Big Day Out 2014 Melbourne- Festival Review

There are certain things that are synonymous with Summer…. sweaty armpits, sticky flies that have decided your mouth is THE place to be, refreshing G&T’s, sand in your bum-crack, and the list goes on….. For me, summer immediately invokes thoughts of spiked juice boxes, home made t shirts paired with compulsory dark glasses, and a finely tuned booty shake in miniscule patch of well-worn grass. In other words- it makes me think of music festivals.

These days there’s a musical festival to suit every taste- from the bush doofs such as Rainbow Serpent to the metal fests like Soundwave. There are music festivals that welcome kids, and those that attract lots of sniffer dogs. Amidst this smorgasbord of musical offerings sits a festival veteran…. the Big Day Out.

Now, I gotta say that as my acquisition of wisdom rapidly approaches its 40th year, some may say I should have outgrown such an event. But that is one of the many things that draws me back to this festival heavyweight year after year. By it’s very nature, Big Day Out does not set out to appeal to one particular type of music fan- rather offering up a selection of crowd pleasing favourites in every genre. Thus, the type of crowd it draws is both young and old, indie and mainstream, hippie and hardcore. The crowd watching is just one of the pleasures of the day. In addition, there’s the friends that embark upon the adventure with you. For me, it’s mostly my closest mates- after many years of festival going, we know how to look cool as we smuggle in our alcohol, we know the toilet blocks that attract the least amount of festival goers, and we know each others taste in music and are happy to go with the flow; whether our paths converge or diverge during the course of the day, we know we’ll end up shaking our butts together amidst the pool of sweaty, smiling stayers at the end of the night. And then, there’s the music…..

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2014 was no exception in terms of phenomenal lineups. And look, I gotta say that I was gutted when Blur cancelled, but at the same time, I’ve never been one of those people that needs every announced act to be one that I want to see- inevitably there’s 6 or 7 bands that I can say I don’t want to miss, and then along the way there’s one or two that are pleasant surprises, and I figure that pretty much covers my entrance fee and then some. Without fail, there’s an annual  contingent of myopic social media whingers that bemoan the lack of talent on the lineup. To them, I say, please find yourself another festival, because I don’t want to be be performing my own unique version of the Melbourne shuffle next to your pitiful ass during the course of my day.

Here’s the bands I caught during the course of my Big Day Out in 2014:

Loon Lake: Believe it or not, 2014 is the first year that I actually made it on time to see the first band that I actually had on my To See list. Befittingly, a local Melbourne act whose tunes always make me feel like a teenager again- a perfect mood setter for a day in which I tend to act like one!

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Kingswood: I have been meaning to catch these guys ever since I heard, downloaded, and repeatedly rocked out to their track, Medusa, on Unearthed. Kingswood could easily be the lovechild of Queens of the Stone Age and Kings of Leon. I am baffled that these guys have not yet hit the big time, but I swear they will do very soon. Glad to catch them before they did.

Tame Impala: With their unique blend of 70s-inspired psychedelic rock, these guys were the perfect act to spark up the days proceedings….. 😉

Rufus: After receiving my nomination for album of the year, these guys were one of my Not To Miss bands for the day, and they definitely didn’t disappoint with their mid-afternoon Boiler Room performance.  Phenomenal!

Grouplove: Unfortunately these guys overlapped Rufus, so I only caught half of their performance. So it goes on a day filled with superb musical choices- each of us must make a choice of who to see and who to passover. It would be a truly unique festival (or one with a crap lineup) where you could actually get to see every band that you want to see in their entirety. In any case, I caught the 2nd half and was blown away- one of the day’s highlights without doubt.

The Hives: Having seen these guys on a few occasions before, I was well aware of their unique and impressive stage presence. These Swedes know how to rock and they also know how to please the crowd- a great combo for a festival such as BDO.

BDO2Arcade Fire: I don’t like to admit it to my muso friends, but I am one of those people that has never been overly blown away by Arcade Fire. Look- there are certain songs that I can groove to, but they have never grabbed me by the proverbials and squeezed tightly, if you know what I mean. Hence, when I was asked to pass up Bliss’n’Eso to see Arcade Fire, I did so with some hesitation. But I did want to see what all the fuss was about. And you know, after seeing them live, I certainly understood the hype a bit more. They are a musician’s band. They play with an epic number of talented members- they all play every instrument known to man, and they produce catchy and likeable music. Tick, tick, tick! In saying that, I did leave a bit early to catch another of my day’s Not To Be Missed Acts….

