Big Day Out 2013 @ Gold Coast Parklands, 20.01.2013 – Part 1

Big Day Out 2013 @ Gold Coast Parklands, Sunday 20 January 2013

Back when I lived on the northside of Brisbane, the train journey down to Helensvale felt like it took forever. Now that I live on the southside, it takes a whole lot less time, the only downside being by the time the train gets to me, there’s standing room only.  Everyone on a train heading to the Gold Coast at that time of the day is going to the Big Day Out and over the course of the last few years, I’ve increasing felt like the oldest person on the train, possibly something approaching responsible adult status.  Having said that, this year the train trip isn’t too bad, although when it arrives at Helensvale, despite being just after 10am, there are already people fast approaching a state of unconsciousness on the benches outside the station.

There’s already a queue for the shuttle bus, one that grows as the next train arrives before a bus turns up. The roads seem even busier than previous years, so the plan to be there for the start of the first acts quickly goes out the window. Getting to the site, the next task is to find where to pick up the photo pass from, as although instructions have been emailed out, they lead us on a wild goose chase.

The site has a similar set-up to last year, although Lilyworld has made a welcome return, if only as a stage rather than the whole separate area it used to occupy. If you’ve read any review of this year’s Big Day Out, you will have read all about ‘Chow Town’. I’ve never really quite understood why reviewers feel the need to devote a chunk of their (often) word limit to providing details of the gourmet experiences on offer, what they ate during the day, and how many marks out of ten they awarded their food during the day. Essentially this year BDO had more food outlets than previous years, and this was obviously newsworthy and an item to celebrate. I saw ‘Chow Town’ from a distance but that was a far as it got.

Having missed the first set of acts on the timetable, the first act that gets photographed is ME. I saw them a few years back at Alhambra when they played at BigSound. They were going for a Queen/Muse over-the-top indulgent sound but more-or-less ended up at The Darkness. Watching them a few years on, they seem to have really toned down the indulgence but are less interesting for it. I don’t quite know why, but they also look like a band that’s paid a visit to a stylist in those in-between years. Maybe I’m just sceptical of any band that choses to wear waistcoats as their onstage attire.

Every Time I Die are another one of those stereotypical modern day rock/metal/call-it-what-you-want bands. Rock music by numbers and by checklist.

I caught a very brief glimpse of The Delta Spirit a few years ago at Splendour and despite only seeing about one song’s worth, was blown away. They became one of the bands from that weekend to follow up and the debut album was purchased as soon as possible after the event. It was ok, nowhere near as good as the live performance. Surprisingly for a Splendour and Dew Process act, there was a Brisbane show in the form of a support to Cold War Kids, but unhelpfully on the Sunday of Splendour. They did play at The Hi-Fi in 2010 as support to Ben Kweller but as far as I know they’ve never played a headline show in Brisbane and so, once again, the only glimpse I get of them is a few songs between bands on other stages. It’s a shame that the style of music they play has been usurped by a whole host of triple j favourites during the last few years.

Against Me! follow a similar line to Every Time I Die. All the photographers are out in force to photograph the band’s lead singer, and that’s the most interesting thing about them.

Gary Clark Jr wasn’t on my list of acts to photograph when I started the day but was a recommendation. Again, I only see a few songs but the Hendrix comparisons seem fairly lazy and are probably more based on colour than anything else. The songs and his playing are too straight-up blues for Hendrix comparisons. More Stevie Ray Vaughn than Jimi if you ask me, but maybe it got a whole lot wilder after I’d moved on to the next band.

The next band is the NME-rated Jagwar Ma. It’s always interesting when international press is paying more attention to Australian acts than Australian’s own mainstream music media. It’s not really that much of a surprise considering that street press is essentially a weekly listings publications that devotes the majority of its space to telling you who’s announced shows and tours, interviewing people about to play shows and tours, reviewing shows and tours that happened last week and providing a couple pages at the back about who’s playing shows and tours in the forthcoming weeks. Having gone to bi-monthly, I’m not sure what the purpose of triple j magazine is anymore, other than for additional coverage for the stations DJs. I think both will be gone from print media within the next five years. Although described as a “new” band, both members of Jagwar Ma were in fairly high-profile-at-the-time bands, The/Lost Valentinos (I really should sort out those old photos so they work again) and Ghostwood. It would be impossible to describe their new band without using the word “Madchester”. Sometimes I wonder if bands look at what’s gone before and try to pre-empt the revival. The trouble with Madchester is that it was very fleeting and the majority of those bands ran out of ideas fairly quickly. As a quick distraction, Jagwar Ma are fine but it’s little more a dose of retromania and nostalgia for days gone by and bands not really thought about for a good while.

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