With its disastrous 2012 trek now a dusty memory, the Big Day Out and its huge U.S. artist contingent rumbled into the Gold Coast on Sunday, where the likes of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, the Killers, Animal Collective and the Bloody Beetroots filled it up.
The Chili Peppers are veterans of this tour, and the headliners played a crowd-pleasing set which yanked songs from across their catalog. The California rockers opened with "Monarchy of Roses" from 2011's "I'm With You", before rolling through a bank of their more-familiar works which included "Can't Stop," "Under The Bridge," "Californication." They wrapped their show and the event proper with an encore which included classics "Suck My Kiss" and "Give It Away."
Earlier, the Killers did their turn at a 15-track greatest hits set, opening with "Mr Brightside," and packing in "Smile Like You Mean It, "Somebody Told Me," and "Read My Mind." The only surprise came when the Las Vegas pop-rockers gave a rendition of "Don't Dream It's Over," an '80s hit for Australian folk-rock legends Crowded House.
The BDO tour hasn't yet reached the half-way point, but it'll forever be branded in the minds of its performers. Why so? Well, the blistering heat for starters. Last Friday's opening date in Sydney played out in temperatures that nudged 46-degrees C (115-degrees Fahrenheit) in the shade, the hottest day recorded in Australia's biggest city since records began more than 150 years ago. Australia's summer is no place for shrinking violets.
Many of the performers who hit the stage before sundown didn't take any chances with the heat. The Delta Spirit's Matthew Vasquez wore a singlet, all three members of locals newcomers Jagwar Ma wore shorts.
As it turned out, the Gold Coast's weather never topped 30-degrees C (86 Fahrenheit), relatively mild. The same could be said for much of the bill, which had something for everyone but few smoking-hot standouts. One of the true highlights was delivered by Canadian electro-goth group Crystal Castles. Two years earlier, Alice Glass hobbled through an impressive set in the same tent, having injured an ankle in the lead-up to that tour. On Sunday, the power went out -- briefly -- as the act was ripping through the early part of their set. Crystal Castles always seem to bring some surprises when they play this part of the world, and their rabid fans lapped it up.
The Boiler Room lived up to its name when Italian electro-house act Bloody Beetroots gave a masterclass in how to give a heaving party-crowd a big send-off. Their style of high-energy EDM lacks nuance, but tell that to the 10,000 kids who bounced in unison from the first beat to the last.
Other performers on the day included Vampire Weekend, Band of Horses, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and homegrown rapper 360. Thirty acts have never played before played the BDO, a list that includes Animal Collective, B.o.B., Sleigh Bells and Foals.
The Big Day Out is the biggest traveling circus of its kind anywhere in the world. At its peak, the tour extended to seven dates across Australia and New Zealand, and in 2009 shifted a total of 330,000 tickets, according to organizers. There was no great celebration for the 20th anniversary show last year when ticket sales took a massive slide.
Changes had to be made, or the "Big Day Out" would've become the "Big Day Over." The Auckland, New Zealand leg has been dumped, the traditional route of the tour has been tweaked, and for the first time the BDO this year teamed with Austin, Texas-based C3 Presents, promoter of Lollapalooza and Austin City Limits Music Festival. Indeed, the long-time Gold Coast Parklands has hosted its last BDO, as the site makes way for an athletes village to support the 2018 Commonwealth Games. A new venue in the region will be announced shortly.
This year was the BDO's "make or break." After a predictable sell-out in Sydney and a big crowd on the Gold Coast, the BDO should live to fight in a crowded market another year, at least.
The shows move on to Adelaide next Friday, the following day in Melbourne and wraps Monday 28 in Perth.