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BDO 2011 – Not so much about the music

It’s been made pretty clear that Big Day Out 2011 is no longer about the music. It’s about the money and the politics. With the second lineup announcement made this morning, we see headliner Kanye West and controversial artist Odd Future being dropped from Auckland’s line up.

Odd Future had already been announced as being dropped, not by Big Day Out organisers, but by Auckland Council. The Big Day Out then admitted that yes, Odd Future will not be playing in Auckland, and gave some promises about a series of shows that the band is going to be doing apart from the Big Day Out.

But the decision to drop Odd Future wasn’t about the music. It was because some person from Wellington decided to complain to Auckland Council about some of Odd Future’s lyrics. Auckland Council was concerned about what it called “homophobic” lyrics and requested to Big Day Out organisers that Odd Future not attend the Auckland. And by requested, I think they mean threatened. Remember, Auckland Council owns and runs Mount Smart Stadium, where the Big Day Out is being held.

Anyway, I have a couple issues with this odd Odd Future scenario. Firstly, why is someone from Wellington complaining to Auckland Council. And why is Auckland Council listening to someone from Wellington before they listen to their own constituents. Oh, I also think we should ask how Odd Future can be homophobic when one of the members is a lesbian… But seriously, if you don’t like an artist, don’t go to the stage they’re playing at when they’re playing there.

Next, we have Kanye West. This is the one there’s more of an outcry about. Kanye was a headliner. There are people who buy tickets specifically for the headliners. To be fair, the Big Day Out organisers have said people can get full refunds at the outlet they bought the tickets from if they do so before the end of the month.

But to say that Kanye was dropped because they have reduced the number of stages makes me rage a little bit. Earlier in the year, Big Day Out organisers said they were meeting with Mount Smart Stadium management to see how they can reduce costs, given the cost of bringing the show to Auckland. Then, we hear that there’s going to be four stages instead of seven, and because of that, one of the headliners has been dropped.

If I’m honest though, I don’t believe Kanye was dropped because of the reduction in stages. They’re saying Odd Future was dropped because of that and we know that’s not true. So why should I believe that Kanye was dropped for the same reason. I’m not going to pretend I’m overly upset about either – I’m not a huge fan of Kanye or Odd Future. But Big Day Out should be about the music. It shouldn’t be about the money or the politics. It’s really quite disappointing to see this happening. Big Day Out is becoming someone people aren’t going to want to go to.

Having said all of this, I don’t think BDO New Zealand is to blame. I do know people who deal with BDO in New Zealand, and I know they work very hard on this. I would suggest the people to point the finger at are Auckland Council and the BDO people in Australia.

There is other questions that needs to be asked of Auckland Council. What are they doing to reduce the costs for Big Day Out? They have been a regular tenant of Mount Smart Stadium for many years. Surely, it would be prudent for Auckland Council to, rather than make things more difficult for Big Day Out, like with the Odd Future situation, make it easier. Should they maybe offer grants? The Big Day Out gives opportunity to New Zealand bands, so maybe an Arts grant would be a good idea. Should they reduce the cost? Not sure if they have done this, but the Big Day Out has been at Mount Smart for a long time. I’m sure they will have had offers to move, but they haven’t. So why wouldn’t Auckland Council offer something like that? How much money does Big Day Out contribute to the Auckland economy? Auckland Council should maybe consider this. If maybe some of these things happened, the Big Day Out would be able to get back to what it should be – a massive event for New Zealanders to enjoy, instead of an event that is continually cutting back.

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