Big Day Out 2009 – Perth, Australia
Festival review and photos by Music Vice writer Danny Crombie – 2 February, 2009
Gig/Concert: The Famines
Venue: Claremont Showgrounds, Perth, Western Australia
Date: 1 February, 2009
Headliners: Neil Young, The Prodigy
In one word: Surprising
Attending a festival is something that requires military precision in my book; like any trip you have to be prepared for what’s in store. The first concern for any music fan is to work out who you’re going to see and when and with festivals you have to please everyone.
My girlfriend and I arrived at the Claremont Showground around 2.45 with surprisingly very little delay or queuing and tried to find the stage where the Ting Tings were doing their thing. They are a band that I consider to be pretty much just a fad with throwaway songs, so I wasn’t too upset when we got lost at the other end of the grounds and missed them.
“TV on the Radio were an absolute delight to watch, a great new discovery for me.”
Next I stumbled upon COG whilst scoping out the scene, and I was left fairly unimpressed by their average songs which a lot of people seemed to know. I’ve never heard of them, and personally I won’t be hearing anything from them again.
Bullet for My Valentine came onto the blue stage and played a loud and energetic performance to a crowd of dedicated metal-heads. They were tight and a fun band to watch, even in blistering heat.
TV on the Radio were an absolute delight to watch, a great new discovery for me. They played a fantastic eclectic set ranging from blistering electro punk to funk, a band consisting of incredibly talented musicians I will surely see again in the future.
Sneaky Sound System gave a strong performance and should be named “recycler’s of the day”, after reworking other people’s songs for their own. I must admit I didn’t pay full attention to them as I was waiting for the band next door to play.
Pendulum’s show was probably the biggest of the daytime, I’m sure the show was an honour for them to play to such a massive hometown audience. We made the foolish mistake of entering the D-ring, only to get knocked around and elbowed by shirtless idiots with no manners. The band was good though and I’m certain they entertained most.
I’m afraid to say that My Morning Jacket are a band I’ve never felt the need to listen to. They are one of those groups whose names you hear thrown around all the time, yet some kind of stubbornness within forces you to ignore them. The great thing about festivals is that you can go and check out bands and it’s no massive loss if you don’t like them. As for My Morning Jacket…I loved ‘em! A real good band with weird rockin’ songs and when the pedal steel came out I became a fan – I’m a sucker for that pedal steel!
Serj Tankian was a weird choice for a main stage, although extremely big with his other band, not big enough for a main stage. We went quite near the front so I couldn’t really see his audience but whoever was in front certainly enjoyed him.
He played a great set of his own tunes which sadly don’t quite cut it against SOAD but still a very good set nonetheless. Certainly notable was his Abba cover, I’m sure you’ll get that on youtube.
“The crowd loved The Living End but I found them to sound like a poor man’s Stiff Little Fingers, who are an extremely poor man’s Clash.”
The Living End are another “know the name, but don’t know their music” band who are big in Australia and not really anywhere else. You could never see them getting a hit song anywhere else but here. The crowd loved them but I found them to sound like a poor man’s Stiff Little Fingers, who are an extremely poor man’s Clash – I can safely say I won’t be bothered about seeing them again.
After a hard day in the sun we decided to take a seat and get some food, though not seeing I did hear some of Cut Copy, whose singer sounds A LOT like Joey Ramone – I’ll have to check them out.
Arctic Monkeys are a band to see only to say you’ve seen them. I only like Fluorescent Adolescent which was a delight to hear – a very well crafted and soulful song. Something about Alex’s voice usually grates on me but tonight I enjoyed them. They’re a band suited for festivals and I found it strangely beautiful watching the sun go down as they played.
Hot Chip were playing the boiler room, a very packed area which I’m sure most of the crowd were there already to see the Keith Flint & Co. We watched one song, luckily the only one I knew, before heading back to see the godfather of punk himself.
“Dropkick Murphys are a band I used to love when I was younger…I certainly enjoyed them but felt embarrassed to have left Neil Young to watch them for 20 minutes.“
Mr Neil Young was a weird headline act, he seems virtually irrelevant to most of the audience but I don’t want to knock him though as he was brilliant. His vocal and guitar skills are better than ever and he drew a considerable crowd. We caught 30 minutes of him before having the leave due to schedule commitments.
Dropkick Murphys are a band I used to love when I was younger, although slightly embarrassed by their faux Irish accents and sometimes dodgy tunes I loved how they incorporated instruments like the bagpipes and banjo into such intense punk rock.
They played a couple of songs I vaguely knew and a heap of others, I certainly enjoyed them but felt embarrassed to have left Neil Young to watch them for 20 minutes.
Seeing The Prodigy was a bit of a no-hoper for us, my girlfriend having been brought up listening to them was extremely excited about seeing them and slightly peeved at our detour through Leprechaun Land. There was definitely no chance seeing them as the Boiler Room was packed and people were even having raves watching the TV screens far, far away from the actual band.
Walking away from the area we saw what seemed like a headliner battle between Neil Young and The Prodigy. Prodigy pulled a crowd that almost doubled Young’s audience, and the noise of the Prodigy crowd and the shear volume overpowered parts of his set. I felt that although Young was an interesting choice as headliner, he really should have been on a smaller stage for The Prodigy to play to the larger crowd.
After that we went to see the last band on our list, Fantomas – featuring the legends Buzz from The Melvins, Dave Lombardo from Slayer and Mike Patton of Faith no More and Tomahawk. I’d never heard them before and was pleasantly surprised upon entering the Converse Stage; they are most certainly my band of the day. Fantomas are experimental avant-garde metal, a genre I have dabbled in and appreciate greatly. They were on top form and were all clearly having a good laugh while playing – something that should be at the centre of all music. They were fun, interesting and enjoyable to watch, I will most certainly be seeing them again.
We left Big Day Out with sunburn, sore feet, clothes soaked in sweat, hearing impairments and massive grins on our faces. The concept of festivals is something I really never enjoyed in the past but after going to one I can see why these idiots love ‘em. Roll on next year!
© Danny Crombie
Big Day Out official website – www.bigdayout.com