Neil Young, The Killers, Muse, LCD Soundsystem, The Violent Femmes, Iggy Pop, the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. They’re just a small selection of the world’s most famous bands I’ve added to my ‘Seen in Concert’ list thanks to Big Day Out.
When it was announced last year that the 20-year-old festival was no longer going to be held in New Zealand, I stood up and kicked the wall while screaming “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO” (no exaggeration). The pain I was experiencing was made three times worse a couple of weeks on when the line up for the Australian shows was announced. I’d been to every Big Day Out since I turned 15 and my mum finally gave into my begging. But this, this was the best line up yet and I wasn’t going to get to go!
I couldn’t hack it, I got on the phone to friends straight away, found one willing to splash a bit of cash and within weeks we’d booked our tickets and flights to Brisbane for the Gold Coast concert in January. The experience was great! We had a blast at the Aussie gig but the state of my bank balance afterwards told me I couldn’t do this every year.
So you’ll imagine my relief when it was revealed Big Day Out was making a return to New Zealand in 2014. Today brought the best news of all – a venue change from Mt Smart Stadium to Western Springs has been given council approval. This one small move is going to make the concert an even better version of itself.
The key to a festival with many stages is access between the different areas. I went to Wellington’s Homegrown in its first year, excited at the prospect of the water front gig showcasing Kiwi artists. But after missing the start of every band’s show by at least 15 minutes because it took so long to walk between each stage, I never wanted to go back. Logistically Homegrown was a nightmare.
In comparison, Big Day Out was much better but there were still a few issues at the previous venue of Mt Smart Stadium when it came to entering and exiting the main stage. It was set up on the rugby field and only accessible by stairs, which overflowed with fans pushing to get to the next act. Considering myself a bit of a ‘BDO regular’, I always attacked the stairs with my elbows out and ready to push. But if you were unaware of how to tackle the crowd, it could become an almighty struggle.
At this year’s Gold Coast Big Day Out the venue, Parklands, was fantastic. The three sets of stages were a close distance to each other and on the same level of ground thus avoiding the awful stairs. Yet the sounds didn’t overlap and food stalls and toilets were nicely scattered in between. The park setting worked perfectly, as will Western Springs, which is of a similar layout. I’m even prepared to push aside my fear of birds to dance with the swans if it means five more minutes with my favourite band. So sayonara Mt Smart.
Not to mention that by taking the festival away from the industrial part of Auckland with little public transport in place, bringing it to the city and it’s the perfect recipe for happy concert-goers. No more waiting in the rain for 45 minutes to get on the train feeling like your feet are going to fall off at any minute and your eyes physically can’t stay open. Now for most, it will be an easy walk home or an easy walk to a number of methods of transportation.
It’s a good day for Kiwi music junkies like myself now that we’re welcoming the return of Big Day Out and a revamped version. Organisers have figured out how to make the concert a logistical success so now we just have to hope the line up of acts is just as good.