Whether the Big Day Out is facing a downturn or not, the team behind the Australian festival proved that they still know how to throw a party.

With grunge-rock legends Pearl Jam and delightful indie kids Arcade Fire leading the lineup pack, it was safe to say that those who forked out the cash would get their money’s worth in talent.

Fortunately, though, the higher billed acts such as Snoop Dogg, Major Lazer, Beady Eye, and The Hives were easily balanced out by lesser-known favourites such as Bluejuice, CSS, Portugal. The Man, and Toro Y Moi.

The Adelaide leg was treated to a fantastic relocation, moving from the larger showground to Bonython Park – home to both Soundwave and Future Music festivals. Although there was a feeling of nostalgia lost in the transition, the size reduction of the festival made the new venue feel much more appropriate.

The first band to christen the main stage were Aussie legends DZ Deathrays. Despite the two-piece playing an energetic set, the early slot time and lack of punters present was unfortunate. This meant that those moshing were a minority, with most at a standstill enjoying the music from afar.

Following the rock duo were everyone’s favourite hip hop-meets-80s synth-pop band, Bluejuice. For this tour, the fan favourites decided to show their support for marriage equality with a backdrop that read “Bluejuice For Gay Marriage” over an erotic photo of frontmen Stavros Yiannoukas and Jake Stone – in golden underwear. Punters were pleasantly surprised at the amount of bangers the six-piece had, playing almost everything from ‘Vitriol’, to ‘Act Yr Age’, to the ever-famous ‘Broken Leg’.

Those into their alternative/indie/psychadelia were put in an awkward position with the timetable clash of Toro Y Moi and Portugal. The Man. There’s no doubt that Toro Y Moi blasted fans with funky beats, but punters who chose Portugal. The Man were no doubt left feeling satisfied with their choice. The Alaskan alt-rockers treated the crowd to a no less than perfect set full of songs from their fantastic album In The Mountain In The Cloud as well as tunes from their other LPs.

By the time the afternoon hit, there were two things that had remained consistent since the start of the festival. The sun was being kind to the crowd, never bringing the temperature to over 40 degrees, and it was still was easy to pass through punters and stand in the third or fourth row.

This was much the case for the Headspace stage – home to Adelaide bands as well as lesser-known acts such as Bo Ningen. It was unfortunate to see fantastic bands such as CSS perform to a very small handful of people, no doubt the result of a near-direct clash with co-headliners Arcade Fire. The girls (and guy) made the crowd dance before fans dispersed for Arcade Fire.

From ‘Rebellion’ to ‘The Suburbs’ to ‘Wake Up’ and two thirds of Funeral’s ‘Neighbourhood’ songs, Arcade Fire had a setlist you could only dream about. The crowd was alive and fueled by the incredible set that the band brought both musically and visually. The music was shiny, crisp, and incredibly easy to adore.

With a 90-minute Arcade Fire set, followed by a 150-minute (!) Pearl Jam set, it wasn’t a bad idea to check out a couple of other stages before returning for the headliner.

This meant giving 360 a bit of time on the medium sized Red Stage. Although the viewing was short, both ‘Impossible’ and fan favourite ‘Boys Like You’ were catalysts for an effervescent crowd.

That crowd, however, dashed either to Pearl Jam or strolled over to the Boiler Room where chillwave prodigy Flume was starting his set. If you’ve seen Flume before – an easy feat given the amount of festivals he’s been on – you know exactly how his set goes. It’s a unique mix that’s often simple enough to relax to, but so much better to party to.

Like most of the artist’s performances, the set was filled with hits that flowed into each other seamlessly. Whether the crowd were Flume fans or just dancers, the energy was high.

It was then time for Snoop Lion to shine, bringing his a-game – and a live band – to the Red Stage. Despite being in the industry for over 20 years, the legend of hip hop has kept his flow for the entirety of his career. The crowd was thick, energetic, and lapping up each song.

Returning to the main stage saw the vast majority of punters sitting on the lawn listening to headliners Pearl Jam. Somehow, they managed to fit their setlist on an A4 sheet of paper, the songs visible to the naked eye. Indeed, they played every Pearl Jam song that diehard fans in the crowd could’ve hoped for. The light show was extraordinary, the musicianship was fantastic, and Eddie Vedder still has it.

Following Pearl Jam’s set, the crowd went one of two ways – either home, or to catch the last 15 minutes of dance kings Major Lazer. Those who chose the route of the EDM trio were not disappointed. Though, for the punters who decided to call it a day, they did so knowing full well that it was a day well spent.

Get unlimited access to the coverage that shapes our culture.
to Rolling Stone magazine
to Rolling Stone magazine