The Big Day Out kicked off in Auckland on 16th January and hit Sydney on Friday. Headliners were The Prodigy, Neil Young and the Dropkick Murphys.
Getting tickets is getting sillier and sillier each year, but thanks to Triple J telling everyone they had sold out, I managed to grab some.
Unlike Homebake, the organisational aspects are improving all the time at BDO. It took us just under an hour from being dropped at the railway station to watching a band - trains travelled, mates met, bags searched, Over 18 wristbands on and the first bottle of water of the day secured. The number of bars has increased significantly, and the queues were quite short. No concern about whether you'll be able to go get another beer. Less insane drinking. If it wasn't for the 768,000 police desperately looking for party drugs (Oh noooess, people might take Ecstacy and be nice to each other!!!), there would only be good things to say about the Powers That Be.
The first band I was keen to see was Children Collide, a Melbourne band who play weird rock. The seemed pretty good, but we were in the stands of the main stage, and the sound is nearly always abysmal in the main arena before the sun goes down. I don't know how much of it is the sound people and how much is the effect of an arena full of hot, swirling air, but it is pretty annoying. It was too hot to convince ourselves to go down and get closer, so I'll chalk them up to someone I want to see elsewhere.
Next up we wandered up to the green stage to get a beer and see Youth Group and Little Red. I saw Youth Group a couple of years ago on the same stage, but they didn't really grab me then. They may have just done a more lively set this time, but I quite enjoyed them.
I liked Little Red at Homebake, and with with me up off my arse (rather than sitting under a tree), they were even better. Definitely a good fun band you'd be happy to see live any time. Very old school rock - very strong 60's influences.
After that I went back to the main stage for Cog, while some of my friends stayed for the Ting Tings. Cog had much the same problem as Children Collide, but I love their music and hung around anyway. Must make an effort to see them somewhere else too.
Back to the green stage for the Black Kids, which didn't really grab me - I can't remember much of them. After that we needed a break from the heat and sun, so we sat and drank water and chatted while TV on the Radio and Died Pretty did their thing nearby.
By 7pm the heat was out of the sun, and while it wasn't cool, it wasn't the 35 C it had been earlier either, and we settled into the main stage for The Living End. I haven't seen them in years, and they were fantastic. Prisoner of Society is still an awesome song, and their more recent White Noise is bloody good too.
The Arctic Monkeys were amusing enough, not my bag, but I don't mind hearing their stuff on the radio. I heard an interview with them in which they said they were doing a cover of Nick Cave's Red Right Hand. The interviewer (Richard Kingsmill from Triple J) almost kept his astonishment at bay, and asked if it had a different sound or if it was menacing like the original. They said it was different, but still menacing. Not so much. Hysterical, yes, menacing, not even slightly. Every single time they sang the words "red right hand" I dissolved into giggles. If you don't know Nick Cave, go listen to the You Tube link, and then compare with this.
After that it was back to the green stage for The Butterfly Effect. These guys hooked me at the BDO five years ago. Forced me to go out and buy their first album, which has lead, inevitably, to me buying the subsequent two. They have advanced from mid-afternoon on the green stage to second last - and their music is definitely better suited to the dark. The only down side is that I could no longer casually stand 10 feet from the stage - the 5000 other people were making that difficult. Clint Boge's voice is amazing, and at least as good live as in the studio. He's not too hard on the eyes either, although I liked him better without hair. I must see these guys more often, I must see these guys more often....
Unfortunately, The Butterfly Effect clashed with Neil Young. I'd have stayed and watched him if it wasn't for my slight obsession. We got back for the last half hour or so of Neil Young, but we'd missed most of my fav's. He was as self indulgent as you would expect for someone of his calibre, and the songs I saw had more endings than a Nightmare on Elm St movie. But his sound was clean and tight and thoroughly enjoyable. He finished with Rockin' in the Free world - for about 15 minutes. Always fun. Then he came back for an encore with a surprisingly awesome cover of A Day in the Life - although I have to admit it was less creepy when John Lennon sang "I'd love to turn you on".
So we were home by about 11:30pm, smelly and in desperate need of a cup of tea. Trains ran smoothly to get home again - and my ticket even worked in the machine, despite having got drenched when I had drowned myself repeatedly in an effort to deal with the heat.
Excellent day, great company. Bring on next year!