Big Day Out @ The Gold Coast Parklands (17/01/10)

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International artists often comment on how they love the Big Day Out tour because it feels like a two week travelling holiday under the sun. Given the record-breaking winter weather in Britain it’s therefore no surprise that BDO founders Ken Lees and Vivian West would secure a clean sweep of UK headliners all looking to escape the bitter deluge. And didn’t the Gold Coast and its’ ‘glamour’ turn ‘it’ on.

After a treacherous journey negotiating the M1 traffic the crew and I arrived early enough to catch Perth progressive rockers Karnivool on the Orange Stage. Hardcore fans rocked out early to Themata and Set Fire To The Hive before they made way for Leicestershire indie rockers Kasabian. All three of their hit albums received an airing including the singles Empire and Fire with Shoot The Runner ending the set and attracting an intensity building sing-a-long.
An early must-see for the day was the revival (or self-admittedly, resurrection, depending on the way you saw them fade out originally) of Paul Mac and Andy Rantzen in Itch-E and Scratch-E. Warming up for them was Sydney former ITM #1 DJ MDX with his blend of electro house dropping sure-fire floor-fillers throughout. The set was scattered in deep bass driven techno with midi’s sampling various effects. New Zealand MC Scribe’s voice-over to F.R.E.S.H provided a minor vocal element to the set, which ended with the classic Sweetness and Light. The final track received a roar of approval from old and new fans including those waiting for the current talk of the town, Girl Talk. His blend of mash-ups and legal unauthorised sampling had the crowd in hysterics. He switched between Night Ripper and Feed The Animals like an ADD child with his toys. But by allowing fans on stage he was guaranteed to get the Boiler Room to boiling point.

Cambridge, MA band Passion Pit were flying the indie electro flag high at the Converse Essential Stage and they were getting plenty of wind although much of it from people who have jumped on the genre’s bandwagon. Locally born, but London based The Temper Trap enjoyed a solid crowd, most there for there hit Sweet Disposition. Although it was played mid-set they clearly enjoyed the long overdue response from the Australian fans.

After spending far too long getting drink tickets for water (!!), I moved back over to the Orange Stage where home-grown band Eskimoe Joe were playing a rocking set. However, it wasn’t enough towards the end to maintain the enthusiasm of the crowd who had now gathered for fellow Aussie hip-hop lads Suffa and Pressure. They proceeded to run through the usual Hilltop Hoods repertoire using ‘fuck yeah’s’ in an attempt to excite the crowd. They performed on par with their usual energy and the Aussie-proud crowd responded well, but it seemed as though tracks like Nosebleed Section had simply been over played this summer.

Rest assure, the British invasion was never far away with Dizzee Rascal on the Blue Stage drawing the days’ biggest crowd yet. With his DJ scratching expertly, and his fellow British MC giving Dizzee plenty to feed off, the set included Holiday, Dance Wiv’ Me (without Calvin) and Dirtee Cash. The predicable final track Bonkers began with a ‘Woop, Woop!’ from Dizzee and echoed by the crowd. If it weren’t for this mindless and primitive excuse to wind up the crowd (and the dick who threw a deodorant bottle at Dizzee’s face, resulting in a dizzy-like retaliation) it would have ended what was an otherwise flawless and energizing set.

Meanwhile on the Green Stage Rise Against fans were taking the band’s name a little too seriously when they found themselves literally rising against one another in the rammed tent. Back on the main stages, London lass Lily Allen followed Dizzee on the Orange stage with a strangely sexy black playsuit, which allowed her to showcase each tanned bum cheek. With ’...pubes popping out’, cigarette in one hand and a drink in the other, she cheekily maneuvered her way through the tracks Smile, 22, Fuck You, LDN, The Fear and a version of S.O.S Band Just Be Good with East Londoner Professor Green as collaborating MC. Even the boys in the crowd seemed to find the fun in their better halves dictating to them the lyrics of a 10 minute remixed version of the final track Not Fair.

I then moved over with what seemed like 80% of the festival crowd to haggis eating Calvin Harris in the Boiler Room. I arrived too late to get a decent spot so loitered while he acted as front man to his own band singing predominantly Ready For The Weekend tracks. Despite the strong set, I was not a position worth staying so I left in search of more comfort. I then accepted the ‘invitation’ to stop via The Green Stage when I heard the familiar lyrics “1, 2, 3 take my and come with me…” Jet was smashing out Are You Gonna Be My Girl to a solid ‘Aussie-proud’ crowd after which I continued back to the Orange Stage. The Mars Volta were performing an EPIC set- I hate the word, so I am reluctantly using in its’ truest form. One of only two American acts playing after 6pm, they looked like they could have been extras in Boogie Nights. The boys smashed their way through a dynamic and eclectic set including Intertiatic E.S.P.

I felt like I was betraying the British contingent if I didn’t see English stalwart Sasha, so I hurried back to the Boiler Room. With three screens behind him displaying his mixed visuals and videos, the tent, despite a plethora of lasers was predominantly blacked out. Xpander was by far the highlight of the raging set, which had the tent rocking. Back over to the Orange stage to prepare for the biggest British headliners in Muse. Powderfinger had the tough task of warming up for the Devon three piece and they don’t often excite me enough to want to see them. However, when the Aussies opened with recent hit All Of The Dreamers, and soon covered all heir previous hits Passenger, Lost and Running, My Happiness and These Days they forced me to enjoy every minute.

I will admit before I go on, that Muse have been my muse since Showbiz, and after seeing them headline BDO ‘10, they still are! They began with the opening track from The Resistance, Uprising and moved swiftly on to Supermassive Black Hole and Stockholm Syndrome. After sampling from Hullabaloo the familiar bass lines from the opening bars of Hysteria took things up a level before lasers were used to introduce the latest track Nova have stuck their fangs in to, Undisclosed Desires. United States of Eurasia, Resistance, Starlight, Time is Running Out and Unnatural Selection all rounded at the set proper to a mesmerised festival crowd. After a short break, they returned to drop in the award winning Plug In Baby before Matt Bellamy exited. Bassist Chris Wolstenholme serenaded the audience with Man On A Harmonica before Bellamy performed a power slide back onto the stage. With a Pete Townsend-like windup he begin the opening riffs of Australia’s #1 track of 2008, Knights of Cydonia. The entire crowd hummed every note, sung every word and jumped to every beat before it finished in a firewall of thrilling CO2 smoke.

Feeling rather high from the electrifying set (it was the meds!) I moved my way (with every other ‘Gold Coaster’) to British duo Groove Armada for the last hour of their set. The Boiler Room was overflowing with perspiration dripping from the roof. Andy Cato armed with trombone led the six piece band with Tom Findlay on synths and decks. I arrived in time to hear the set settle somewhat with At The River before the whole crowd jumped in unison to the beats of Superstylin’. New GA vocalist Saint Saviour tweaked her larynx seductively throughout all the hits before ending the encore with Easy.

Big Day Out prides itself on exploring a wide range of genres and artists from all over the world. Yet each year the British seem to consistently provide more than their fair share of headliners. Not that they’re complaining and neither am I. They have a thriving industry and if I were a British artist I’d want to be showing it off at our summer Big Day Out too.

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