Sincerely, Grizzly played to a scattered crowd. A single row of eager fans reaching across the barrier greeted the hometown band, while the remainder of their listeners sat haphazardly before the stage. Undeterred by the relaxed atmosphere of the venue at such an early hour, the three young musicians rocked the festival to a booming start.
The green stage housed the beyond-incredible Texan musician, Gary Clark Jr. Followed by his band, Clark flew mercilessly into his heavy blues set.
With mesmerizing guitar solos that stretched out towards Hendrix heights, collapsing under the crushing strength of Clark’s vocals, the gathered audience of music aficionados melted before the piercing gaze of his enormous talent.
Carving through the 3pm sun with tight guitar riffs and the roaring musical accompaniment of his band members, Clark led the crowd through his album Blak and Blu, with excitement reaching peaks during “When My Train Pulls In”, “Please Come Home”, and eventually coming to a head during “Bright Lights”.
The circling crowd wandered comfortably towards the main stage, which was soon to host the woodsy American rock band, Band Of Horses.
Backlit by a calmingly barren forest-scape, singer Ben Bridwell’s yearning vocals bloomed in scars and trickled down towards the peacefully swaying audience.
Their live show welcomed a heightened sense of authenticity in the wounded lyrics, and as the initial lush notes of “The Funeral” rang out over the oval, the crowd immediately ceased chatting and turned towards the quiet desperation of the song.
With attentions turning to the stage next door, a brightly coloured banner introduced indie-rockers Vampire Weekend to the festival. Starting with their cheerfully upbeat “Cousins”, the sun-saturated dance music of this New York band welcomed the continuously growing crowd below with infectious elation.
Frontman Ezra Koenig, dressed in a vividly white outfit, performed the set with fanatic vibrancy to the swooning fans before him.
Waving arms rose and fell with each song, clothing listeners in nostalgia, as the band danced through their mainly mid-2000’s set with explosive enthusiasm; swinging through “Holiday”, “Walcott”, “A-Punk” and, finally, “Oxford Comma”.
Divided by clashes of interest, the outer numbers thinned halfway through Vampire Weekend to find Childish Gambino beginning his set in the Vans tent.
The musical moniker of the actor, comedian, and writer Donald Glover, Childish Gambino rapped out a continuous stream of pop-culture references, name-dropping, swagger-soaked anecdotes, and the tensions involved with his upbringing.
As he rotated around the stage, Glover exhibited a practiced comfort in the spotlight, and the theatrics of the set matched his thespian background, with the large intensity of an actor.
The band of musicians behind Glover complemented his cinematic immensity, delving into their respective instruments with a falling ease.
A cover of “Rolling in the Deep” by Adele elicited a frenzied response, along with his own “Unnecessary”, “Jump” and “Heartbeats”. Glover’s control on the crowd was unrelenting, and though he lacked a huge backing of musicians, his set held a sense of largeness throughout.
With her bright yellow outfit clashing violently with the dark background of the stage, singer Karen O from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs hurdled into the first song, “Zero”, panting out the lyrics with a jumping enthusiasm.
With her jackets fashioned with the large letters “KO”, Karen O was an aural explosion of excited synthetics and buzzing pop-rock.
The first notes of “Runaway” welcomed galloping fans desperately attempting to weave their way towards the YYYs as a giant inflatable eyeball was thrown into the crowd.
Asking whether anyone was “ready to hear a Yeah Yeah Yeahs love song” and then dedicating it to “all the lovers out there”, a continuous drum beat led “Runaway” into “Maps” to raucous applause.
The band’s energy built massively around them as glittering confetti lit the stage against the setting sun.
Their natural ease became them, as their charisma and excitement was reflected back to them en masse throughout their songs “Gold Lion”, “Heads Will Roll”, “Cheated Hearts” and “Y Control”.
As their set came to an end, Karen O screamed her thanks and jogged off stage with arms raised and energy to spare.
The Killers live was a microcosm of the band’s hometown, Las Vegas, in its boisterous entirety. Heavy with decorative antics and ambitious theatrics, their show was everything a headlining act at a festival should strive for.
Beginning with “Mr. Brightside”, Brandon Flowers’ paranoia clawed its way across the onlookers as the lyrics sunk through the crowd and were recited in full by the euphoric fans.
Followed closely with “Spaceman” and “Smile Like You Mean It”, briefly pausing in the middle to promote “peace and love, brothers and sisters”; The Killers enjoyed a perfectly crafted set as waterfalls of fireworks and smoke sprinkled down the back of the stage.
Coasting through their massively popular hits with the cruising confidence typical of a rock band, Flowers grinned wildly as the festival masses enthusiastically threw each lyric back at him.
A chorus of voices tore through Flowers’ own vocals throughout “Human”, “Somebody Told Me”, “For Reasons Unknown” and “Read My Mind”, visually home to eclectic lasers and blanketing smoke clouds.
Drenched in excitement and covered in glittering confetti, The Killers ended their set with the prelude that they had “one more left in them,” before racing into the instantly recognizable first chords of “When You Were Young”.
While the die-hard Chilis fans – with their skin and their clothing branded with large red asterisks – pulsed forward, those that enjoyed the ability of movement scuttled to the back of the oval.
The enormous popularity of this rock band was immediately obvious, as fans sprinted towards the front and screamed on cue. The Red Hot Chili Peppers held their closest supporters in an unrelenting grasp of drunken enthusiasm, and reached towards the barriers of the oval with the enormity of their set.
However, their older (and more well-known) tunes lacked the intensity required to make the brutally honest songs come alive.
“Under the Bridge” very obviously lacked the crippling desperation the lyrics call for, and “Californication” was heavy with the boredom of the old rockers.
Hitting the right notes for “Scar Tissue”, “Snow (Hey Oh)” and “By The Way”, though fantastically fun, just didn’t seem as impressive when the songs have even lost interest to singer Anthony Kiedis.
Still, their newer songs, though virtually unknown to many of the Big Day Out goers, were powerfully executed – just not enough to reach the caliber called for by their fame.