Australia Day is many things, but for the past 20 years for music lovers it's mainly meant one hell of a Big Day Out. Pulse Radio sent Emily Smith off to the Sydney leg of Australia's most enduring music festival to capture the day in words and pictures. This is what went down...

Despite celebrating 20 years, the Big Day Out 2012 did not receive the hype it is famous for. Yet, despite minimal publicity and competition with a myriad of other summer festivals, barely clad adolescents and festival veterans gathered in the thousands for the Sydney leg of Australia's most enduring one day festival. Initially, the weather was miserable at Sydney's Olympic Park, but, to the relief of the punters and organisers, the day heated up and so did the artists and their performances. It became clear that the BDO, even after 20 years, could still pull off a perfect mix of DJ, rock and hip hop artists.

west beginning 2

DJ Finger Prince christened the boiler room, entertaining those punters who were peaking too early. Their consistent, up-beat and smooth rhythms created a great vibe for the rainy morning.
The infamous local Purple Sneaker DJs were unsurprisingly in fine form, mixing indie tunes appropriate to the ears of a BDO crowd. It was an early set, but Purple Sneakers  managed to rile the crowd; even sweaty teenage girls needed rescuing from the crowd. Their interaction was so good, security guards mistook Martin for a defiant crowd member and even tried to kick him out!

Purple Sneaker (security incident)

Not surprisingly, Hilltop Hoods knew how to rally a stadium crowd, performing their set like festival pros. Even those resistant to Aussie hip hop would have witnessed the group set the bench mark for quality in the genre.

Hilltop Hoods

Surprisingly, Bluejuice were scheduled early on in the Boiler Room, but their set was a testament to Australian electronic bands. Their stage presence was excellent and their costumes, moves and crowd interaction made for a very memorable performance.

Cult multicultural and hip hop legends, Das Racist, played their set over on the smaller Hot Produce Arena. The unique rap trio had an immense presence on the small stage, however their performance was let down by poor audio. It seemed the volume was too loud which consequently led to distorted sound.

Das Racist 6

Tonite Only (our interview here) provided a tight mix of breaks, electro and and 'dubstep flavoured' dance music. Assuring the crowd wouldn't forget them, their set featured giant pink dancing hands and novelty foam fingers shot from guns.

Tonite Only2

OFWGKTA (Odd Future) were highly anticipated to be the most unpredictable set at BDO, and the posse of young controversial rappers (particularly frontman Tyler, the Creator) did not disappoint, stage diving from the very first song. Although it was a thrilling set, unfortunately the sound quality was also poor, which probably didn't help the group to accomplish their goal of successfully offending the masses, as their famously misogynistic lyrics were not very clear. 

Odd Future 6 Odd Future 12 (lost in mosh)

Girl Talk took the prize for most entertaining and visually inspiring. With fifty girls plucked from the crowd dancing on stage, the mash-up genius immediately set the mood for his set: wild and extravagant. Hundreds of  balloons, confetti and toilet paper was shot into the crowd, complimenting his unpredictable mixes and the lights and projected animations were the cherry on top of what was an unforgettable set.

Girl Talk

Royksopp managed to warm up an already sweaty Boiler Room, delivering a combination of their unique funk and electronic beats, cloaked in stage outfits that made them look like musicians  turned psychopaths! Despite their interesting attire, the Norwegian outfit created smooth vibes which their fans thoroughly enjoyed. 


Bassnectar, AKA Lorin Ashton, delivered his trademark heavy beats to the Boiler Room and the combination of his mixes and light show created a hypnotic atmosphere that lived up to expectations. Randomly, Lupe Fiasco was Bassnectar's surprise guest, helping create a rather grand finale. 

Bassnectar and Lupe 2

Predictably, Kanye West delivered the most immense set of the day. From the middle of the mighty Olympic stadium, he rose from a cherry picker (no joke) to the resonating introduction of his track Higher. This effectively positioned his set right from the get go as impressive...and self indulgent. His own performance was faultless, however, the featured artists in his songs were all played recordings. With a budget allowing for 20 tribal dancers, surely Kanye could afford some decent live signers?


Nero, the last and most anticipated dance act at BDO didn't fail to get a weary crowd dancing. Their stage set-up was massive and the slow introduction of Alana Watson was definitely a highlight. Her live vocals were indispensable to their set. The powerful delivery of their set rewarded those who managed to power through till 11.30pm.      


Although the endurance of the Big Day Out was tested this year, plus a few added sound issues, the promoters delivered a well organised, entertaining and musically pleasing festival. The Big Day Out will surely continue to provide a solid mix of artists from different genres to create a day almost anyone can enjoy. Ken West has said that next year's lineup is going to big...really big.


Odd Future 12



Bassnectar and Lupe

Listen to Nero on Pulse Radio

Listen to Bassnectar on Pulse Radio