As part of its 2013 rebranding, what promoter Ken West called “a ground-up rebuild,” the Big Day Out had to cancel its traditional visit to New Zealand, essentially cauterising the financial wounds of its troubled 2012 showing. But following the success of this year’s edition of the one-day touring festival, organisers now confirm what they previously said would never happen.
As the NZ Herald reports, organisers of the Auckland leg of the festival have announced that it will return for Big Day Out 2014. The news comes via event promoter Campbell Smith, who confirmed that despite last year being declared NZ’s last, will revive the Australasian tour with a new festival site at Western Springs, a residential suburb west of Auckland.
The new location marks a move away for the multi-stage, day-long event from its usual Auckland home at Mt Smart Stadium, which had hosted the Big Day Out for two decades, and event organisers were looking for a change of location ahead of the 2012 Big Day Out, until the entire leg was cancelled.
The struggles of Big Day Out 2012 were well noted in Australia, including the cancellation of entire stages and acts as it limped across the country on low ticket sales and expensive bookings (such as Soundgarden and Kanye West). New Zealand promoter Campbell Smith says that the festival’s NZ demise was “basically a financial decision.” Quoted last year as saying, “we don’t want to pass any more cost on to fans and we don’t want to lower the standards of the show.”
The 2012 edition also led to a very public split between promoter Ken West and business partner Vivian Lees, leaving West to forge the brand’s pulling power with a new creative partnership with C3 Presents – responsible for Lollapalooza and Austin City Limits – leading to the success of this year’s event, both brand-wise and ticket-sales wise. “We have spent the summer working with the Australian Big Day Out team… on a plan to bring this thing back to life in New Zealand.” – Campbell Smith, promoter
Though Smith tells the NZ Herald that the decision to relaunch the New Zealand leg was as much about the fans as it was the funds. “We strongly felt that there was real desire from fans for the event to return to Auckland, and more than anything else that really whet the appetite,” he says.
“We became determined that if we could, we should bring it back. We have spent the summer working with the Australian Big Day Out team and new American partners, C3, the promoters of other major festivals including Lollapalooza, on a plan to bring this thing back to life in New Zealand.”
Western Springs, which has also played host to the Womad and Pasifika festival in recent years, has been chosen as the perfect fit for Big Day Out’s rebirth, including a lineup that will be “designed specifically for its New Zealand audience,” says Smith; with organisers having greater pull in plucking the bands and acts for the new edition.
“This will be something fresh and new. Something better. But we can’t call it anything else other than a Big Day Out because that is exactly what it will be,” Smith added enthusiastically.
The Big Day Out is reaching new beginnings closer to home too, with CEO Adam Zammit brokering a deal with the Queensland State Government to shop around for a new location on the Gold Coast after it was looking like the one-day festival was being evicted from the Gold Coast Parklands site, as the showgrounds were restructured into an athletes’ village for the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
Following a week of intensive lobbying and bidding by cities as diverse as Tweed Heads, Cairns, Mackay, and Townsville to ensnare the festival, which brought more than 40,000 people to the 2013 edition on January 20th, Big Day Out CEO Adam Zammit managed to secure a last minute deal with the Queensland government that would see the festival stay on the Gold Coast for at least another five years.
As part of the five-year deal, the State Government will front the bill for Big Day Out’s relocation costs, and Adam Zammit and the Big Day Out team have begun finalising the potential sites for next year’s one-day event.
You can view Tone Deaf’s Big Day Out 2013 coverage and the full interview with NZ promoter Campbell Smith below: