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Big Day Out promoter Ken West

Big Day Out promoter Ken West has had a rough year. In the last twelve months he has parted ways with business partner Viv Lees, drastically re-shaped the 2012 events and, only yesterday, announced that the Auckland leg of the BDO will be scrapped indefinitely.

Over the last few weeks he has given a number of candid interviews in which he has discussed everything from the near collapse of his festival dream to the destabilising effects of competing events such as Soundwave.

FasterLouder met up with West for a tour around the re-modelled Gold Coast site and to talk to him about the year that’s been, dealing with Kanye West’s people, not booking New Order and what happened the year that Nirvana didn’t headline Big Day Out

The lead-up to Big Day Out 2012 must have caused you plenty of headache, Ken – what are your thoughts now that everything and everyone’s locked in and good to go?
These large-scale events involve a massive amount of funding, don’t get anything from the government and have to totally rely on people buying tickets – it has to be seriously re-looked that music needs support just as much, if not more, than an Indy race, a sporting event or a horse thing. A myriad of things get funding whereas we get shoved to one side; more importantly, we don’t have a recording industry anymore – we’re left in cyberspace to fend for ourselves.

Rock and Roll is more cool than Indy cars going around and around – this is where the BDO leverage comes in: because of that 20-year legacy, we can actually communicate with people on a high political and business level. That’s the reality at the moment: everyone’s suffering from overspending or lack of attendance. We won’t pay so much and we rely on our audience, and then get buffeted by “you couldn’t deliver the big acts” or “you pay for the big acts, but you can’t afford it.” There seem to be two ways of going broke, but not two solutions, so we need to find more solutions.

What’s your favourite Big Day Out so far?
Hopefully it’s in the future, but 2010 was my favourite BDO year because I’ve had so many friends on the road – it was so massive and so easy. 2000 was a great year with Red Hot Chili Peppers; 1997 was an amazing year with Soundgarden closing and The Prodigy and The Offspring on the main stage. I often find for myself that the best years are with bands that have done it before.

Comments

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tyler07

tyler07 said on the 18th Jan, 2012

I loved the Mudhoney roll-ticket thing story haha, that's excellent.

Oflick

Oflick said on the 18th Jan, 2012

"at least we don’t have a problem that dance festivals have where everyone takes their shirt off and some of them are on steroids and are picking fights."

yeah, people generally just die when they do drugs at big day out.

Braveheart81

Braveheart81 said on the 18th Jan, 2012

The dance festival punters take their shirts off because they know the importance of staying cool when you're on amphetamines.

jana80

jana80 said on the 18th Jan, 2012

^^^ well there's 6 mins and 22 seconds of my life wasted.

@ 5.45 was so waiting for that chick's top to come down!

deanoss

deanoss said on the 18th Jan, 2012


What's your favourite Big Day Out so far?
Hopefully it's in the future, but 2010 was my favourite BDO year because I've had so many friends on the road – it was so massive and so easy. 2000 was a great year with Red Hot Chili Peppers; 1997 was an amazing year with Soundgarden closing and The Prodigy and The Offspring on the main stage. I often find for myself that the best years are with bands that have done it before.



Conclusion drawn: Mr West prefers recycling bands because it's easier

Shieldsy23

Shieldsy23 said on the 18th Jan, 2012

^^^ well there's 6 mins and 22 seconds of my life wasted.

@ 5.45 was so waiting for that chick's top to come down!

Did it not restore your faith in humanity?

Braveheart81

Braveheart81 said on the 18th Jan, 2012



Probably because a) the bands have done it before so they cause less dramas for the organisers and
b) the big repeat headliners sell a lot of tickets. Muse, Rage Against the Machine, The Prodigy, Tool, Rammstein.

tyler07

tyler07 said on the 18th Jan, 2012

I also do love how he's saying how circle pits are a big problem when in the last couple of years he's booked RATM, Bullet for my Valentine, Enter Shikari, Fear Factory, Mastodon (to name a few) and has Frenzal, Amity, and Parkway Drive booked for this year...

RAMONESelaar

RAMONESelaar said on the 18th Jan, 2012

lol moar like Big GAY Out, amiritelol

deanoss

deanoss said on the 18th Jan, 2012

Probably because a) the bands have done it before so they cause less dramas for the organisers and
b) the big repeat headliners sell a lot of tickets. Muse, Rage Against the Machine, The Prodigy, Tool, Rammstein.

Fair to say that Tool's appearance at last years BDO didn't shift as many tickets as when they toured for the same material 4 years earlier

RAMONESelaar

RAMONESelaar said on the 18th Jan, 2012



Sydney and Melbourne both sold out last year

sarcasm_mister

sarcasm_mister said on the 18th Jan, 2012

Tool years.

