The Big Day Out festival is one of the biggest events of the year, and naturally over the last 20 years they've had their ups and their downs running the largest touring festival in the country. We take a look back at some of the events that have shaped and changed Big Day Out over the years.
10. Courtney Love Flashes Whether or not we were in fact ‘asking for it’ is questionable, but she gave it to us anyhow. In 1999 Hole were co-headlining with Marilyn Manson- who provided ample competition in the obnoxious and overly made-up stakes. Both acts begrudgingly accepted the fact they were had to share a bill, and both gave excellent controversial performances, which came in the form of a boob flash from Courtney Love - seeing as she has no other redeeming features to make headlines with - and Manson’s theatrical Hitler-esque display of bible-hatred, as he tore the pages out of one, flinging them into the audience.
9. Kurt Cobain/Nirvana playing
The birth of Big Day Out in 1992 saw a relatively unknown Seattle band Nirvana secure a spot on its line-up. When the festival organisers booked them a year earlier they had no idea of how big Nirvana were about to become, and managed to ink contracts with them for a much smaller amount than post-1992, when their stock rose significantly. It was one of the most crowded performances at the Hordern Pavillion, with capacity at about 10,000 – way over the expected 6,000 people, making it one of the most unforgettable performances in BDO history.
8. Limp Bizkit Cancel Remaining Shows
In 2001 tragedy hit the Big Day Out when Sydney girl Jessica Michalik was crushed in the mosh pit while watching Limp Bizkit and died five days later in hospital from a heart attack. Limp Bizkit cancelled the rest of their dates although they did help an inquest that was held later. The incident set in motion a series of changes to safety and crowd control across the industry which included the advent of the D barrier and other safety measures we now take for granted.
7. Iggy Pop gets everyone on stage
Iggy Pop and The Stooges were the big act of 2006, although they weren’t the official headliners- an honour which went to Detroit duo The White Stripes. The Stooges didn’t disappoint fans as they ripped through an orgasmic rendition of ‘I Wanna Be Your Dog’ as the finale, for which they invited everyone of stage to dance, setting up a very hard act to follow for The White Stripes.
6. Silverchair Get their big break
In 1995 Silverchair were three spotty teenagers from Newcastle who were creating a buzz a big buzz in the industry. They had quickly finished off their debut Frogstomp and were making their first appearance at BDO. A tonne of American A & R guys also flew over the Atlantic to catch the event, which eventuated in Silverchair getting a record deal, along with You Am I and Magic Dirt, although Silverchair were the only ones who managed to get their ‘big break’ from it.
5. At the Drive-In Break up
At Sydney’s 2001 Big Day Out, after repeated safety concerns given to the crowd about moshing, the band left the stage after only 3 songs, calling the audience sheep and bleated at them as they departed. Front man Cedric Bixler-Zavala said he found it sad that “the only way you can express yourself is through slam-dancing”. It served as an ominous warning that the crowd situation was getting dangerous, which reached a crescendo with the fatal crushing of Jessica Michalik a few hours later.
4. The Infamous Flag Ban
In 2007 BDO organisers discouraged people from bringing flags to wave a drape over their sunburnt bodies due to a recent spike of race-related conflicts in Sydney. However, Jet took issue to it, bringing their own flag cut-out of their name. Nic Cester told the audience “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.” Mind you, this is probably coming from the lads who previously turned up at every BDO proudly wrapped in the Australian flag. Old habits die hard…
3. Flaming Lips’ Celebrity Costume Party
The Flaming Lips were joined on stage by Drew Barrymore, her then-boyfriend Fabrizio Moretti (of The Strokes) and musicians from local bands donning cartoon-like animal suits. 2004 was the Flaming Lips’ virgin appearance in Australia, which literally went off with a bang, as the band sent dozens of gigantic balloons into the audience creating the perfect psychedelic trip.
2. Kylie Minogue and Nick Cave duet
Whilst some die-hard Nick Cave fans spent the performance trying to pretend the singing budgie wasn’t sharing the stage with their hero, people crammed the main stage craning their necks trying to get a look at the unlikely paring of pop-tart Minogue and the purveyor of post-Punk Nick Cave for the song ‘Where The Wild Roses Grow’. Check out an unforgettable moment here. Watch video
1. Rage fans RAGE
In 2008, Rage Against the Machine fans whipped themselves into a frenzy after the headliners played their anthemic ‘Killing In The Name Of’ and ‘Bulls on Parade’, culminating in the organisers pulling the plug on the performance until the 46,000 strong crowd calmed down, as a few people tried to climb the marquees . It was the biggest crowd to date in the newly set-up venue at Flemington racecourse and made the news that day as dozens of fans in the audience complained about overcrowding, bad event management and the line-up order.
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