The West

Last hurrah for Big Day Out
Hot rocking: Fans in the Boiler Room. Picture: Michael O'Brien/The West Australian

Playing to a crowd one-quarter the size of their last sellout show in Perth, The Drones lead singer Gareth Liddiard let out a sigh into the microphone, "So this is the last Big Day Out in Perth, huh? Well, there were as many people at our first Big Day Out as there are now."

Festivalgoers agreed with the former West Australian musician.


"In all honesty, I'm not sad this is the last one," said festivalgoer Erin Sellings at Arena Joondalup yesterday. "This is my 12th Perth Big Day Out and it has gone downhill over the years. We tried to get a refund after they changed venues and they didn't get back to us, which is pretty poor."

Last week, promoter AJ Maddah announced the 21st Big Day Out in Perth would be the last, blaming poor ticket sales of 15,000 and increasing costs of bringing the festival west.

Long-term festivalgoer Victor Smith said the social media storm had been embarrassing for WA. "For AJ Maddah to come out and say all this stuff on social media I think it's a shame. Even Adelaide looks better than us."

For years the festival has courted controversy.

In 2011, the original promoters of the Big Day Out, Vivian Lees and Ken West, decided to go their separate ways.

In 2012, the festival took a major financial blow, having to refund tickets after the cancellation of headline act Kanye West.

Just eight weeks before this year's festival, headline act Blur announced their withdrawal and late last month, promoters changed the venue of Perth's show from the Claremont Showground to Arena Joondalup, blaming poor ticket sales.

One of the festival's promoters, Texas-based company C3 Presents, last week denied reports the festival was inflating attendance numbers and planning to not pay vendors, after running at an alleged loss of between $8 million and $15 million.

"C3 Presents always pays the hard-working vendors who help us to create music festivals around the globe," it said.

"A Sydney newspaper reported that vendors would not be paid, and that is simply not the case."

Yesterday, there was yet another surprise - $100 tickets after 6pm for those wanting to see grunge veterans Pearl Jam.

Freelance music writer Shane Pinnegar said a diversifying festival market was to blame.

"Big Day Out invented the big travelling music festival in the country," he said.

"In the 90s, it made sense to have a diverse line-up, but now there's Soundwave that all the heavy kids go to and Stereosonic that all the dance kids go to.

"They are carrying on with the niche that they created but it's not working for them any more.

"It is the end of an era."

The West Australian

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