Big Day Out @ Sydney Showground, Sydney (26/01/2012)

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Australia Day 2012 would see one this country’s most iconic music festivals take place in Sydney for the 20th time. Although the festival scene has received a lot of negative press of late, music fans heading along to the Olympic Park site were hoping for just one thing: a Big Day Out.

After some great local artists including Frenzal Rhomb, Bluejuice and Boy and Bear, the first of the big international drawcards began to take to their respective stages.

Wanting to see what all the noise has been about, I bounced to Boiler Room for Odd Future. Over the years, BDO has done some pretty funky things with their dance arena, but this year’s setup was a definite standout. Reaching floor to ceiling in the middle of the large warehouse style venue was a huge Ferris wheel, giving punters a view unlike anything they would have experienced before, or are likely to get again.

The atmosphere grew in intensity as people started streaming in from all openings. Odd Future’s set got off to a slow start, due mostly to some pretty rough sound in the room. Their beats tended to jump around too much and vocally their styles didn’t flow into each other’s as well as some other deep-rolling rap groups manage to do it. However, even though it was a pretty disjointed set overall, the energy in the boiler room was really high and they did a great job of keeping the intensity throughout.

Wanting to see how the home-grown hip hop contingent fared, It was main-stage time for Hilltop Hoods. Opening with The Return, The Hoods instantly took control of their large audience – something evidenced by the wave of in-unison fist pumping from thousands of fans. The energised vibe lasted the whole set, as The Hoods went through songs from right across their catalogue. The group’s big stage show is so perfected that thinking back to their first Sydney BDO appearance, where they played to a very full tent on one of the small side stages, seems like a memory from another life.

Fans of Royksopp have been waiting a long time to see the duo on Australian stages and today their long wait came to an end. Both musicians emerged dressed in what were the most ‘out there’ get-ups of the day – no mean feat considering some of the BDO crowd. Both wore what looked like hessian sacks over their heads, and oversized metal collars adorned with rows of flashing lights. The look was finished with tattered hessian robes, and of course, their instruments. After a long and ethereal opening, the beat dropped and the set literally took off. Clearly feeding off the energy being given to them from the audience, they bounced around the stage from start to finish. Epic build-ups leading into huge releases kept the crowd with them for the whole show.

One of the best time slots on any festival bill is the one right on dusk. The heat from the day starts to fall away and the crowd have well and truly settled into party mode. With a well-received album released last year, Drapht had booked himself into the coveted time slot on this year’s bill. The chant of Drapht’s joint Bali Party, “We party, party, party” carries a pretty simple message and seeing the masses all up and dancing, it’s clearly a message that was well received. The talented emcee wrapped up what had been a really ‘good vibes’ sort of set, as the sun just about disappeared.

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