Big Day Out

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Not to be confused with Big Gay Out. For other uses, see Big Day Out (disambiguation).
Big Day Out
2010 Big Day Out in Sydney.jpg
Big Day Out Sydney, 2010


  • Sydney
    (1992–97, 1999–present)
  • Melbourne
    (1993–97, 1999–present)
  • Adelaide
    (1993–97, 1999–present)
  • Perth
    (1993–97, 1999–2014)
  • Gold Coast
    (1994–97, 1999 – present)

New Zealand

Years active 1992–97, 1999–present
Founded by Ken West and Vivian Lees
Date(s) Late January – early February
Genre Heavy Metal, Punk Rock, Rock, Hip hop, Electronic, Industrial , Indie
Website Official website

The Big Day Out was an annual music festival that, as of February 2014, is held in four Australian cities: Sydney, Melbourne, Gold Coast and Adelaide, as well as Auckland, New Zealand.

The festival was usually held in late January each year. It debuted on the 1992 Australia Day public holiday in Sydney and expanded to Adelaide, Melbourne and Perth by the following year. The Gold Coast and Auckland were added to the schedule in 1994. As of 2003, it has featured seven or eight stages (depending on the venue) accommodating popular contemporary rock music, electronic music, mainstream international acts and local acts. It is produced by Creative Festival Entertainment, an Australian-based partnership between Ken West and C3 Presents.


The festival began in 1992 as a Sydney-only show with Violent Femmes as the headline act, along with Nirvana and a range of other foreign and local alternative music acts playing at the Hordern Pavilion. In the months preceding the event, Nirvana's Nevermind was released and became an international smash hit, therefore guaranteeing the success of the festival. In 1993, the festival was extended to include Melbourne, Perth, and Adelaide. West has revealed in an interview that he was looking to create "urban mayhem" and "controlled chaos".[2]

Big Day Out Double Stages, Auckland 2007. The festival expand to Auckland in 1994 and has held shows there each year, with the exception of 2013.

Since 1994, the Big Day Out has annually travelled to Auckland (New Zealand), the Gold Coast, Sydney, Adelaide, Melbourne and Perth during a three-week period. The tour through the southern-hemisphere summer has become "the festival overseas acts want to be on". In 1997, organisers Ken West and Vivian Lees announced they were taking a year off, causing concern that the festival was coming to an end.[3] On 17 January 2012, Big Day Out organiser Ken West announced that the Auckland Big Day Out on 20 January 2012, would be the last Big Day Out in New Zealand, and that they will be putting on the festival in Australia only in 2013.[4]

The event reached the 100-shows milestone with the second of two Sydney events in 2010. With the impending milestone nearing, Lees boasted that the BDO has been able to build relationships with acts during their careers, which has become a part of the culture of BDO. The Australian said this has helped secure the BDO's world status and become recognised as one of the most successful and long-running rock festivals in the world, going on to say the festival is as much a part of Australian culture as the Melbourne Cup.[3]

In 2010, the caravan of artists and crew contained 700 people, compared to the 70 who crossed Australia in 1993. West said even the Australian bands were taking bigger crews, "Through that the festival needs more production, more riders, more hotel rooms, more everything." A solid infrastructure has been built steadily over the years to help cope with the increasing demand of the festival, with requests for video mixers, back projections and backstage internet connections obviously becoming a lot more frequent than when touring began in 1993.[3]

Due to the increasing popularity of the event, a second Sydney show has been held in some years, such as 2004, when the extreme popularity of Metallica led to the addition. The addition occurred again in 2010, when Muse headlined, and also in 2011, with Tool and Rammstein co-headlining.

In November 2011, the business partnership between Lees and West was dissolved and the latter has since partnered with Austin based C3 Presents, the company that runs the Lollapalooza festival in the United States (US). C3 purchased a 51 per cent stake in the company following the split, which was caused by "internal and external" pressures. Prior to November 2011, Creative Festival Entertainment was the company that produced the Big Day Out.[5] and is moving forward with the 2013 show.[6][7]

