I’ve never been a fan of The Big Day Out – given it a lot of grief, really. But I have (mostly) enjoyed the events I attended, only went to four Big Day Outs. That was enough. I don’t like the bleed between stages, the lack of preparation, the fly-by-night audience of see-and-be-seen-scene bullshit.
This, the 2000 event, was my second time. Saw some pretty great sets actually – from standalone things, bands like The Hellacopters, never cared about them since – but a good time at the time – to incongruous and lovely like Beth Orton.
It was a pretty decent showing from the Chili Peppers – at a time when it wasn’t totally embarrassing to be a fan of the band, they were on a significant “comeback” – it went pear-shaped shortly after.
I remember being blown away by Nine Inch Nails – one of the reasons I attended. It was one of the best things I’ve ever seen actually. It was a good time, too, to see Shihad in what was their customary slot – 6pm/ish, main stage. Circa General Electric too. Decent memories of that – shortly after we saw Foo Fighters in what proved to be the holding pattern they’d be in ever since, creatively spent, circling themselves – essentially no better than the Nickelbacks of this world but with nice-guy/Nirvana-guy Dave Grohl at the helm. That’s really the only difference.
But the closing set – on the smaller stage – from Joe Strummer was one of those special moments. He fired out so many great songs from The Clash and it had such a spirit about it, a naughtiness, an energy. I’m not even the world’s biggest fan of The Clash but it was obvious that what was happening was a wee bit special.
I also spent a big part of the day looking out for a friend who really didn’t like crowds. She was there with her picnic hamper and some silver shorts, self-made dreads including some sort of existential dread that was weighing down on her. She really didn’t want to be there – but figured she was meant to be there for whatever reason. She was a bit scared. I didn’t know her all that well at the time – but we had enough of a bond. And it was an important part of that day to make sure she was doing okay.
Now, nearly 15 years on, that’s still my responsibility as we share a house and life together. And a wee boy who is nearly three. If we ever find ourselves at a music festival again it’ll probably be because our nutcase toddler has dragged us there.
Stubs is an occasional feature here at Off The Tracks – looking back through the ticket-stub box and remembering how the show went down.