Big Day Out is one of the most anticipated touring festivals of the year and 2012 was no different boasting a line up featuring Kanye West, Soundgarden, Kasabian, Nero, Noel Gallagher, Foster The People, My Chemical Romance and many more. This year’s ticket sales were reported to be quite low and disappointing but Gold Coast really turned it up and people came in hoards. The Messenger’s Thomas Bleach attended the festival to review some of the most sensational sets from this year’s festival.
The Getaway Plan reunited at the end of last year after a short lived hiatus with their second studio album ‘Requiem’ which had reviewers buzzing with excitement. It was by no surprise that Big Day Out wanted them back at their festival to amaze everyone once again. And they did not disappoint. Bursting onto the stage with new hit ‘Reckoning’ they quickly won over the crowd and went into a setlist featuring songs from both of their albums. When reviewing their latest album we commented on Matthew Wright’s vocals as impressive, that was an understatement because his vocal strength live is compelling and is mesmerising to listen to. The band definitely won over new fans with this electric performance leaving all punters raving about how amazing their set was. They deserved to play the main stage as well as Foster The People instead of Hilltop Hoods who personally played one of the most unsatisfying sets of the day.
One of the most surprising sets of the day came from newcomer Kimbra whose infectious pop/indie songs dominated the Converse Stage in the mid afternoon. Her singles ‘Cameo Lover’ and ‘Settle Down’ have gained radio play but it wasn’t until she featured on Gotye’s number one single ‘Somebody That I Used To Know’ until she received the mainstream attention she deserves. The setlist showcased songs from her debut album ‘Vows’ which the majority of the crowd seemed to be familiar with. However it quickly came apparent that the album did not do her vocals justice because when she performs her vocal range is wider and she adds in vocal acrobats which she seems to do so effortlessly. The show was well structured with her live band performing flawless segways between songs which showed that they were well rehearsed (maybe too rehearsed). But Kimbra won the crowd over with her quirky stage presence, her great use of audience interaction and her amazing vocals. Set highlights came from ‘Cameo Lover’, ‘Settle Down’ and ‘Two Way Street’.
When approaching the main stage to grab a good position for My Chemical Romance the Living End were halfway through rocking the Blue Stage. It seemed that they left all their smash hit songs towards of the end of their set with the band pumping out ‘White Noise’ and ‘The End Is Just The Beginning Repeating’ with the audience singing each lyric back to the band. One of the highlights in their set came when special guest 360 joined the band on stage to perform ‘How Do we Know’ which sent the crowd into a frenzy. The next came when they band performed ‘Happy Birthday’ and launched cake into the crowd to celebrate the festivals twentieth anniversary.
The skies opened up just as My Chemical Romance hit the ‘Orange Stage’ but that didn’t stop the crowd from moshing at their hardest. The band opened with ‘Na Na Na’ from their recent album ‘Danger Days’ and then launched into a setlist containing a majority of their old material to the fans relief. Highlights included ‘Mama’, ‘I’m Not Okay’, ‘Planetary’ but ‘Teenagers’ and ‘Welcome To The Black Parade’ stole the show with every member of the crowd belting the lyrics unleashing their inner teenager. It was quite amusing watching some of the older crowd put their jazz hands up when Gerard sings “Let me see your jazz hands” during ‘Na Na Na’, something I never thought I would witness. It has been five years since My Chemical Romance have toured the country but Gerard Way is still as vibrant and full of energy bouncing off every inch of the stage which the crowd lapped up. It is a bit disappointing to see the band ditching the costumes and theatrics that they adopted during ‘The Black Parade era’ but now they are sounding a bit better and more focused. One thing is for sure, anyone that doubted for a second that they band has lost their old fanbase was completely wrong.
Kasabian also put on a really great set with a massive highlight when the band was able to get the whole crowd (including the mosh pitt) to sit down during half a song then leap up and dance , quite a sight.
Soundgarden’s set was received with mixed reviews. The fans raved about how amazing they were and how they still have it while the thousands of punters packing the blue stage in anticipation of Kanye West were boo-ing the band and complained at how terrible they were. Soundgarden should not have been playing before Kanye West. They are the complete opposites and should’ve played in Kasabian’s set time where as an Artist like Nero should have played before Kanye to get the crowd dancing and calmer for Mr West’s arrival. That aside, Soundgarden did in fact put a good performance on with Chris Cornell vocals as strong as ever and still having that power that originally won over their legion of fans. Controversy came when Cornell seemed to dislike Kanye West technicians sound checking during their set and made the following comment,“Sounds like there’s children playing music there, retarded children, retarded as in held back. There’s no other word for it,”. Highlights of their set included ‘Beyond The Wheel’, ‘Blow Up The Outside World’, ‘Rusty Cage’ and ‘Searching With My Good Eye Closed’.
Kanye West was the most anticipated artist of the whole festival with what was promised as a dazzling live experience but the wait was quite ridiculous. Kanye’s set began 45minutes late due to ‘technical difficulties’ which Big Day Out later explained was due to the downpour of rain that was experienced in the lead up to his set. The audience didn’t take this long wait so quietly with many “Bulls***” chants filling the air of the showgrounds in the lead up to his arrival. When the show finally started Kanye emerged on a cherry picker at the back of the ‘D Barrier’ belting out “Can we get much higher” from his song Dark Fantasy while a dance troupe were scurrying across the stage. This opening really set the mood for the rest of the night, bigger is better, and Kanye was not wrong. There were a few sound hiccups throughout his set but it didn’t detract from the spectacle which was occurring on stage. Kanye is not like many urban artists as he has a full accompanying band onstage which gives a fuller and bigger sound to add to all the theatrics which were occurring. His vocals were good, he did forget the lyrics to one of his songs and had to re start which he covered with “This is my fave song lets re start it”. He performed all of his hits including ‘Stronger’, ‘All The Lights’, ‘Love Lockdown’, ‘Touch The Sky’, ‘Gold Digger’, ‘Runaway’ and ‘Monster’ He finished his set with ‘Hey Mama’ which seemed like a odd choice but was very fitting. For those who witnessed his performance at Splendour In The Grass in 2011 left a bit disappointed as it was the exact same in every way but those who didn’t now understand why everyone was raving about how amazing it was. Kanye did not disappoint in anyway and has made his next arrival on our shores even more anticipated.