There was no Big Day Out in Auckland in 2013, but in April that year, promoters said they were looking to bring it back in 2014, at Western Springs Stadium instead of Mt Smart.[8] The Claremont Showgrounds venue in Perth, Western Australia remains an unviable option for the festival, due to the staunch opposition of Claremont mayor Jock Barker who has stated that music festivals in general introduce “appalling antisocial and criminal behaviour into a residential area.” Claremont councilor Peter Browne supported Barker's position by stating that the benefits of events such as the Big Day Out “hopelessly outweighed by the intolerable noise, the late finish, the high level of criminal activity and general social misbehaviour in and outside of the grounds.” A study has revealed that large-scale music festivals contribute approximately A$5.2 million to the state’s economy, in addition to increased tourism and employment levels.[9]

West announced to the media on 17 September 2013 that fellow Australian music festival promoter AJ Maddah had joined the Big Day Out enterprise. Although West explained that "the BDO team will now be C3, AJ Maddah and yours truly", Maddah stated to the media that "It’s Ken’s vision and I’m working for him. For 20 years it’s been my ambition to work for the Big Day Out. It’s been a great festival for 22 years. I don’t need to fuck with that." As of the date of the announcement, Adam Zammit is the CEO of the company and the Fairfax Media reported numerous job cuts.[7]

The second Sydney show scheduled for 2014 was officially cancelled on 26 September 2013 due to poor ticket sales—the show was merged into the first show on 26 January. In an official statement, West explained, "Perhaps we were a bit ambitious expanding to two dates in Sydney for this year’s Big Day Out."[10] Overall, the attendance figures for the 2014 festival were equivalent to around 50 per cent of the 2013 event. Approximately 15,000 tickets were sold for the Perth leg of the festival,[11] leading to an announcement that the Big Day Out would never return to the western capital city again. Maddah did confirm to the media that 31,000 people attended the Sydney leg on 26 January.[12][13]

Artist lineups[edit]

Since its inception in 1992, Big Day Out has attracted a large range of artists, with headlining acts including Nirvana, Kanye West, Chemical Brothers, Blink 182, The Strokes, Muse, Hole, Violent Femmes, Iggy Pop and the Stooges, The Ramones, Soundgarden, Rammstein, System of a Down, Limp Bizkit, Nine Inch Nails, Rage Against the Machine, The Prodigy, Marilyn Manson, Foo Fighters, Metallica, Tool, The Offspring, Neil Young and Red Hot Chili Peppers. The annual festival has also been a launching platform for many Australian artists, with various acts performing on the tour multiple times, such as Silverchair, Regurgitator, Powderfinger, You Am I, The Living End, Jebediah,[14][15] The Vines, Grinspoon, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Kisschasy, and Wolfmother.

Current Venues[edit]

City Venue 2014 Crowd
Auckland Western Springs Stadium 40,000+
Gold Coast Carrara Stadium 35,000+
Melbourne Flemington Racecourse TBA
Sydney Sydney Showground Stadium TBA
Adelaide Bonython Park TBA


Death of Jessica Michalik[edit]

During the 2001 Big Day Out festival in Sydney, Jessica Michalik was crushed in a mosh pit during a performance by the band Limp Bizkit. She was revived and rushed to Concord Hospital, but died of a heart attack five days later.[16]

The band's frontman Fred Durst claimed the band had attempted to take precautions that fell on deaf ears, "We begged, we screamed, we sent letters, we tried to take precautions, because we are Limp Bizkit, we know we cause this big emotional blister of a crowd". The following day, Limp Bizkit had left Australia without telling the organisers, who only discovered the band's departure through a note left at the hotel.[16]

Senior deputy state coroner Jacqueline Milledge issued a statement saying responsibility was on the Big Day Out's promoters Creative Entertainment Australia, saying there was overwhelming evidence that crowd density was dangerous when Limp Bizkit went on stage. Limp Bizkit was also criticised in the report, Milledge saying that Durst could have taken the situation more seriously, with his comments on stage during the attempt to rescue Michalik "alarming and inflammatory".[17]

Michalik's parents filed separate wrongful death claims naming promoters and security personnel, and in one claim, Limp Bizkit. A New South Wales court dismissed the band and all parties connected with the band from the claim, finding they were not liable.[18]

In 2005, United National Insurance sued Limp Bizkit in an attempt to avoid paying legal fees arising from Michalik's death. The company claimed in the lawsuit, which was filed on 11 August 2005, that Limp Bizkit frontman Fred Durst incited the audience at the festival to rush the stage.[18]

Flag ban[edit]

Entertainment at the Big Day Out in Melbourne

On 21 January 2007, a decision was made by the organisers to discourage Big Day Out patrons in Sydney from bringing and displaying the Australian flag. The organisers said the decision was a result of recent ethnic tensions in Sydney, complaints that the previous year's festival had been marred by roving packs of aggressive flag-draped youths,[19] and recognition that some indigenous Australians take issue with celebrating the start of British settlement.

