Big Day Out (AUS) 2010

Australia Australia | by Dannii Leivers | 04 February 2010

Big Day Out is Australia’s biggest music event and today is the second of two consecutive Sydney dates held at the Sydney Showground. Coincidentally it’s the festival’s 100th show, which they’ll celebrate later with some pretty amazing fireworks (one of the things, along with wine and BBQ’s that Aussies do very well) and Mother Nature has been more than generous with the elements for the occasion. Some fans cower in the little shade provided by the stands while those, who fancy the chance of being close enough to be able to tell the difference between Lily Allen and Matt Bellamy, frazzle out in the open.

Kasabian reveal they had needed to be pumped with adrenalin shots earlier in the week in order to deal with the heat and as they hit the stage and hit the hoards with the stomping ‘Vlad the Impaler’, the temperature hits an almighty 42 degrees. Despite the boiling conditions, it’s a raucous performance which solidifies Kasabian’s stellar presence as a festival act. ‘Empire’, ‘Shoot the Runner’ and ‘LSF’ have everyone in raptures while ‘Where Did All the Love Go?’ and ‘Fire’ seem to be taking over as the band’s most popular songs. They should have played a much higher slot really.

Just before The Horrors, clad all in black, begin their sombre, fuzzy performance, a welcome cool breeze begins to blow its way across the ground and the first drops of rain start to fall. It perfectly suits the wistful, brooding soundscapes of 2009’s ‘Primary Colours’. However, it does not suit Dizzee Rascal, nor the hordes of people who turn up to watch his set. By the time the now somewhat festival veteran takes to the stage, the rain is in freefall but it doesn’t stop people dancing to his fun, albeit rather predictable performance. It’s just a shame that the gulf between the reactions for the likes of ‘Old Skool’ and ‘He’s A Rascal’ and ‘Dance Wit Me’ and ‘Bonkers’ are now so overwhelmingly huge. But c’mon, you can’t deny that bassline.

It’s continually baffling how Lily Allen manages to blag such high festival slots year after year. Although she appears to be adored on these shores, her voice has to battle with the winds to be heard and covers such as Britney’s ‘Womaniser’ and Beats International’s classic ‘Dub Be Good to Me’ only seem to be an attempt to plump up a flailing set list. In comparison, The Mars Volta only have time to play about six songs such is the intricacy and flamboyance of their musical odysseys. Festival slots are a double-edged sword for the band: on one hand the tighter time slot means they have to edit themselves ruthlessly, a far cry from their two hour plus shows, on the other, their progressive guitar wankery can be simply too indulgent for your average festival-goer. However, with a new drummer on board – who happens to be amazing – musically the set is never short of technically jaw dropping.

Out of the Australian and Kiwi offerings today – the pop brilliance of Ladyhawke’s synth 80’s revival, garage rock that blows Jet out of the water from Grinspoon or purveyors of  2009’s best track ‘ Sweet Disposition’, The Temper Trap, it’s odd how the highest billing of the day for a resident band goes to Powderfinger. What follows is an hour’s performance of middle-of-the-road, pedestrian radio rock that in all honestly no one seems to give much of a shit about, until the set closer ‘My Happiness’.

There’s not much left to say about Muse live that hasn’t already been said. All the hyperbole in the world cannot describe what a live behemoth they have become. Flanked by huge screens, green lasers and hypnotic visuals, it’s a lean, muscular set that focuses on the meat everyone wants on their BBQ – ‘Super Massive Black Hole’, ‘Hysteria’, ‘Time is Running Out’, Plug In Baby’... while opener, the Doctor Who-esque ‘Uprising’, is head and shoulders above the rest of ‘The Resistance’ material played tonight. But it’s a performance of AC/DC’s ‘Back In Black’, sung by Jet’s Tim Chester, which steals the show. Who knew the dude had the vocal pipes to rival Brian Johnson? A great end to a day that proves, though Australia might be slightly behind the rest of world musically, you can add festivals to that list of things they know how to do really well.

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