Every Leg Of Big Day Out 2014 Reviewed By Our Consummate Comp Winners

People get into music journalism for two reasons – free tickets to stuff and getting close to celebrities. Trust us, we know this from experience. This year, Pedestrian and the Big Day Out teamed up to give budding music writers around Australia the chance to get behind the scenes and review the show and do interviews with artists on the bill. We’re pleased to bring you the results from the winning entrants who, I’m sure you’ll agree, have the chops to

score enough free gig tickets to keep their tune-fiending hearts content….

Big Day Out Gold Coast Review, 19th January at Metricon Stadium by Sean Keenan

It was 29 going on 45 degrees at Metricon Stadium and I had already finished my second bottle of water by the time I reached the appropriately named “Boiler Room” where Peking Duk was performing. I arrive near the end of their set list and found myself walking almost slow motion-like into a crowd scattered. The audience was singing in their best falsetto voices to a sample of ‘The Lion Sleeps Tonight’. I approach the middle of the tent with trepidation – and that’s when it happens… what I can only describe as a sudden wall of sound building slowly and the crowd tightens in unison engulfing me. Then it reaches critical pitch…the baseline drops and I’m hit with the sonic boom of sound and an earth shattering crowd roar explodes. Bodies jump up and down and pandemonium ensues.

This was my introduction to the day’s proceedings.

A man wearing a 6 foot long Indian headdress bumps into and spills his beer all over another man who’s dressed as Robocop, unusual smells not normally associated with a lavatory, surreal conversations with strangers about what music tastes like and more female flesh (with a lot of sunburn) than you’d find in Playboy!

My first interview is scheduled and the nerves are building as I am ushered in to the backstage area.”Yeah and at this one gig, we were literally shooting vodka into the crowd,” Adam Hyde, one half of Peking Duk, gleefully exclaims when I inquired about some of their past gigs. These guys were as awesome in person as they were on stage; two down-to-earth best friends just loving life and the music.

Bluejuice were performing early in the day and I was standing at an ATM when their biggest hit ‘Broken Leg’ echoed through the walls of Metricon Stadium. Having conquered my “country boy” self-consciousness, I found myself singing out loud, complete with hand movements and an Air Guitar solo.

Stav from Bluejuice cares not for pants

From there, I rush over to my next interview in the backstage area with a couple of the members from Loon Lake. Front man, Sam Nolan, forgave my nervousness at my first time interview and explained to me aspects of the band’s sound and their video clips. It was interesting to hear his thoughts on the video for their single ‘City Lights’ (he wasn’t a fan) and how they spend their downtime.

To avoid sunstroke I escaped to the shade of the red stage to chill. Later folk rockers The Lumineers were met with deafening crowd love and were possibly the highlight of the day. The beautiful and melancholy ‘Ho Hey’ was performed during the beautiful twilight period. It was a great preamble for the evening’s gigs and I was left positively charged.

Blur may not have made the trip down under, but Metricon Stadium’s debut Big Day Out was hypnotic – add to this, the experience of having the privilege of interviewing Peking Duk and Loon Lake – I can’t wait to come back and do it again next year.

Big Day Out Melbourne Review, 24th January at Flemington Racecourse by Conor Callanan

The initial excitement I felt on the morning of my debut Big Day Out experience was somewhat slightly diminished when I had a peek outside the bedroom window. With the previous few days having consisted of baking hot sun, I had feared for my pale Irish skin! However I was greeted by a sky of endless grey cloud and rain descending from the heavens.

Having passed through the rather undersized queue with ease, my first port of call was to get hold of my Media Pass. Unfortunately due to a mixture of bad phone signals it took longer than I hoped, but finally I was ready to take in the BDO experience. Due to running around like a blue arsed fly, I missed quite a few acts I had hoped to catch a glimpse of, but with having three interviews lined up, I set up shop in the media area with questions and voice recorder at the ready!

DZ Deathrays (Shane Parsons and Simon Ridley) from Brisbane were the first act I got the chat with. I asked them how they felt their BDO experience went; SP “Yeah pretty happy with it, there was a good turnout at the main stage, especially with the early time slot and the rain, but yeah there was a lot of kids who’d come down the front which was cool”.

