Big Day Out 2014 @ Metricon Stadium, 19.01.2014: Part 2

Bo Ningen @ Big Day Out 2014, Metricon Stadium, Sunday 19 January 2014

After The Drones have mostly emptied the Red Stage tent, Grouplove pack it out to capacity.  Within half a song it’s clear that the band’s main influence has to be the Eurovision Song Contest.  There’s no way a band could come up with a song like their opening song, the sort of thing you’d tune into SBS in May and would expect to be representing an Eastern Mediterranean country or perhaps one of the far Eastern, old Soviet country, without having an in depth knowledge of the event and without religiously watching the telecast each and every year.  I mean, there’s no way that a band would come up with something like this seriously is there?  It’s a tongue in cheek tribute, right? Oh. By the end of the day I can safely say that I’ve seen some of the worst bands in music and yet they manage to keep coming

After Grouplove, a band singing about going to the pub is a relief.  I would have stayed for longer than two songs but have a recommendation to go and check out.

They might be playing the tiny Headspace stage in front of a couple hundred people, most who are sat on the ground and only there because of the shade offered by the trees near to the stage, but Bo Ningen turn out to be Band of the Day by a country mile. One of the worst things about living in Australia is that new non-Australian bands generally only make it to this side of the world when they’ve built an audience in the UK/US and there’s some financial sense to touring over here.  I miss living in London and being able to see new bands in their infancy in small venues as they start to gain some attention before they break-out.  It’s more difficult to be surprised by an act in Australia.  I miss the UK festivals, Glastonbury especially, when you could always find your new favourite band playing a random stage as you were passing and just happened to take a detour or were lulled into the tent by an interesting siren call or just to escape the rain.  This is where the mainstream Australian festivals really fail as they just don’t take risks and book surprises.  The overseas acts booked are generally all established acts (unless they’re playing because they’re signed to the organiser’s record label) and are there purely for ticket sales.  Even the Australian acts are the ones getting massive radio play and often booked across multiple festivals during the year, giving an increasingly recycled look to most Australian festivals.  How a band like Bo Ningen managed to get themselves booked on the festivals smallest stage in the middle of the afternoon is hard to explain but whoever made that decision deserves some sort of award.  Having instantly become my new favourite band, the following day’s good news is that they announce an instore at Tym Guitars in the Valley and so I get to see them twice in three days.  Hopefully it won’t be too long before they’re back for a proper tour.

I’ve never really understood the attraction of The Hives. They do the same thing they always do and have been doing for the last decade and the crowd just lap it up.  After photographing the first three songs, we also get to catch the last song as we’re all waiting in the photo pit for Beady Eye and it must go on for 10 minutes.  It seems strange to play a fairly short festival set in the afternoon and include a massive finale song that consists mostly of crowd interaction rather than song.

It’s about this time of the afternoon that I find out the news about the Pearl Jam access that I didn’t even know about in the first place.  As seems to always be the case there were issues with accreditation.  I didn’t get the official email telling me I was good to go for BDO and instead got a email from the festival’s PR expressing surprise that I didn’t get the official email but that my name was down and everything was ok.  What the official email contained, and what I didn’t know about until the middle of the afternoon, by which time it was all far too late, was that you had to apply separately to photograph the festivals headline act.  The names had been given to Pearl Jam’s management and the lucky photographers had been selected and notified.

According to the onsite media, there were supposed to be 13 photographers but the list was extended to 16 or 17.  Given that there must have been 35+ photographers on the day it meant that most people weren’t approved to photograph them.  The reason given was that Pearl Jam didn’t want a load of people milling around right in front of them.  It’s a fairly poor excuse given the thousands of people in the crowd on the other side of the photo pit and I think it’s the first time I’ve ever experienced the headline act of a festival requiring a separate approval phase to photograph them.

If I’d known in advance that I wasn’t going to get to photograph them, I probably wouldn’t have bothered agreeing to photograph the festival.  The line-up was nothing to write home about (to say the very least) and they were the only act that I was really interested in photographing, for old times sake and everything, after Blur had pulled out of the festival.

I’d seen Mudhoney the night before at The Zoo at that all too rare of a Brisbane sideshow so only popped in to see them for a couple of songs to get a few quick shots.  They play to a similar amount of people as The Drones, everyone that packed the tent for Grouplove obviously had something terrible to go and see.

Blur were originally another big drawcard for me.  Even though I’ve never been much of a fan, I really liked them when I saw them headline Glastonbury one time, and really want to see them in a similar environment.  With the band pulling out of the festival very late in the day, going for Beady Eye as a replacement was just too obvious a strategy, even if DiS had given their recent album 0/10.  Similar to Blur, I was never a big Oasis fan. The first two ‘classic’ albums are both patchy with a handful of strong songs but a load of sub-standard filler and despite having seen the play on numerous occasions, from the big festival stages to the small cattleshed of Exeter Westpoint, I was never impressed with them live.  Although there’s obviously no Noel Gallagher, most of the recent line-up of Oasis are on stage and nothing much has changed.  Liam still stands there with his hands behind his back leaning into his microphone, the rest of the just stand there.  To be fair, the first song sounds ok, essentially like an average Oasis song, but the real difference is in the swagger that those songs had 20 years ago compared to the more plodding nature that Beady Eye come up with now.  It’s not terrible but it’s just not that good either.  Even though they have that 0/10 DiS-reviewed album to plug, given the nature of their addition to the bill and given the 20 year anniversary of Definitely Maybe,  I thought they would have been better to include more Oasis songs and more earlier on to get the crowd on their side.  Leaving the photo pit, it’s clear that the audience there to see them is tiny, even when compared to the one that had been there for The Hives, right before they played

Poor CSS. Last time they played at BDO it was in a full Boiler Room, with Lovefoxx crowd surfing out into the audience.  Today they play the tiny Headspace stage to a smattering of people who remember who they are.  Pop music is such a fickle business.  It looks like it really affects them as it all feels a bit half-hearted.

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