With ticket sales well over 40,000, Big Day Out – with its new home at Western Springs Stadium – was bigger than ever before. TEARAWAY Maverick JESSICA SUO was there.
After a one year hiatus, the hugely anticipated Big Day Out returned to our shores on the 17th of January, and might I say it was spectacular.
I arrived to the roars of Prowler playing to a small crowd at the Tamaki Stage. The festival had just begun and the crowds were starting to filter in. Prowler’s set lead seamlessly to the brutality that was Beast Wars, followed by Portugal. The Man, who undoubtedly deserved larger crowds at the main stages of Tui and Kowhai.
Next was Kiwi band Clap Clap Riot. The stand out performance was Everybody, from their forthcoming sophomore album Nobody/Everybody (released on February 14 – I highly recommend checking it out.)
The 1975 took the Aroha stage. The British four-piece’s signature monochromatic tone was present throughout their whole stylistic performance. They kicked off with The City and Milk, with lead singer Matt Healy’s ferocious hair being wonderfully distracting. The predominantly female audience’s shrills took over as crowd favourites Girls and Chocolate aired through Big Day Out. “Enjoy the rest of your lives,” proclaimed Healy, as the band broke into their final two songs Sex and You. I cried a solemn tear for the departure of one of the best new bands to play in New Zealand.
Grouplove’s 45-minute set was jaw-dropping. Keyboardist and vocalist Hannah Hooper wore her now signature skeleton leotard. The band drenched the audience in their anthemic sound, from crowd pleasers TongueTied and Ways to Go, to closing with Colours.
I arrived just in time to catch the tail end of The Naked and Famous. After working in the USA for an impressive amount of time, this is the first and only New Zealand show the band have played in who knows how long. Young Blood, the biggest success from their debut album was nostalgic to see live; it reminded me of a time I truly was “only young and naïve”. They band raged to the end of their set with Hearts Like Ours, the first single from the new album In Rolling Waves, which obtains the essence that made their first album so magical.
I went into The Hives having no clue of who they were or even their style of music. This is what I learnt: the Swedes are awesome. From the moment they strutted out in their matching military suits, I knew it was a match made in heaven. Lead singer Pelle Almqvist is genuinely one of the funniest people I have been exposed to. His between-song banter created an experience that made this Big Day Out better than any other.
I think we must all accept that Beady Eye is not Oasis. As much as each member of the crowd hoped the band that created the classic that is Wonderwall would produce a memorable performance, they sadly did not. Sure, every song Liam Gallagher sang was impeccable, but the obvious distance between himself and his performance made the audience even more distant.
What can even be said about headliners, Arcade Fire except WOW. With 10 musicians on stage and the outfits of a post-apocalyptic carnival, the performance was declared by many as the best of the festival. Starting off with one of my favourites, Ready to Start, the band amped up the crowd for a mix of oldies and songs from their new album, Reflektor. Win Butler’s sultry beauty lead the ensemble through 90 minutes of all that is Arcade Fire. Paper mache heads and smashing guitars lead to a most beautiful sight. Confetti canons shot out pieces of white and silver paper as Here Comes the Night Time was performed in the setting sun. Wake Up ended the set and one of the best performances in Big Day Out history.
I swoon over The Lumineers. They say music is good for the soul and the Lumineers are the reason why. The excessive fog machines could not distract from the rich mahogany that was front man Wesley Schultz. The music and the musicians radiated humbleness, kindness and care for the audience. After manoeuvring to the centre of the audience (WHATTT!!??!), the band performed Darlene and Eloise within rings of obtrusive smart phones. It was Auckland’s birthday present to drummer Jeremiah Fraites to not jump the musicians in their vulnerable state and let me tell you, it was very, very hard.
Pearl Jam: cool, moving on.
Snoop Dog, AKA Snoop Lion, is everything you wish you were. In the most laidback performance I have ever seen, he strutted across the stage and just oozed cool. With enough references to sticky icky to make a nun faint, Snoop Dog/Lion was truly in Auckland. To all the ladies feeling the Valentines blues, Snoop is here for you, dedicating I Wanna Love You to “all the sexy ladies out there”. His set was an hour of watching a legend in his element. What other artist could command no press be allowed in his pit? Love him or hate him, the man is a god.
Remember that time Major Lazer threw out money to the crowd at Big Day Out? Because I do: it actually happened. For me, the standout performance of Big Day Out and the best live act I have ever seen was Major Lazer. Their music is designed to be played live; they’re not just party music – they are the party. It’s one thing to jump in a zorb and roll over your audience; it’s another to convince the whole stadium to take their shirts off. Sure, you bring out Mac Miller and Lorde, but then you convince a moshpit to physically run from left to right. These guys are champions and they ended Big Day Out not only with a bang but with an extravaganza. If you ever get the opportunity to see Major Lazer live, do it.
Big Day Out, see you next year – you can guarantee it.
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