The obligatory round-up of the Big Day Out – a truly epic day, despite a rather catastrophic start and torrential rain at the end. Big thanks to all involved – especially my wonderful friends for saving our bacon and making the day spectacular.
Hits and highlights:
Primal Scream: simply the best set I have ever seen. Anywhere. Ever. Nothing will come close to this – nothing much did either, after that (although Nick Cave and Grinderman gave it a bloody good go). I spent most of the gig with my hands in the air like I was at a religious revival (I can actually spot them raised aloft throughout the mash-up video below) and had to keep pinching myself to make sure I wasn’t imagining it all.
As with the album, the set kicked off with the gospel magic of Movin On Up, bringing instant goosebumps and ecstatic cheers from the crowd (which was surprisingly sparse at that stage – a guy whispered to me, “How awesome is this – it’s just for us”).
Screamadelica is an album of highs and lows, literally, and I had to smile when an electrifyingly acid Don’t Fight It Feel It, with a couple of thousand people singing along with Bobby G and Mary Pierce, “Gonna get high til the day I die” (a festival moment I’ll remember forever), segued into I’m Coming Down. A mate said he arrived at the stage mid-set during the I’m Coming Down / Shine Like Stars slow patch and left; I wish he’d stuck with it, for the best was yet to come. Higher Than The Sun was a psychedelic surge of awesomeness to bring a tingle up your spine; Loaded was as spirit-liftingly anthemic as you’d expect; and the closer, Come Together… words fail me. I’ve still got a lump in my throat.
I was regretting not bringing our Flipcam to record this for posterity, but a) I didn’t want to be that asshole with camera aloft, and b) I wouldn’t have wanted to concentrate on doing anything else but appreciating Bobby and his band with every fibre of my being. However other people did bring cameras – these videos capture just a little of the amazingness of it all. One of my favourite albums of all time, performed in spectacular fashion. Absolute magic.
Grinderman: I had to drag the crew away from Booka Shade in the Boiler Room into the rain… but it was so worth it. The Green Stage framed Mr Cave like a gothic cathedral as he ranted and raved like a frenzied, monstrous preacherman – fittingly satanic for the unholy weather. I actually clutched my face with overwhelmed delight during the frenetic Kitchenette (I hope someone filmed the BDO version – have this in the meantime).
Other bits in brief:
- Wumni on the Lilyworld Stage: Amazing music, amazing jumpsuit, amazing hair, amazing moves. (She used to be the dancer for Soul II Soul, fact fans – that’s her shaking her braids in the Back To Life video.) A wonderful way to kickstart the day and put a smile on our faces.
- CSS in the Boiler Room: Also one of our biggest regrets – that we didn’t get there earlier. Got there just in time to catch a stonking rendition of Alala (with a great crowd surf by Lovefoxx by the looks of this video) – then they finished. Gutted. (Also missed Plan B which I wish I’d seen now – looked great.)
- John Butler Trio on the Blue Stage: a total surprise from leftfield. We caught this by accident when we retreated to the East Lounge to regroup and get a beer. I was mocking the programmers for putting MOR folk-pop on the main stage when they played this song… It’s the first time I’ve ever heard the main stage crowd brought to its knees by an acoustic guitar solo. I think we almost cried when we heard it – hair-raisingly awe-inspiring.
- Andrew WK in the Lilyworld: I wasn’t allowed to stay for more than one song, but that one song – which seemed to consist of nothing but him running about the stage playing / not playing various instruments – was so ridiculously, ridiculously bad that I laughed until I cried.
- Reggie Watts in the Lilyworld: Big Reggie fans, we all stood out in the drizzle in the Lilyworld and waited for him to finish setting up and plugging in his seemingly one thousand different cables… and waited… and waited… The moment of realisation that we might not actually get to see this gig dawned on us when he had been setting up his sequencer for more than 20 minutes – and then returned from side of stage with a keyboard and yet another giant bunch of cables. The rain became a torrent and we stayed as long as we could, but when his first song failed to impress, we realised we were soaked to the skin and decided to head back to base to get out the pac-a-macs / giant condoms. Much saddened by this – we had expected much and on a nice sunny day, we would have stayed the distance, Sorry Reggie. At least the big man was nice enough to give us a photo earlier in the day, while he was shimmying to Wumni (with his iPod on, go figure…). Not sure if I was more impressed by his hair – or his jumper.
- Die Antwoord in the Boiler Room: Classic example of one man’s meat being another man’s poison. Left after one song.
- Iggy & The Stooges on the Blue Stage: dodgy sound and not a patch on his 2006 BDO performance.
- We also heard from the other half of our posse that LCD Soundsystem were decidedly average and not a patch on previous gigs and that MIA was a shocker – which makes me feel even better about my timetable clash selection…
Last thought: I saw an oft-retweeted post yesterday which said,
“Iggy Pop was really boring. Tool was fairly boring. Rammstein was astonishing.”
While I’ll agree the five minutes of Rammstein was saw as we passed by was astonishing (-ly, hilariously terrible in my opinion, but horses for courses and all that), it does leads me to wonder why both the poster and the retweeters didn’t get off their arses and leave the main stages to explore more of the festival if they found the other acts so dull. Why put up with a boring set when there’s so much more on offer? That’s what a festival is all about, folks. Don’t dream it – see it.