One band I was quite intrigued about was Japanese four piece Bo Ningen, who have been described as sounding like a combination of “eastern electric psychedelic” and “jazzed up acid punk”. The four long haired, relaxed and very polite members of the group Taigen, Yuki, Monchan and Kohhei explained how they all met in London and what they feel they sound like: TK “I think we don’t have a specific sound, or fall into a certain genre. There can be a lot of feedback in our music, and some long jams when we play live too”. I managed to catch the tail end of their set and the noise, stage presence and pure manic energy that emanated from their playing, made it extremely worthwhile.

Next up was John Gourley and Zachary Carothers from Alaskan group, Portugal. The Man. The guys were in high spirits following their set. We chatted about them working with Danger Mouse and their cover of “Day Man”, which John says came about when: “we went on set and asked if the guys would do a promo for one of our songs, so it’s like a tribute to them.”

I was then let loose on seeing some live music; Bo Ningen were fantastic, Mudhoney showed they can still mix it in the crash bang and wallop sounding stakes, while Arcade Fire entertained the only way they know how! Pearl Jam were the main act I wanted to see, and they played an epic 2.5 hour set, which included an abundance of classic tracks from throughout their career. Too many highlights to mention within this piece! And having now seen them play 10 times, I can safely say they are only getting better with age.

Eddie Vedder

Big Day Out Sydney Review, 26th January at Sydney Showgrounds by Michael Carton

Big Day Out entered its 22nd year in 2014. It was to be my 5th. Unusual for Australia Day, we were met with mild temperatures – approximately half the previous years’ 46!

As a part of the “Afterlife” competition, I was given the chance to meet some of the acts, namely; Toro Y Moi, CSS and Big Gigantic.

After playing a surprisingly psychedelic set, Chaz of Toro Y Moi was cool, calm, and well adept at Instagram video.

Following Toro Y Moi, we managed to catch a bit of Tame Impala, and then headed over to meet CSS. They were lovely with a liking for Lady Gaga, R. Kelly and Bipolar Sunshine. The final interview of the day was with the boys from Big Gigantic. Obviously music lovers, they sang praises for Australian music, particularly Flume.

Following the interviews, we headed to the main stages, where we caught the tail end of the ever-entertaining Hives’ set. After watching that guy from Oasis completely butcher Rolling Stones’ ‘Gimme Shelter’, we settled in the day’s main attraction – Arcade Fire and Pearl Jam.

Living up to their fun-loving reputation, Arcade Fire had their roadies wear the paper mache masks from the ‘Reflektor’ video and kick things off by playing ‘Song 2’ by the flakey Blur. The real Arcade Fire quickly entered, and began a set, which covered tracks from each of their albums. Their new material translated well live, perhaps due to James Murphy’s contribution in the groove department. A highlight was the band members’ musicality; each changing instruments every few songs.

Pearl Jam’s headliner status is undeniable, with Eddie Vedder the perfect front man. Charming, energetic, fun and shitfaced, just quietly, Eddie had every crowd member feeling like they were the only ones in the room. The set was specked with surprisingly down–to-earth political commentary and anecdotes from travel and adventures. And who can beat an encore that consists of ‘Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town’ ‘Betterman’, ‘Black’, ‘Jeremy’ and ‘Alive’.

Overall, great day, and despite the crowd being made up of largely seventeen year olds, Big Day Out continues to be the place to see the big name acts.

Big Day Out Adelaide Review, 31st January 2014 @ Bonython Park by Milly Schultz-Boylen

For many, Big Day Out has become an annual summer ritual. Whilst some attend to a) relive their youth, b) partake in day-drinking without being judged or c) show off their favourite singlet, most attend for another reason: to immerse themselves in live music. With Pearl Jam and Arcade Fire set to play, Adelaidians attending for the latter reason were not going to be disappointed.

There was a right way and wrong way to kick off BDO 2014 in Adelaide. The wrong way was to head to the bar and shotgun six drinks in one sitting. The right way however, was to head to the Red Stage and witness the ferocious Violent Soho. Sure, even Helen Keller could recognise that these Brisbane boys have proclivity for 90s grunge, but their on-stage dynamism and outrageous sing-along choruses proved that Violent Soho are more than just a revivalist band.

Despite receiving international acclaim for their psychedelic masterpiece Lonerism, Tame Impala were stuck in a relatively early time slot. Mixing in a propulsive, New Order-esque jam into their enlivening set of blissful mind-warping rock, Tame Impala assured fans that they’re not burning out anytime soon.

