Richie Meldrum
Richie Meldrum

I sweated like a pregnant nun but BDO 2012 was an awesome event. Here’s my review from Inpress Mag.

At the Orange stage, the blazing intensity of the midday sun is soothed by the cool, choral allure of Sydney’s Boy & Bear. Heartfelt, humble and laden with reciprocal love, it’s as close as you’ll get to one of those fabled ‘where you there?’ festival moments. Particularly special is their captivating version of Crowded House’s Fall at Your Feet, which lead singer Dave Hoskins draws out with a lengthened rendition of the chorus, including spontaneous crowd sing and clap-along. The boys finish with a favourite as Feeding Line sends everyone skipping off to the next act, sweaty but smiling.

It may have been an escape from the sweltering heat but the cover offered by the Boiler Room means exposing yourself to the antagonistic ferociousness of Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All aka OFWGKTA or simply Odd Future. Led by the enigmatic Tyler the Creator, they spit and shout their way through a disappointing performance, not helped by a sound system buried in top end. After threatening to find the person that apparently threw glass on stage and “fuck ‘em up”, they launch into Radicals, triggering frenzied moshing and hand pumping from a dedicated few and more bemused indifference from the rest.

Back in the Boiler Room ready for what is supposed to be an hour of Miss Kitten and it quickly becomes obvious that there is some kind of problem – that being, the fact that she’s not here. Reasons for the tardiness are unclear but when she does eventually show up, half way through her allocated timeslot, she isn’t exactly making amends, plodding her way through a half-arsed set of deep, dreamy electro tinged techno. Her own vocal rendition of Donna Summer’s I Feel Love sample is the only noticeable moment in what could and should be a far more remarkable offering. Pretty sure she played this Felix Da Housecat tune too

Fun loving hip hop fans looking for a bit of light relief formed an intimate but up-for-it crowd in the Hot Produce tent for an entertaining session with NY rap trio Das Racist. Smashing out a number of high energy deliverables from their previous mix tapes Shut Up Dude and Sit Down Man as well as debut album Relax, these likeable larrikins mix sleazy disco beats with Latin club sounds and some fervent Beasty Boy-esque rapping. They finish with Rainbow in the Dark mixed in with a unexpected but surprisingly apt airing of Simply the Best by Tina Turner – bizarre but slightly brilliant.

Dressed in all black against a black backdrop and black speaker stacks, Kasabian look a little ill placed in the early evening sunshine over on the Blue stage. “We’re Vampires,” confirms lead singer Tom Meighan. “We’re not used to playing during the day.” Blood drinking to the side, the lads from Leicester power their way through old and new tracks including Shoot the Runner, Where Did All the Love Go, Re-Wired and an awesome performance of Switchblade Smiles. Not the best they’ve ever been but still the leaders of the pack when it comes to modern rock built for dancing.

Headliner Kanye West certainly lives up to his billing. Emerging on a hydraulic lift rising up above the crowd, West launches into opening track Dark Fantasy. What follows sways from outright brilliance to downright decadence. Split into ‘acts’ this is as much theatrics as it is music. After a 20-minute lull where West seems to do little but muse into a Vocoder, he bursts into life for hits including Homecoming, Through the Wire and Gold Digger. Then it all goes odd again and ends up with him just lying on the floor talking to himself in some kind of self-administered therapy session – too much.

For the 20th anniversary of Big Day Out, Nero’s appearance as headliners of Boiler Room is fitting – a ‘changing of the guard’ where a new strain of dance music stakes its claim as the soundtrack for the next generation. Performing on top of a huge neon lit faux speaker stack, smash hit Promises educes mass hysteria, proof that the combination of uplifting trance riffs with bro/dubstep’s destructive bass lines is a winning one. Their own remix of Justice – Stress goes down well as does the manipulation of Plan B’s Recluse into a beastly mid- range monster. Expect more of this in years to come.

In what was a watershed year for the organisers, all eyes were on this year’s Big Day Out. Could the original monolith of Australian music festivals hold tight in testing times? But thanks to their unique ‘something for everyone approach’, which saw old rockers happily mixing with young club kids, the long lines of bodies peacefully snaking their way towards the exists – sun dried and smiling – would suggest that the answer is ‘yes’ – there is life in the old dog yet.