Big Day Out 2014

By Ben Doy

Date / Venue:  Friday January 17th, Western Springs Stadium, Auckland

The Big Day Out made its return to Auckland yesterday at its new home Western Springs Stadium.

The festival had taken some time off from New Zealand, with the 2012 edition deemed the last one for this country (the 2nd Big Day Out to be declared the final one; 1997's being the first). The picturesque Springs was certainly a breathe of fresh air and much more spacious than it's predecessor... which was probably a good thing as patronage for yesterday's BDO was well up!

Of course more people means more queues... long queues. More port-a-loos for next year and a better system to get drinks would certainly be welcome. But on the plus side there was very limited drunkenness... maybe this was the plan?   And the weather came to the party also, after it looked quite menacing and was chilly in the morning, it turned into a scorcher. Bound to be a few lobsters walking around today.

I started things off with Prowler at the Tamaki Stage. Prowler won Radio Hauraki's competition to play at the festival. They played a nice heavy set to start Big Day Out off with a bang as the crowds started flocking through the gates.

Beastwars was next on the list as I marched up to the Kowhai Stage. Arguably NZ's best metal act right now, Beastwars once again did not fail to engross the crowd. Bearded front man Matt Hyde was true to form with him and the band putting on a hell of a show.

Aussies Tame Impala impressed with their form of funky psychedelic rock. They noted they don't come to New Zealand nearly enough and commented on the hand written ‘Lees Back' sign that was on display in the stands. "This song's for you, it must be nice to have a hand written sign" the band yelled.

Then it was Primus. Some very impressive funk rock from a band I've personally waited to see live for a long time. Les Claypool is a master on the bass... a lot of musical wanking it must be said, but some very impressive and entertaining wanking for sure. He even pulled out the electric double bass masterfully playing it with a bow. Old favourites ‘My Name Is Mud' and ‘Wynona's Big Brown Beaver' were performed and one they say they never play but just for us they will ‘Jerry Is A Race Car Driver'.

As soon as Primus were done The Hives took over the Tui stage next door. It was about this time that the crowd became noticeably larger as the Swedish band played a plethora of hits including crowd favourite‘Hate To Say I Told You So'.

It seemed time for a little sit and a recharge, so headed to watch Jesse Sheehan at the intimate Metro Cube.  Bat Country played a quick ditty first; a nice dirty blues band and featured a cracking harmonica solo.  Sheehan has an outstanding voice and his blues-rock style was a delight. The tight three piece played an outstanding set and were joined by the talented Lisa Crawley for a quick song too.

I now had a decision whether to watch Mudhoney or Beady Eye.   Beady Eye won out, possible more by circumstance, as Liam Gallagher and friends played a bunch of hits new & old including Oasis' ‘What's The Story Morning Glory' and ‘Rock N Roll Star'.

Arcade Fire were solid as I expected them to be. Aptly starting things off with ‘Ready To Start', the Canadianindie rockers played a huge set which featured ‘The Suburbs', ‘Keep The Car Running' and ‘Reflecktor'. Judging the people around me they made a fair few fans that day!

And speaking about making new fans, I certainly became one of Swedish metal band Ghost. With frontmanPapa Emeritus II dressed as a spooky Roman Catholic Cardinal, Ghost proved they are far from a gimmick band and played some fantastic melodic metal. I'lm sure to be checking out some more of their music this week.

Then for a complete change of things it was time for the Snoop Dogg... with a bit of Snoop Lion thrown in too. Snoop went down a treat with the fans, with him and his entourage encouraging everyone to smoke up as bellows flowed from stage. Included in the set were The Next Episode, Gin And Juice, Nothin' But A G Thang, Drop It Like It's Hot and Who Am I (What's My Name?). Snoop also commented that a certain customs officer had made things difficult for him upon arrival, certainly not making things easy for him...

Snoop clashed with Pearl Jam, so I made a quick escape to catch a bit of their set. "It's a pretty good view and it looks like everybody at the back is doing just fine" said front man Eddie Vedder, acknowledging the houses on top of the hill before launching into ‘Given to Fly'. Good crowd for PJ, but Snoop's was arguably bigger.

Deftones got things back on the metal track, performing hits ‘Diamond Eye's, 'Shove It', and crowd favourite‘Change'. The sun had gone down at this stage and the wind was starting to pick up. Luckily most were kept warm by the sea of humanity watching Deftones!

Major Lazer was the last act of the night and the dancehall DJ project proved they had a few tricks up sleeve and started the set with Lorde's ‘Royals'... who even came out on stage for a dance! Diplo took a zorb as he was pushed over the crowd.

And then it was all done and dusted. The Big Day Out proved it's back and is a festival that has been missed from Auckland's summer.