Whilst funk/metal trio Primus put on a peculiar show, puzzling many with their inflatable astronauts and beach umbrellas, the Hives bravely paraded around in mariachi suits displaying more energy than Bart and Milhouse post-all-syrup super squishy. Along with guitarist Nicholaus Arson’s crazed, lascivious expressions, singer Howlin’ Pelle Alqmvist’s lovable arrogance and ability to turn every. single. song. into a clapping anthem energised the sundried crowd.

Tricking the anticipating audience with a cheeky cover of Blur’s “Song 2”, Canadian sextet Arcade Fire dazzled all with their reflektive surfaces, high energy levels and slick musicianship. Accompanied by two percussionists and two string players, classics such as “Wake Up” and “No Cars Go” fueled the crowd with an inspired disposition which lasted until the final second of their bombastic, confetti-accompanied closer “Here Comes the Night Time”.

Win Butler leading the explosive energy of Arcade Fire

Whilst a 150-minute set from Pearl Jam may strike some as a sick form of psychological torture, every moment of these Seattle rockers’ set was absolutely incredible. Inserting a handful of covers amongst their hits, Pearl Jam’s performance wasn’t one that only fans could enjoy. Guitarist Mike McCready’s impressive tricks (e.g. playing a guitar solo behind his back) wowed whilst Eddie Vedder’s sweet yet powerful nature charmed the women and inspired the men even before he pulled an Oprah and gave out tambourines to a few lucky fans. 24 years into their career, Pearl Jam still stand as a fine example of how to put on an energetic rock show.

In spite of its low attendance and somewhat antiquated status, BDO 2014 was thoroughly enjoyable, proving that it will be sorely missed if it doesn’t return next year.

Big Day Out Perth Review, 2nd January 2014 @ Arena Joondalup by Luke Williams

Grouplove singer Christian Zucconi said the end of the Big Day Out tour was “bittersweet”. Little did he realise how much it was a fitting description. Only a few days before the show, it was confirmed by promoter AJ Maddah that the Perth Big Day Out would be no more. While support for the WA leg of the festival had waned over the years, the 2014 lineup of artists were all vocally grateful to Aussie punters who had backed them.

“Australia in particular is really special to us, because this is the first place which really released our music, so here has a special place in our hearts,” Grouplove drummer Ryan Rabin said in a short interview.

Rabin admitted to “early days” as their success continued to gain momentum and despite a level of uncertainty for their future they were happy to ride the wave of good fortune which had rolled their way.

“Whatever form [success] takes it doesn’t have to be a Pearl Jam model or an Arcade Fire model, just whatever comes naturally,” drummer Ryan Rabin said. “From the first to the second album it’s been a privilege and humbling to see people stick with us and come to shows.”

Kingswood front man Fergus Linacre spoke of how they want to be the greatest band in the world.

“That is kind of half joking but it’s kind of not; we have no limits to what we want to do,” Linacre said. “We want to do it on our terms, make great music and see where it takes us. Enough people like [our music] to let it keep going and were very privileged that that’s the case.”

The day pulled a varied crowd as younger fans revelled in acts such as Aussie garage-rock favourites Violent Soho and Sydney electronic whiz-kid Flume. Grouplove’s infectious energy made festival-goers flock to the moshpit. Dapper punk rockers The Hives commanded attention with an energetic performance buoyed by plenty of audience interaction. A small but enthusiastic crowd raved their way through Steve Angello’s house-thumping set before they flocked to Major Lazer’s party at the Red Stage. Conversely, older fans thrashed their way through veteran acts like punkers Cosmic Psychos, rock outfit Vista Chino, and grunge veterans Mudhoney.

A dancer infecting the Major Lazer party with good vibes

Co-headliners Arcade Fire had a huge stage presence, helped in part by the sheer number of personnel on hand to bring their songs to life, including additional percussionists and string players and their epic anthem “Wake Up” as a final song.

The legendary Pearl Jam, fronted by a personable and charismatic Eddie Vedder, got their epic two-and-a-half-hour set rolling with Go and worked through familiar epics Jeremy, Even Flow and Alive. Vedder spoke fondly of Western Australia, listing off an impressive number of locations across the state, and proudly polished off a bottle of Margaret River’s finest.

It was fitting that a band that had stood the test of time would be the finale to more than two decades of Big Day Out festivities in WA.

Photos by Mark Metcalfe & Matt Roberts for Getty Images.