Being festival season in the UK this seemed relevant. News broke yesterday on radio station Triple J that the roving one day festival, the Big Day Out, would not rove around Australia (and New Zealand) next year. I’m not going to be able to blog about it, so here’s my take on 2014, my first Big Day Out.
Held in Adelaide on the last Friday of January, and for the first (last?) time in Bonython Park, just west of the city centre, the Big Day Out is an Aussie institution. It’s unique feature is the double main stages with bands performing alternately on each, no interval between them. This year the headliners were Arcade Fire on the orange stage, followed by Pearl Jam on the blue. Blur were also meant to play but pulled out, to be replaced by, in brother Noel’s words, an “Oasis tribute band” – Liam Gallagher’s Beady Eye.
Unfortunately for Beady Eye the weather chose to be forty degrees plus that day, and with a mid-afternoon slot, everyone was more interested in shade and a cold beer than Oasis covers. Equally for Montreal’s electro-alt-rockers Arcade Fire, nobody had informed Win and the boys and girls that Australia is a hot country as they took to the stage with an ironic cover of Song #2 whilst donning giant Blur masks. Not learning their lesson in thermodynamics, the band proceeded to wear their own caricature masks during unwisely aerobic renditions of their exuberant album Reflektor. Not so Pearl Jam. Referencing his combat shorts, Eddie Vedder declared that this was not nostalgia, it was just “bloody hot.” That did not deter him from a similarly energetic performance, rewinding the calendars of their ageing but adoring fans.
There was much more to the Big Day Out- a least three or four smaller stages and a hip-hop tent, plus all the tack and trimmings of a major festival. I wondered who the event was geared to, and about the economics of the multiple stage rigging for just one day. Hence today’s announcement.
But I had a great day. My first Aussie festie was memorable. Pearl Jam were cool, in a retro kind of way, and Arcade Fire were hot, literally. If you are in London this summer get down to Hyde Park to see them. Next major music event here: the “opening” of the already-open Adelaide Oval with the Rolling Stones. I’ll be blogging about that here.