditched the instruments and spent the entire show running up and down the stage singing and posing for the cameras, at which stage you could see what rock does to the body - almost 40 year olds looking as wrinkley as 60 year olds. But these guys are rock, don't let their prancing about fool anyone they've done the hard yards to earn at least that.