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Big Day Out 2011 - Gold Coast

After having gone to the Big Day Out on Sunday, I thought I?d take the opportunity to reflect on what was, in my opinion, one of the best festivals in recent memory. The lineup, which included The Vines, Dead Letter Circus, Airbourne, Birds of Tokyo, The John Butler Trio, Gyroscope, Deftones, Iggy and the Stooges, Rammstein and the almighty Tool, was indeed the best since the epic ?08 lineup, and made for a brilliant and unforgettable day out. Anyway, this is a long one, hope you enjoy it.
1The Vines

The Vines came on first and truly whet the appetites of the hungry festival-goers that day. They opened with ?Outtathaway? off of their first album, which really got everyone going. Everything except for ?Highly Evolved? and ?Get Free? I didn?t really recognize, but they were pretty decent regardless. The mixing compared to the other bands was fairly decent, especially when compared to Dead Letter Circus and Birds of Tokyo, both of which were completely dominated by drums and bass, respectively.
2Dead Letter Circus

I saw Dead Letter Circus after about a half hour break following The Vines, and I remember being especially interested in seeing them because my friends had seen them at Muse and had said that they had been constantly out of time and that Kim had hardly sung in tune. Well, despite the terrible sound engineering and the overbearing shouting of the audience, I was pleasantly surprised at their performance on all fronts. The most noticeable aspect of the performance was Kim?s singing, which was uncharacteristically good ? with very little tonality issues or ?blow-outs?, so to speak. He interacted and connected with the audience throughout, and truly had them in the palm of his hands to say the least. The rest of the band also performed well, especially during closer ?This Is The Warning?, which included two pairs of Toms that added an extra layer of intensity to the final few minutes of the set. Nothing else within the set really stood out, but all including ?Cage?, ?The Mile? and ?Reaction? amongst others were performed with precision and energy that I, especially, didn?t quite expect.

The third band I saw was actually Airbourne, the all-famous AC/DC clone, who I'm not really a fan of at all but really enjoyed seeing them. Right from the start, frontman Joel O'Keefe just burst onto the stage with that cheesy Australian grin and jeans ripped at the knees. I found them to be fairly animated and entertaining, especially when placed in comparison with the previous two bands I'd seen. At one point in the show, he took the Angus Young solo format and climbed up the entire middle section between the two main stages and proceeded to play his guitar at the top while the rest of the band hammered repetitively away. Toward the end, Joel told everybody to get up on each others' shoulders for the final song. Other than that, though, the music was fairly samey and the movement of the band was predictably orchestrated, but it was, for lack of a better phrase, pretty damn fun.
4Birds of Tokyo

Birds of Tokyo came on after Airbourne, and proved to be the better band in the process. With what was a less than excellent setlist consisting mostly of tracks from their new album, they put on a fairly entertaining show. This can?t be wholly attributed to the band ? the Gold Coast crowd were just as much a part of the show, with much interaction between them and Kenny. A few times, somebody stood up on another person?s shoulders, pointing and gesturing at Kenny who gestured back. Another highlight was a circle pit/bull ring during ?Wild At Heart? (yep, that?s right), which was equally exciting and hilarious. Kenny sang flawlessly as always, but the guitar was entirely inaudible and the rest of the band was fairly stiff, but thanks to the crowd?s contributions, Birds of Tokyo were quite enjoyable as a whole.

While I had originally intended wholeheartedly to check out Gyroscope?s set, they bored me so much that I decided to leave after the fourth song and get ready for the Deftones? set. The sound engineering was terrible, and the kick drum was too prevalent in the mix. The band performed their first few songs with typical toned-down indie intensity, and the songs were quite samey and generic.

I?m sure that if anyone on this site knows anything about me, it is that the Deftones are my favourite band of all time. No question about it. And when I found out that they were performing at Big Day Out, I knew it was an opportunity I couldn?t pass up. Taking this into account, many of you will understand why I was so damn pissed about the circumstances. First: as a consequence of the idiot security at the venue and the lazy as shit Bliss N Eso fans, I ended up missing the first three songs of the Deftones? set ? Rocket Skates, Around The Fur and My Own Summer, which are easily among their best. In a nutshell: security wouldn?t let anyone in until the audience from the other stage had left. On the bright side ? the band played brilliantly, Chino was frantic as ever, and the setlist (aside from the crushing absence of Passenger with Maynard on the same bill) left nothing to be desired, and included the likes of ?Sextape?, ?Diamond Eyes?, ?Change? and ?Elite?, the latter of which had a shirtless Chino in the crowd wearing an audience member?s hardhat. While Stephen Carpenter?s guitar was at parts inaudible, their set was one of the day?s best and shows that the band are indeed back in their prime.
7Iggy and the Stooges

For a band that do things in all the old ways, Iggy and the Stooges were one of the best acts of the day, easily. They played a mix of material from their entire discography, opening with ?Raw Power? and ?Search and Destroy?, which got things off to an ecstatic start. A personal highlight for me was crowd surfing and getting up on the stage with Iggy during ?Shake Appeal?. Iggy, now 64 years old, was easily the most energetic and engaging performer, and the number of people under 20 singing all the words to songs released almost 40 years ago was a true testament to the band?s endless relevance, even after all these years.

Hands-down the best act of the day. I had never expected Rammstein to be such a high cut above the other bands as they were, but right from the beginning they held nothing back from their colossal stage performances within the festival setting. The setlist was excellent, and included obvious fan favourites like opener 'Rammstein', 'Ich Will', 'Du Hast' and set highlight 'Feuer Frei!' but lacked the obvious inclusions of 'Amerika' and 'Mein Teil'. They were easily the best orchestrated and most animated band of the day, and included an arsenal of pyrotechnics such as flamethrowers and fireworks, as well as a sud-cannon (yes, that is what you think it is). The band, especially Flake and frontman Till Lindemann performed like stage actors, engrossing the audience in so different a way to any other band that had performed that day. The music was loud, the mixing was perfect and the performance was unforgettable.

Tool had a lot to live up to in following Rammstein, but despite the almost perfect performances by all members of the band and a fantastic light show, their emphasis on atmosphere was much less entertaining than the militant, over-the-top stage play that was Rammstein. The setlist, however, left nothing to be desired, and included the likes of ?Vicarious?, ?Stinkfist?, ?Jambi?, ?Aenema? and the stunning opener ?Third Eye?. It was an exhilarating and overwhelming finish to what was probably the best Big Day Out in years.
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