Why Big Day Out should give up
Posted on November 10, 2011 by jellybean
A couple of years ago, Big Day Out was at the top of its game. It was the biggest Australian festival in terms of attendees, bands and, arguably, fun times. I have gone to every show since 2008 and in 2012, I am not even going to bother.
A rather large debate has surfaced in recent years about the future of music festivals and it’s no secret attendance numbers are at an all time low. A recent survey by ticketing site moshtix has shown that the main reason attendance is down is because of the price of tickets. Splendour In The Grass‘s epic lineup saw with it an epic increase in price, soaring from around $350 for a camping ticket in 2009, to $500 in 2011. I might be a bit of chump for forking out the money but at least I can say I had a fucking awesome time. Splendour draws a much cooler, less douchey crowd than Big Day Out, and just about everyone knows it. $500 may be a high price to pay but when lineups are as good as Yeezy, Coldplay, Jane’s Addiction and Pulp, there’s little you can do to stop yourself from withdrawing the funds. Price aside (BDO is fairly reasonable), there’s an even simpler, aforementioned reason for the decline in ticket sales: the lineup. Big Day Out organisers have had the unfortunate task of:
- trying to appeal to the demanding, expectant public – the downside to having a reputation
- battling it out with other summer festivals
- being forced to reuse acts that have just toured because other festivals took the best ones (Soundwave landed System Of A Down and Slipknot; Harvest got Flaming Lips and TV On The Radio)
- flogging a dead horse
We’d all be turning a blind eye if we didn’t acknowledge the absolutely atrocious behaviour of fellow guests at the Big Day Out, where in previous years I have seen girls in high heels, guys in high heels, girls sans shirts, guys sans shirts AND pants, and everything foul you can think of under one tent. Douchebags flock to BDO because it’s like a sweaty speed dating service to them. There should be a quiz you need to complete before you buy a ticket to any festival that rates your music knowledge, and only enables you to complete the transaction if you pass. Even News Ticketing CEO Adam McArthur has admitted that the ‘festival experience’ has changed in recent years, and could even be another big reason some people sit at home watching YouTube clips instead. He said, “The disappointing behaviour of a new generation of festival goers has discouraged other regulars from returning to a festival”. Amen! It really has. Big Day Out has come down on hard times and 2012 may its last year if the festival circuit around it continues to thrive and ride off its previous success.
McArthur continues, “Promoters need to find the right balance between securing a high-quality lineup, keeping the ticket price as low as possible and attracting the right crowds to their festivals”. BDO’s problem might be that it actually never draws a specific crowd. The lineup doesn’t appeal to just one sort of person, and while in theory that’s great, it also allows for a clash when it comes up against other festivals. Soundwave is for metal and hardcore fans, Splendour is for indie lovers, Summadayze is for people who like to get wasted and listen to dubstep. This sort of segregation keeps disappointment to a minimum. There’s nothing more infuriating than trying to watch your favourite band and someone next to you is screaming “-insert most radio friendly song-!!!!!”.
Also, Noel Gallagher? What the hell. Maybe Kanye will realise his slot on the bill is a terrible idea and will embark on a national tour with Jay-Z. Ahh, we can only dream.