When the Big Day Out starts this Friday, it'll push off from New Zealand for the very last time
Organizers of the touring festival confirmed today via Twitter that the Auckland leg is to be ditched, the end result of a lengthy list of line-up changes and off-site issues which had taken the steam of out the NZ show.
In a message sent today through Twitter, organizers explained, "This year will be New Zealand's last Big Day Out. Come party with us this Friday. It's been an amazing 18 years here in Auckland."
The BDO expanded to Auckland in 1994, just two years after the event started life as a one-off date in Sydney, playing before fewer than 10,000 fans. Now, in its 20th anniversary year, it's a six-city juggernaut. At its peak in 2009, the tour drew an estimated 335,000 fans.
The past six months, however, have been rough for the Big Day Out. The biggest bombshell landed in October, when Viv Lees left BDO, leaving his co-founder Ken West to take sole responsibility for the show. Lees' timing was either impeccable, or just simply rotten. Amid signs of soft ticket sales, West would rejig the format in Auckland, Perth and Adelaide and headliner Kanye West was shunted from those shows. Also, the Auckland concert had to drop Odd Future from the bill after the controversial rappers got the thumbs down from the Mount Smart Stadium's owners, the Auckland City Council.
Ticket sales for the Auckland show have been slow, and are still on sale. Local industry veteran Campbell Smith is the New Zealand partner on BDO.
In a tough marketplace for music festivals, it's little wonder Ken West has decided to cut the burden that is its trans-Tasman link. But it's nevertheless a noteworthy and sad end to a date which for almost two decades has been a familiar launching pad for the biggest festival of its kind.
There's every chance the BDO will look decidedly different in 2013. West recently partnered with C3, producer of Lollapalooza and Austin City Limits and winner of Top Independent Promoter, U.S. honors at the 2011 Billboard Touring Conference, in a move that aligns Big Day Out with C3 both creatively and on the business side of things. West has also told this reporter in the past that he's not ruled out taking the show on a sabbatical (which last happened in 1998), and he's hinted in the press that he'd even thought of cutting the Perth and Adelaide shows.