So, who remembered to put on sunscreen? Oh, that's right, NOBODY. And who got sunburnt to hell? Oh yeah, EVERYBODY. Well, actually, it wasn't so much that Big Day Out punters forgot to use sunscreen, it was more the fact that we were told it was going to piss down all day. Indeed, as Abbe May's powerful set of guitar-led indie-rock closed, the heavens opened and it seemed that BDO 2012 was going to be a mud-bath of Glastonburic proportions. But then something amazing happened (in the context of what has been the most rainy Sydney summer ever). As Best Coast brought their angsty-yet-perky, reverby indie to the table, the sun came out. As if on cue. For most of the afternoon, it remained H to the O to the motherflipping T. Like, seriously boiling. Lobster skin was order of the day, especially because there seems to be some kind of unwritten rule that the majority of the crowd must remain shirtless throughout. It makes sense though, I mean, how else would we be able to see their Southern Cross tattoos?
What's that? Oh yeah, the music.... Well, the aforementioned Best Coast were an early highlight, as were Sydney punkers, Chicks Who Love Guns. Triple J Unearthed winners Underlights displayed a sound that is clearly influenced by late 90s English indie. It was a shame that they suffered terrible sound (the bass was too prominent, everything else sounded like a muddy mess) because there were signs of promise there.
Boy & Bear brought a sense of serenity to the madness with their lovely set, which peaked when they covered Crowded House. Elsewhere, Battles and OFWGKTA were excellent and The Vaccines proved why they have received so much hype of late. Kimbra has been omnipresent this summer and she put in the strongest performance that we have seen from her so far. Vocally MASSIVE and exuding confidence in abundance, this woman is an absolute megastar in the making.
At the same time that My Chemical Romance were looking bored and old, Mariachi El Bronx doffed their sombreros to a huge crowd elsewhere in the concrete jungle of a site. Later, Kasabian did what Kasabian do while the day's highlight was going on in front of a criminally small crowd at one of the smaller stages. Kitty Daisy & Lewis (above) are simply wonderful. We have said enough words about how much we love them before, but, suffice to say, anyone at BDO who didn't pop along to see at least a couple of songs from this delightful trio of London siblings deserves to have their entire record collection smashed into tiny pieces. Whatever else you were doing, shame on you for not joining the couple of hundred people who were dancing like crazy to their amazing set (during which legendary Jamaican trumpet player Eddie Tan Tan Thornton made a typically impish appearance).
After this, we cut a dash to see the back-end of Foster The People's set and discovered where everybody was during Kitty Daisy & Lewis. Holy smoke, they were playing to a gargantuan crowd. Yeah, yeah, Pumped Up Kicks has been played to death but its appearance and subsequent mass sing-along was the feel-good moment of the festival in the early evening sunshine. Back in the arena were Soundgarden but, let's be honest, who really cares? After all, it's not 1994 any more. That said, Black Hole Sun did make us chuckle, as it brought back memories of how we used to sing it as Back Hole Mum as teenagers.
And then it was time for the main event. Kanye West announced his appearance by being hoisted way into the air on a cherry picker as puffs of smoke billowed below him (you can just about make him out in the blurry iPhone photo below) and the strains of Dark Fantasy kicked in. It was quite the spectacle and was greeted with an audible sense of awe from the massed throngs. This was followed by a fantastic version of Power. As starts go, this was as strong as anything we've seen, but his self-indulgence soon got kinda tiresome and his set list offered some seriously dull moments.
Post Kanye, Noel Gallagher & His Angry Birds (or whatever they're called) certainly knew how to keep the crowd happy, with a spattering of Oasis songs, including the underrated Talk Tonight in amongst his new stuff.
And, after Gallagher had done his thing, it was time for the shirtless masses to go home and apply some aloe vera to their bright red skin. All in all, it was a fairly unremarkable Big Day Out. Still, considering some of the headlines previous years have made, that's no bad thing.
Review by a sunburnt Bobby Townsend.