[Live Review] SYDNEY BIG DAY OUT 2014

Arcade Fire 19

Sydney Showground
Sunday January 26, 2014 :

For a Big Day Out tour that has been marred by low ticket sales, last minute venue changes and the cancellation of a headline act, at least the organisers can say they had Mother Nature on their side when the show rolled into Sydney on Sunday.

$2 shops were surely cleared out of their Australia Day merchandise as punters young and old donned a flag, put on a green and gold bikini, or slapped on some temporary tattoos celebrate our national holiday with one of the most impressive Big Day Out line ups of recent years in some of the mildest conditions in recent years – a far cry from the heat stroke inducing furnace that was BDO 2013.

With the Sydney leg of the tour occurring on Australia Day, I did what any self-respecting Australian would have done and started my day off right with some quality Aussie rock. Bluejuice christened the Blue Stage with a fun show that saw Stav and Jake strip down to their golden sequined jocks. Melbournians, Kingwood offered straight-up, no frills rock’n’roll on the JBL Essential Stage with the crowd getting down to radio favourites like ‘Medusa’, ‘She’s My Baby’ and ‘Ohio’ before Tame Impala jumped on the Orange Stage for what felt like a jam session – not everyone dug the mega-chilled out vibe and the mood in the crowd lifted considerable toward the end of the set when more listener-friendly tracks like ‘Elephant’ and ‘Feels Like We Only Go Backwards’ made an appearance.

Swedish rockers, The Hives followed through with their plan of performing the “best Hives concert on planet earth,” with their high-energy set crammed with short and sharp hits from across four of their albums – the only notable exception from the setlist being ‘Two Timing Touch and Broken Bones.’ Not absent however, was frontman Pelle Almqvist’s infamous sense of modesty, declaring to the crowd that he would leave “safe in the knowledge that I love Sydney and Sydney loves me!” Oh, and need I mention their dashing mariachi outfits?

Arcade Fire were another big draw card for many punters this year and they did not disappoint. With a troop of 10 performers on stage, the Canadians kicked off their set with a cheeky cover of Blur’s ‘Song 2’, before launching into what can only be described as a near-perfect performance. Each song was met with joyous sighs, from the wondrous sing-along of ‘Wake Up’ to the epic combo of ‘Reflektor’ back-to-back with ‘No Cars Go.’ For such an album-driven band whose tracks frequently clock in over the five-minute mark, I was also surprised by the fluidity of the set – never a dragging or dull moment.

As much as I give props to the Big Day Out’s promoters for managing to bag an act as massive as Pearl Jam to headline the festival, I must confess, I, like many, shunned their mammoth two and a half hour long set in favour of shorter appearances by Snoop Lion and Major Lazer over on the Red Stage (I had chats with quite a few people in the crowd throughout the day and the general consensus seemed to be, ‘I like Pearl Jam, but not two and a half hours of Pearl Jam,’ although I’m told they did an amazing job closing the Blue Stage.)

Snoop Lion/Snoop Dogg/Snoopzilla proved he’s the king regardless of the moniker with his hour-long set of hip hop classics, which included covers from other rap greats like, Notorious B.I.G, 2Pac and Dr. Dre, as well as tracks from his days as both Dogg and Lion. Major Lazer ended up having one of the most intense live shows of the day and proved a hit with younger festival goers keen to hear American DJ/producer Diplo’s unique take on electro dancehall. This set had it all really, confetti cannons, streamer guns, dancing mascots, a Wayne Coyne-style bubble, A+ audience participation, dancing girls vigorously twerking all over Aussie EDM artist, Flume, and some mighty danceable tunes.

The addition of AJ Maddah to the Big Day Out family this year may have raised a few eyebrows and some speculation in the industry as to his intensions and his eventual monopolisation of the Australian festival circuit but as far as I’m concerned, if this is the kind festival you get when AJ is involved, go right ahead! Big Day Out 2014 had a diverse range of acts, big headliners, plenty of top-notch local talent, what more could you want. Bring on 2015, I say.

Reviewer: Amelia Parrott
Photographer: Kevin Bull

ARCADE FIRE

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BEADY EYE

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BENJALU

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BO NINGEN

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DEFTONES

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GHOST

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GROUPLOVE

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KINGSWOOD

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MAJOR LAZER

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PORTUGAL. THE MAN

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PRIMUS

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SNOOP DOGG

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THE 1975

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THE DRONES

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THE HIVES

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THE LUMINEERS

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THE YOUNG & RESTLESS

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TORO Y MOI

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VISTA CHINO

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SOCIALS & SITE

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