Big Day Out promoter KenWest
Wed 18th Jan, 2012 in Features
One of BDO’s lasting moments is Grinspoon firing up Champion at the 2000 Sydney event, with the whole area instantly turning into a giant mosh.
Those days are hopefully gone – giant moshes are and were awesome when it’s done where people are really careful of each other and they’re doing it as fun. It’s kind of like a modern square dance, really – “extreme square dancing”, I might call it. When they do it, they don’t have any regard for people around them or when it starts to go wrong, and that’s really scary.
Phil Jamieson and Grinspoon can really communicate with the audience and stop it on the dime if anything goes wrong, but that was a long time ago. The main thing we have problems with is circle dancing, where they slam each other in the middle and it starts to grow and gets to the point where you can’t really stop it – you have to hope the next song is a ballad or something. At one of the early shows, Mudhoney got one of those roll ticket things on the side of the stage, so you could take a ticket to stage dive – I thought that was a really good idea. They lined up, got a ticket – “Number 43!” (laughs) Organised chaos.
In your opinion, has the BDO atmosphere changed a lot over the years?
The atmosphere has definitely changed to a certain extent. The people who came to the smaller original BDOs were hardcore alternative scene people – they knew everything, they wanted to watch every band and weren’t interested in missing anything; they wanted maximum value and would run from stage to stage like in a military operation until they got too drunk. We were outsiders, so the police didn’t know much about it and nobody really got hurt that much – everybody got along. When we came back after 1997, that was the time it was most important and a lot more people came to the show who were less preoccupied with the music, which meant it was a lot harder to enjoy your day if you haven’t done your homework and you’d have a rougher crowd – the whole “I’m just here for the vibe” thing.
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.
We’ve gone from a massive show in 2010 including two sell-outs in Sydney to a very big, heavy show for 2011, when a lot of heavy music people said “Oh, great – Big Day Out is back!” They don’t seem to understand that I always try to do one for the boys and one for the girls; it’s a very simple formula. Also, BDO represents what’s been happening with the three-day festivals, because they’ve been copping shit all the time, too: Lollapalooza had Lady Gaga on and they were caning Glastonbury because they had Jay-Z on, and the next year, Beyonce was on. Check the reviews afterwards – everyone thought it was awesome.
You’ve mentioned earlier that BDO 2013 is going to be the biggest one yet.
It will be very good – quite different in some ways, bearing in mind we’re working with geographical limitations of what we’re trying to do in one day. Also, it takes 10 years for a band to get to a level where they can headline a festival – even if they’re awesome. Things are over-fished at the moment, if you want to call it in fishing terms – they won’t remain special. There’s no money here; where do we find money? It’s like a gold rush, and you know what happens to gold rushes? They finish.
Something eventually dries up.
In this case, it’s the audience, but having said that, this is probably the biggest summer on record – when you start throwing in the Foo Fighters and Eminems. On a dollar figure, it’s the biggest summer by a mile, so it’s over saturated on a few levels.
Big Day Out kicks of this weekend in the Gold Coast:
Sunday 22nd January – Gold Coast Parklands
Thursday 26th January – Sydney Showground
Sunday 29th January – Melbourne Flemington Racecourse
Friday 3rd February – Victoria Park Foreshore McCallum Park
Sunday 5th February- Perth Claremont Showground