BDO 2010 - 287 000
BDO 2007 - 276 000

krudboy

krudboy said on the 18th Jan, 2012

great story, ken west for australian of the year...
potentially he may not have read kurts biography... was not wanting to go home so much as he was having trouble getting on.

krudboy

krudboy said on the 18th Jan, 2012

great story, ken west for australian of the year...
potentially he may not have read kurts biography... was not wanting to go home so much as he was having trouble getting on.

deanoss

deanoss said on the 18th Jan, 2012

Tool years.

BDO 2010 - 287 000
BDO 2007 - 276 000

attributing all of those ticket sales to Tool then are we?

monokhrome_nite

monokhrome_nite said on the 18th Jan, 2012

Well, it's a good thing that Soundwave are around to recycle BDO's headliners for them.

berlinchair101

berlinchair101 said on the 18th Jan, 2012

As much as you could attribute them to anything else.

RAMONESelaar

RAMONESelaar said on the 18th Jan, 2012



Obviously the extra 11,000 was all the mad keen Airbourne fans

sarcasm_mister

sarcasm_mister said on the 18th Jan, 2012



well they are the only facts we have. you're basing your opinion on speculation and second guessing.

Piko

Piko said on the 18th Jan, 2012

Still not tempted to buy a Gold Coast BDO ticket this year, one for the girls as this year may be? hehe, maybe i should go being the gold coast after all... But yes, next year I am curious about.

Note: Laneway seemed to spend a little less money on acts this year. Perhaps wise.

Shieldsy23

Shieldsy23 said on the 18th Jan, 2012



Arctic Monkeys for SW 2018 then?

RAMONESelaar

RAMONESelaar said on the 18th Jan, 2012

lol @ Soundwave existing in some form in 2018

Shieldsy23

Shieldsy23 said on the 18th Jan, 2012



AJ Maddah forfeiting the opportunity for egotistical ranting??
I doubt it...

RAMONESelaar

RAMONESelaar said on the 18th Jan, 2012

I didn't say TWITTER wouldn't still exist

kezz

kezz said on the 18th Jan, 2012

"at least we don%u2019t have a problem that dance festivals have where everyone takes their shirt off and some of them are on steroids and are picking fights."

sorry to burst your bubble mr west, but just cos they're not on steroids, doesn't mean they're not taking their shirts off and picking fights. i nearly got punched in the face by a drunk idiot whilst waiting in line for the beastie boys. dickheads are not exclusive to dance festivals.

kezz

kezz said on the 18th Jan, 2012

"at least we don%u2019t have a problem that dance festivals have where everyone takes their shirt off and some of them are on steroids and are picking fights."

sorry to burst your bubble mr west, but just cos they're not on steroids, doesn't mean they're not taking their shirts off and picking fights. i nearly got punched in the face by a drunk idiot whilst waiting in line for the beastie boys. dickheads are not exclusive to dance festivals.

boromisa

boromisa said on the 18th Jan, 2012

i dont understand why faster louder gives this bloke free ads.

Braveheart81

Braveheart81 said on the 18th Jan, 2012



Faster Louder does stories and interviews about all the major music festivals in Australia (and many of the not so major).

As an Australian music website surely it is their prerogative to promote musicians, festivals and concerts.

RAMONESelaar

RAMONESelaar said on the 18th Jan, 2012

Stop Being So Reasonable, Braveheart, You Dick.

shazie

shazie said on the 18th Jan, 2012

Tool years.

BDO 2010 - 287 000
BDO 2007 - 276 000

Tool played 2011. Doesn't really matter, but my pedantic-everything-must-be-correct side needed to say that.

Nosyt

Nosyt said on the 18th Jan, 2012

So this year is one for the girls?

Kinda sexist

01seb

01seb said on the 19th Jan, 2012

http://www.couriermail.com.au/ipad/punters-not-keen-for-a-big-day-out/story-fn6ck51p-1226244874713

Did anyone see this?
I didn't realise that they'll actually be making a loss this year.

Hinee

Hinee said on the 19th Jan, 2012

silver lining really. i'm going to love the less crowded feel this year. 20,000 still on sale for the GC, what's capacity, around 50k?

01seb

01seb said on the 19th Jan, 2012

20 000 still on sale?? Wow, it's going to be so empty on Sunday

waylon black

waylon black said on the 19th Jan, 2012

I thought he would take a hit this year but 20000 still on sale for the GC, that's huge!

tyler07

tyler07 said on the 19th Jan, 2012

The cap is 55k, so 35k will be fun! haha

DinkiDIDude

DinkiDIDude said on the 19th Jan, 2012



Geeze kid you really have it in for that festival dont you.....

