With Big Day Out set to announce their announcement where they possibly announce something this evening, we scoured the archives and our memories for our ultimate BDO lineup based on acts from years’ past. Obvious inclusions were bands on the cusp of going massive (White Stripes in 2002, Kings Of Leon in ’04) and the ones we never got to see (Nirvana, 1992.) Come take a trip with a few of us down that sweaty memory lane…
New Order – Gold Coast (2002)
“At the risk of showing my age, my favourite Big Day Out off all time was 2002 by far. It wasn’t just the lineup (which, incidentally, was phenomenal) but it was just one of those perfect festival days: clear blue skies, gentle coastal breezes, an unseasonably laidback and accommodating festival crowd… I can even remember what I wore. Anyway, New Order were incredible. The whole band was still together then. They had released the album Get Ready the previous year, but they still played the best of their old stuff too: “Bizarre Love Triangle”, “Regret”, “Blue Monday”, “Everything’s Gone Green”… It all sounded so brilliant live and to experience all these incredible songs surrounded by thousands of other fans was magic. The highlight of the set was “Temptation” – total strangers were grabbing each other and yelling: “And I’ve never… Seen… anyone quite like you before!” with pure joy all over their faces. It was a real Moment.”
I can’t find the Big Day Out footage but this was from the same year.
The White Stripes – Gold Coast (2002)
“This was before the White Stripes really blew up in Australia so the crowd was pretty small – small enough that a short person like myself could easily poach a spot against the barricades in the front row. I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect, but definitely not Jack White’s wholly raw and cool and desperate performance of “Joelene”. I felt like I was the only person there. That’s pretty rare. I was in love with Jack White for years after that performance. And I’ve had an affinity with bad ass female drummers ever since. I’m glad I had the chance to see them back then, because sadly the band is no more.”
Again, in the absence of footage of the Big Day Out performance, here they are playing Glastonbury the same year.
Sonic Animation, Gerling, Regurgitator – Gold Coast (2002)
“I’ve gotta sneak these three in because they were such Aussie festival stalwarts back then. Around this time dance music genres like happy house, electronica and techno proper were massive in Queensland* and “Theophilus Thistler” was still a party favourite. Regurgitator and Gerling had really shifted into the electro space by then and, if memory serves, all of them played to a packed Boiler Room that year. There is an element of ‘novelty’ in all three of these bands, and I think that attitude of unselfconscious ridiculousness spread to the crowd. The Boiler Room was all smiles and absurd dance moves – everyone was comfortable with abandoning their ‘cool’ for 45 minutes. At Gerling I remember seeing an old bald bald rocker skipping prettily around the tent air-punching. That about sums up the Big Day Out for me.”
Gerling live on Recovery (2002 = before the invention of the camera phone).
The Darkness (2004):
“Everybody else came for Metallica but I couldn’t have cared less. Justin Hawkins’ falsetto, leotards and catsuits stole the show. For at least one hour on that hot January afternoon, I really did Believe In A Thing Called Love. This is the best tribute-band-that-wasn’t-a-tribute-band in the history of the genre. I imagine this is what seeing Queen was like for my Dad.”
Red Hot Chili Peppers (2000):
“This band were my life in high school and I remember crying when I found out that I couldn’t go to Big Day Out and see them because I was only 12. Apart from the BloodSugarSexMagik days, this is probably the Chili Peppers everyone really wishes they’d seen. They’d just released Californication (1999), which, let’s be honest, was absolutely excellent. Most of them had kicked drugs and were fighting fit, Frusciante was still in the band and Kiedis looked every inch the movie star. I would have given away most of my earthly posessions to have been front row for ‘Around The World’. There’s a reason Channel V play this set over and over and over again. It’s first class.”
Patti Smith (1997):
“No, sadly I didn’t see Patti Smith in ’97. I was only 8 years old and way more into that show Marsupilami (Houba Houba!) back then. But I did see her when i was 19, hiding out in the crawl space of the ‘Oprah House’ with a couple of Gooies in a knapsack. She kicked arse like only the New York queen-of-punk could, and it just asserted the fact that she could bend little Billie Joe Armstrong over a cover of ‘Horses’ and no-one could stop her, cos she started this shit y’all.”
The Drones (2009):
“Don’t get me wrong, I love Nick Cave and everything he’s done. But I hate the lazy (because they both have an Australian accent) comparisons between the Drones’ Gareth Liddiard, and Mr Murder Ballads. The Drones stand on their own feet like few other bands I’ve heard. When Gareth screamed: “You looked so good on the late night news/with your curtain and your deed/Yeah, I love you like a Violin/ Ill hunt you like an amputee” at BDO 2009, like everyone else I had no fucking idea what he was on about. All I knew, was I liked it, a lot.”
At The Drive In (2001, Sydney)
“A band at the height of their powers. I wasn’t physically at this show but I’ve watched this more times than any other live performance on Youtube. This one was notorious. Cedric bleated at the the audience, called them sheep and said genuinely condescending shit like “If you don’t know who The Fall is you’re listening to too much hip hop and heavy metal,”. He dedicated “Pattern Against User” to Mark E. Smith then called everyone robots for moshing to it. I love that. How else are you meant to respond to that song? They mainly played stuff from Relationship of Command (with a ferocity that I’ve yet to see elsewhere) before famously walking off when the crowd moshed too hard and refused to take care of each other. Later that day Jessica Michalik was crushed during Limp Bizkit’s set and died five days later. The band broke up two months after this was filmed.”
What are your favourite Big Day Out memories?
Watch this space and this space for 2012 Big Day Out lineup news.