It was the end of an era yesterday on the Gold Coast as the Big Day Out rolled through town. Recent development plans for the 2018 Commonwealth Games athletes village at the Parkland Showground’s venue has left everyone, including the Big Day Out promoters, wondering where Queensland’s biggest festival will live next year. Nevertheless, there were no tears of sadness, just a rather large bunch of revellers ready for a good time.
Not even the Chili Peppers could officially sell out this event. But from experience, it seemed well at capacity. Maneuvering from one stage to another required a level 3 qualification in Tai chi. No liquids were allowed in the entry gate, which left those in the car park drunk with dismay.
The No Noise tent felt more like the Boiler Room. With minimal ventilation, I stayed for barely one static track, before escaping to the comfortable 30-degree heat blistering outside.
Setting the pace for the day was Cairns-birthed band The Medics. Many have come and flopped on the big stage. Not these guys! Their sound adjusted perfectly for the high expectations of the Big Day Out. They craftily combined breezy tunes with lengthy high-energy tracks. Living the moment, these boys seemed to amplify their raw emotion with the audience. In a moment of calculated confusion, drummer Jhimdu Lawrie came off the drums during their single Joseph to scream with the audience, before then launching himself into the audience. Trust me, there were plenty of sweaty palms extended ready to take his weight. Chances are it won’t be the last time we see this young band at the Big Day Out if that set was an indicator.
Leapfrogging from one Australian band to another, it was time for Hunting Grounds to do their thing. They produced a high quality sound; however, something was missing. For the most, it seemed as though the crowd were immersed in their own shenanigans and took their chances shielding from the extreme UV outside. It was average at best, which could be verified by the lack of audience participation. This was until their Beastie Boys cover of Sabotage, respectfully dedicated to MCA. Cue the mosh. From there they had the crowd in the palm of their hands, ending their show with a bombardment of percussion. I’d hate to be a judge in the Ballarat Music Awards. That town is running hot with talent.
President Obama calls this man the future of rock and roll, and even invited him to play at the Whitehouse. On our shores, very little is known about Texan Gary Clarke Jr and his fire engine red guitar. Curious to know more, I got up close. Boy oh boy is this man smooth. He wooed the crowd with his interpretation of sultry blues-infused rock and roll. He turned back the clock to some retro swinging tunes, which got the arms and the hips moving. Can’t help but feel the wanting of more.
Four o’clock saw a break in the weather as some cloud cover moved in. Dark storm clouds brewing on the horizon brought up the prospective topic of a wet finish to a hot dusty afternoon. After running the gauntlet of swaying bogans singing Grinspoon anthems, it was time to sit down and enjoy passive rockers Band of Horses. Anyone who has ever seen this band before knows exactly what happened. It was charming. It was invigorating. It is southern style rock and roll at its finest.
Vampire Weekend proved that they are still as trendy as their name suggests. A-Punk and Cousins were just a few tracks of their uplifting back catalogue that was played; their cute indie sound was infectious. I’d almost forgotten how many hits they actually had after only two albums, as they rolled them out one by one. Lead vampire Ezra Kornig blushed after a woman’s bust bulged on the big screen for all to see, with the sub-title of “Get ‘em out…” Maybe I’m getting old, but I wasn’t overly impressed with the degrading form of the visual techs. Maybe we should rename it, Boys Day Out?
The soulful Alabama Shakes burst through the 2013 calendar as one of the bands to watch. Their début single Hold On proved to be one of the most popular songs of both 2012 and on the day. Lead singer Brittany Howard washed the green stage’s sins away on the Gold Coast with her groundshaking voice. Oh lord – she’s got lungs.
Only weeks away from releasing their highly anticipated third studio album Holy Fire, Foals were back in town with their amazing live show in tow. Diversity is the unseen member of Foals. From the softly spanned Spanish Sahara to their fiery new song Inhaler they blanketed the tent in an emotive wall of guitars and sound. They have emerged as my one of my favourite live acts going around, and from speaking to a few other people, it wasn’t their first show either.
There was a mass exodus as the show concluded, but not for the lack of love of Foals. People took off like a rocket all in one direction: you guessed it, to the main stage. We took our chances, and like black sheep hung around for the Animal Collective. They almost looked sad as they took the stage to see about 120 people huddled around them. It looked like they had drawn that fetal short straw. But it didn’t take too long for them to draw in a few more punters. Their show felt like a psychedelic meltdown of lights, props and sound; however, it was all in perfect tune and harmony. My Girls from the album Merriweather Post Pavilion was a sure hit with the younger crowd. There was no shortage of space in the tent, so a few people spread out and let their bodies explore the music through interpretive dance. People laughed and smiled, but before long they too were getting involved. It looked liberating.
I guess there was satisfaction in not following the flock after all, as almost all reports from the Red Hot Chili Peppers stage were coming back as terrible, sound issues being the main point of concern. Meanwhile, the experimental sounds of the Animal Collective left those who witnessed the madness on a high. See you next year Big Day Out, I hope.
Big Day Out 2013 – Gold Coast Photos