The world’s biggest rapper swooped down upon his loyal subjects as an unlikely international collaboration set the dance tent jumping, and a man responsible for selling almost 100 million records strummed his guitar nearby. And that was just at 9pm.
Big Day Out Melbourne - January 29, 2012. Review by Jane Metlikovec
The Big Day Out rocks. Forget the negative publicity that's been shovelled at Australia’s biggest touring showcase . The BDO doesn’t deserve it and yesterday festival organisers proved why to more than 50,000 sweat-slicked Victorians.
Melbourne threw Flemington Racecourse open under sweltering 35 degree skies, and local up-and-comers Stonefield were the first of a long list of acts to shake their heads and announce the stage catch-call of the day: “It is ridiculously hot up here.”
The young female family act – who already have a Glastonbury Festival under their teeny belts – deservedly pulled a decent crowd at the knock of noon, but unfortunately lost fans too soon by holding off on hits “Through the Clover” and “Blackwater Rising” and a stellar cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love”, until late in the set.
Sydney funk/pop rockers Bluejuice didn’t make the same mistake and cranked the fun quick, ripping into hit “Vitriol” early in the piece. Dripping in flouro face paint, lead singers Stav and Jake dropped their shirts and jumped the packed 1pm Boiler Room crowd with high-energy numbers including “Act Yr Age” and “Broken Leg”. Playing a near-porno on their giant screen also humoured the punters and summed up the five-piece perfectly: Loose.
Old-timers Frenzal Rhomb shared the stage with a young timer, when lead singer Jay’s two-year-old son Oscar wandered onto the main stage, cuddling a teddy and donning massive ear muffs, for a hug from Dad at the start of “So Much Fun”. Cute.
Aussie musos-of-the-moment Boy & Bear served up all the hits from their 2011 smash folk album Moonfire without straying away from the radio mixes., While conservative, the mid-afternoon audience happily belted along to ARIA song of the year “Feeding Line”, and other hits “Milk & Sticks” and “Part Time Believer”, and their popular cover of Crowded House hit “Fall at Your Feet”.
The ever-touring The Jezebels didn’t let over-exposure dent their set. Lead singer Hayley Mary’s voice was unparalleled, and generated a resounding cheer for single “Endless Summer”. Breakthrough hit “Mace Spray” was another highlight.
Five-time BDO billers Hilltop Hoods revved the main Orange Stage with their fail-safe hip hop, rolling out a decade of faves, dropping “Recapturing the Vibe”, “The Hard Road” and “Last Confession” before current single “I love It”.
The Nosebleed Section sent the D barrier ballistic and set the tone for the Light You Burned, the crowd swearing along to every hate-filled word directed at one very unfortunate ex-girlfriend. A stellar exit with “Chase that Feeling” left the crowd calling for more homespun rap, and they were rewarded when local MC it-boy 360 swung onto The Living End’s stage 30 minutes later for a local rendition of “How Do We Know” – a collaboration debuted earlier this month at Gold Coast BDO.
While the overall sentiment of 360’s freestyle seemed a little iffy (read unrepeatable here), the vibe was right, and surprisingly worked with the rock faves. Stalwart tracks “Second Solution”, “Roll On” and “Prisoner of Society” impressed and “White Noise” capped a raw set.
Melbourne ensemble Architecture in Helsinki announced they had realised a childhood dream with a BDO performance as they split the seams on the Green Stage. Thousands crammed in for an impressive cover of “Bette Davis Eyes” and recent hits “Contact High” and “Escapee”. “Heart It Races” outshone its pop peers for pure bop bliss.
Girl Talk got the Boiler bouncing with a packed stage of fans dancing up against the decks. Launching with “Oh No”, the US sample star mashed his way through an eclectic trove of tunes. Everything and anything from Kylie Minogue’s “Locomotion” to M83’s “Midnight City” to Beyonce and Daft Punk.
Perth MC Drapht proved his loyal following over at the packed Essential Stage, despite tough timetable clashes against popular US indie group Foster the People and headliners Soundgarden. Highlights: “Sing It (The Life of Riley)”, “Rapunzel”, “Bali Party” and, of course, “Jimmy Recard” . The lower end of the age range opted for the LA trio over on the Green Stage, and that was hands-down the best decision of the day. Like Architecture, FtP were way too popular to play the third stage, and they showed Melbourne why. Ridiculously catchy sun-fun songs “Call It What You Want” and “Helena Beat” were irresistible, while anthem “Pumped Up Kicks” was unparalleled for mass sing-along of the day. Brilliant. And the lads didn’t mess around after sprinting off stage. They had a surprise spot reserved for them in the Boiler Room alongside Australia’s best dance act Art vs Science.
Robbed by a clash with Kanye, an unusually small crowd for the ever-growing Art gigs were quickly whipping out their cameras when they introduced their new tour chums Foster the People on stage after unleashing the best cover track of the day: the Chemical Bros “Block Rockin Beats”.
AvS and FtP sung together, drummed together, danced together and sent mobile phone messaging into meltdown with demands by the crowd to ‘hurry up and get to the Boiler now! Stuff Kanye!’ Festival Gold.
While former Oasis frontman Noel Gallagher didn’t pull any stunts a la AvS, he didn’t have to. A solid turnout saw Gallagher belting out and strumming along to a decent Green stage crowd. Sure, many were fly-in Poms having their photos taken to send home and make their fellow countrymen blind with jealousy at how close they got to one of the best singer/songwriters the UK has ever produced. His new outfit, the High Flying Birds was tight, and signature tune “The Death of You and Me” is rebadged classic Gallagher.
Rounding out a very big day, was, of course, rap king Kanye West. God complex in full flight, the superstar swung his entrance above the crowd in a pimped-up cherry picker as the stage curtains dropped to reveal a massive white Florentine fresco set, as dancer/worshippers scurried about, white-clad and cult-like on stage.
The seriousness of the ego was actually a little frightening to witness. Tacky drama aside, Kanye could not be faulted for his singing. And, well that is actually what he was there to do, although it was easy to forget in among all the awe.
“Gold Digger”, “Love Lockdown”, “All of the Lights”, “Stringer”, “Runaway”, “Lost in the World”. They were all there, and that’s why he was. A veritable smorgasbord of singles. He smashed it.