Big Day Out @ Claremont Showgrounds, Perth (04/02/07)

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The BDO juggernaut once again rolled into Perth for the final leg of it’s national tour last Sunday to a record 40,000 people. Making it’s 6th appearance at it’s adopted home of the Claremont Showgrounds, the first thing that was immediately apparent was that it is finally starting to settle in and get to know the place. Despite more people everywhere, the positioning of stages and access routes meant there were none of the frustrating crowd bottlenecks of previous years.

The most obvious changes on the day were the widening of general access on the oval to the main stages (licensed sections further to the side) and the positioning of the boiler room stage to the northern ends of the ground. Furthermore, taken for granted issues such as buying drinks, food and going to the toilet seemed that little bit easier. There left one major issue that’s yet to be dealt with – the sound on the main stage. Unfortunately tight noise restrictions still prevent main stage headliners delivering a complete stadium filling performance in the later hours of the evening. An issue that was amplified by blustery conditions on the day.

The Boiler Room stage kept with last years open air theme but benefited from it’s more isolated positioning of not having blow over sound from other stages. The separation also ensured that the stage retained it’s identity and kept a vibe of it’s own. The natural terracing of the licensed area was a sure fire winner. It’s a shame the same couldn’t be said about the line up.

After the great Chemical Brothers botch up of 2005 there seems to have been a deliberate effort since to scale back the Boiler Room line up and avoid top tier acts. A DJ set by The Crystal Method in support of a 45 minute exercise work out mix for Nike does not make a headlining performance! They achieved a crowd of up for it beat lovers in search of an alternative to the prog rock of Tool (or other side stage acts) but lacked any true WOW factor. In fact instead of the Las Vegan breaks duo perhaps The Presets or Peaches would have been a better alternative.

The Presets well and truly earned their promotion up the timetable from last years early afternoon scorcher. The Aussie duo have only improved from a further 12 months of relentless touring and performed with the charisma of seasoned pros. Pure class! Whilst perhaps the same word wouldn’t be used to describe the larish outfits and crazy stage antics of Peaches, she was every bit the entertainer and had the crowd hanging on every word as she screamed at them to “fuck the pain away”.

Even with out their namesake MC, Spank Rock had no trouble, with the aid of some colourful imagery, convincing the crowd about “funky ass and titties. It was no surprise to see electro well represented through the likes of Mark Murphy and Justice however it just didn’t seem to fit the open air daylight environment. Much the same could be said for seasoned pro Love Tattoo, despite some quality tunes. By all reports The Streets were every bit as entertaining as their performance two years ago. It was just a shame Perth missed east coast only BDO debutants like Lupe Fiasco, Lily Allen, Macromantics, Hot Chip, P Money and Diplo (the latter two performing solo shows in Perth the night before).

The Boiler Room was just one of seven advertised stages, with more than 50 acts performing throughout the day. A rather introverted performance from headliners Tool had festival goers polarised. Those up close were seemingly transfixed and mesmerised by a combination of obvious talent and an awesome intensity. However from afar there were too many distractions and not enough on the dimly lit stage to hold the attention with the aforementioned sound issues.

Each in their own ways, Muse and The Killers provided lessons in entertaining an audience. Muse had a perfect balance of glam and balls to captivate the masses. The Killers won them over with well timed anthem after pop anthem that had everyone singing along out loud. Both bands relying heavily on charismatic front men who fed off the crowds energy and delivered it back tenfold. Meanwhile Kasabian proved that you don’t need the numbers of a main stage audience for a messianic performance.

Whilst being mentioned countlessly in the lead up, it was encouraging to see an extraordinary number of WA acts as part of the national tour; from John Butler to Eskimo Joe, The Sleepy Jackson, Little Birdy and more. Even more encouraging was the quality of performances and hometown appreciation, equal to that of any of their international counterparts.

Then of course there were the bands for curiosity sake. For this reviewer it was the likes of My Chemical Romance, who amused with their transitions from thrashy screaming obscenities to polite requests for crowd co-operation between songs. If only they appreciated the irony! Only at the BDO do you get such opportunities to stand back and have a gander.

Despite perhaps not being the strongest and most varied line up musically there was no denying that Big Day Out 2007 was yet again a fun day in the sun. It’s a sure sign of a good event when you leave the gates wondering who they’ll get next year. Hopefully they find a bit more room in the venue to increase the capacity and perhaps justify bringing over a few more of the smaller international acts for the added diversity. Bring on BDO 2008!

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Benson2u said on the 7th Feb, 2007

crystal method didn't even do 'a new hope', the presets were so much better....i so wish infusion could have done a set:(