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Big Day Out: Best Bits Of Years Gone

Written by Alex Langlands on July 13, 2012

Well unless you have been backpacking in the Alps, without internet connect for the past few days, you would know by now that next Monday will see our favourite festival unveil their truly special lineup. The Big Day Out Festival has been a part of our musical culture and the rite of passage for many Australian youths, and more importantly has been one of Australia’s longest-serving festivals, providing multiple generations with memories of sunburn and dehydration and some of the best memories we’ve ever had. So instead of looking forward to the impending release on Monday, we thought that we would revisit those memories and the history of the festival.

Update 16/07/2012: Big DayOut 2013 lineup is here!

In a fantastic photographic history of the festival (printed independently by the wonderful photographer, Sophie Howarth), Peace, Love, and Brown Rice – A Photographic History of the Big Day Out, the mind behind the operation, Ken West, spoke out about why he began this project over 20 years ago: “Rock festivals – at least in Australia – before the Big Day Out were all about pretending to be Woodstock… in the countryside, drinking beer and getting stoned. Normally it was a camp-out and facilities were shit, the production was shit and if it rained it was a mudfest. I hated that whole hippy bullshit concept. I hated hippies full stop. I wanted urban mayhem, I wanted controlled chaos, but I also wanted cold drinks, nice food, lots of choice, good drainage, lots of toilets and great production. Then I wanted people to learn about music, go as hard as they wanted and be able to get home safely at the end of the night.”

Over the years, the Big Day Out has paved the way for Australia’s current festival climate, pioneering the iconic ‘tour festival’ concept, done nowhere else but our great nation. The team of Ken and Viv created something truly special. Although Viv stepped down last year, Ken West continues to carry on producing one of the best days on the Australian calendar. Below are the best filmed sets from the past 20 years. For the year ahead, tune into Music Feeds on Monday (12:01 AM) to find out.

Let’s start where it all began – Australia Day 1992, The Hordern Pavilion, Sydney. Before the hype and inflation, 9,500 attendees scored tickets for $40 until scalpers began to charge over $100 per ticket. With only 21 bands billed to play, the lineup sported greats such as Yothu Yinid, Beasts of Bourban, and Violent Femmes; however, there was one band that everyone wanted to see: Nirvana. Thanks to Modular’s Steve Pav, the American grunge heroes stormed the stage in what would eventuate to be the most iconic set ever to grace the festivals. And the rest? Well that’s just history.

Nirvana – 1992

Foo Fighters – 2000

Groove Armada – 2010

Metallica – 2004

Kraftwerk – 2003

System of a Down – 2002

Arcade Fire – 2008

Underworld – 2003

The Darkness – 2004

Dizzee Rascal – 2010

The Chemical Brothers – 2005

Wolfmother – 2005

Silverchair – 2008

Miami Horror – 2010

Obviously we cannot bring every special moment to the comfort of your couch or desk. The famed performances from The Ramones, Kanye West, Rage Against The Machine, The Flaming Lips, Noel Gallagher and Sonic Youth are not available in the depths of YouTube. We’re 20 years down and the lads at the Big Day Out office have the biggest 21st birthday bash ever, planned for this summer. With rumours flying high from Bruce Springsteen to Daft Punk, the only way to be sure is to check in at Music Feeds Sunday night (Monday morning, 12:01 am) for the full lineup! The 21st birthday celebration is only just around the corner.

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