Advertisements

Melbourne Big Day Out Review

One of the biggest days for music in Victoria each year is always the Big Day Out, and with a phenomenal (albeit predictable) lineup of local and international acts, and with tickets having sold out in a matter of minutes, 2010 looked to be no different.

Having never really been a fan of the all-ages festival thing, this would be my first ever Big Day Out. One of the few things that could have enticed me to buy tickets without a second thought was the inclusion of Muse in the lineup, my favourite band. I had never seen them live before, and I knew that this would be an experience to remember.

-First Impressions-

Transport to the Big Day Out was organised well, with regular trains scheduled to run to the Flemington Racecourse. Naturally these trains were completely packed, but it could have been much worse. A walkway led from the train station towards the actual racecourse, where small lines led towards the entrance.

Really though I was surprised at how easy it was to get in. Gates must have opened earlier than 10.30am, the advertised opening time, which is quite clever really, because me and my group of friends arrived at about 10.20 and managed to pretty much walk straight in, helped of course by the fact that none of us had bags.

Once inside, the first thing that struck me was the sheer scale of the thing. Maps available online had stressed the fact that it was a 45 minute walk between entrances, and although this certainly wasn’t true once you were inside, it certainly was an incredibly large venue.

Amusement park rides littered the area, as did merchandise stands, bars, stalls, and even a stage here and there. This was much more than a music festival, it really was a day out. I am sure you could come to the event without knowing any of the bands playing and still have a full day.

The range of merchandise was amazing, and immediately made an indent into my wallet. Getting a wristband as proof of age to use at bars was painless thankfully, and toilets were accessible and numerous. The day was off to a good start.

-Miami Horror-

The first band up was Miami Horror, playing on the Green Stage, which was the biggest of the lesser stages (ie. not the two main stages). An impressive crowd assembled to hear the local electro-pop outfit, and the band certainly didn’t disappoint.

I didn’t know much of Miami Horror’s music, but some of their songs are so instantly likeable that it just didn’t matter. The atmosphere in the crowd was amazing given that it hadn’t even gone midday yet, with many Miami Horror beach balls floating around, and often floating onto the stage.

The band’s style of electro music perfectly suited the start to the Big Day Out and got the day immediately off to a party. A few new songs seemed to bring a slight lull in the crowd atmosphere, as obviously even stalwart fans of the band didn’t know them very well, but then came the unmistakable opening to Don’t Be On With Her, the band’s biggest hit, which sent the crowd into an early frenzy with its resounding synth chorus.

Newer song Sometimes also was met very warmly, but suddenly Miami Horror’s set was over. One can only imagine how insane they would have been had they been playing later in the day, however as it was they provided the perfect start to the Big Day Out.

-Bluejuice-

Bluejuice vs. Lisa Mitchell was one of the many significant timetable clashes of the day, but we had decided to compromise and see the start of Bluejuice from a distance and then make our way to Lisa Mitchell.

Admittedly I only really like two Bluejuice songs, Vitriol and Broken Leg. The rest of their music really isn’t my style, so I was hoping to hear one of these two songs before heading over to Lisa Mitchell. This didn’t come to pass however, but even if I wasn’t really into the music, it was impossible not to enjoy the sheer stage performance of the boys from Sydney.

Appearing on stage in their trademark yellow jumpsuits, their energy was immediately infectious. (Ain’t) Telling The Truth proved the crowd with an early sing-along, and the band were soon joined on stage by an enormous inflatable dinosaur, which only added to the atmosphere.

We departed without regret, because I think it was the kind of act you had to be at the front to truly appreciate the energy, but it was still kind of disappointing to not hear Vitriol.

-Lisa Mitchell-

This would be the third time I had seen Lisa Mitchell live, and each time had been at progressively bigger venues. Suitably then, this surely had to be up there with the biggest crowds she had ever played in front of in Australia. It was an absolutely huge amount of people that gathered to see her perform on the Green Stage, with the crowd packed tightly together and stretching nearly all the way back to the bar. There are few mostly acoustic Australian singer/songwriters that could attract this kind of a crowd.

It might have been my imagination, but Lisa seemed a bit nervous. For someone who has played at Glastonbury, surely the Big Day Out is a walk in the park? But then this is her local crowd (Lisa now lives in Melbourne, despite regularly touring around the country and indeed the world), and it’s hard to imagine being under much more pressure than that.

