Few summer moments matched an annual pilgrimage to the Big Day Out in the 1990s and 2000s. Influenced by the success of Lollapalooza’s multi-genre line-ups in the United States, the late, much lamented festival provided alternative music-loving Aussies a whole new way of enjoying music.
I Like Your Old Stuff recently unearthed a stack of old BDO programmes featuring the timetables, so we thought we’d take a look at some of the worst clashes at the festival between 2000 and 2009. Why these dates? Well, we don’t have any of the timetables further back, as they were probably reduced to a sweaty pulp in our army shorts pockets by the end of sets by Korn/The Prodigy/Soundgarden/etc. If you’ve kept your copies, share some pics on our Facebook page so we can indulge in further misty-eyed reminiscing. For now though, here are some of the nail-biting decisions you might have made while planning your Big Day Out schedules…
In 2000, Big Day Out presented one of the greatest line-ups of their entire run. If we were looking this good just three weeks into this bright new century, what could go wrong, eh? Red Hot Chili Peppers, Nine Inch Nails, Foo Fighters and Blink 182 had the crowd excited - and they were just the four key international drawcards on the two main stages. Unfortunately, some big decisions had to be made. The Clash’s Joe Strummer, who was touring with his group The Mescaleros, was up against Foo Fighters in Gold Coast, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth, while he was battling Nine Inch Nails and Basement Jaxx in Sydney. Basement Jaxx played at the same time as Nine Inch Nails at all shows, while Aussie icons The Cruel Sea also went head to head with Trent Reznor’s mob on the Gold Coast, Melbourne and Adelaide. New Zealand artists Shihad’s awesome live prowess clashed with sets by Jebediah in Sydney and Primal Scream in Melbourne and Perth, while Fremantle boys Eskimo Joe were up against it in Perth, where they were playing “Sweater” while Blink 182 were reeling off toilet humour on the appropriately named Blue Stage. UK D&B star Goldie was on at the same time as Foo Fighters in a lot of cities too, but it’s unlikely too many rock fans felt bereft at opting for “Everlong” over jungle beats.
In the scheme of things, 2001’s Big Day Out line-up felt a little slight compared to the other BDO bills listed here. As well as Limp Bizkit pulling out of the festival following the death of 16-year-old fan Jessica Michalik in their Sydney moshpit, other key acts including At The Drive-In, Queens Of The Stone Age and John Butler Trio only played select dates. We don’t have all the timetables on hand for this particularly year, however we know some of the clashes include The Avalanches conflicting with Powderfinger, PJ Harvey up against John Butler Trio and the Fergie-less Black Eyed Peas going head to head with Placebo. History suggests any band scheduled against At The Drive-In during their Gold Coast, Melbourne and (abridged) Sydney appearances would have had the biggest task in retaining crowds: it appears from this Melbourne Big Day Out image even Coldplay’s Chris Martin was a convert to the US band’s much-discussed, full-force performances. As for Coldplay’s scheduled slot on their sole Big Day Out run? Years before they were filling stadiums, their biggest competitor in their mid-afternoon slot was Melbourne’s The Meanies…
In 2002, the decisions weren’t getting any easier. Aussie debutantes The White Stripes and local heroes Silverchair were splitting fans in Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth, with Jack and Meg White fans on the Gold Coast missing out on seeing Garbage perform tracks from their third album Beautiful Garbage (they were back for the failed M-One festival before the year’s end). In Sydney, anyone checking out The White Stripes’ debut Aussie tour set had to forgo British legends New Order reeling off their own hits as well as adding in some Joy Division gems. New Order’s crowd in Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth would have missed out on John Butler Trio’s bluesy jams, with the WA group that month celebrating their first platinum album for 2001’s Three. The overlap of the Adelaide sets of former partners Quan Yeomans of Regurgitator and Janet English of Spiderbait might have caused problems for Aussie ‘90s indie fans, with Spiderbait also going up against System Of A Down in Sydney. The embarrassment of riches when it came to 2002’s excellent Australian acts meant there were always going to be headaches trying to catch them all: Shihad clashed with Eskimo Joe on the Gold Coast and Machine Gun Fellatio in Sydney and Melbourne, while Eskimo Joe had to contend with going up against Magic Dirt in Sydney. Dance fans with an eye for the eclectic would have been nonplussed by Basement Jaxx, The Prodigy and Peaches all clashing on the Gold Coast, too.
