Big Day Out 2012 @ Flemington Racecourse, Melbourne

It finally arrived. After months of drama, line up complaints, the mad rush for tickets at midnight and the seemingly cracking and fragile nature of the festival, the Big Day Out rolled into Melbourne’s Flemington Racecourse ready to put on a 20th anniversary bash not to be forgotten!

Stonefield were the first band to play the Converse Green Stage and they opened it with a bang! These four young ladies from rural Victoria really know how to get a crowd going, and they played a set stacked full of hits. Amy Findlay’s voice didn’t crack under the sweltering heat, rather it blossomed as she belted out tracks from their forthcoming EP as well as favourites from their already established releases. “Black Water Rising”, “Drowning” and “Through The Clover” stood out as highlights.

After a very bluesy start to the festival it was time to catch the very hyped up Australian answer to Fleet Foxes: Boy and Bear. I went into this gig expecting a lot, but I don’t know if I got what I wanted. These lads have been talked up and up and ultimately put on a show that was rather disappointing and dull.

You could put it down to their lack of experience and perhaps the wrong setting, but I don’t know if their spot on the main stage was justified. They may have been better received in the Hot Produce tent or even on the Green Stage, despite their popularity. They seemed like more of a Falls Music and Arts Festival band, and it just felt as though they were out of their depth. But hey – I’m sure you’ll read differently elsewhere.

Then it was time to be in awe of the glorious vocal talents of Kimbra. Yes, apparently she can do more than what she did with Gotye in the spine-tingling hit “Somebody That I Used To Know”. Walking out in a glorious yellow dress, the quirky Kimbra belted out her trademark alt-pop styling with gusto! “Settle Down”, the rarely performed “Old Flame” and “Cameo Lover” were all memorable hits of her stellar performance, which solidified her status as a performer to watch in coming years.

Heading over to art-math rockers Battles was something of an off-the-cuff decision. I’d only heard parts of their latest release, Gloss Drop, but from what I’d heard I was very impressed. I’m glad I took the gamble because Battles were by far the most impressive act of the day.

My description won’t even begin to do justice for their performance, but just try to imagine a guitarist on the left playing two keyboards and a guitar, the drummer in the centre of the stage with what was an ordinary kit set up (bar the crash cymbal raised two metres from the ground) and finally a guitarist/bassist who was also the technician for the entire gig. Battles played through most of their latest experimental album, which was well received, but because only guest vocalists feature on the record, those parts were sampled by members of the band in conjunction with two projectors behind them.

I’m getting re-wired…

At about 6pm it was time for a headliner: Kasabian. Having seen them the night before at Festival Hall I knew exactly what to expect, and that was a mammoth live show with the best mosh-pit of the day!

The band now have a full set of hits: “Club Foot”, “Underdog”, “Switchblade Smiles” and of course “Fire” were received with big sing-a-longs and people running into each other whilst madly jumping around. Some faulty sound equipment really let down the performers, though. Tom Mehigan’s microphone was cutting in and out and was ultimately full of feedback for the larger part of the end of the setlist. It resulted in him throwing the microphone out into the crowd and walking off towards the end of “Fire”.

People could feel the day coming to an end very quickly, and with just two bands to go it was only going to get better. Foster the People had by far the largest crowd of all Green Stage acts for the day. It goes without saying that it was a monster performance where one of the biggest bands in the world played through a mountain of hits from their debut record Torches. By the time they got to playing “Pumped Up Kicks” the lead vocalist didn’t even bother singing because nothing could drown out the voice of the crowd.

After the final chord of the hit song ended, there was a mass exodus of the largely under-18 crowd, most likely a move to see Kanye. However I did not join them, as I knew that the best act of the day would be the most outspoken: one Noel Gallagher. The average age of the crowd changed from 15 to 35 in a matter of minutes, though that being said, crowd levels were definitely low at Noel’s performance, which is quite a shame really.

The ex-Oasis man busted out the best stuff from his entire career and heaps of hits from his new release Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds. The entire set was fantastic ranging from new songs like “If I Had A Gun…” to perhaps Oasis’s best-known song, “Don’t Look Back In Anger”.

It was then that the day finally finished. And on my surprisingly empty train ride back to the city, my sunburnt shoulders, aching calf muscles and ringing ears told me that I had had a fantastic Big Day Out yet again!

See you next year!

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