She really didn’t need to be worried of course. Her set was predictably great, featuring a range of hits from her debut album ‘Wonder’ such as my personal favourite Oh! Hark! as well as Clean White Love. Pirouette was a crowd favourite, and her magnificent acoustic cover of the Dire Strait’s Romeo And Juliet was a pleasant (and gorgeous) surprise. Holiday, a bonus track from ‘Wonder’, was played once again and immediately struck a chord with all the punters enjoying a day off from work on Australia Day.

Naturally Neopolitan Dreams was the highlight of her set, as always. We had been enjoying a comfortable spot on the nearby slope with a good view of the stage, however couldn’t help but descend into the crowd for this song. The crowd could have easily saved Lisa Mitchell the trouble and sung every word for her, but instead had to settle for chanting “Ba da, ba da da da da” repeatedly, which has become a hallmark of Lisa Mitchell live songs.

Lisa Mitchell finished her set with Coin Laundry, but beforehand gave a desperate plea to the crowd to not throw dollar coins at her. It was kind of adorable listening to her try to make an assertive point without being too forceful, but it must have worked because there was no repeat of Falls’ coin-throwing incident.

Although I will always have a soft spot for the first time I saw Lisa Mitchell, at the infinitely smaller venue of the Corner Hotel, hers was still a very enjoyable set.

-Kasabian-

There’s no mistaking the fact that Kasabian are a huge international act, which makes the decision to have them play at 2pm, before the likes of Eskimo Joe, Hilltop Hoods, and Jet, a very strange one, given that these bands can be seen around Australia pretty much at will.

However this didn’t stop an enormous crowd from assembling at the Orange Stage, one of the two main stages. We managed to secure a spot directly behind the infamous D-Barrier, which was the perfect spot given that, despite being really excited for the band, we also wanted to leave a bit early to ensure a good spot for Passion Pit.

Kasabian played a staggeringly good set full of hits from all three of their studio albums. From memory they opened with Vlad The Impaler, which was a pleasant surprise and immediately set the atmosphere for a frantic rock show. Where Did All The Love Go? was another big hit from their newest album ‘West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum’, as was Underdog, for which the band gave the audience the opportunity to sing-along with well known lines such as “Got my cloak and dagger”.

Of course it didn’t hurt that the band said we “pissed all over Sydney”.

The mosh for Shoot The Runner was a sight to behold, and the song itself provided a bit of a blast from the past when compared tot he barrage of newer songs, as did Empire. However there can be little doubt what the highlight of the band’s set was, and what the song that everyone had been waiting for was: Fire was greeted with simply rapturous applause.

And it is a song perfectly suited for live festival performances. It builds magnificently into a fierce chorus that is impossible not to like, and impossible not to sing-along to. The masses skilfully alternated from singing lead vocals to backup, chanting “I’m on fire” only to follow with the iconic “Ooooh”s of the song.

It was a pretty special experience to share with tens of thousands of people in singing those backup vocals in our best high-pitched voices, as loudly as we could. Fire is a song that apparently defined the European summer of music festivals, and it immediately became one of the anthems of the 2010 Big Day Out.

My mates and I left the crowd (with significant difficulty) after Fire, just as the band was breaking into Fast Fuse. I guess we’ll never know if they played Club Foot or not, but whatever the case, it was certainly worth leaving a bit early to witness what was about to come.

-Passion Pit-

Apart from Muse, Passion Pit were the biggest drawcards of the Big Day Out for me. The music they make is just phenomenal, as unique as it is catchy and dance-able. They are the kind of band that are hit-or-miss live. Michael Angelakos’ vocals are nearly impossibly high in studio songs, and I was unsure whether he would be able to achieve these same illustrious vocals live.

The crowd seemed to think that he could however, as an enormous crowd gathered at the Converse Stage in the leadup to the band’s arrival. Despite leaving Kasabian early it looked like we would struggle to get anywhere near the fun areas, however thanks to a skilled friend we managed to weave our way into the front ten rows, and would later work our way to the first few rows as show began.

And it was a good thing too, because this was one of those performances that you really did have to be right at the front, in the middle of the insanity, to truly enjoy.

The band appeared on stage, and opened with Eyes As Candles, one of my favourite tracks of their debut album ‘Manners’. Immediately you could tell that this was Melbourne Big Day Out’s first real moshpit. The party that is Passion Pit was getting started.

