Gig Reviews

Big Day Out, Melbourne – 29/01/2012

Kanye West may have captivated the crowd with plenty of hits and personal stories – but it was the rock acts and Australia’s hottest hip hop duo which turned out the best performances at yesterday’s Melbourne Big Day Out.

Calling All Cars opened the day with a bang on the Essential Stage – throwing their instruments into the crowd at various stages and causing lots of work for their roadies. Frontman Haydn Ing was all guns blazing after being knocked out at the Sydney BDO – as the band belted out punchy versions of She’s Delerious, Animal and Reptile.

Following them, fellow Melbournians Stonefield also put on a solid display at the Green Stage – with Amy Findlay jumping out from behind the kit for their last two songs – showing swagger as she grooved along the stage during Drowning and Through The Clover.

Byron Bay metal slayers Parkway Drive earned their main stage slot with a full-on performance – which included a gigantic circle pit for their track Karma.  The same can’t be said about last year’s ARIA kings Boy & Bear – while their folksy tunes are upbeat enough, their performance was a real comedown after the intensity of Parkway Drive.  They’d have been better suited to a more passionately-huddled crowd in one of the tents rather than the main stage.

Adelaide hip hoppers Hilltop Hoods showed just why they thrive in a festival environment – putting on a superb display that had the crowd bouncing non-stop to their vintage hits (The Nosebleed Section, The Hard Road) and their newer ones (Chase That Feeling, I Love It).  Despite a few technical hitches at the start, The Living End maintained that intensity throughout their set, with highlights including a cover of Nirvana’s Breed, old-school hits Prisoner Of Society and Roll On – and their much-hyped collaboration with 360 for How Do We Know?  Bass player Scott Owen also burst through a cake into the crowd after the band marked the BDO’s 20th anniversary with an impromptu version of Happy Birthday.

UK rockers Kasabian showed why their star is continuing to rise with a polished display – complete with vocalist Tom Meighan’s oh-so-cocky stage presence which saw him throw a microphone to the ground on a couple of occasions.  Hits such as Underdog, Shoot The Runner and closer Fire saw the crowd erupt en masse.

And then, Soundgarden brought sludge, nostalia and plenty of grunt to Flemington Racecourse as Chris Cornell and co. turned back the clock with a superb set.  Big hits such as Outshined, Spoonman, Rusty Cage and Black Hole Sun were all met with passionate singalongs (and fight circles) from the crowd – and were delivered by a band who seemed genuinely happy to be back performing together again.

The sludge then made way for hip hop as Kanye West – the first rapper to headline the festival in its 20 year history – unleashed his trademark rhymes (and rants) on the crowd in a unique fusion of art and music.  Click here for a more-detailed review of Kanye West’s set at Melbourne’s Big Day Out.

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