The Vine festival review: ‘Big Day Out Gold Coast’, January 2011

A festival review for The Vine. Excerpt below.

Big Day Out 2011
Gold Coast Parklands
Sunday 23 January 2011

It’s with no small amount of disappointment that the time we should have spent watching Gold Coast indie punk duo Bleeding Knees Club open the Boiler Room, and New Zealand electro-rock act The Naked and Famous open the Converse Essential Stage, is instead spent sitting on a bus. We’re just one vehicle amongst thousands caught in a tedious traffic jam caused by a two-car accident somewhere between Brisbane and the Gold Coast Parklands; call it a downside of Queensland’s reliance upon two- and three-lane thoroughfares between major cities. (I do get to hear the latter band’s final chorus in ‘Young Blood’ ring out from a distance, though, for what it’s worth.)

Brisbane five-piece Blonde On Blonde are playing fairly by-the-numbers blues-rock on the Hot Produce stage when we do arrive at noon, but they’re interesting enough to avoid  sounding too formulaic. Put it down to frontman Jack Bratt, who charismatically lords over the crowd – which barely passes triple figures – like they’re headlining the festival. Ongoing sound problems threaten to crush whatever momentum and kudos they gain, but it’s a solid cover of the ace Queens Of The Stone Age tune ‘Regular John’ that wins me over. Doesn’t matter that the bass amp is emitting a low whine instead of what the bassist is actually playing. Bratt then closes the set by lashing his guitar into the stage in frustration.

Brisbane local Sampology mixes up a storm under the shade of the Boiler Room. His adept turntable skills are usually augmented by cleverly-edited videos of famous films, but they’re curiously absent today. Instead, cameramen film his fuzzy mop and sleight-of-hand; a couple of times he glances over his shoulder at the screen, sees himself, and looks momentarily flustered. His mixing and musical taste is impeccable; his set pacing, not so much. While the first 25 minutes are wall-to-wall with killer mash-ups – Outkast’s ‘B.O.B.’ rhymes laid over Sleigh Bells’ ‘Infinity Guitars’ is my fave; I swear he throws in the theme from the ABC TV kids show Ship To Shore for a few bars, too – there’s a definite drop-off as he approaches the end of his set. It’s great to watch Sampology in action, though. The crowd’s with him from the outset, and it appears he’s building a decent fanbase.

From the shelter of giant tents, to absorbing the sun’s unrelenting heat; weather-wise, it’s as near to a perfect day that this region has experienced in some months. As Airbourne thrash about in front of 24 stacked Marshall amps on the Blue Stage – I’m serious, I counted – I watch the Motorola motocross exhibit from up in the pavilion, and think about where else in the world I could be watching three riders backflip across a ten-metre gap while shit Aussie pub rock plays in the background. From this distance, all I can see is the shirtless Joel O’Keefe’s leg stomping to the beat, while the band plays the same handful of power chords in different combinations. The crowd paying attention to the band isn’t particularly impressive; when Lupe Fiasco begins on the Orange Stage, the numbers triple. Except that Lupe’s not happy with the sound, or the band, or something, and directs them all to stop. With his back to the crowd, he stands for several minutes while his entourage attempt to fix – or at least ascertain – the problem. He’s not having it; eventually, he walks over to his DJ’s table, rips out an expensive-looking piece of equipment, throws it to the stage floor, and walks off. A stagehand replaces it, and incredibly, Lupe returns to stage, throws it to the floor again, and disappears. Then the ten-nine-eight-etc countdown begins again, the band strikes up, the MC returns, and the song is played in full. It’s a very entertaining spectacle to eat a steak sandwich to. ‘The Instrumental’ from Food & Liquor is played within the first few songs, before I relocate to the Green Stage.

For the full review, visit The Vine. Above photo by Justin Edwards.

Leave a reply.