Sections of the community had strong views in support of or objection to the policy. Former Prime Minister John Howard, New South Wales Premier Morris Iemma and Federal Leader of the Opposition Kevin Rudd condemned the move. Iemma suggested the event be cancelled if the organisers could not secure the safety of attendees. Main stage act Jet performed in front of a large backdrop of a black-and-white Australian flag cut-out of their name, with lead vocalist Nic Cester adding, "I can't tell anyone else what to do but we as a band are very proud to be Australian and we don't want to feel we are not allowed to feel proud".[20]

Other people including Andrew Bartlett of the Australian Democrats, sports writer Peter FitzSimons and members of the hip hop outfit The Herd expressed concern that the flag was being misused by a handful of aggressive attendees in a jingoist manner, and that rock concerts were not the appropriate venue to be waving a flag.[21]

On the first day of the 2007 Sydney Big Day Out significant numbers of patrons attended the event wearing Australian flag-related apparel or carrying Australian flags. No-one was refused entry and no flag-related material or clothing was confiscated. Since that date there has been no further suggestion of banning the Australian flag from Big Day Out events.


Drug use is associated with many Australian music festivals, including the Big Day Out,[22] with anecdotal reports strongly indicating that alcohol continues to be the most prevalent drug at all events. Police have intercepted suspected users and dealers by placing drug sniffing dogs at some entrances of each festival and patrolling the event.[23] At the 2008 festival in Sydney, police made 86 drug-related arrests. In 2009, 107 people were detained for drug violations.[24] At the 2009 Perth leg of the festival tour, more than 70 arrests were charged with drug-related offences.[25]

Death of Gemma Thoms[edit]

At the 2009 Big Day Out festival in Perth, 17-year-old Gemma Thoms collapsed after allegedly taking three ecstasy tablets.[26] She died 12 hours later in Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, after being transferred from the event's first-aid post.[27] The girl and her friend reportedly took one tablet each whilst at home before the event. After arriving, she saw police near the entrance, panicked, and swallowed another two tablets.[26] Police later denied responsibility for Thoms' death, suggesting that no sniffer dogs were being used to search patrons at the entrance she had used. They agreed that "There may have been a perceived fear of being detected,". Thoms had been driven by car and had not taken the train to the station where police were searching.[28] Police did not make any arrests.

Beenie Man and Odd Future[edit]

In November 2009, gay rights groups in New Zealand protested after controversial rapper Beenie Man was included in the second round of announcements for the 2010 tour. Groups such as cited controversial and homophobic lyrics from Beenie Man's songs such as "I'm dreaming of a new Jamaica/Come to execute all the gays". The group called for Big Day Out organisers to drop Beenie Man from the line up "to send a message that homophobia is unacceptable", and over 850 people joined a Facebook group to oppose his appearance.[29]

On 15 November 2009, the festival's Australian organisers issued a statement on their website, confirming that Beenie Man had indeed been dropped from the lineup. Whilst they acknowledged his commitment to the 2007 Reggae Compassionate Act and his promises to not perform the offending songs on his tour, they ultimately made the decision to drop Beenie Man because they felt his appearance would "be divisive amongst our audience members and would mar the enjoyment of the event for many."[30]

In early November in 2011, ahead of the 2012 Big Day Out, a request was made by Auckland City Council to remove Odd Future from line up due to some of their lyrics being allegedly homophobic. The promoters agreed, and put an Odd Future sideshow on in Auckland outside of the Big Day Out.[31]

Compilation albums[edit]



