Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Big Day Out @ Claremont Showgrounds, Perth, 03.02.08

Being a Big Day Out virgin, I knew ahead exactly what would be getting up upon us on Sunday - heat. Hitting up to 36 degrees with only occasional relief of a breeze, I was glad I put on multiple layers of sunscreen and drank enough water. The blaring sun did not deter 40,000 punters from having fun in the Australia's biggest music festival, the fantastic music lineups were enough to take the mind off all things skin-singeing.

We missed The Dirty Secrets at Green Stage because someone was being too much of a sleepyhead. The first band we saw was Cut Off Your Hands at the Converse Essential Stage. The undercover stage was stifling and sweltering, but the New Zealand quartet managed to draw a decent number of early birds, partly due to their hit song Oh Girl being overplayed on Channel V. They delivered a tight and vibrant set of sound similar to the current British indie dance rock wave. Without the crutch seen on other Big Day Outs, lead vocal Nick Johnston showed us some of his signature quirky dance moves, celebrating the joy of newly freed arm and ankle.

Next we made our way past the notorious Lilyworld and heaps of stalls to the Boiler Room to catch Shy Child. The electropop duo delivered an energetic set with only a keytar and drumming to a small but passionate crowd. An army of fluoro was dancing with all their might to the New York band's brand of synth pop, especially when they dropped hits like Drop The Phone and Noise Won't Stop. Surprise early highlight of the day.

Our first mainstage set of the day was another electropop act Midnight Juggernauts. We ventured to the D section to get a closer look of the Melbourne trio at the Orange Stage. The band is no doubt better suited to a intimate night-time set than a festival atmosphere, they nevertheless revved up the crowd by infusing a rock egde to their electro set, with soft vocals and psychedelic beats. Tracks played are primarily taken from debut Dystopia like Into The Galaxy and Road To Recovery.

Following a break to satify growling stomach, Battles took on the Green Stage with their inventive, genre-bending sound. Songs from debut Mirrored were built in front of all onlookers as ex-Helmet drummer John Stanier stomping his way off with his trademark up high cymbal. Tyondai Braxton created live voice samples in front of our eyes, then looped them with keys and guitar like a painter at work. Ian Williams alternated between keys and guitar, and Dave Konopka in guitar complemented the math-rock superband. They played a top set of crowd pleasers, highlight was one of the best tracks of year 2007 - Atlas. Everyone witnessed the reverb brilliance were truly impressed.

We hopped to the mainstage, there were already a long line at the D entrance. The indie darling Arcade Fire was out in full force as a 10-piece outfit, they proved their capability to draw a large devoted crowd within the D barrier. From Funeral's Wake Up to Intervention and No Cars Go from Neon Bible, the band traded instruments in transition of songs, from accordion to drums, from keys to harp, to deliver an overwhelming performance of lush and theatrical sound. As the band proceeded to the anthemic Rebellion, William Butler took the attention by thumping a marching drum strapped around his neck 20m up high at a pole. A sing-along was inevitable as the band stood in a line in the centre of the stage for a sensational acappella take on the chorus to close what was, for me, the best set of the day.

As Silverchair were to played next at the Blue stage, we figured we should just shuffled to the area between the Blue and Orange stage. It was a great move as we could get a fairly good view and not get caught up among those shirtless Rage Against The Machine fans who looked as if they were ready to brawl any non-Rage fans that got in their way. Daniel Johns was as usual, making a lot of speeches, repeatedly asking the crowd to sing along but it did not go down too well with the impatient Rage-hungry fans. Nonetheless the band played a decent set but their newer songs did not get as good a response from the cowd as their older materials like 'Freak' and 'Israel's Son'. It would have been a brighter set if the band were not put on before RATM, I could see Daniel Johns was very much put off as boos were echoed from the crowd and bottles were thrown up to stage.

By this time, the D barrier was filled with either drunk sweaty bogans waiting for RATM or cool indie kids for Bjork. We left however to go see LCD Soundsystem. On my way to the Boiler Room, there was a massive crowd going to the opposite direction, they were all bailing out to see RATM. Good for me as I could get up close to the stage. It was the best atmosphere in the Boiler Room with fun people and LCD Soundsystem delivered a sheer energetic show that got the crowd dancing like crazy. James Murphy is quite an entertainer, creating some great humorous banters with his band and crowd in between songs. There was a number of highlights in the set, including the bit where the Butler brothers from Arcade Fire joined on the stage and the massive sing-along of All My Friends. As a fitting closer, Murphy was handed a bouquets of roses by his crews in the event of his birthday. He wrapped up the brilliant set by throwing roses to the stoked crowd and belting out the epic 'New York I Love You'.

I watched 10 minutes of Rage Against The Machine, probably 5 kilometres from the stage. It was so packed that saw some keen punters even climbed on top of the shipping containers and trees. I went home instead and I did not feel like missing much. All I could say is they are not my cup of tea. I was happy to leave with some memorable moments of a great day out.


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