New five-part Double J podcast to ‘tell all’ about Big Day Out
The iconic music festival became a rites-of-passage for many Australian and New Zealand contemporary music fans between 1992–1997 and 1999–2014.
It started out as a Sydney-only event before 9,500 when promoters Ken West and Vivian Lees needed a support act for Violent Femmes—and nabbed an unknown band called Nirvana.
Through the years as more cities were added, Big Day Out became one of the biggest in the world, with attendances hitting highs as 282, 692 in 2008 and 276,000 in 2007.
It became such an impact on break-throughs and record sales that Australian record labels and overseas managers and agents would push to get their acts on the bill.
Hosted by Gemma Pike, Inside The Big Day Out tells the story via the people behind it, the musicians and the punters.
There are contributions from Beasts of Bourbon, Cosmic Psychos, Eskimo Joe, Frenzal Rhomb, Grinspoon, Jebediah, Magic Dirt, Powderfinger, Shihad, The Clouds, The Living End, Tiddas, You Am I and Violent Femmes.
West and Lees provide their perspectives, as do long time GM Sahara Herald, CEO Adam Zammit and final promoter, AJ Maddah and triple j alumni Jen Oldershaw who attended the very first Big Day Out.
EP 1: A Vision of Nirvana
What started out as a Violent Femmes headline tour with Nirvana on support, ended in a one-day music festival with 21 bands after Nirvana released Nevermindand suddenly the Big Day Out were dealing with the biggest band in the world.
EP 2 (October 8): The Big Day Off
The Big Day Out got lucky a second time and booked Silverchair right before they blew up.
Anecdotes about backstage antics, the parties and the tantrums includes the time Marilyn Manson flooded backstage.
EP 3: The Age of Innocence Is Over
The 2001 Big Day Out saw the tragic death of Jessica Michalik during Limp Bizkit’s Sydney set.
Her best friend Liza Ryan, who was with her on that fateful day talks the human behind the headline, while Phil Jamieson, from Jessica’s favourite band Grinspoon, recalls performing at her memorial.
EP 4: Art Vs. Commerce
At the peak of Big Day Out’s commercial viability, artistic differences saw West and Lees relationship reach breaking point.
Sahara Herald, who’d been the glue holding everything together, finally broke and ended up in rehab.
After a disastrous response to the 2012 line-up, Lees quit and sold his share to US promoters C3.
EP 5: Give It Away Now
In 2014 more artistic differences arose between West and C3.
Not able to agree on two headliners, they booked three. It was a financial burden the festival couldn’t handle.
About to lose everything,West sold his share to AJ Maddah who steered the ship for what was to become the very last Big Day Out.
More Big Day Out memories
Double J went back through triple j’s Big Day Out live and backstage archives and relives them at Midday every day in October.
Live at the Wireless doubleheaders comes at 7pm Tuesdays in October including sets from the likes of Grinspoon, Fatboy Slim, Magic Dirt, M.I.A., Red Hot Chili Peppers and System of A Down.
Caz Tran plays a Classic Album from a Big Day Out artist at 7pm Mondays in October, including Hole, Lily Allen, Prodigy and Shihad.
You can find Double J on the triple j app, digital radio, on Channel 200 on your digital TV and online at doublej.net.au