With the news that Australia’s most beloved summer tradition, Big Day Out, will not happen in 2015, we at Music Feeds are feeling kinda reflective. To that end, we’ve decided to compile a list of 20 of the festival’s finest moments, including all the rock, scandal, and humour that makes us love BDO.
1. That Time Nirvana Played
The Platonic ideal for any promoter is to book a band while they’re still unknown — and therefore cheap — and have them explode by the time your punters start filing through the gates. The way this happened for BDO organisers during their 1992 debut, you’d swear it was divine intervention.
Watch: Nirvana at Big Day Out 1992, Sydney
2. That Time Iggy Pop Invited The Crowd Onto The Stage
There isn’t an insurance policy in the world that’ll cover the kind of stunts and potential calamities that could befall your event when you invite Iggy Pop to play. Luckily for BDO organisers, all Iggy did in 2006 was invite a horde of people onto the stage with him… and then again five years later.
Watch: Iggy & the Stooges – Shake Appeal at Big Day Out 2011
3. That Time Rage Against The Machine Caused A Riot
Big Day Out 2008 in Melbourne was the scene of a 46,000-strong riot after Rage Against The Machine irresponsibly followed-up their anthem Killing In The Name with the juggernaut of Bulls On Parade. It didn’t take much more than that to create a nightmare for festival security.
Watch: Rage Against The Machine – Testify at Big Day Out 2009
4. That Time Nick Cave And Kylie Minogue Eye-Banged On Stage For 4 Minutes
After critics had complained that the two had been engaging in “too much snogging and not enough singing,” Nick Cave and Kylie Minogue promptly took to the stage to perform their hit duet Where The Wild Roses Grow, scarcely taking a hand off of each other for the duration of the song.
Watch: Nick Cave & Kylie Minogue – Where The Wild Roses Grow at Big Day Out 1996
5. That Time Courtney Love Performed
’99 still stands as arguably the BDO’s most provocative year, with headlining sets from Marilyn Manson, who was already rock’s foremost courter of controversy, and the queen of controversy, Courtney Love, whose antics famously included a boob flash we still talk about to this day.
Watch: Hole at Big Day Out 1999
6. That Time The Flaming Lips Partied Onstage With Drew Barrymore, Andrew G, Fabrizio Moretti, and Peaches
2004 was kind of an odd year for the Big Day Out, with a lineup that included Metallica, The Strokes, and The Black Eyed Peas. It made The Flaming Lips‘ performance, which featured a dance accompaniment from the likes of Drew Barrymore and Peaches, all the more poetic.
Watch: The Flaming Lips at Big Day Out 2004
7. That Time Marilyn Manson Proved He Wasn’t A Fan Of The Bible
Manson was causing controversy before he’d even landed in Australia and was just months away from becoming America’s public enemy number one. The singer brought shock rock into the new millennium with a performance that most famously featured him tearing pages out of a Bible.
Watch: Marilyn Manson – Antichrist Superstar at Big Day Out 1999
8. That Time Joe Strummer Filled In For Frenzal Rhomb
After Australia’s favourite punk rockers abruptly pulled out of their set on the RRR stage at the 2000 Melbourne Big Day Out, punk icon Joe Strummer put his hand up to fill the spot right after he’d finished his own set, giving crowds a back-to-back blitzkrieg of solo work and Clash classics.
Watch: Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros – Johnny Appleseed
9. That Time We Learned Of A Band Called Silverchair
Before they charted the map which all Australian bands seeking international success now use like a Melway, Silverchair were just three scrawny Nirvana lookalikes just off their first alum, and American A&R guys were scrambling to get on flights across the Atlantic to catch them at Big Day Out 1995.
Listen: Silverchair – Suicidal Dream at Big Day Out 1995
10. That Time Jet Told Organisers What To Do With Their Flag Ban
In 2007, festival organisers discouraged punters from bringing Aussie flags — which had become ubiquitous at the event — in light of then recent race-driven conflicts in Sydney. Jet took this as an opportunity for a little rock and roll defiance and brought out their own flag cut into their name.
