For many years Brendan Smythe (of New Zealand on Air), the late and singular Dylan Taite (for whom I was sometimes, and to my bewilderment, mistaken) and I used to joke about who was the oldest of us at the Big Day Out.
I guess we felt like aged gentlemen in the company of 14-year olds in halter tops texting furiously while a highly paid band was sweating it out for their pleasure.
It wasn’t always like this however and for the first few years the BDO pulled a somewhat older demographic than we see today. Over time parents and adults realised that the BDO was not only safe for their kids, but they came off as the good guys for letting them go.
And of course the generations have also merged in a way that was almost unthinkable when I was a teenager. (Although my Dad and I did share an equal enthusiasm for With the Beatles, and that was when he was the age that I am now). At a BDO now it is not uncommon to see adults meeting their teenagers. A few BDOs ago I wrote a Herald article about me going because my sons’ band was playing. The witty headline was “Old Man’s Beard Must Go.”
And the BDO is a remarkably safe place. This year it was also a real step up in organisation, and by opening up the access/egress to the top stages the organisers freed up one of the most notorious and annoying bottlenecks.
Congratulations must go to Campbell Smith and his team for that.
I wonder when someone will click that women need more toilets and give over one of the male rooms, or set aside a special area of Portaloos for the ladies?
Promoters take a lot of crap sometimes (from me too, as in the previous posting here) but it is only fair to salute a job well done - although I have no idea what makes anyone want to do such things.
I did a few concerts way back and all I remember was financial heartache, mad phonecalls, and fear that no one would turn up. Ever since then I have consistently said promoters should be hugely rewarded. If they make a buck they will do it again, and that’s a good thing.
I am told there were very few arrests at this BDO and the only guy I saw being taken away by a couple of burly policemen looked like it was for his own good, he could barely stand. It sure wasn’t like that six or seven years ago. I remember interposing my body between a constable and young fan who was oblivious to the blow about to rain down.
And just a thought in passing: ASH might as well give up. When you are 14 or 15 and you can’t get a drink you’re symbol of being grown up is a cigarette. I was amused but slightly saddened by the number of young girls fagging it up -- and that’s from someone who has been an occasional smoker. The kids just looked silly, and it made them appear even younger oddly enough.
In an amusing aside, one of the gentlemen I was with had to show an ID to get a pass into the bar. I guess he showed the driver’s licence he’d for the past 30 years. I just pointed to my face and the woman my age behind the counter laughed and tagged me, no need for ID.
So I had a great day and I want to put on record my thanks to the generosity of fellow blogger David Slack who invited my wife and I to be his guests on a table in one of those upper rooms in the East Stand -- as he did last year.
As one who “worked” at previous BDOs -- rushing around to see bands, back to a laptop that invariably wouldn’t connect to the Herald, and using a cellphone that had no coverage in a stadium with a telecom company name -- a BDO was fun, but wearying.
I -- along with Russell Baillie, and in later years Rebecca Barry -- would sometimes miss bands we wanted to see because we were on a deadline or in a bunker typing away.
Last year was the first time I had just “been” to a BDO, just to go and see bands, stay as little or as long as I liked, and generally enjoy the day. Having the refuge that David offered in the East Stand both last year and this was a blessing, especially at my advanced age -- although other than in the middle of the day and for a short while around 5pm I was mostly in the fray.
I have to say while enjoyed this year I was not surprised by most things I saw, especially on the main stage. I came away from none of those acts thinking, “Dammit on Monday I’m gonna buy their album”. No surprise means a disappointment in a way.
It seemed to me also that prog-rock is quietly making a comeback too: bands don’t just bang out songs anymore but have some kind of over-arching concept and the lengthy songs to suit.
I look forward to seeing Yes doing the complete Tales From Topographic Oceans in years to come. Or their younger kin on some such elaborate and equally witless project.
I’m not going to say what I liked or didn’t -- I have done that at View Auckland -- but only to observe that stadium rock shows have become much more gentle and sedate places in recent years.
There is a discussion thread about my last blog in which Simon Grigg among others also makes the same point about gigs in general.
Check out that discussion, nice to see people recall great and awful gigs/venues of old.
Finally there is new music at Elsewhere here, (Chris Knox, Norah Jones’ new one, Rahsaan Roland Kirk on a strange ballad and more). And for those with a long memory of rock culture I am adding to the My Back Pages section: this week Ocean Colour Scene and a very sad story.
Have a squiz.