The local authority

By Russell Baillie

While most of the headliners at Big Day Out are booked via the touring festival's Australian owners, there's still a packed local line-up to programme in a live music market which has changed markedly since the festival started here in 1994. We asked local BDO boss Campbell Smith about the joys of putting it all together

How do you select the local bands to play the BDO? What's the ratio of come-to-you-begging to go-to-them-offering-inducements?
From a short list of acts we definitely want and a long list of all possible acts, we try and put it together like a big old jigsaw puzzle. Well over 100 artists will approach us and we consider them all because
there's always something new that will surprise us and fill a corner of that jigsaw.

In my five years, I have had to work really hard just once to get an act we wanted, to close the green stage, last band on the bill. We did get them and it was awesome.

With such an increasingly busy summer of local acts touring, does
that make it harder to get acts who haven't already been widely exposed?

Big Day Out is more about the nature of the event, about the environment in which you can see the acts play. It's different to seeing three
bands in a pub. So I'm not really too worried about the exposure thing.

What, if anything, does this year's line-up of locals say about the state of NZ music?
That it's pretty damn good out there, now and looking ahead. The local
produce stage is full of young brilliance, including a robot band. That's my tip - spend some time there. I can't believe how good some
of those bands are.

How does the advent of Vector Arena affect the BDO?
For instance, Kings of Leon played the BDO in 2006 but returned to play
Vector last January and are coming back to the arena again soon.

The Big Day Out is six shows, five of them across the Tasman. No band is
forgoing the entire Big Day Out tour just because Auckland now has the
Vector Arena and they can play there. If Vector has had any effect, it's that it brings many more acts to New Zealand than we used to get,
so there's more choice for the punter throughout the year. But that's no bad thing for us, it keeps the Big Day Out on its toes, keeps us
working to make this event as good as it always has been.

Is it difficult to deal with local acts who may have a different idea of what sort of time slot and stage they deserve? Or do some acts want to go early so they can enjoy the rest of the day?
I've only had one artist complain about an allotted timeslot and set length in the last five years - that's if you leave aside our own
publicist who always gets tetchy with me about where we place the artists she manages!

Hopefully that says we're mostly getting it right with that big jigsaw. I think it is true that some of the younger acts like to play early and then join the experience as a punter, see all their favourite acts, and
not have to play drunk.

What do you say to those young folks who just don't get having Neil Young as a headliner?
That this is once in a lifetime stuff, don't make this one of those moments in life you look back on with regret cos you missed it. Go online, check out your favourite artists and count the number of
them that cite Neil Young as an influence and then come watch the real thing. He's going to play a 90-minute set of all his hits. In all the 15
Big Days Out that have been, the closest I can think of to this is Joe Strummer in 2000, playing a set chock full of the Clash. Musical gods
reminding us why. If you still don't get it, there are four other stages running at the same time, so check something else out - cos this
is the Big Day Out. And if you still don't get it, stay home and watch reruns of American Idol.

And what do you say to old folks who think the Arctic Monkeys are far too young to be up that late?
That they obviously haven't heard of energy drinks. And understand that Alex Turner is one of the finest lyricists of his generation and the Arctic Monkeys are a great festival band.

- NZ Herald

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