Flume: 22 year old Aussie, Harley Streten, better known as Flume, is currently taking the world by storm with his unique blend of indie-electronicia and after seeing him live, it’s easy to see why. His music is an intoxicating blend of chilled out, funky and downright hip-shakin beats, and his set was one of my highlights for the day.

Pearl Jam: Unfortunately I have to say that Pearl Jam were one of the only disappointments of the day for me. Eddie Vedder seemed more interested in finishing his bottle of red and rambling on about his philanthropic traits rather than performing the hits that the crowd had come to hear. We came in late and left early to this set, so my review may be a little biased. Highlight was watching a power-drunk geeky security guard scrutinise the crowd in an attempt to validate his reason for being there.

BDO3Major Lazer: Wow… what can I say, but these guys were undeniably the act of the day. I have to admit that I was a little skeptical about how they would go in rounding out the day- after hits as diverse as the cruisy Get Free to the cheesy Bubble Butt. With mash-up master Diplo on the decks, these Reggae Dubstep masters unleashed a non-stop party pleasing set to an appreciative crowd. Complete with an epilipsy-inducing light show, giant zorb ball that was used to crowd surf across the audience, and extremely enthusiastic crowd participation both on stage and off, it was the one act I didn’t want to end, no matter what my legs were telling me after almost 12 hours of dancing. The set was a constant series of build ups and drops and not only included their big hits, but also mashed up crowd pleasers such as AC/DC, Prodigy and the Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs. If you get the chance, don’t pass up the opportunity to catch these guys!

So that was my Big Day Out for 2014. Apart from a few more trips to the beach, and possibly a G&T or several, my summer is now complete! Have you been to any festivals this summer? What’s been your highlights? Let me know by leaving a comment below….

(images used on this post are via Big Day Out’s Facebook page)

8 Comments on “Big Day Out 2014 Melbourne- Festival Review

  1. I think you should create a festival Nessie (one aimed at people over 30!) I would definitely go to that!! I can’t handle the crowds and the ‘yoof’ anymore. Too many muzzas.

    • Thanks Suse- Actually, this years BDO crowd was the best behaved I have ever seen. But I would love to organise a festival- I reckon it would be one of those capped at 1000 or so people, on someone’s farm….

      • That would be awesome Ness – maybe we can do it on Fanbelt & Glenn’s farm!!

  2. Awesome blog Ness. You may have just added that Pelle from the Hives was totally modest!!! Once again a bloody great day!!! Until next year or Future (if I can talk you into it) xx

  3. Oh dear.

    “Eddie Vedder seemed more interested in finishing his bottle of red and rambling on about his philanthropic traits rather than performing the hits that the crowd had come to hear”

    I think you’ll find that they played over two hours of the hits the crowd wanted to hear, 26 songs all up.
    I challenge you to name one other band in the history of the big day out that’s come close to matching that tally.

    Here are some numbers to set the record straight:
    5 songs from an album that’s certified 7x platinum in Australia
    19 songs from number 1 albums in Australia
    24 songs from albums which have spent a cumulative total of 236 weeks in the Australian charts

    I guess that’s not a very impressive setlist though since they didn’t play better man during the exact 5 minute period that you spent watching.

    • Hi Tim,
      As luck would have it, he did play Better Man during the 5 minutes that I was there! Score! I did mention that my opinion was probably biased by the fact that I came late and left early. To tell the truth, it just wasn’t the rockin set that I had hoped that Pearl Jam would put forward to end the night on (such as Red Hot Chili Peppers had done the previous year), but perhaps it did get more that way towards the end…. I have seen Pearl Jam twice before, and have been thoroughly impressed both times with their diversity and energy. Just not so much this time. Glad you enjoyed their set though. I’m sure there are a multitude of fans who agree with you!

      • Was pretty rockin most of the way through…
        Why go, evolution & save you pretty much blew the socks off everyone north of the mix desk & the stretch from corduroy through to given to fly which happened to include a 10+ minute rendition of even flow was relentless.
        The softer moments weren’t exactly dull either, Nothingman was one of the most well received of the set and had grown men practically weeping in appreciation. I’ve since been told that it had never been performed in Melbourne before in 13 previous shows going back to ’95.
        Done 14 BDO’s now and it’s hard to think of a BDO headliner that’s brought about a better crowd atmosphere…
        Only other complaint I’ve heard elsewhere was that it could have been a bit louder.

        • Thanks for your alternate take on their set…
          14 years of Big Day Out, hey? I had to look back on the history of Big Day Out to recall the first one I went to and it was 1997 at the Gold Coast (Prodigy, Offspring, Soundgarden). Have missed one or two along the way since then, but on the whole, if I’m in the country and physically able to get there, I’ll be dancing up a storm somewhere amidst the crowd!