Big Days and Soundwaves

Two festivals, 127 acts, 100,000 screaming fans and three thousand five hundred litres of sunscreen. All of this in one park during early 2013, as the Big Day Out and Soundwave music festivals come to Sydney.

The two festivals cater for different music tastes, with The Big Day Out hosting artists from a wide range of genres on 18th January, and Soundwave targeting rock and metal fans on 24th February. Both events will take place at Sydney Olympic Park.

In 1992 Nirvana wowed fans at Sydney Olympic Park, just after the release of their generation defining album Nevermind, in the inaugural Big Day Out festival. Every year since, Big Day Out has provided a sensational atmosphere for this celebration of music and this year’s festival was no different.

Alternative rock fans were in for a treat, with Red Hot Chili Peppers headlining the festival, alongside The Killers. However before the headline acts made the stage, those attending sweltered through the hottest day ever recorded in Sydney, which was made worse by the mass of pressing bodies for those who braved the mosh pit.

The “No Noise Nightclub” offered some relief from the harsh Sydney sun, where DJ’s including guests from the Big Day Out line up played music through headphones given out to the club goers. Many danced away during the warmer times of the afternoon, in a great atmosphere that may have seemed peculiar to those walking by. Another option to escape the heat was a visit to Chow Town, which boasted some of the best dishes from around the country.

As the day went on, more and more fans ventured into the mosh area of the main arena as Grinspoon, Band of Horses and Vampire Weekend entertained fans on the main stages. Grinspoon were the first band to ignite the main stage, with frontman Phil Jamieson getting fans out of the shaded stands with their opening hit ‘Hard Act to Follow’, followed by others including ‘Champion’ and ‘Chemical Heart’. However the toll it took on these musicians was highlighted when Jamieson collapsed momentarily on stage, struggling through the heat.

Karen O and Brandon both put on stellar performances in leading the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and The Killers respectively. Yet the cheer from the crowd for odd patches of rain, rivalled the ovation given to these bands as the temperature fell towards the end of the day. The Killers had enough big hit songs to keep the crowd singing along, starting strong with ‘Mr. Brightside’, which sent the fans into a jumping, screaming frenzy. Moments such as the performance of ‘Somebody Told Me’ and a cover of ‘Don’t Dream it’s Over’ made it a memorable outing. Finally, the Red Hot Chili Peppers gave a performance that demonstrated why they have been one of the best bands in the world for decades. Anthony Kiedis, Michael “Flea” Balzary, Chad Smith and Josh Klinghoffer were electrifying, and had the crowd in their hands from the first notes of ‘Monarchy of Roses’ until Flea thanked fans as the band exited the stage. The energy and enthusiasm of all four men was contagious and savoured by the fans. Nobody can deny the talent and status of these musicians, as the crowd was treated to one of the great rock performances, with even a Shakespeare soliloquy from bassist Flea thrown in. With hits such as Californication, Under the Bridge and an encore for the fans, the discomfort of waiting in the sun was more than worth it.

Once Sydney recovers and rehydrates after the Big Day Out, fans can look forward to one of the best festival line-ups to ever feature in Australia, in Soundwave on February 24th. Since its launch in 2004, the festival has showcased international rock, metal and punk acts.

Fans will salivate reading the band list, which includes Metallica, Linkin Park, Blink-182, The Offspring, Paramore, Bullet for My Valentine, Garbage, Slayer and Sum 41 to name a few. It’s not surprising that festival boss AJ Maddah tweeted that he expected tickets to be sold out in an hour after the line-up was announced.

The return of Blink-182 has been long awaited, and fans around the country are looking forward to seeing the recently reunited trio of pop-punk icons headline the festival, alongside Metallica. Many believed it wouldn’t come, after drummer Travis Barker acquired a fear of flying, from surviving a plane crash that killed 4 people in 2008. However Blink has overcome many obstacles to make the Australian tour, and will also perform their sideshow on February 20th.

Aside from the festival itself, several big name bands will be performing side shows across Australia. As said above, Blink-182 will be among those bands performing outside of the Soundwave festival, and will be accompanied by such bands as Paramore, Bullet for My Valentine, Slayer, The Offspring, Bring Me the Horizon and Linkin Park. These side shows are selling out at record pace, no surprise given the quality of bands on offer. All side shows can be viewed on the “Sidewave” website.

The hype for this festival is huge, with hardcore fans dreaming of the moment they see the blur of Kirk Hammett’s fingers, or the crashing arms of Travis Barker. Crowds on the day will only be hoping they don’t perspire half their body weight as many did at the Big Day Out, before they see some of the best rock and metal bands in the world.


By Liam Bell

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