Watch: Jet Wind Down at Big Day Out Perth 2007
11. That Time The Cosmic Psychos Got Covered In Mud
“Due to bad weather, Mudhoney were delayed coming in, so we played in Mudhoney’s slot,” recounts Cosmic Psychos frontman Ross Knight. “And I guess everyone just wanted to throw mud at them and instead the threw mud at us and we basically said [to the crowd that] they were pretty bad shots. After that I turned around to look at my amplifier and it was a pyramid of mud.”
Watch: Cosmic Psychos Are Playing Big Day Out 2014
12. That Time The Ramones Played
“The Ramones never played Big Day Out, did they?” Oh, yes they did. During the ’94 instalment of the event, the punk rock icons took over stages in Melbourne and Sydney. The limited performances mean few actually got to see the legendary group, but those that did will remember it forever.
Watch: Ramones at Big Day Out 1994
13. That Time At The Drive-In Baa’d At The Audience
One of the Big Day Out’s most righteous moments occurred in 2001. At The Drive-In were the band everybody wanted to see and after giving the Sydney crowd repeated warnings about crowd-surfing and moshing, they left the stage after only three songs, bleating at them as they made their egress.
Watch: At the Drive‐In at Big Day Out 2001
14. That Time A Policewoman Started Raving
This one was recent and even made the news. After festivalgoer Jack Van De Ven shot footage of a policewoman busting some sweet moves at the Melbourne Boiler Room, the Police Association Victoria issued a statement commending the copper for the “great public relations exercise.”
Watch: Dancing Cop at Big Day Out 2014 Melbourne
15. That Time Bluejuice Were Bluejuice
You know Bluejuice. They’re irreverent, they’re bizarre, they’re quirky, often they’re downright hilarious, and sometimes they’re quite thoughtful. Case in point was their 2004 spot on the BDO tour, which featured a backdrop that read “Bluejuice 4 Gay Marriage,” which they explained here.
Gallery: Bluejuice – Big Day Out 2014, Sydney 26/01/14
16. That Time A Band Of Robots Played
It happened. This German “metal” trio made up of guitarist Fingers, bassist Bones, and a four-armed drummer named Stickboy was on the BDO 2013 bill alongside the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Childish Gambino, and The Killers, delighting crowds with a cover of this RATM classic.
Watch: Compressorhead – Bullet In The Head (Rage Against The Machine Cover) at Big Day Out 2013
17. That Time Rammstein Scorched The Front Row
Ken West said that organisers invited the German industrial rockers to the 2001 instalment of BDO because they knew they’d bring more than just a performance – they’d bring a spectacle. And boy, did they. Just ask anyone in the front rows who went without eyebrows for weeks afterwards.
Watch: Rammstein at Big Day Out 2001
18. That Time Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy Saw A Wiggle
The story goes, Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy wasn’t terribly familiar with Aussie music, but had become a fan of our second biggest band, The Wiggles, through his daughter. This prompted Tweedy to stop Wilco’s 2003 set halfway in after he spotted Red Wiggle Murray in the crowd.
Watch: The Wiggles – Teddy Bears’ Big Day Out
19. That Time Powderfinger Were The Biggest Band In The World
It happened that Powderfinger found out that they’d topped the Hottest 100 for the second year in a row as they were onstage at the BDO. Frontman Bernard Fanning wondered if the Hottest 100 was the biggest music poll in the world, maybe Powderfinger were the biggest band in the world?
Watch: Powderfinger – My Happiness at Big Day Out 2011
20. That Time The Chili Peppers Watched As We Couldn’t Help Ourselves
This video of the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ performance of Scar Tissue at Big Day Out 2000 is quality throughout. From Anthony Kiedis‘ vaguely esoteric commentary and the false start on the song, to John Frusciante‘s awkward looks towards his singer as security tries to push the crowd back.
Watch: Red Hot Chili Peppers – Scar Tissue at Big Day Out 2000