Chris Schulz: Why the Big Day Out just got three times more awesome

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Chris Schulz got himself very worked up over the new-look Big Day Out line-up. He explains why.
Deftones Chino Moreno performs at the Big Day Out 2011. Photo / Richard Robinson
Deftones Chino Moreno performs at the Big Day Out 2011. Photo / Richard Robinson

Go home, Blur fans. The Big Day Out doesn't want you moping around Western Springs looking glum under your fringes and Parklife T-shirts.

That much is clear judging by the new-look, guitar-heavy line-up for next year's festival, which, in my books, just made the Big Day Out's Auckland comeback three times more awesome.

Let's be clear. By replacing Blur with Deftones, The Hives and Beady Eye, the Big Day Out just went from, "Yeah, I'll probably go," to, "Holy crap, a little bit of wee just came out".

How festival organisers managed to pull off this water-into-wine trick is nothing short of a minor miracle.

Let's examine the situation they found themselves in: eight weeks out from the start of their festival, Blur, their third headlining act who were having specialised stages built at every venue just for them, wimped out for reasons that still make no sense to anyone but them.

Organiser Ken West must have been grief-stricken. He called Damon Albarn's reformed Britpop act "a white whale" when the line-up was first announced, telling Australian music website Fasterlouder.com.au that it was a "long negotiation" to land them.

Not only did it all fall through, West and his co-promoters then faced the surely-impossible prospect of finding replacements at a time of year when most acts capable of doing the job would already have touring commitments locked into place.

Look at the sheer number of bands that were ruled out following Blur's cancellation: Smashing Pumpkins, Massive Attack, The Black Keys, AC/DC, Pulp, Guns N' Roses, Atoms For Peace, Jane's Addiction, Jamiroquai, Foo Fighters, PJ Harvey, The Cure, Jane's Addiction, Outkast, Daft Punk, The Strokes, Prodigy, Lily Allen, No Doubt, Rammstein and Lady Gaga.

With that factoring against them, not to mention the time and money pressures this close to the festival's launch, here's what I was expecting from last night's announcement: One middling overseas act, maybe Shihad (who, rest assured, would have ruled) and at least one Australian band. Take your pick from Wolfmother, Powderfinger and The Living End. Yep, sounds bad doesn't it.

So to get Sacramento prog-metallers Deftones (Koi No Yokan was 2012's best album and is still on high rotate), Swedish pop-punk band The Hives (an amazing live proposition and waaay overdue for a Big Day Out return) and Liam Gallagher's Beady Eye (who play Oasis songs during shows!) and they just made the Big Day Out the biggest Big Day Out ever.

And if I see a sad-sack Blur fan wandering around Western Springs on January 17, they won't be getting a hug from me. Go home to your sad little country house and drink from your sad little milk carton - the rest of us are going to have some fun.

WHAT TO EXPECT

Deftones
They've played the Big Day Out twice before: A fumbled set in 2003 which was beset by sound problems, and a full frontal assault in 2011 full of blistering Diamond Eyes tracks. Since then, they've released the scorching career highlight Koi No Yokan - a bloodthirsty collage of art-rock riffage that was one of the best albums of 2013. And if you check out recent festival performances, Chino Moreno and co are in the form of their lives.

The Hives
The Big Day Out is the perfect place to see The Hives' Swedish shenanigans live. Their 2005 BDO performance was a frenetic burst of ordered chaos, delivering electric pop-punk that had moshpits bouncing all over the place, and made things very hard for the headliners later that night. They're massively overdue for a return visit, and should be looking to make their mark.

Beady Eye
Beady Eye will be first timers to the Big Day Out festival, and to New Zealand, where they've never played before. And while their classic and classy take on British pub rock hasn't exactly taken off over here, there's one reason why you should see them: recent setlists show they include Oasis songs Live Forever and Cigarettes and Alcohol, delivered with that classic Liam Gallagher sneer. Imagine if they throw in a cheeky cover of Country House to boot?

* What do you think of the new look line-up? Post your comments below.

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