All worries about the band’s live performance were alleviated in the first minute of their performance- Michael’s voice was simply incredibly, defying everything that should be possible for a male singer. The band ripped into their songs, performing the same arrangements as the studio versions, but with much more energy.

Likewise the energy in the crowd was something special. Everybody was jumping up and down in tune with the song, no hands were by sides or in pockets, all being raised in the air instead, crazy dancing was popular, and crowdsurfing abounded. The band fed off the energy in the crowd, which stretched back nearly as far as the eye could see, not that there was any reason to turn away from the stage.

Passion Pit reeled off a serious of massive dance songs from their debut album, such as The Reeling (which saw the crowd engaging in a call and repeat of the “Oh nooooo” chorus with Michael) and Make Light. Moth’s Wings was certainly a highlight of their set, as the entire crowd went berserk to that unmistakable opening and driving synth drum beat.

By this time we had managed to work out way to the front, where the energy was even greater and the sound of the band almost deafening. Sleepyhead got the crowd energy to a whole new level as one of Passion Pit’s most well-known songs: thousands of people sung “I drag you back a sleepyhead, sleepyhead”, followed by our best imitation of the incomprehensible warbling that follows the chorus.

A personal favourite moment of mine was when a crowdsurfer somehow managed to leave a thong (of the footwear variety) in my hand, so for a while I was jumping up and down waving my arms in tune with the beat with a thong in one hand flopping around excitedly.

Passion Pit finished their set with complimenting the city of Melbourne and saying that we had been better than Sydney, a recurring trend throughout the day. Whether or not they were just playing to the crowd, it certainly went over very well. Their final song, Little Secrets was perhaps the best moment of their set, as the entire crowd chanted at the top of our voice “Higher and higher and higher” while jumping in such a way as to take our own words to heart.

Every song that Passion Pit had sung had been greeted with resounding “Wooo”s from the crowd, demonstrating the truly universal appeal across all of their debut album, as does the fact that one of my friends, who had never heard a Passion Pit before, had an awesome time during their set and was as much into it as anyone else.

While I was afraid their live performance may not live up to their studio songs, it was so very much better. Passion Pit was one huge party, with a really really cool soundtrack.

-The Decemberists-

I arrived with only about a quarter of an hour left in The Decemberists’ set, which was disappointing given that they have been a favourite band of mine for a while. However I naturally had no regrets at all about sticking it out at Passion Pit, especially when I arrived at the Green Stage just in time to hear the second half of The Crane Wife 3, my favourite Decemberists song.

The fact that they then followed this up with O Valencia!, another of my favourites, only made me happier. When they then followed this with 16 Military Wives I was simply ecstatic. I would have been happy going through an entire Decemberists setlist and hearing these songs, but to hear them one after another right at the end of their set, when I was afraid I may have missed them, was perfect.

The band were very funny, in a quirky kind of way, as they debated on stage about how awesome Melbourne, the strange weather, and indeed what their own songs were written about.

Although I didn’t witness their whole set, I was very content with the few songs that I did hear.

-The Pre-Muse Action Plan-

For me, Big Day Out was all about Muse. They are my absolute favourite band and I had been looking forward to seeing them live for years. So it was that my mates and I made the conscious decision to sacrifice seeing a few other acts (such as, unfortunately, The Middle East, although I have seen them live twice before) so as to get at the front for Muse.

Little did we know how much insanity this decision would cause.

We decided to get ourselves ready for spending hours on end right at the front of the Muse stage, trying to get closer to the front while other acts were on. In other words we agreed to spend a very uncomfortable few hours in order to fully experience Muse. So immediately after The Decemberists we ate dinner (at 4.20pm), stocked up our waterbottles, and prepared for a long stay.

We made our way to the main stage area at about 4.40pm, and immediately found ourselves faced with the task of getting into the near impenetrable D-Barrier. For those unfamiliar to the Big Day Out, the D-Barrier is the infamous fence surrounding the area near to the two main stages, which are directly next to one another, with only one entrance manned by security and only sporadically allowing entry.

The idea of the barrier is that it prevents too many people from cramming into the moshpit and stopping them being under too much pressure from behind. As we were about to discover, however, this was just the theory. The problem was that the push towards the entrance of the D was just as fierce as any moshpit, with a huge mass of people pushing from both sides of the entrance, unaware of random metal barriers placed so as to ensure maximum pain. A few idiot crowdsurfers didn’t help either.

