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(Not so) Big Day Out 2012

Auckland’s Big Day Out is over for 2012, and supposedly forever. It really wasn’t the most exciting Big Day Out ever, though it had it’s good parts.

However, the most disappointing thing was the numbers there.

No Crowd <strike>surfing</strike>

Big Day Out didn't live up to it's name this year. (Yes, I went there with this picture)

The NO CROWD SURFING signs would have been more useful if there was enough of a crowd to surf. Though to be fair, the Main Stage did get some crowds worth surfing, as Cage the Elephant’s vocalist, Matt Schultz, showed.

Cage the Elephant - BDO 2012

For me, the top five acts were:

  1. Nero
  2. Beastwars
  3. Cage the Elephant
  4. Cairo Knife Fight
  5. Royksopp

Nero ended my night – I didn’t want to deal with the pathetic nature of the less talented Gallagher. They absolutely rocked it out. I was quite a happy Faz.

I would like to talk more about the music, but I think it’s important to look at what went wrong, and clearly, it went wrong. I know most people will automatically say “it was Big Day Out NZ Publicity’s fault”. I completely disagree with that NZ Publicity did an amazing job to get as many people there as were there. For me, there were three issues:

  1. Not enough stages
  2. Pulling acts after announcing the line up
  3. The “Tepid Carpark”

Firstly, the stages. Even if you divide a 13 hour day into half hour slots, you could only fit 78 acts on the stages. If we assume that you’re going to have Mainstream, Indie, Dubstep/DnB, Electronic, Rock and Metal at the very least, that only allows 13 acts per genre. There wasn’t enough of anything to keep one group of people at the event. Sure, with only 40-odd acts, they didn’t need many stages, but I have to ask why is there always a bunch of acts that only play in Australia? Cull that attitude and you’ll have a better event.

Secondly, the line up. Sure, I’m not a fan of Kanye and Odd Future isn’t my favourite group. However, plenty of people are. There are people who would have gone to the event without those two being announced, but got a refund on their tickets more on a principle than anything else. If they were having problems, they should have delayed the announcement. In fact, with Odd Future, Auckland Council should have, a) not been taken in by something a Wellingtonian said, and b) realised that it’s pretty difficult for an act with more than one lesbian in to be homophobic. And even if Auckland Council didn’t realise these things, the Big Day Out certainly should have.

Finally the “Boiler Room”, or as we like to call it this year, the Tepid Carpark. The Boiler Room wasn’t boiling and it certainly wasn’t a room. It was an open stage. Yes, I know the lease for the land it was on expired, but it’s still wrong that they didn’t get some sort of shade put there. A lot of people who don’t want to be in the sun/rain will head to the Boiler Room. If they can’t do that, they have to sit in the stands and have an average time. And okay, this didn’t make the event not sell, but it made the event a fizzer all the same.

While it was good to see the Big Day Out organisers at least trying to make the numbers up, it was sad to see they had to let people in for free just to get a crowd in – and even then it didn’t fill up hugely.

The end of an era. Maybe it was an error not to just cancel 2012 though. Definitely not a good way for the festival to go out on. Then again, remember, they did cancel from 1997-98. We don’t know they won’t be back.


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