  1. ^!/BigDayOutNZ/status/159141312447258624
  2. ^ Alex Langlands (13 July 2012). "Big Day Out: Best Bits Of Years Gone". Music Feeds. Music Feeds. Retrieved 7 September 2012. 
  3. ^ a b c Shedden, Iain (15 January 2010). "Rocking around the clock and the nation". The Australian. Retrieved 18 February 2010. 
  4. ^ David Farrier; 3 News online staff (17 January 2012). "Big Day Out cancelled in New Zealand, as of next year". 3 News. MediaWorks TV. Retrieved 6 September 2012. 
  5. ^ Waddell, Ray (4 January 2012). "C3 Presents Forms Partnership With Big Day Out". Retrieved 7 May 2012. 
  6. ^ "Home". Big Day Out. Retrieved 7 May 2012. 
  7. ^ a b Darren Levin (17 September 2013). "Ken West: Why I'm co-running Big Day Out with AJ Maddah". Faster Louder. Retrieved 20 September 2013. 
  8. ^ "BDO awaits Western Springs consent". 3 News NZ. 11 April 2013. 
  9. ^ Tom Mann (11 July 2013). "Why don’t bands go to Perth?". FasterLouder. FasterLouder. Retrieved 12 July 2013. 
  10. ^ Tom Mann (26 September 2013). "Big Day Out cancels second Sydney show". Faster Louder. Faster Louder Pty Ltd. Retrieved 27 September 2013. 
  11. ^ Tom Mann (29 January 2014). "Maddah clears up confusion about Big Day Out's future". Faster Louder. Faster Louder Pty Ltd. Retrieved 4 February 2014. 
  12. ^ Simon Collins (29 January 2014). "Last Big Day Out for Perth". The West Australian. The West Australian. Retrieved 30 January 2014. 
  13. ^ Tom Mann (30 January 2014). "Big Day Out faces $15 million loss, legal battles". Faster Louder. Faster Louder Pty Ltd. Retrieved 4 February 2014. 
  14. ^ "Jebediah - Leaving Home (live)" (Video upload). YouTube. Google, Inc. 4 March 2011. Retrieved 23 September 2013. 
  15. ^ "Jebediah". Catherine Haridy Management. Catherine Haridy Management. September 2013. Retrieved 23 September 2013. 
  16. ^ a b NME (5 February 2001). "Durst Breaks Silence". NME. IPC Media. Retrieved 6 September 2012. 
  17. ^ "Limp Bizkit Slammed Over Big Day Out Death". NME. Retrieved 18 February 2010. 
  18. ^ a b Reuters (13 August 2005). "Insurer sues Limp Bizkit over Big Day Out death". ABC News. ABC. Retrieved 6 September 2012. 
  19. ^ Flag row rocks Australia concert, Al Jazeera, Retrieved 28 January 2007
  20. ^ McCabe, Kathy; Benson, Simon (22 January 2007). "Big Day Out flag ban sparks fury". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 22 January 2007. 
  21. ^ McIlveen, Luke (22 January 2007). "Fly your Aussie flag". The Daily Telegraph. 
  22. ^ "Illicit Drug Use at Events and Venues". Drug & Alcohol Services South Australia. Retrieved 5 February 2009. 
  23. ^ "Big Day Out drug busts". Sydney Morning Herald. 23 January 2009. Retrieved 5 February 2009. 
  24. ^ "More than 100 drug busts at Big Day Out". Sunshine Coast Daily online. Retrieved 5 February 2009. 
  25. ^ ABC News (2 February 2009). "Big Day Out teen dies of suspected drug overdose". ABC News. ABC. Retrieved 7 September 2012. 
  26. ^ a b Cordingley, Glenn (5 February 2009). "Gemma Thoms' mother speaks out". Retrieved 5 February 2009. 
  27. ^ "Premier hopes teens learn from Big Day Out drug death". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Archived from the original on 5 February 2009. Retrieved 5 February 2009. 
  28. ^ "Police deny responsibility for Gemma Thoms death at BDO". The Daily Telegraph. 4 February 2009. Archived from the original on 25 February 2009. Retrieved 5 February 2009. 
  29. ^ Goh, Esther (2009) "Controversial anti-gay rapper to perform at Big Day Out", The New Zealand Herald, 12 November 2009
  30. ^ "Big Day Out cancels anti-gay Beenie Man". Retrieved 7 May 2012. 
  31. ^ "Odd Future Kicked Off Big Day Out NZ Line-up". Music Feeds. 4 November 2011. Retrieved 7 May 2012. 

External links[edit]