The 2003 bill sees some problematic timetable overlaps between rock and dance supremos. Influential German robots Kraftwerk opened their laptops at the same time as Jane’s Addiction on the Gold Coast, Sydney and Melbourne, while going up against You Am I in Adelaide and Perth. Underworld’s Trainspotting-approved beats collided with Foo Fighters on the Gold Coast and You Am I in Sydney. Plenty of city-by-city rock clashes also pop up on the 2003 schedule: You Am I versus Hard-Ons on the Gold Coast, Jimmy Eat World versus The Living End in Melbourne and Sydney, Jimmy Eat World up against The Vines in Adelaide and The Vines fighting it out with the clownish party-starters Machine Gun Fellatio at the Goldie, Melbourne and Perth dates. In one of the stranger suggested set clashes, Adelaide’s schedule suggests Queens Of The Stone Age were up against "DJ Lleyton Hewitt" at the Lilypad…
The 2004 line-up was another high-water mark, but we’ve mislaid our 2004 timetable (despite going to two different dates that year) and don’t have a lot of details on specific clashes that year. What we do know is the main headliners showdown was Metallica doing a take-no-prisoners run through their 20-year career on the Blue Stage and The Flaming Lips creating wonder and delight on the Green Stage. Returning dance favourites Basement Jaxx were headlining in the Boiler Room, which also clashed with Metallica and the Lips in some states. While the Blue and Orange stages hosted The Strokes, The Dandy Warhols, The Black Eyed Peas (featuring the freshly-inducted Fergie) and The Darkness, the smaller stages were in thrall to Kings Of Leon, The Mars Volta and Afrika Baambaataa. Muse and Jet formed a strong friendship on this tour, but their intersecting set times prevented many fans from seeing both acts. Incidentally, Metallica and The Flaming Lips both put on amazing shows, so whichever one you chose you were onto a winner.
The Beastie Boys put on a sublime headline set at 2005’s Big Day Out, with the timetable atrocities seemingly less dramatic during this year’s run. Aussie acts appear to suffer the biggest headaches for set clashes, with Brisbane’s Regurgitator and Powderfinger going up against each other on the Gold Coast and in Melbourne. Other Aussie run-ins include Wolfmother and Eskimo Joe clashing on the Goldie, Adelaide and in Perth, as well as the Hilltop Hoods and Grinspoon playing at the same time in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth. The live powerhouse of Jon Spencer Blues Explosion had to contend with going head to head with Slipknot on the Gold Coast, Chemical Brothers in Sydney and Powderfinger in Adelaide and Perth. On another eclectic tip, System Of A Down’s mind-boggling metal ranting was duking it out with the London lad-sounds of The Streets in Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth.
Fitting in your favourite Big Day Out bands each year was something like a game of Tetris, and 2006 was another tricky one. Shihad, apparently eternally up against it with BDO programming, went head to head with headliners The White Stripes on the Gold Coast and Melbourne. Despite both putting on physically-driven rock shows, The Mars Volta and Iggy & The Stooges were pitted against each other in all five cities, while local punk rock group The Living End faced off against Beasts Of Bourbon in Sydney, Gold Coast and Perth, as well as Henry Rollins doing spoken word on the Gold Coast and Melbourne. Fans of rising UK artists MIA and Franz Ferdinand had to make difficult decisions in Sydney and Melbourne, while Kings Of Leon were fighting off stiff competition for a crowd from Soulwax (in Sydney and Melbourne), the upbeat live show of The Go! Team (in Adelaide) and cool kid/Tamil rebel MIA (in Perth).
In 2007 our Aussie rock groups were dealing with plenty of BDO timetable conflicts with international marauders. You Am I had to beat off competition from Muse in Perth and Gold Coast; The Presets faced off against headliners Tool in Adelaide, Perth and Melbourne; and Kasabian took on a cavalcade of Aussies in their slots (including The Vines on the Gold Coast and the John Butler Trio in Sydney and Perth). Jet’s conflicts came in the form of Something For Kate in Adelaide, Hot Chip in Sydney and You Am I in Melbourne, while Nevada's The Killers clashed with The Streets in Sydney and Kasabian in Adelaide. That’s gotta hurt.
A particularly varied line-up in 2008 meant the clashes didn’t happen as often between like-minded bands, but that didn’t make it a painless exercise if you were a fan of multiple music genres. Aussie deity Paul Kelly was pitted against Rage Against The Machine on every date except Sydney, with LCD Soundsystem also forced to battle Zack De La Rocha’s titans at the Goldie, in Sydney, Adelaide and Melbourne. Perth was the only date where Dizzee Rascal and Regurgitator’s sets didn’t clash, although WA instead witnessed an interesting case of Spoon and Grinspoon cancelling each other out. Of the year’s other strange clashes, Billy Bragg and Hilltop Hoods were scheduled at the same time in Melbourne and Gold Coast, while Silverchair and Karnivool fought for fans on the Gold Coast, Adelaide and Melbourne.
In 2009, pop fought rock in a number of the Big Day Out scheduling showdowns. Arctic Monkeys faced off against Hot Chip in Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne and Gold Coast, while Sydney’s upbeat dance outfit Sneaky Sound System went up against US art-rock collective TV On The Radio on every date. Spare a thought for any fans of both Australian rock trio Cog and UK flash-in-the-pan duo The Ting Tings, too - both bands played the same timeslot on all five Aussie BDO dates. Rollicking Massachusetts troubadours Dropkick Murphys were stuck playing in opposition to veteran superstar Neil Young on the Goldie, in Melbourne and Perth, while in Adelaide it was Mike Patton’s (third most) famous collective Tomahawk who went up against the grunge forefather.
Phew! So many great acts! So many missed opportunities! So many special moments! Want to share your memories? Head to the I Like Your Old Stuff Facebook page and let us know which Big Day Out timetable clashes caused you the most grief!
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