It’s almost three months until the Big Day Out rolls on for another season, but the famous Australasian festival brand has already had an action-packed week.
Ken West, newly confirmed as BDO’s sole-promoter, has announced that Kanye West (no relation), one of the show’s headliners, now won’t be involved in down-scaled shows in Adelaide and Perth. Just days earlier, ticket-holders learned Odd Future wouldn’t play the New Zealand leg.
Also rolled into the Kanye announcement was the news that chart-topping homegrown hip hop trio Hilltop Hoods won’t be involved in the Feb. 5 Perth date, but they will appear in their hometown Adelaide on Feb. 3. The Living End won’t play the Adelaide show, but will perform in Perth. Like West, Mariachi El Bronx won’t play either Perth or Adelaide.
The BDO cited the need to downsize those cities’ venues from two to one main stage; the Perth and Adelaide events will only run four stages, while the east coast shows – Gold Coast, Sydney and Melbourne – will have seven.
It’s unclear why such drastic changes would be required at this stage. And it remains so, despite West’s attempts to clarify things on-air for Australia’s state-funded youth radio network Triple J.
During the interview, West bristled at suggestions soft ticket sales might have been the catalyst for Kayne’s no-show on two dates.
“Apart from anything else there was a necessity to change venues in Perth right at the same time we were in a Qantas airline fiasco, right in the middle of a softening of the market. And we also needed to make a decision on whether we would send out a third set of stages from England,” he said. “Then it was decided we wouldn’t be able to fit two stages at the venue we were looking at. And once we’d done that, we actually committed Adelaide to a similar fate unfortunately.”
News of the changes overshadowed the second artist announcement, which confirms the likes of Noel Gallagher’s Flying Birds, Nero and the Vaccines to the line-up.
Just last week, West confirmed he and his longtime business partner Viv Lees would go their separate ways, with West continuing as sole promoter of the Big Day Out. Then, over the weekend, news emerged that the Auckland City Council had effectively banned Odd Future from playing at the New Zealand leg of the Big Day Out, due to complaints over the hip-hoppers’ homophobic and misogynistic lyrical content. The Jan. 20 show at Auckland’s Mt Smart Stadium is the first of the six BDO dates.
West says the BDO has already sold 100,000 tickets across the three West Coast dates, but he admits what live biz observers already knew — that the festivals market is saturated. “I know the festival market is really in trouble. There has been 40 festivals (cancelled) around Europe that should have still been here,” he said. “It might be a really different landscape in 12 months’ time and your favourite festival might be gone.”