First, I’ll get my weather rant out of the way – it was bloody hot. Really. Very, very, very hot. It was like the sun noticed that there were 50,000 semi-clothed people dancing and singing away in Homebush and decided it would be a good time to turn up the UV and blast out some sunburns and some solid cases of heat-stroke. Which is exactly what happened.
Second, I need to get off my chest my feelings about the other festival goers’ attire (I know I should ignore them and just listen to the music, but I’m snarky and cynical and can’t help myself). Anyway, once at Olympic park, my friends and I quickly noticed that this season’s must-have fashion item was bare skin. Lots of it – shirtless, bikinis – it didn’t matter. You just had to have the skin out there. And preferably have it tanned to a nice burnt roast chicken colour. (Seriously, I thought most of Australia had caught onto the fact that tanning increases your chance of skin cancer? Apparently not.) However, the skin-cancer hunting hoards were not BDO’s oddest dressed (also, we didn’t spot any fabled high-heel wearing girls) – instead, the oddest dressed prize goes to the multitudes of bikini girls who wore tight, unzipped short-shorts. That’s right. Deliberately unzipped. This we couldn’t get over. Their plan seemed to be: find the smallest pair of shorts possible, making sure they were tight enough not to fall down, and then unzip them, exposing your swimmer bottoms or underpants. Am I missing something here? Are the girls in Sydney so much further ahead in the fashion stakes than me? Anyway. On to the music.
Travelling with three friends, we had an eclectic line-up of acts to see. I ended up catching Lisa Mitchell, Tame Impala, Kasabian, the end of Temper Trap, all of Passion Pit and Muse, most of Girl Talk and Calvin Harris, the beginning of Dizzee Rascal, most of Midnight Juggernaughts, all of Ladyhawke (she’s so cool!) and most of Peaches (who wins major hilarious awesome points for encouraging the last clothed 20% of the crowd to strip by saying she was having a competition between all the BDOs to see who could follow her instructions best: she chanted “shirts come off. Shirts, shirts come off.” Then everyone span their shirts round in the air. If a pop-star told you to jump off a bridge, would you do it?)
The day started well when the little, red-lipped folky Lisa Mitchell went nuts at the beach-ball touting crowd after they tossed one-dollar coins on stage during her hit song “Coin Laundry”. This, apparently, is a major problem for her (my friends tell me a similar thing happened during her set at the Falls Festival). Anyway, Lisa Mitchell stopped the song at the beginning of the first chorus, swore at the crowd, and instructed them to punch anyone out who threw anymore coins. The crowd stopped throwing coins, she began the song again and the rest of her set went well, her scowling and close-to-tears look aside.
Lisa Mitchell swears at the crowd for their coin throwing tendencies
By three pm when Passion Pit started, the day was at its hottest. The ground was dry, t-shirts and bare backs were sweat drenched and those who tossed their water bottles into the air were hailed as heroes. Passion Pit’s set was energetic and full of enthusiastic electro-pop goodness. I was surprised at how well their high-pitched, synth-layered voices worked in a live setting. They played all their big singles from “Manners” and the crowd lapped it up and then sweated it out again (yuck. I just realised what an appalling analogy that was). But seriously, this was sweat-city.
Moving onwards through the Big Day and one of the big headliners, Dizzee Rascal was on. He jumped up on stage. And promptly took off his shirt. And started dancing. I was up the back for this set so the sound quality was rubbish, and admittedly, I didn’t hear Dizzee sing the hit “Bonkers” but I wasn’t that impressed. The best part of his set was, as one of my 30 Rock loving friends pointed out, the fact that Dizzee was probably channelling the character Tracy Morgan – a similarly shirt-shy dude known for crazy antics and self-promotion.
The crowd for Dizzee Rascal. I think all they did was yell "sing Bonkers!!!"
Even later in the day... I’ve never really listened to that much Calvin Harris but his set in the (mercifully shady) Boiler Room was outrageously great. The well-dressed, sexy-British accented Harris played fun, happy pop music that made you want to party. And party we did. Playing his major hit “Ready for the Weekend” on a Friday was perfect and the crowd danced around like the cast of Footloose crossed with the dancers from So You Think You Can Dance? (or at least that’s how we felt like we were dancing). He also really made an effort to engage with the crowd between songs and said the best possible things to us - “Sydney, you are fucking sexy!”
The indoor ferris-wheel in the Boiler Room. Points for awesomeness.
Very late in the day and people were flaking. However, I had friends who were keen as mustard to catch the epic-ness that is Muse. Though I’m not really a Muse fan, they certainly knew how to put on a good show. Their method? One: get lasers. Get lots of lasers. Screw it, get even more lasers. Lasers are so fucking awesome that we should have as many as possible, right? Two: write some epic songs. Preferably about not being over thrown, or about uniting the world or about black holes (they’re pretty epic, right?). Three: add 50,000 partying punters and shake. And that was Muse.
Muse. Now with epic lasers.
Big Day Out certainly lived up to its name. It ticked “big” – stacks of bands, “day” – it was a whole day of live music fun and “out” – you definitely knew you were outside, and out amongst it all.
Next time, Laneway Festival!
(All photos courtesy of the lovely Cleo who, unlike me actually bothered to take photos with her camera. I’m going to have to remember to use mine at Laneway…)