Well, it’s over. And after listening to Soundgarden’s ponderous 90 minute set last night, it was probably best to put it out of its misery. The Big Day Out is no more. Although, one has to ask the question, what changed so much in a year? Last year the BDO was brimming with punters, this year, the place was like a ghost town.
My feeling is that it was simply bad musical choices by the promoters. Rumour has it; their first choice for a headliner was Prince. If they had pulled that off, Mt. Smart would have been packed. But it was very hard to get excited about what became the final line-up.
I arrived at the venue at about 4:30pm looked around at the surreal sight of large empty spaces and found myself wondering how I was going to keep myself occupied. There was no act scheduled in the next hour or so that I felt compelled to see. I caught some of Kimbra’s set…she seems to be getting slicker and more self-assured as a performer.
When The Adults (Jon Toogood, Julia Deans, Shayne Carter) took the stage, I swear they had a bigger crowd when they did an in-store at JB Hi-Fi last year. Very strange. To be fair, the decent crowd eventually gathered and they were excellent. Those songs seem to have some staying power.
Kasabian played the main stage and looked and sounded like a band from the BDO’s heyday…about 1997. Foster The People provided my first real BDO moment. Here was a band for the present day. There is nothing particularly unique about their sound…electronic dance-pop with a side order of rock, but they had plenty of enthusiasm and the crowd was ready to sing and dance along at the drop of a hat.
From there it was on to Soundgarden. The sound was muddy and Chris Cornell’s unholy wail sounded very dated. They lumbered through their best known numbers…Outshined, Rusty Cage…but even Black Hole Sun sounded uninspired.
It was up to Noel Gallagher to close out the night and he was up to the task. His new songs sounded surprisingly strong and mixing Oasis favourites like Wonderwall into the mix certainly helped. Don’t Look Back In Anger made for the perfect closer. We all sang along…and then it was over.
Click here to listen to Foster The People perform Pumped Up Kicks at the Big Day Out: