Bands, Dogs, Drugs and Rampant Nationalism

November 7, 2006

A review of the Sydney Big Day Out 2006, orignally on

We were somewhere in the middle of Olympic Park station when we spotted the dogs. Damn dogs, damn radio stations and newspapers scaring the crap out of people. Damn beefcake arms of the state standing round with otherwise safe-as-houses Labradors, nabbing liveforthemoment kids wanting nothing more than a laugh. But a laugh aint what she got, more a face white like a sheet, when pooch’s game got a little more fun on finding his treat, and her Big Day Out got a little less fun in just as little a moment. But we soldiers breached the first level of the gauntlet, no sweat bro, only to find security guards stocking up supplies for their big night out later on. Said dudes were also no match, and we was inside. Now stadia might not be the best place for music, but that’s where you fit thousands of punters, and Olympic Park shed it’s ghost town image for a day of music, debauchery, rampant over charging, sun, showers, unbridled patriotic fervour, and a few laughs too.


The line up for the 2006 Big Day Out was by no means the greatest ever. Classic headline Iggy Pop was there, while big namers like the ever-trendy Franz Ferdinand and the White Stripes stood out for many, but not all. For fans of electronica, at least of the live sort, (perhaps ironically better served in previous years), you may have been pretty well served if breaks was your interest, but other genres were left wanting. But hey, it was Australia Day, and what’s more Australian than fuck off loud guitar riffs? Hip hop, meanwhile, was not too badly attended to at all. One of the highlights had to be The Herd, coming on to one of the smaller stages with cheers of respect for the country’s indigenous inhabitants, with cheers from some, and repressed facial expressions of contempt from other tools draped in the ‘nation’s’ flag. The Herd, for the record, were as tight as they usually were, but the sound ate arse. Figuratively speaking, sure, but a big hairy one. But hey, stadia. They bigged up the Hilltop Hoods who had surprisingly been billed on the main stage, not long after so-called Erskineville kings Wolfmother had got down and dirty to the first monster crowd of the day, 55,000 according to some (arguably highly dubious) reports. They might sound a bit been-there-done-that for puritanical types, and the SMS message reading ‘ACDC played a good set’ on the giant screen was worth a laugh, but man, they rocked. Predictably; Great vocals and big balled Aussie rock, and the kids was moshing down at the front. The famed ‘D’ safety mechanism was also in effect, installed to prevent another death marring the event as in years gone by. But the funniest thing this drunken reveler notice from the windows of the atmosphere-free VIP area was this system breaking right down. Noise makers Mudvayne were just coming on as a black T shirt clad mob pushed ever harder to get past the gate, and the crush hadn’t been prevented, only moved. Eventually it burst, the guards were forced to open the gate, and kids flooded in, while others ran round the side and jumped the fence, the several employees on hand standing by. But what could they do? Sweet F.A., it would appear. One guard attempted to confront a fence-jumper, but fisticups briefly and amusingly ensued.


But I was outta there man, me mate wanted to catch Go Team, who were alright, y’know, but not as funny as Henry Rollins on right after. He acknowledged that when he gets up there with his hellfire brand of left wing quasi-comedy rants, he gets a few blank faces, but we almost proper shat our little selves when some shaved ape took offence to his jibes at not only the concept of a national day, but also Howard’s lapdog antics. Another plonker caped in the bloody flag screamed ‘fuck off’, I returned the favour, becoming a little too close to being over-embroiled, and he left. Rollins got a few good laughs from the crowd, but for the most part, it was preaching to the converted, and we scooted off. Fuck knows what the hell happened after that, but there was one dirty great highlight left, maybe a little later on, perhaps, but you know how it is.


And that highlight was Mars Volta. I had not tickets for the Friday gig at the Enmore, and if I was catching one band, ‘twas them. It was a pity they clashed with Common, sure, and the White Stripes too (is there any harm on putting some big names on earlier?), but I could live without Iggy Pop, despite my mate’s proposal of tackling him, licking his forearm, and getting high, which he did, allegedley. And ‘femcee’ Jean Grae had pulled out weeks before, so we were set. And, hey,  they made some nice fucking noise. Soaring vocals intermittently interrupted a great big wall of sound, a veritable one and a half hour jam session, with the two dudes back up by hella percussion, sax, flute, and Vishnu knows what else. Psychedelic rock lives on, and a couple of us stood there entranced for ninety Minutes. Well, my mate happened to be lying on his back surrounded by big-arse tree people when I checked, but I digress. And then, if I’m not mistaken, we took a quick sprint to see Jack White and some chick on drums, but they were done. Next thing I know we’re in the stands with some friends considerably more shitfaced than the last time I checked in, and all the lights were on. Dirty! ‘To the pub!’, we cried, and continued where we left off, the concept of a four day weekend gaining popularity as the chicken coup train ride ferried all and sundry back to town. There may well have been another flag based altercation, or a couple, but shit’s gotta be said. Australia Day is a day off work, hence the name of the festival. Stick yer nationalism up yer arse, let the music do the talking.


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