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Big Day Out 2014

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by Alex Robinson (subscribe)
All spelling and grammar mistakes were edited in without my consent
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Big Day Out Sydney 2014
Big Day Out 2014

It was only in 2012 that Big Day Out looked like it might not survive another year. Downsizing in some cities and even announcing that they wouldn't be returning to New Zealand in 2013, the future didn't look bright. But 2013 marked a drastic improvement, and while it failed to beat its main competition (the much heavier Soundwave festival), it was clear that we couldn't expect to write off Big Day Out any time soon.

Still, no one could have expected BDO to bounce back the way it has. In the lead up to the 2014 festival, the promoters went back on their word that the festival would never return to New Zealand, claimed that they had secured three "white whales" as headliners, and even announced they would once again be holding two shows in Sydney. Such confidence was surprising from a festival that looked like it might be dead less than two years ago.

But did all the hype result in a line-up that was truly massive? Well... yes.

Yes it did. And it might even be their biggest ever.

Topping this year's festival are alternative rock legends, Pearl Jam. One of the biggest bands of the 90s, their appearance will probably result in yet more complaints about how every festival is full of 90s nostalgia bands. But who cares what those people think, anyway? While they're busy posting their dissatisfaction on facebook, you can have a ball singing along to classics like "Alive", "Even Flow", and "Daughter". Joining them are Britrock band Blur, perhaps best known to a lot of people as that band with that song that goes "woo-hoo", who will likely bring a crowd of drunk English backpackers along with them. Snoop Dogg aka Snoop Lion will also be there, and whether he plays his more famous rap songs or more recent reggae tracks, he will likely perform one of the more interesting sets of the tour.

Still, as impressive as those three bands are, if you're anything like me two words stood out on the poster more than anything else. Arcade Fire, the second band on the bill. Returning after a six year absence, Arcade Fire are like the Daft Punk of indie-pop, in that they have been rumoured for every festival for the last few years. To be honest, the line-up could have consisted of just these guys and a bunch of terrible hair metal cover bands and I'd still throw all my money at the festival. They skipped over Australia on their last tour, but they've made it up to us by making these shows the first shows of their next tour.

After the top four bands, there seems to be a drop in size. Granted, when the top 3 could all probably headline the festival in their own right, it seems greedy to complain. But I will. There's the Lumineers, a band for people who find Mumford and Sons a bit too raucous. Their music is so watered down, if you watch them you risk drowning. But if you're a fan, I hope you enjoy them. I really do.

It's not all bad, though. Actually, for the most part, it's really great. There's Mudhoney, one of the earliest Grunge bands. In fact, members of Mudhoney and Pearl Jam were previously in a band called Green River, who are largely considered to be the first grunge band. Mudhoney sound more like Nirvana than Pearl Jam, though.

Other bands to check out include Portugal, The Man and Tame Impala, who play fairly chilled music. If you want something heavier, Ghost are a Swedish band with a retro 70s heavy metal sound. The members dress in robes and refer to themselves as "nameless ghouls". Except for the singer, who wears skull makeup and is called "Papa Emeritus II". Let's just hope they get a night time set so they can create the right atmosphere.

There's also, as usual, a fair amount of dance music to check out. Not being a fan of the genre I can't really comment, but they've got artists like Major Lazer and Flume who will definitely get large crowds.

But you know what? Arcade Fire are playing. Really, the other bands are just a bonus. BDO sold me a ticket with Arcade Fire alone. The Sydney shows will be at the Sydney Showgrounds on the 26th and 27th of January.

For full line-up and tickets, see
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Why? Arcade Fire and Pearl Jam
When: 26 and 27 January 2014
Where: Sydney Showgrounds
Cost: $185
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