DinkiDIDude

DinkiDIDude said on the 19th Jan, 2012

Ironically , for myself and the majority of my mates 2010 was the least enjoyable year so far and yet not only did it sell out in all states plus twice in Sydney, the promoters come out and said it was his favorite of the lot..........tried to sell my ticket this year after the second lineup announcement and have only just managed to offload it yesterday for $100.......two massively commercial headliners in Muse and Kanye and one huge gap in ticket sales regarding the years in question, weird.

monokhrome_nite

monokhrome_nite said on the 19th Jan, 2012



I'm just sayin', when you just look at the headliners, this year's Soundwave is probably the most recycled BDO lineup of all. Would be even more so if Hole were still on the bill.

DinkiDIDude

DinkiDIDude said on the 19th Jan, 2012



Yeah agreed, though besides Mastodon ( and maybe Enter Shikari?) the majority of acts havent been on the BDO circuit for at least 5 years, this years BDO however has a pretty large number of its top bands + Kanye backing up from another major Australian festival less than a year ago......as for nostalgic comebacks I cant see the New Order/Joy Division return to our shores bein anything but an absolute success, even without Peter Hook on Bass.

Bottom Line is that personal taste aside, people can bag SOAD all they want but their recent festival footage looks excellent imo and im pretty damn psyched for their set. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TBwDzvIR8h0&feature=related http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2-eIyUBHymc&feature=related http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z5sV79uQrfI&feature=related

RAMONESelaar

RAMONESelaar said on the 19th Jan, 2012



...or not.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n1kNZT3G5yk

monokhrome_nite

monokhrome_nite said on the 19th Jan, 2012

Serj's voice sounds really weak now. I suppose the musicianship is slightly less sloppy, though.

I still like SOAD quite a bit, but I'll probably pass on that Auckland show, unless I somehow ended up with a free ticket.

DinkiDIDude

DinkiDIDude said on the 19th Jan, 2012

...or not.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n1kNZT3G5yk

touche.....but threeche back http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HHGQ7OPxexE&feature=related

RAMONESelaar

RAMONESelaar said on the 19th Jan, 2012

I don't like SOAD, don't even bother trying.

monokhrome_nite

monokhrome_nite said on the 19th Jan, 2012

PROTIP: it's [media ]www.youtube/watch?v=whatever[ /media] without the spaces in the bracket and the &feature=related

tyler07

tyler07 said on the 19th Jan, 2012

Consider my erectile dysfunctioned after that video [Jose will know what i'm referring to].

monokhrome_nite

monokhrome_nite said on the 19th Jan, 2012

On the topic of Soundwave, I'm really curious to find out how much of a trainwreck Manson will be, since he's been on a constant downward spiral since about 1999

tyler07

tyler07 said on the 19th Jan, 2012

I'm gonna go with 'shit'.

DinkiDIDude

DinkiDIDude said on the 19th Jan, 2012

Serj's voice sounds really weak now. I suppose the musicianship is slightly less sloppy, though.

I still like SOAD quite a bit, but I'll probably pass on that Auckland show, unless I somehow ended up with a free ticket.

Yeah, im actually a pretty massive fanboy but a trek to the big smoke for a sideshow would be a bit off my radar as well, and ill give Ramone credit that was a pretty shitful clip he found, but all in all the majority of footage ive seen from their live sets at Rock am Ring, Download and Rock in Rio has all been pretty sweet......I admit the sound at times during their RIR set was plain awful.

DinkiDIDude

DinkiDIDude said on the 19th Jan, 2012



I could attempt to be really annoying here and go into big diatribes about personal taste, but everytime I look at your Dwight avatar I feel schooled by default :(.....

DinkiDIDude

DinkiDIDude said on the 19th Jan, 2012



ye shall tremor at the Prince of Darkness......

http://www.starsareblind.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/marylin-manson-fatty.jpg

JohnnyPark

JohnnyPark said on the 19th Jan, 2012

fyi mastodon played bdo in 2010

RAMONESelaar

RAMONESelaar said on the 20th Jan, 2012



Hahaha! I picked the Dwight gif because that's how I feel more often than not when I read these forums.

