The rain set in early on what was to be one of the best Big Day’s Out in its twenty-year history. The teens were in their masses as gates opened, and the festival veterans were nowhere to be seen as they attempted to enforce their ill-fated boycott of the event.
The day looked bleak as keen punters were there for the opening of the gates at 10:30am, however with nowhere to go due to the absence of acts, punters stood and danced in the rain in anticipation of the day ahead. Rufus opened the Boiler Room, however one of the two noticeable cock-up’s from security on the day saw the band play to a completely empty Boiler Room as security had neglected to open the gates to the stage. However, when this issue was fixed, the band saw the masses literally sprinting in a race to pole position for their set, which saw one of the most eventful and engaging opening acts in the history of the Boiler Room. Playing their well-known single Paris Collides and a handful of unknowns it didn’t matter, the crowd were having an absolute ball. From that, the Boiler Room only got more and more packed. However over on the Converse Green Stage, the girls from Stonefield were about to rock the hell out of their crowd.
A somewhat curious crowd gathered in the rain to see what all the hype was about. Four teenage girls in a band with Led Zeppelin covers and psychedelic rock surprisingly went down an absolute treat with the punters. Playing a range of tracks from their EP, Through The Clover, the girls blew the Green Stage up, with their killer guitar riffs and surprisingly amazing ability to allow all four members to sing, without the crowd being able to tell if there was a change in vocalists. The rain ceased and Frenzal Rhomb where about to hit the stage. In one of the day’s most highly anticipated acts, the Australian rock group pushed all the right buttons playing all their hits, including the crowd’s favourite Bird Attack, with the ‘D’ going absolutely mental. It’s safe to say that everyone saw one of the day’s highlights.
Over in the Hot Produce amphitheatre triple j favourites Nantes took the stage. Unfortunately for the band, they didn’t score a ranking in the triple j’s Hottest 100, however the crowd that saw the band blow the roof off the Hot Produce stage must have made their day. With everyone dancing and singing along, it must have been somewhat surprising for the band to realise their genuine popularity, which seemed to be more than they anticipated when they took the stage, often commenting on how amazed they really were at the size of the crowd.
Back in the Main Arena, Parkway Drive took the stage. In what was the day’s biggest mosh-pit, the vibe was surprisingly positive with several pits being stopped to ensure that participants were in good health and to ensure that their shoelaces were tied up. At this point, the effect of the rain had worn off and the heat really started to set in, with attendees starting many chants for ‘water’ which did not impress the security staff at first. Several songs in and many festival-goers realised that the likes of Parkway Drive were more than enough for them, either running off to the Boiler Room to catch Bluejuice or the Converse Green Stage to get a glimpse of Faker, the band that we once all loved so much but now we rarely hear from.
Thousands then flocked to the Boiler Room to see what could easily be described as the most-anticipated act of the day: OFWGKTA. The collective hadn’t even come on stage and crying girls were being pulled out of the audience because of the intense pushing/heat. Purple Sneaker DJ’s attempted to keep everyone happy but over several chants of ‘Tyler’ and ‘Wolf Gang’ it became obvious that they were not keeping the crowd happy. Their problems were increased when one half of the DJ’s crew was taken away by security who didn’t know he was an act, leaving the other half to try and entertain the crowd. However, when Sid The Kid started playing the backings for Odd Future, the crowd went absolutely nuts. With an impeccable stage presence and set list that was quite varied you would have thought that it was the best performance of the day, however the more than violent crowd and poor sound mixing led to some confusion about the collective’s live performances.
As small gaps in the clouds appeared revealing long forgotten patches of blue sky, The Vaccines took the stage at the Essential Stage. Rushing through the likes of Wrecking Bar and Wetsuit the band pleased the fans, however didn’t really win any new ones over as the performance was forgettable. A highlight for diehard fans sure, but for passersby, they would have only stayed for a song or two.
