Traditionally, many spend Australia Day spending time with their families, friends, BBQs, triple j’s hottest 100 and finding an excuse to drink excessively. However, I found myself overhearing a conversation between teenage girls comparing Kanye West to Ghandi and Buddha as my Australia Day would be spent at the Sydney leg of the Big Day Out.
Visiting from Bowling Green, Kentucky, Cage the Elephant graced the Essential Stage as our hot Aussie sun shone its brightest. Notorious for their entertaining live shows, the band kick started with In one Ear paired with frontman Matt Shultz’s carefree 60s dance shapes. Energy levels and enthusiasm were elevated, however Cage the Elephant’s performance mostly sounded muted and unadorned, reflecting the sound quality and not the band’s abilities. Between crowd surfing, humorous banter and jaggered rock tracks, Cage the Elephant finished on a roaring high with Sabertooth Tiger much to the crowd’s excitement.
With their ability to divide music critics and infuriate political activists, OFWGKTA were the most intriguing act on the Big Day Out bill. In anticipation, thousands flocked to the Boiler Room as Syd Tha Kid relaxed the hungry crowd before Tyler the Creator, Hodgy Beats and co burst onto the stage ready to spill their guts, and by guts I mean profanities, violence and yelps of “WOLFGANG!” to avoid any silence. My ability to understand the appeal of this group was jaded for two reasons – 1. Tyler’s microphone was OFF for a third of their set. OFF! Tyler the Creator is a menace but even he wouldn’t pull such a prank. 2. Only profanities were heard. I’m sure a headstrong group such as OFWGKTA would have more to say than “Shit.” Alas, OFWGKTA were all rhymes all the time. Delivered with conviction and passion, OFWGKTA’s bold performance demonstrated their talent as both a group and individuals who proudly explore confronting concerns and themes over Syd Tha Kid’s diverse hip hop sounds. Haters gonna hate but OFWGKTA are here to stay.
Oozing English charm, Kasabian arrived on stage like a headliner should – confident, comfortable and colour coordinated. Cleverly collecting songs spanning all four albums, Kasabian accurately performed to a festival crowd by avoiding silences and focused on anthems like Underdog and Shoot the Runner. Considering Kasabian’s popularity in Australia has rapidly grown with the release of their third and fourth albums, it was satisfying to hear Club Foot from their first album receive a colossal response from the crowd. Fearlessly, Switchblade Smiles transformed Kasabian’s expected English appeal to a beat-heavy, synth-driven storm, grabbing the immediate attention of curious onlookers and random strays. Smoothly progressing into Vlad the Impaler, Kasabian successfully united fans and strangers for a strong finish with Fire. Now Oasis comparisons MUST end!
Apart from these acts, the remaining line-up were the All Stars of other festivals who we have seen and loved only 6 months ago and, in conjunction with the outlandish audacity of the teenage crowd and lackluster sound quality, you can’t help asking, “Why bother?” I’m sure Kanye, Ghandi and Buddha would agree.