I'm the biggest hypocrite when it comes to the whole personal taste thing, but as long as you enjoy SOAD/whoever then what does it matter?

random_hero

random_hero said on the 20th Jan, 2012

this is why NZ isnt getting another BDO

2:30 pm in the main arena and its pretty empty

http://a6.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-ash4/395715_10151194735755257_811960256_22264095_1122311064_n.jpg

01seb

01seb said on the 20th Jan, 2012

In regards to SOAD, I think they sound really good live these days, much better than before the hiatus.
Rock am Ring, and the limited coverage of Download was really awesome. Rock in Rio had an issue with their streaming though so you couldn't hear the bass at all which is unfortunate.

monokhrome_nite

monokhrome_nite said on the 20th Jan, 2012

There isn't even a boiler room anymore. It's just a "boiler stage".

RAMONESelaar

RAMONESelaar said on the 20th Jan, 2012



Boo hoo, Perth hasn't had a proper Boiler Room for a few years now.

RAMONESelaar

RAMONESelaar said on the 20th Jan, 2012

At least they have...um...


...bogans?

01seb

01seb said on the 20th Jan, 2012

https://p.twimg.com/AjkUzTuCMAAVfFi.jpg

BDO 2007 at 1pm VS BDO 2012 at 1pm

monokhrome_nite

monokhrome_nite said on the 20th Jan, 2012

If that's really 2:30, then no one was on stage until 2:45. Beastwars were on that retarded skate stage on the other side of the field.

tyler07

tyler07 said on the 20th Jan, 2012

Cr1zZ and The Sheep Shaggin' Super band.

monokhrome_nite

monokhrome_nite said on the 20th Jan, 2012

but seriously I think it would've been Trivium or Blindspott or something

Fake Plastic Android

Fake Plastic Android said on the 20th Jan, 2012



But wouldn't that pull a big crowd in NZ?

Fake Plastic Android

Fake Plastic Android said on the 20th Jan, 2012

C'mon, Ramone. You can do better than that.

Jose Cuervo

Jose Cuervo said on the 20th Jan, 2012



http://asupra.com/gallery/d/3954-1/itsarly.jpg

????

RAMONESelaar

RAMONESelaar said on the 20th Jan, 2012



I was on my phone waiting at the licensing place, being a cun[SIZE=2]t was too much effort. I appreciate that you expect more from me though!

berlinchair101

berlinchair101 said on the 20th Jan, 2012

Biggest crowd of the day award goes to.........

TONY HAWK

http://distilleryimage3.instagram.com/81a9c02c432611e180c9123138016265_7.jpg

Jose Cuervo

Jose Cuervo said on the 20th Jan, 2012

I kinda wanna go now just to see tony hawk :(

monokhrome_nite

monokhrome_nite said on the 20th Jan, 2012

Genuinely tempted to try and find my 2011 ticket right now

Jose Cuervo

Jose Cuervo said on the 20th Jan, 2012

I've still got my 2004 bdo singlet around and a bdo baseball cap for about 07 I think

tyler07

tyler07 said on the 20th Jan, 2012



I only just realised that the Skate ramp is right next to the mainstage at the GC as well, so now i'm so genuinely keen to watch Tony Hawk while Kasabian play (although it would've been cooler if it was during Frenzal or somebody).

Jose Cuervo

Jose Cuervo said on the 20th Jan, 2012

Nah better during kasabian, you wont miss anything important then

tyler07

tyler07 said on the 20th Jan, 2012

Good point.

monokhrome_nite posted on the BDO forum that MCR only played 9 songs in their hour set... That's pretty pathetic imo.

DinkiDIDude

DinkiDIDude said on the 20th Jan, 2012

Hahaha! I picked the Dwight gif because that's how I feel more often than not when I read these forums.

I'm the biggest hypocrite when it comes to the whole personal taste thing, but as long as you enjoy SOAD/whoever then what does it matter?


hehe dont sweat it buddy like the majority of homo-sapiens my personal playlist ranges from the absolute kitch to the absolute bizarre, yet I still spend an unjustified amount of work time troll-posting the shit out of certain Music clips I dont happen to like on youtube,dailymotion etc, getting tetchy about somebody disagreeing with my personal taste on this site would make a cruel mockery of the whole Karma balance thing......... just pointing out what a powerful ally 'D-Money' can be lol



ever go to Warped tour when it was touring in the late 90's Jose?, Pennywise, Blink, Vandals, Deftones etc + Vans vert team =

http://gtr1ab.files.wordpress.com/2010/06/blowmind.jpg

Jose Cuervo

Jose Cuervo said on the 20th Jan, 2012




ever go to Warped tour when it was touring in the late 90's Jose?, Pennywise, Blink, Vandals, Deftones etc + Vans vert team =

http://gtr1ab.files.wordpress.com/2010/06/blowmind.jpg

Im not as old as all the other cunts here

Quicky

Quicky said on the 20th Jan, 2012

If MCR aren't late at Sydney BDO, I predict 12 songs but I'm seeing them again the next day so meh if they're a tad late.

tyler07

tyler07 said on the 20th Jan, 2012

If you're playing at 5 in the arvo there is no reason to be late.

