Promoter Ken West has publicly welcomed former rival AJ Maddah to the Big Day Out team, revealing that Mr Soundwave has not bought out his share of the iconic Aussie festival but rather will be running it with him, trampling rumours that he’s quitting the music festival business.
West told Fairfax that it was “about time I let a new generation help continue the BDO evolution.” He also said that punters who are up in arms about the changes need to calm down. “The world is not collapsing. In short AJ is joining the BDO circus and I am staying. So the BDO team will now be C3, AJ Maddah and yours truly.”
It’s a change of tune from the legendary promoter, who in 2012 told The Vine that Maddah was a “financial anarchist”:
“I’ll say it to his face – I don’t think AJ’s got any interest in anything but his own agenda. He hasn’t got any interest in the Australian music scene whatsoever… There’s no financial logic to what he’s doing, and I’ve just got to ride that out. That’s all it really comes down to.”
And former BDO partner Vivian Lees isn’t so positive. Lees, who sold out his share of the event to Texan promoter C3 Presents in 2011, last week told triple j that he had many concerns about the new arrangement, describing Maddah as “an odious character”:
“I’m a little dismayed that AJ has come into the picture. When I see the amount of work that has gone into building up the event over a 22-year period, and then to see [Maddah] come in to take it over really does alarm me. He plays fast and loose.”
Maddah, however, has pledged to retain the strong Aussie flavour of the Big Day Out and has promised to shorten queue times in 2014. His boutique festival Harvest was officially cancelled this week, with talk of some of the event’s acts joining the mammoth Big Day Out bill, which will be headlined by Pearl Jam, Arcade Fire and Snoop Lion.