Despite the threat of rain, the Sydney Big Day Out festival seemed to please the punters. Approximately 47,000 people attended the Australia Day music festival with early storms passing to the delight of excited crowds.
Celebrating 20 years of Big Day Out, headliners Soundgarden and Kanye West managed to keep the Olympic stadium full for the entirety of their sets.
ARIA champions Boy & Bear had the crowd involved with their cover of Crowded House’s Fall At Your Feet, anteceded by The Jezabels, who played songs from their debut album, which was awarded Best Album by Rolling Stone magazine.
Hilltop Hoods pulled a very large afternoon crowd and thanked fans for showing “twice as much love as the Gold Coast.”
American quartet Best Coast- whose lead singer swallowed a bug at the beginning of the show- had a third of the audience leave after they finished their popular single ‘Girlfriend.’
American band Foster the People seemed to have pre-empted this effect and played their hugely successful song ‘Pumped up Kicks’ last, which they extended for five additional minutes. The band should have earned a spot on the main stage, as the small Converse stage over-flowed with those eager to hear the song.
The Hot Produce stage provided some understated highlights. Mexican-influenced band Mariachi El Bronx had spectators in the small amphitheatre on their feet and dancing to the sound of classical guitars, trumpets, a violin, and an energetic vocalist.
The stage was also host to the winners of Triple J’s Unearthed competition, Underlights, whose impressive interpretation of the country and blues style was a testament to the competition’s ability to find talent.
There was barely a quiet place at the Olympic park as low and predictable bass thumps morphed into more chest-vibrating thumps – occasionally accompanied by wispy treble – as the ticket holders walked around the showground.
Dehydration and sunburn were almost inevitable for those whose schedules required them to be at one of the five unsheltered stages for most of the day.
Others would experience mild delirium and lack of nutrition as they clambered from stage to stage, thinking only about the staggering amount of bands that they needed to fit into 12 hours.
The sound was generally poor. This was a function of large out-door stages, and kick-drum and bass-happy sound technicians, who were probably aware that the presence of loud thumping would dictate whether the crowd jumped up and down.
Former Oasis singer Noel Gallagher closed the festival with the hit ‘Don’t Look Back In Anger’, after he expressed confusion about the occasion. “Happy Australia Day whatever that means,” he told the crowd.
St John Ambulance transported eight people to hospital including Calling All Cars’ bassist Haydn Ing who stage dived into the crowd during their set and received an elbow to his head. Police arrested a large number of revelers during their high-visibility operation at the festival.