Slip_dog

Slip_dog said on the 20th Jan, 2012

https://p.twimg.com/AjkUzTuCMAAVfFi.jpg

BDO 2007 at 1pm VS BDO 2012 at 1pm

Ha ha yeah good line up twats.

Jose Cuervo

Jose Cuervo said on the 20th Jan, 2012



I also never get it when the first band on a bill is late

Quicky

Quicky said on the 20th Jan, 2012



Yeah same, for example?

RAMONESelaar

RAMONESelaar said on the 20th Jan, 2012



Try harder. Your material's getting old.

BundyandCola

BundyandCola said on the 20th Jan, 2012

i told the missus who was headlining the bdo she laughed. i showed her the pictures and she replied 'no wonder'.

the line up is probably still alright for $150 in today's market

maybe as fans of bdo we have let our expectations get too high

im biased though really - i wouldnt even go if it was eminiem (sic) as a headliner

what i like on that main stage once the sun goes down is band that can fill that stadium and unless kayne comes out with a 10 peice band it will sound unimpressive

btw we were both at the first bdo (not that it matters in anyway but give a clue to my age).

bigval

bigval said on the 20th Jan, 2012

Auckland BDO cancelled:

BIG Day Out fans fear Adelaide and Perth could suffer the same fate as the New Zealand leg of the festival, which has been cancelled from next year.

Doubts surfaced when headline act Kanye West was dumped from the 2012 Adelaide, Perth and New Zealand festivals to save costs, sparking a huge backlash from the industry and fans.

Now the Big Day Out has pulled the pin on next year's Auckland event to recoup the festival's first losses in its 20-year history.

http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/entertainment/music/fears-for-fate-of-the-big-day-out/story-e6freeuu-1226249815431

shazie

shazie said on the 20th Jan, 2012

Auckland BDO cancelled:



http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/entertainment/music/fears-for-fate-of-the-big-day-out/story-e6freeuu-1226249815431

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o46NoIWNiGI

deanoss

deanoss said on the 21st Jan, 2012

Interesting article... Seems a bit up himself to be honest.. So ur business partner left, big deal, happens every day! Get over it!

http://theage.com.au/entertainment/music/big-day-out-in-fight-for-its-life-20120121-1qbj7.html

monokhrome_nite

monokhrome_nite said on the 22nd Jan, 2012

He has a point regarding Kanye and the BDO audience, though. They bag them out for constantly relying on return acts, but when they actually do take a risk with their headliner, they bag them out even more.

Regarding the whole "mainstream vs. alternative" thing, I saw it when the lineup was released - half of the complaints were because "it's too mainstream! Whatever happened to the alternative days when BDO was cool!" and the other half were because "I haven't heard of them so they must suck lolol"

shazie

shazie said on the 22nd Jan, 2012

He has a point regarding Kanye and the BDO audience, though. They bag them out for constantly relying on return acts, but when they actually do take a risk with their headliner, they bag them out even more.

Regarding the whole "mainstream vs. alternative" thing, I saw it when the lineup was released - half of the complaints were because "it's too mainstream! Whatever happened to the alternative days when BDO was cool!" and the other half were because "I haven't heard of them so they must suck lolol"

Meanwhile, the event's original audience has aged to the point where most are not prepared to take a chance on anything new. Both West and Lees find that dispiriting.

"It's become Groundhog Day for me," says Lees. "We get criticised for putting on an up-and-coming band who'll be big in five years, which is what we're good at and what we need to sustain ourselves." Tribalism rules, too: there was fury online at the news that Kanye West was playing, because he was seen as too soft. "They weren't looking from the positive point of view that he is one of the great creative musicians in the world at the moment," says Lees. "A big festival in the UK or the US can put people like that on, but we have an audience that's closed to that. So it is disappointing."


The majority of my friends who say the lineup is poor and they want "better" acts is because they don't know a lot of the bands. I try to say to them "well this is a great opportunity to listen to some great new music! Would you like me to give you some of stuff?" but they respond "nah cbf".

bettynsqueak

bettynsqueak said on the 30th Jan, 2012

"rock and roll is more cool than indy cars going around and around %u2013 this is where the bdo leverage comes in"

because kanye f*#king west is sooooooooooo rock'n'roll

berlinchair101

berlinchair101 said on the 30th Jan, 2012

He is pretty damn rock and roll.

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