Over on the Converse Stage, the lady from across the ditch was about to perform one of her best sets to date. Kimbra, equipped with more than large shoulder pads, a drummer with one of the greatest haircuts of all time, and her voice that intoxicated the entire audience, she was a highlight for most spectators. Powering through the hits from her recent album Vows, which reached platinum less than a month ago, the crowd loved every moment. However, some of the lesser fans were left disappointed with the understandable absence of her triple j chart-topping collaboration with Gotye, Somebody That I Used To Know. However in the concrete jungle of the Hot Produce Stage, an unexpected crowd favourite took the stage. Mariachi el Bronx took the stage and proved to be one of the most captivating experiences of the day. People were climbing the railings or standing on concrete structures to ensure that they could get a view. Playing their hit 48 Roses early on, the crowd had a fiesta, with suprisngly a high quantity of the audience singing along, creating one of the best vibes and feelings of the day. Equipped with their sombreros, guitars and violins, Mariachi el Bronx were definitely a highlight for all lucky fans and those who merely stumbled upon the band.
Back in the main arena, My Chemical Romance were powering through their hits, from Teenagers to Kids from Yesterday the punk-emo group did well to entertain the crowd. However, some poor mixing led to frontman Gerard Way’s vocals dropping out at points, but this was recovered by die-hard fans screaming every word, which in hindsight completely added to the experience of their set. The group closed with their hit Welcome To The Black Parade, which caused an absolute riotous sing-a-long from the crowd that left way for the British lads from Kasabian to cause an absolute frenzy on the Blue Stage directly after. In recent reviews, Kasabian have been slammed for having a repetitive setlist and absence of stage presence. This was nowhere near correct at their set for the Big Day Out as crowd favourite Sergio caused the crowd to jump up and down for the entirety of their set, creating one of the best vibes of the day. Playing all their hits from LSF to Vlad The Impaler and lastly Fire, in which the boys instructed everyone in the ‘D’ to sit down until the bass kicked in, which was surely a spectacle of the day. The fans were left wanting more, but their desire was not satisfied by Kasabian as they had long gone. However when Soundgarden took the stage, all longings of more Kasabian quickly vanished. As Chris Cornell and the band whipped out Spoonman as their second song, the crowd knew they were in for something special. Playing all their hits, grunge fans were more than pleased by this stellar performance.
However, the highlight of the day for most patrons was the headliner Kanye West. The set didn’t start off well has he was 15 minutes late, but when he opened all memory of that was lost as he rose up from the crowd to play Dark Fantasy, much similar to his opening at Coachella. However it didn’t move. When Kanye made the stage, the crowd was completely captivated. Even Tyler, The Creator from Odd Future was in some form of trance. Writing a complete review on the set from Kanye would take several hours and would be a painful read as one could not re-live it (unless you are seeing him at Melbourne/Sideshows). Powering through his acts, Act 3 was a clear highlight, with the dramatic set change and a 15-minute version of Runaway, which to some people was boring, but for others was one of the most amazing and beautiful performances at any Big Day Out ever. The two-hour spectacle was almost impossible to believe. Those who were close to the front knew that they were witnessing the best performance in their life. As the ever-emotional rendition of Hey Mama took place, several audience members shed a tear or two, and any doubt about Kanye as an artist was lost. Never before has an Arts and Music festival had a headline act bring both art and music to such an extent as Kanye did.
Due to the extended set for Kanye, many punters sprinted off to catch the end of either Nero or Noel Gallagher. Those who went to Noel Gallagher were able to catch his last song, and best of the night, Don’t Look Back in Anger. This song saw the biggest sing-a-long of the day, with the entire ‘girl on shoulder’ vibe happening between everyone. Everyone seemed to become friends. For that brief four minutes and twenty seconds, there was not any aspect of the apparent hate for this year’s Big Day Out Festival which was present on social media sites in the lead-up to the festival. As Noel walked off stage, and Nero played the last of their dubstep, all those leaving realised what an event it was. The 2012 Big Day Out was one of the best in years. Twenty years ago when Nivarna took the stage, nobody knew that it would become this big, and to be honest, if Kurt Cobain saw Kanye West’s performance, he would have been as moved as the audience at what a legacy he had left. If 2012 was indeed a bad year, I’m more than looking forward to 2013, which should be an impeccable year. Cheers Ken West.