Reviewed by Ryan Winter
I guess the Big Day Out experience could be likened to one of those ‘choose your own adventure’ books from the early nineties. Essentially, everyone finishes on the same page; ears ringing, muscles aching and in desperate need of a shower and some aloe for the sunburn. But it’s the pages you choose, or rather in this case the bands that you see which create each of the thousands of individual stories, all together forming a festival folklore like no other.
After all, on what other day of the year do Adelaidians cram so much into 12 hours?
This reporter’s personal adventure began slightly after gates opened with Bluejuice my freshly squeezed start to a day of epic musical proportions. Depending on your approach, you could choose to stick with the tried and true festival names during the day and likely end up wholly satisfied by your fill of the international music A-list, but I was interested in more of a tapas-style musical serve. I wanted to see as much as could, as many bands as I could and not necessarily the drawcard acts that everyone would no doubt be raving about come last drinks.
So post Bluejuice, I managed to catch the opening 10 minutes of buzz band 20th Century Graduates before deciding that I might as well return to the main stages and check out something most wouldn’t usually go for; a bit of heavy metal. The band Mastadon would be as internationally renowned as time slot sharers Kisschasy and I’m pleased to say that I enjoyed (the operative word here) my first proper metal mosh with the familiar purple hat of Mr. Rod Magazinovic bobbing about in the photographer’s pit. At the end of their set, lead guitarist Bill Kelliher whipped his pick into the crowd. I can’t imagine how many times that story is going to be told by the person who caught it.
It’s a given at large festivals that the food and drink will often cost equal to that of the ticket so I’m not about to say I was shocked or even annoyed by some of the prices for a simple cone of chips. But when mine got mistakenly covered in a sauce which tasted slightly like raw meat instead of the tried and true tomato sauce I got slightly emotional. So I roamed about for a bit with my soggy cone of fried disappointment and popped my head into The Temper Trap and Lilyworld only to realise something wasn’t quite right; people were there, but nobody was really getting loose. Perhaps this is the only downfall of presenting a full day of non-stop music- even seasoned festival goers need to conserve their energy to go the distance.
Moving along, I’d like to acknowledge the Hilltop Hoods for one of the sets of the day. Jumping about for the crowd, it seemed as much about good music for the boys as it was important for them to be at home performing. They even stole a bit of the limelight from Dizzee Rascal who was his usual convivial self, launching souvenir water bottles into the crowd and dishing suggestive looks to every girl who met his gaze. A friend of mine standing five rows behind me was unlucky enough to have the bloke behind her take a leak right next to her unprotected feet. I’ll be the one telling that story, because no doubt it’s something she’d prefer to forget.
I decided to skip Lilly Allen (I had no intention of proposing to her) and see LA’s Devendra Banhart and band, followed by a brief look at the Calvin Harris crowd and a quick reapplication of sunscreen to the tune of The Mars Volta before dusk. Criticism of the line up had been made by a lot of people in the lead up to this years event, and I must confess that there was not a single band on the bill I was literally itching to see. However, come 7pm I realised that I had a real conundrum leading into the evening because of the reputation and quality of the acts to come. Choosing between Powderfinger and Grinspoon is like trying to choose a favourite Coopers Ale; bloody impossible! However, Grinspoon proved my coin flip right and their crowd was, at that time, probably equal to the best of the day with the Hoods.
That experience held good for about a half hour before I again bailed on a drawcard, leaving slots in the Muse pit to those who really wanted it and wandered into an eerily dark warehouse where Peaches performed on the most outrageous shows I think I’m ever likely to see.
“Jesus could walk on water,” she announced, “so I’m gonna walk on you.”
Braced by the hands of hundred of fans, Peaches literally walked out 10 rows on top of the crowd during ‘Shake Yer Dix’, before mounting the stage scaffold dry humping her band and getting most of the guys in the crowd, myself included, topless and waving our shirts about above our heads for the encore. I’m sure that Muse were equally as amazing, but as far as I’m concerned this was my BDO moment for 2010. A very apt note to end on, though I did my journalistic duties and stuck around until Groove Armada was done, only to be hit in the head by one of the many drinks that were being thrown around the Boiler Room at those ‘heroes’ trying to climb all the way to the top of the scaffold. I think the last fellow I saw hop down was promptly cuffed up. If only his common sense had lasted him another 20 minutes. I’m sure he’ll have two stories prepared right now; one for his mates and another for the judge.
So there’s my 2010 Big Day Out adventure signed, sealed and delivered as a homage to the countless other epic tales born of the day. I don’t believe there’s much more to say other than I tip my hat to everyone else I shared this brilliant day with; punters, staff, Weslo, the sniffer dogs and the muso’s because as far as I’m concerned the event could not have gone off any better. One question remains though- can we actually wait an entire year for another 12 hours of musical madness?
Oh, hold on. There’s still Laneway, Soundwave, WOMAD and Future’s coming up. Let it never be said that Adelaide is a sleepy little town.