Ultimately it took us about thirty minutes to get into the D-Barrier, which was up there with my most uncomfortable half hour of my life. As my group and I got separated, the only thing that kept me going was the thought of Muse. Finally however we literally burst into the D-Barrier, and inhaled a breath of fresh air, the first for a long time.

I managed to meet up with one of my friends who had managed to stay near the front of the push as well, and, elated, we made out way towards the front of the Muse stage just as Dizzee was finishing. Thanks to this fortunate timing we were able to literally stroll into the front five rows, directly in the center, of the Muse stage. It was almost a relief after the D-Barrier wait.

However another flaw of the D-Barrier is that, even if a maximum capacity isn’t allowed into the barrier, those that are allowed in are clearly pretty set on getting right to the front, which means that you still have a insane push forward, and you still have a mental and at times violent moshpit.

Even with Lily Allen on the alternate stage, it was clear that most people’s attention was firmly set on getting to the front of the Muse stage, and already the wait was rather painful. So it was that, squashed firmly into a ridiculously small amount of space, unable to move our arms, and surrounded by strangers. Lily Allen’s music was marginally better than silence I suppose, but I still find her fairly annoying.

The wait was only just beginning however.

-The Mars Volta-

I have never been a huge fan of The Mars Volta’s own brand of experimental noise rock, but there is no doubting that they are a huge international band, and I was looking forward to seeing them from the front of the crowd.

I was also very pleased to acquire one of the guitar picks that lead singer Cedric Bixler-Zavala threw out into the crowd near the start of their set:

The Mars Volta were anything if not unique. Cedric was constantly sipping from a cup of tea to the side of the stage, which staff constantly had to be replenishing and replacing in order to keep warm. He undertook some serious acrobatics on stage, and the band’s overall energy was pretty great.

Cedric had previously shown disdain for moshing, even calling crowdsurfers ‘sheep’, so it should have come as not surprise that the mosh was relatively restrained considering what I was expecting. This being said, it was still fairly insane. You could tell those who were there just to get a good spot for Muse because they were trying to conserve their energy, but there were also many diehard fans of the Volta who were losing their minds to the sound emanating from the stage.

The vocals were turned down ridiculously low, to the point where they nearly couldn’t be heard. At first I was wondering if this was just part of their sound, but when the entire crowd started chanting “Turn the vocals up” I realised that it was in fact poor stage management. When it takes the crowd to tell you to turn up the vocals, halfway through an act, something is clearly wrong.

I’m didn’t know what a single song was called at the time, or indeed when one song was ending and the next was beginning, but The Mars Volta were a welcome distraction from the wait for Muse. Plus, I got their pick, so I’m not allowed to dislike them.

-Powderfinger-

With things intensifying even further in the pre-Muse mosh, it was with relief that we greeted the sound (if not the sight) of Powderfinger from the alternate stage.

As we tried to avoid dying, pushing ourselves some small amount of rooms in which to move our arms so as to drink from our water bottles, the band belted out an impressive set, indeed a much better set than that which they played when they headlined Sydney’s Homebake festival, which is a bit odd.

The new album promotion was of course there: the band opened with All Of The Dreamers and played a wide selection of songs from ‘Golden Rule’ (but yet still no Iberian Dream). However the real highlights of their performance came with older songs. Love Your Way was simply incredible, even if I couldn’t see the band at all. Bernard Fanning started the song by telling the crowd chanting “Aussie Aussie Aussie” to shut up, which was a bold but yet welcome move. “We have things you’d rather be singing,” he said.

Bernard gave a shout-out to us Muse fans waiting on the other stage, which was greeted by a mix of applause (by those with free arms) and derision, as someone yelled “Bring on Muse!”. Although I love Powderfinger, given my current situation, I was prone to agree with him. However These Days was a brief moment of peace as the mosh relented a bit as everyone enjoyed a huge sing-along, not perturbed by the fact that we couldn’t see the band. It was great to hear the song after it was inexplicably excluded from the band’s set at Homebake.

My Happiness was of course rather magnificent, however probably came in the form of a surprise cover of Mumford and Sons’ Little Lion Man. It was brief, only encompassing the chorus, but the band pulled it off effortlessly, and the crowd seemed to really appreciate it. The same guy even changed his chant to “Bring on Mumford And Sons!”, much to the amusement of those nearby. For me the song gave a tiny taste of what I am in for this Saturday, when I see Mumford And Sons live.

