Le Tigre, The Chemical Brothers, and The HivesEdit this event
Big Day Out 2005 – Olympic Park, Sydney
12.30pm - Another Australia Day, another Big Day Out in Sydney. The usual large queue to get in, so to pass the time I’d best look at my trusty timetable. Let’s see…can’t miss The Donnas or The Hives to start the day. RJD2 might be worth a look or perhaps The Music, while Kid Koala’s a must. Le Tigre could be hit or miss, while Slipknot and System of A Down? We’ll see. The Streets or Polyphonic Spree? Beastie Boys or Blues Explosion? Why’s this queue taking so damn long?
12.55pm - Damn, missed most of The Donnas. Stupid queue.
1.00pm - Perth three-piece Eskimo Joe are up next on the main stage, so it’s time to wander up the front to get a closer look before it gets too busy. 200,000 revellers will pack this arena in a few hours time for the likes of Slipknot and the Beastie Boys, and the chances of getting a front row view during their sets are as likely as avoiding sunburn or staying sober. The Eskimo lads are in fine form, spruiking their sunny melancholic pop whilst clad in M*A*S*H style army singlets. Time for some alchoholic refreshments?
1.50pm - Oh wait, not just yet. Here comes Howlin’ Pelle and his merry band of Hives. ‘Do you like good music, Sydney?’ screams Pelle as he converts another audience to join his army in the war against ‘bad music’. He’s the self-appointed exorcist, and he’s ‘gonna perform an exorcism right here in front of you’. Hmmm…sure you will Pelle. Suddenly, without notice the band launch into another rocket-fuelled track, so I guess the boozewill have to wait….
2.40pm – …Until now. From the sublime to the ridiculous: it’s the Led Zeppelin baggy overtones of The Music. ‘Taaaaayyyyyke the long roooowwwwd…’. You don’t have to ask me twice Robert.
2.41pm - Having missed Money Mark, it’s probably best to take a break from the bands and check out the market stalls. From alternative therapy stands to goth fashion, the Big Day Out provides plenty of distractions from the wealth of music across the eight stages onsite. One such stage is the Lilypad, where a variety of activities, from nude wrestling in baked beans to massages with dog food take place to the soundtrack of Abba, bad disco and funky soul. Although it’s tempting to see audience members fight for glory in a wading pool of tomato sauce, I decided against it for the time being and ventured elsewhere for more aural pleasure.
3.15pm - I could hear a beautiful wailing coming from the Green Stage, so that’s where I headed to next. The owner of the voice was Katy Steele, sister of Luke Steele from The Sleepy Jackson. With her band Little Birdy, Steele performed a sweet set of blues-tinged love rock, which went down particularly well under the summer sun.
3.40pm - Turntable trickery is next on the agenda, and Kid Koala provides a healthy dose to a heaving Hot House crowd, mixing in vintage Nas (Made You Look), Tears For Fears (Shout) and The Cure (Close To Me) before dipping into his bag of woozy magical party favours. The showstopper is a ska-tinged solo act called ‘Skanky Panky’, which normally involves eight turntables and three DJs, and upon completion receives a rapturous ovation from the hip-hop loving crowd.
4.20pm - Back to the Green stage, where New Zealand trio Evermore lull the once rowdy revellers into submission with soaring songs reminiscent of fellow countrymen The Finn Brothers, and to a lesser extent Coldplay. They occasionally sail into FM radio waters, but its impressive stuff considering the band members are no older than 21. A year’s worth of touring along with another album of gorgeous tunes should ensure world domination isn’t far away.
5.00pm – Time to get your rocks on kids. Le Tigre hit the Essential stage with aplomb, and any doubts as to whether they’ll fly or die in front of the Sydney crowd are soon dispelled. Kathleen, Johanna and JD’s all singing, all dancing show is the day’s clear highlight. Sequined costumes? Instrument swapping? Megaphones used in every second song? All that, and so much more. Plus, any band that can get a crowd dancing to 'I’m So Excited' without resorting to chat-up lines or cocktails is fine by me.
6.00pm – Slipknot, and then System of a Down on the main stage. Any chance of this writer getting in the mosh pit? Does Johnny Borrell have tabs on himself? It’s time for a re-fuel courtesy of some Himalayan BBQ chicken under a shady tree.
7.00pm – The normally buzzing Boiler room, which has previously hosted legendary performances by the likes of Basement Jaxx and Roni Size Reprazent, is unusually calm and strangely aglow with what can only be described as positive energy (either that or it’s the stench of beer and sweat). Suddenly, The Polyphonic Spree take to the stage, slowly building a head of steam until band leader Tim Delaughter bursts from the wings, and releases a hymnal rainbow that’s impossible to ignore. Organised mayhem like this is best experienced in the flesh, and in short doses too, so departing to the strains of 'Soldier Girl' after half an hour seems a wise move.
7.50pm – Cut Copy have been described as the ‘soundtrack to the coming-of-age montage of a John Hughes montage’, an irresistible mix of Royksopp and New Order. The band jump around carelessly on stage during the five minute electronic breakdowns that conclude each ode song, an infectious energy that spreads to the packed Hot House horde. New songs are greeted as enthusiastically as old ones, with the band’s debut Bright Like Neon Love figuring high in many Australian albums of the year polls. Signed to the same label as The Avalanches, it won’t be long before the sounds of Cut Copy find a home in the hearts of Hoxtonites, and the stereo of you local Toni and Guy.
8.45 – The Beastie Men, sorry, Boys may have released a disappointing album last year, but unlike the tired 'To The 5 Boroughs' the Nu Yawk rappers still know how to kick it live like the bunch of snotty brats in hi-tops they used to be. Despite the wearisome instrumental section of the show (which sees the band rocking the lounge band look, complete with white carnations and sunnies to match), the Boys play all the hits, make all the right moves, and even take time out to meet the crowd (Intergalactic) and give a quick shout out to everyone’s favourite US president ('Sabotage'). Sure, they’ll never play 'She’s Crafty' anymore, but hearing an entire stadium shouting along to 'No Sleep Till Brooklyn' is a rare treat.
10.40 – With a sea of bodies moving to the sounds of 'The Chemical Brothers' acid tinged dance pop, it’s here I realise that although this year’s Big Day Out line-up isn’t a strong as previous years, the event continues to cater for one and all like it has since it started back in 1991. Sure, acts like the Chemical Brothers and Beastie Boys might be past their prime now, but like any decent festival there’s always an alternative choice on another stage just waiting to be discovered. Thousands will leave Olympic Park satisfied at seeing their favourite band for the first time, or witnessing the first show from ‘the next bright young things’. Everyone will have memories and stories to tell, along with a mild dose of tinnitus and a sweat soaked shirt. I might be sunburnt all over, but it was worth the next week of pain just to see Kathleen Hanna do the splits on stage.
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