Big Day Out 2013 @ Flemington Racecourse

Another year, another Big Day Out comes and goes and another batch of sunburnt 15 year olds, disgruntled mid-twenties musos and 40-something year old die hard fans head home, bludgeoning Metro with their sweaty, tired bodies.

It’s a part of my calandar every year, so I headed along to Flemington Racecourse, giving up my Hottest 100 day, for a day filled with live music from some of my favourite bands.

I headed straight over to the Blue Stage to catch ME when I arrived. Whilst I don’t doubt my own musical ability, ME are in fact a four piece from Melbourne who play stadium rock, influenced by Muse and Queen. Their set comprised of a lot of material from their debut album Even the Odd Ones Out and won a crowd who were unashamedly ignorant of their existence.

In my party of festival goers was a Ballarat boy who has a patriotic love for Hunting Grounds who were rocking the Essential Stage shortly after ME finished, so over we went. Their set had the crowd moving and like ME, played a set of material from their debut album. The real highlight of their set was when the band burst into a cover of the Beastie Boys, “Sabotage”.  The crowd threw themselves around like no bodies business. I have to say, I wasn’t so crazy about their debut album In Hindsight, but in concert they convinced me.

Chow Town was a new addition to this festival, a well-constructed set of food outlets and it was welcome. Prices weren’t unreasonable and the quality was high particularly for festivals. Snaps for Big Day Out there.

Band of Horses took to the stage over on the Blue Stage, appearing on the back of Mirage Rock, their fourth album. I wasn’t too keen on it myself so I only stuck around for the first couple of songs, fortunately from their, much loved, first record Everything All the Time – “The First Song” and “The Great Salt Lake”.BDO2013

The band who I bought my ticket for clashed with Band of Horses, so there’s the other reason I left. Death Grips are an industrial, experimental rap outfit from Sacremento, and although I saw their sideshow earlier in the week, I needed a second helping. In concert, Death Grips are ferocious. MC Ride, their revered front man is an imposing figure who thrashes about on stage shouting things that, most of the time, you can’t properly understand. Catch them soon because they don’t have longevity on their side, not with the way their last twelve months have gone.

And trust me, there’s a thesis to be written on the way Death Grips played the music scene.

Off! were playing on the Green Stage and as far as super groups go, they were frantic and tight. You’d hope so when it features members of Black Flag, Burning Brides, Red Kross and Hot Snakes. This punk rock act are real punk, not Blink-182 punk, and it was one of the best sets of the day.

Alabama Shakes, though, that’s where the music was. The front woman, wow. Brittney Howard has a voice that puts Adele to shame and she can play a guitar with some real gusto. The band were tight, and it’s clear why they got the early evening slot off of their debut album. The rhythm section had heart, and the keyboards and guitar vamps had some real groove, but Brittney, she has the soul.

We stayed in the front row and caught Foals straight afterward, their set had material old and new but was particularly memorable for their front man’s antics. Yannis hung out with stage invaders before jumping into the mosh and playing the remainder of “Two Steps Twice” in the pit. The hot tip is that they’re gonna be back here in October, and I’ll be there with bells and whistles.

The last act of the day had been 10 years in the making for me, Red Hot Chili Peppers were due on the Blue Stage at any moment.

After an unsafe entrance into the D, featuring people being crushed as they kept the gates locked for an unreasonable amount of time – a real mistake on the security’s part. The Chillies opened with new track “Monarchy of Roses” before heading into a career retrospective dating back to Blood Sugar Sex Magik featuring hits like “Dani California”, “Can’t Stop” and a rad cover of David Bowie’s new one “What in the World”. Closing the night with “Give It Away” I have to say they were a little disappointing. Maybe it was just the anticipation, but the Red Hot Chili Peppers seem to have lost their momentum. Sound quality wasn’t crash hot either, so that could be a factor.

Nonetheless, once again the Big Day Out was a wonderful day, and one of my favourites yet!

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