Newer songs were a bit painful as the mosh grew even more sizeable and even more restless, however The Metre was a great inclusion and closing with (Baby I’ve Got You) On My Mind provided the Muse crowd with one last sing-along before the Aussie boys departed the stage.

The time, finally, had nearly arrived.

-Muse-

I had been waiting for so long to hear my favourite band live that I thought there was no way they could possibly live up to expectations. How wrong I was.

Suffice to say that the setup for Muse was a tremendous effort. The boys had said that they were bringing their whole stadium rock show down to Australia for the Big Day Out, but even so nothing could prepare me for the sheer amount of effort that the roadies put into preparing the stage. I was impressed the job was done within the hour that Powderfinger played for, and the finished result was absolutely spectuaclar.

Muse’s trademark massive microphones adorned the stage, as did a grand piano complete with egyptian hieroglyphics on its side, a simply towering drumkit, an impressive backdrop involving a cityscape, and two massive screens to either side of the stage. The stage was well and truly set.

The push towards front and center reached new and dangerous heights. Everyone who had been over at the Powderfinger stage tried to push their way towards the Muse stage, resulting in a huge surge, which Muse fans already at the stage countered with a surge back so as not to lose our valuable spots. Meanwhile everyone at the back was still pushing forwards. It was chaos, as the entire mass of people would jerk one way and then the other, all the while as punters tried desperately just to stay on their feet, any attempts to resist the push absolutely futile. It took a huge amount of effort just to reach into my pocket and drink from a Red Bull shot I had carried to use at this exact moment: I knew I would need all the energy I could get.

Just as things were starting to get unbearable, to the crowd’s chants of “Muse! Muse! Muse!” and to the illumination of the backdrop, Matt, Chris and Dom finally took the stage. The four hour wait in the mosh was over, and it was about to pay off.

Matt, wearing virtually a leather suit, immediately drew the attention of the crowd, and the sound that greeted the band’s arrival was simply deafening. The stage came to life, even though it was still light, and the band ripped into the booming opening of Uprising, which is the absolute perfect song to open a set with, complete with clapping and a tribal chorus. The crowd surged forwards even more, but I was perfectly content with my second row spot, with a clear view of all three of my heroes.

The first few songs were however fairly uncomfortable for me, given the fact that we I got smashed in the face about twenty times. The reason for this was that the mosh was so intense and crazy that many of those in the center of it simply couldn’t stand it and were being suffocated. With no way to retreat, the only way out for these people was to crowdsurf towards the front and over the barrier. As frustrating as it was to get smacked on the back of the head by a flailing foot (or head) so many times, my attention was so focused on Muse that I barely noticed, until I saw my bruises the next day that is.

When that unmistakable New Born piano riff began the crowd went berserk once again: Muse had only been playing this live favourite at every second Big Day Out, and it is one of my favourite songs of theirs, so hearing it was a dream come true. The entire mosh put on their best Matt falsetto and sung along as loud as we could. That moment when Matt breaks out the distorted guitar was just amazing, and the mosh reached new levels again as we all jumped up and down like absolute maniacs, hands waving in the air because there was no room for them anywhere else.

The crowd began a chant for “WAAAATER! WAAAAATER!” for some strange reason- I mean who cares really, when Muse is on stage? But Matt recognised the chant, saying cutely into the mic “I think they want water…”. Meanwhile Chris was prowling around stage directly in front of me on bass, nodding his head in tune with the beat in trademark fashion. Dom, never in the background, was just as energetic and invigorated as I had always imagined. I couldn’t believe I was so close to them.

Undisclosed Desires was probably the only down point of their set, because it is just such an overwhelming lame song, and is so, so not Muse. It was kind of a relief to hear a huge roar greeting the start of the song from the crowd behind the mosh, obviously most of them new Muse fans, while the diehard fans in the mosh didn’t warm to it so much.

It heralded the start of the Muse laser show however, which was a true sight to behold. Green lasers sprung from devices attached to the side of the stage, reaching out towards the crowd, as similar lasers emanated from large devices on stage, absolutely lighting up the now dark sky. It was a magical moment.

Hysteria, and older Muse favourite, once again go the mosh going mental, as thousands of voices chanted hoarsely but loudly “I want it now, I want it now, give me your heart and your soul!”. The words “Last chance to lose control” were definitely taken to heart by the adoring, sweat-drenched fans, and the heavy guitar riff that followed them got the jumping going once again.

