Big Day Out [Sydney] 2013

Big Day Out
Sydney Showgrounds
18th January 2013

IMG_4122The entrance.

This year, for a change of scenery [and because I hate Flemington and had accidentally double-booked my Australia Day], I decided to attend Big Day Out in Sydney.  For non-Sydneysiders, it’s worth knowing that the Sydney festival is held at the Sydney Showgrounds in Homebush.  This is in parts better than the slab of concrete on which the Melbourne festival has recently been held, in that there is stadium seating around the main stages, and not all of the toilets are portaloos, but it still faces the same challenges in the lack of available shade – which was a particularly tough point for this year’s Sydney Big Day Out, as temperatures pushed past 45 degrees.  Also, unlike Melbourne, the layout of the festival isn’t as simple to follow, and people seem to walk in all directions.

IMG_4124IMG_41281. Against Me!; 2. Grinspoon.

Glenn and I arrived just in time for Against Me!‘s set, finding ourselves some [rare] shady seats in the stadium, where we planned to stay for most of the day.  Unfortunately for most, there was very little shelter, and the concrete everything was just resonating with heat.  Too many guys were shirtless, and too many girls were pretending that their bras were suitable outerwear – but it was so hot, that I forgave them.

Against Me! rocked their early afternoon slot on the blue stage, revving up the crowd for the bands to come, despite a few sound problems.  They were followed by Grinspoon, who were as good as you’d expect them to be.  I’ve seen the Grinners at a few Big Day Outs now, and they never disappoint.  It’s a pity that they never seem to get a decent timeslot, though.  I’d honestly think them worthy of something a little better than 3pm.

The blue stage’s sound issues returned for Band of Horses, which was quite a pity.  The amplification system just wasn’t set up to deliver the music all the way through the stadium.  By the time it reached our seats, the guitars were overly distorted, and the vocals were partly lost.  I can’t say whether or not the sound would have been better down the front [as I didn’t dare venture that way], but I hope for the sake of the many other punters that it was.


We headed out for a brief period of exploration, to grab some food and check out Childish Gambino.  What we managed to catch of the advertised “Mexican wrestling” wasn’t actually wrestling at all, but merely some performance art.  I was disappointed by the overall quality of food; it seemed a lot worse than what is usually on offer at the Melbourne BDO [although I may have just been spoilt by the excellent food options at Falls].  There were too many generic food trucks selling hot chips and hot dogs, and not enough other things on offer.  I didn’t even see a Hare Krishna tent!  [Although, they deserve points for having spiral potatoes].

IMG_4150 IMG_41521. “Mexican Wrestling”; 2. Chow Town.

Chow Town would have been the one exception to my complaints of bad food.  I was quite excited about the new plan to have different gourmet chefs provide food at BDO.  The problem I had, however, was a lack of vegetarian options.  In that there were none.  I’m not even a full vegetarian – I eat the occasional piece of chicken or fish – however most of the food on offer contained beef or lamb.  Considering the high number of vegetarian musicians and music fans, I was very surprised and disappointed by this oversight.

Childish Gambino performed in the Vans tent, which was very full and very sticky.  I only caught a couple of songs, because I couldn’t see a bloody thing, and I was dying in there.  But, he performed well, and the crowd were loving it.

IMG_4155The best photo I could get of Donald Glover aka Childish Gambino.

We escaped from the sun for Vampire Weekend, returning to our seats [which thankfully hadn’t been taken].  By this point there was a little smattering of rain, which people were grateful for, although it didn’t provide too much relief from the hot and sticky weather.  Vampire Weekend played a good set, but they weren’t immune to the sound issues that had faced the bands on the stage next to them.  I remember at last year’s Big Day Out that my main complaint was that they seemed to care less about the actual music and more about selling tickets.  I understand that the point of the festival is to make money, but surely they can put together a sound setup that doesn’t sound so shit?!  I don’t go to music festivals to drink too much and act like a dick; I go there to see a bunch of different bands play, and I’d really prefer it if I could actually hear their music properly.

IMG_4157Vampire Weekend.

Enough ranting about the sound issues, I think.  But, let it be known that they almost completely destroyed the Yeah Yeah Yeahs‘ set.  “Maps” is one of the best songs in the world, and thanks to the stupid sound setup, Karen O’s vocals were fuzzy and faint.  Thank-you for ruining the performance of one of my favourite songs, Big Day Out people.  Not cool.

IMG_4163 IMG_41681. The stadium view; 2. Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

Aside from the obvious sound issues, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs performed brilliantly, as expected.  That said, Karen O looks really weird as a blonde.  I found it distracting.  What was more distracting, however, were the noisy people behind us who insisted on talking very loudly throughout the entire set.  Surely you can have your conversations elsewhere and let those people who want to watch the music do so without needing to strain through your endless chatter?!

IMG_4175 IMG_4178The Killers.

The Killers blew everyone away with a performance that included not only a glitter cannon, but also a very impressive pyrotechnic display.  They’ve reached the point where they now have too many big songs to play them all in a short festival slot, but they tried to fit in as much as possible.  There was no room for a non-hit.  After the glitter cannon exploded, I expected that “All These Things I’ve Done” would be their last song, but they came back with “When You Were Young”, which is apparently their bigger hit.  It was a very strong ending to what was an excellent set, and quite possibly the highlight of the festival.

The day ended with the Red Hot Chili Peppers, who apparently insisted on playing a Sea Shepherd slideshow before their set, displaying numerous pictures of dead whales.  It was, uh, lovely.

IMG_4183 IMG_41871. From the lovely Sea Shepherd slideshow that played multiple times before the Chilis’ set; 2. Red Hot Chili Peppers.

As a longtime enjoyer of the Chilis’ music, I was very disappointed with their set.  It contained too many tracks off their more recent albums [which, let’s face it, nobody really cares about], and not enough of their older stuff.  In fact, the only pre-Californication tracks that they played were “Under the Bridge”, “Give it Away” and their cover of Stevie Wonder’s “Higher Ground”.  Now, I like Californication, and I like By the Way, so I was more than happy to hear a couple of tracks from each of those releases, but for the most part, the Chili Peppers’ set was self-indulgent and not at all what their actual fans would have wanted to hear.  Maybe it’s time for them to give it away*…

*That was way too lame, and I apologise.  Sort of.  Not really.


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