The band undertook a few jams during the set, such as Nishe and Helsinki Jam, the latter of which saw Matt temporarily leave the stage to remove his leather jacket, while Chris turned his back to the crowd to face Dom on the, drums, both silhouetted by red smoke. It was surreal and awesome.

MK Ultra was a surprise inclusion in the set, and probably a wise one, working much better live than the alternate Resistance would have. It is one of my favourite songs off their new album ‘The Resistance’ and really did have more of an Origin Of Symmetry era Muse feel to it live. The mosh welcomed it with open arms, as tired muscles, sunburnt skin, and droplets of sweat were forgotten.

Then came the moment I had been waiting so long for: Starlight. It is one of my all time favourite songs, perhaps even my absolute favourite, and it will always have a special meaning to me. When the band broke into that opening period of guitar and clapping I could feel a shiver go down my spine and goosebumps rise on my neck in anticipation, even as I cheered wildly and clapped along with the song. Then came that gorgeous, triumphant, famous keyboard riff, and everything else was immediately forgotten.

The lasers were in full force again, only adding to the feeling of supreme beauty around the stage, as Matt sung, along with tens of thousands of other people: “Let’s conspire to re-ignite, all those souls that would die just to feel alive”. Matt gave the crowd the privilege of singing one chorus of “Our hopes and expectations, black holes and revelations” by ourselves, and we didn’t let him down. The sound was deafening, but no-one cared. “Starlight, I will be chasing the starlight, until the end of my life, I don’t know if it’s worth it anymore”.

The song came to a close far too fast, as a brief moment of distortion gave way to that resounding keyboard riff for one last time and the hands of everyone in the mosh extended outwards, reaching towards the stage; towards Starlight. With an impossibly beautiful voice Matt finished the song with “Hold you here in my arms, I just wanted to hold you hear in my arms. I just wanted to hold…”, as the crowd lost their minds with rapturous applause and incomprehensible screaming.

It was one of the best moments of my life.

Never one to let the atmosphere lull, Muse followed up with Time Is Running Out, their breakout mainstream song, which saw the mosh continue it’s self-destructive insanity as more people crowdsurfed just to get out. The crowd sung “Bury it, I won’t let you bury it, I won’t let you smother it, I won’t let you murder it” perfectly, building up to the chorus, which saw Matt perform all kinds of crazy tricks with his guitar, revealing himself yet again as a true showman.

Unnatural Selection, another song from ‘The Resistance’, finished the main set, far too soon. There was a surprisingly small amount of noise for an encore, probably resulting from a mix of very tired, sore and hoarse people, and the fact that most Muse fans were already aware of exactly what was about to come.

Sure enough, the band appeared back on stage in no time and invited Nic Cester from Jet on stage to join them in a cover of AC/DC’s Back In Black. To me it just didn’t work. I’m hard pressed to think of any singer less suited to Muse than Nic Cester (I died a little inside when Matt called him his favourite Australian singer), or any song they are less suited to than Back In Black. Nevertheless I couldn’t but help myself get carried away in the electric atmosphere up front and enjoy the cover.

Finally Nic departed the stage, and Muse were much better for it, as Matt played that opening riff to Plug In Baby that everyone knows so well and loves so much. Sensing that our time with Muse was almost over, the mosh was determined to leave absolutely no energy in reserve and no droplet of sweat unspent, as we screamed along with Matt “My plug in baby!”.

The introduction to the next song was rather special, featuring Chris playing a harmonica solo suitably called Man With A Harmonica. It was a fairly special moment, and the way the song slowly built up with the addition of booming drums was epic. Chris finished the harmonica solo, walked to the edge of the stage directly in front of me and threw the harmonica towards me. Unfortunately I was so stunned and so completely tired that I didn’t even think to reach for it, and the very lucky person in front of me snagged a souvenir worth keeping for a lifetime.

It didn’t really matter however, because next thing I knew the band had broken into the start of Knights Of Cydonia, which the harmonica solo had been leading up to. As soon as that guitar riff started, the entire mosh reached one final last new level, knowing that this would be the last song. And as one, we sung along to that guitar riff, quite unsure what noise we were making, but knowing somehow that we had to make it.

The song passed in a frantic blur, as the truly deafening scream of “No-one’s going to take us alive! You and I muse fight for our rights! You and I must fight to survive!” emanated from the stage and the crowd. It was one final sing-along, one final dance, one final mosh, and one final moment of insanity.

With remarkably little fuss, but yet broad smiles on their faces, Matt, Chris and Dom left the stage. It was over. I had just witnessed the best live band in the world from the second row.

I was absolutely drenched in sweat, and tired and sore beyond belief. It all seemed to just hit me as soon as the band finished, as if my body had been holding out just long enough to hear that last note before giving in. I hung around to try and get a setlist with no luck, and then departed, in a definite haze.

It had been a truly epic, sensational, phenomenal performance. Muse were staggeringly good. The crowd of tens of thousands of people had adored their performance and been lost in their music, as had the small group of musicians that had gathered to the side of the stage to watch the masters perform their craft.

I could talk all day about the setlist, but really there’s no point. The lack of Stockholm Syndrome was certainly disappointing but virtually every single song the band played was brilliant, and complaining about the setlist of a Muse gig is like complaining about the model of Rolls-Royce you own. Even the new songs were incredible (with the exception of Undisclosed Desires), and indeed MK Ultra will hopefully remain on Muse setlists for a long time to come.

It was a very very special show for me, and the band only exceeded my lofty expectations. The four hours of supreme discomfort and been truly worth it a thousand times over. The whole show had been masterful and faultless, from one of the defining live bands of our generation.

Plus, Starlight.

-Final Thoughts-

Getting out of the venue was a bit of a nightmare, and indeed I know friends who had to walk into the city given the fact that trains ran nowhere near late enough. The crowded train my friends and I managed to catch was almost relaxing after the Muse moshpit however.

Sadly the only negative aspect of the Big Day Out was the people. At any event with 50,000 people you are bound to get some idiots, but add to this equation a large amount of alcohol and the fact that it was Australia day, and what you have is an excuse to stumble around drunkenly, with a Southern Cross tattoo and an Australian flag draped over your shoulder, trying to pick a fight with people for not particular reason.

The Big Day Out has always been a bogan magnet, and it was no different this year.

Another complaint is the fact that it’s all ages. I know this is never going to change, and it is probably a welcome chance for those under-age to enjoy live music, but really, those moshpits were no place for those aged under 18. Indeed the entire event, with its atmosphere of drunkenness and stupidity really isn’t a good place for younger people, many of which accept the atmosphere with open arms and get smashed, to very unfortunate results.

Plus the fact that it was all ages meant that alcohol could only be consumed in bar areas, which doubled as virtual cages, which is supremely uncool. My friends and I ended up not having a single beer throughout the entire day, given the fact that the organisers had virtually made it a mutually exclusive choice between drinking and seeing live music. Sadly, so many people chose the former.

Plus, the D-Barrier is just bloody stupid.

Friends who chose the wrong acts to see reported not having a great time due in part to these factors, however I had an absolute ball. ‘Fire’ was certainly a standout of the day, and Passion Pit’s dance-inspiring performance was just awesome. I won’t soon forget jumping up and down crazily to them, a thong in hand.

However Muse was, of course, the resounding standout of the festival. They are the festival headliners in the world right now, and I felt truly privileged to see them from the second row. I will never forget Starlight, and I am already looking forward to seeing the band live again when they return to Australian later in the year for a series of headline shows.

I was absolutely dead after the day, and I am still recovering now. Waking up the next day, I was sore all over, mentally exhausted still, and drained of all energy, but yet I couldn’t stop smiling. Typical symptoms of having seen your favourite band live I suppose.

A big day out? Just a little bit.

Advertisements

5 Responses to “Melbourne Big Day Out Review”

  1. Great review.
    I missed out on Passion Pit to see The Decemberists who are my favourite band, and they didn’t diassapoint. I avoided the ‘D’ after being crushed during Kasabian but still had a great time.
    Since there’s no all ages scene in Melbourne it was good to see so many bands but so many of the people who were my age were so stupid. I’ll be seeing the sideshows next year

  2. One problem with the muse part of the review.

    When the crowd started chanting ‘WATER’ how is this odd to you? The first few songs were intense and people were getting tired and sweaty, isn’t normal to call for water at a time like this?

    • I guess I was just too focused on Muse to notice. I don’t really see the point of everyone interrupting the banter with chanting for water (especially those in the middle of the mosh) when there was really nothing that security could do about it, except passing water to those right at the front.

  3. Hmm fair enough, they could of sprayed water on us or something.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Uses for Fence Hire - Mark Attwood | Solve Real Estate - January 29, 2010

    […] Melbourne Big Day Out Review « And Pluck Your Strings […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: