Big Day Out

The Big Day Out (BDO) is an annual music festival that tours Australia and New Zealand which originated in Sydney in 1992. The best known performances in the history of the BDO are Nirvana in 1992, The Ramones in 1994, Marilyn Manson & koRn in 1999, and System of a Down in 2003. As of 2003, it has featured 7 or 8 stages (depending on the venue) accommodating popular contemporary rock music, electronic music, mainstream international acts and local acts.

The Event:

Like many other modern music festivals, the Big Day Out is held in stadiums which are more commonly designed for major sporting events. All of the Big Day Out locations utilize multiple performance stages, on which different acts will often be playing simultaneously. It is common that the well known international acts will play on one of the two "main stages", which overlook the main sporting ground of the venue, and the lesser known (and often local) acts will perform on smaller stages. All of the stages are within a short walking distance of one another.

A signature feature of the Big Day Out is the "Boiler Room", a large circus-style tent in which the more electronically themed artists perform. This style of venue intends to enhance the sound and ambience of the performance, which can be compared to a rave.

Other areas at the Big Day Out include a novelty entertainment stage, a signing tent, multiple food and merchandise shopping areas, and one or more designated alcohol consumption areas to which access is restricted to those of the local drinking age. Alcohol can only be purchased from within the venue.

The event lasts from mid-morning (doors open between 9am and 10am, depending on venue) to late evening (the last performances generally finish just before midnight).

Notable Events during the Big Day Out:

During the 2001 Sydney Big Day Out teenager Jessica Michalik was crushed to death in a crowd surge during a performance by Limp Bizkit. The coroner's finding criticised the crowd control measures in use at the time, and also criticised lead singer Fred Durst for "alarming and inflammatory" comments when a rescue effort was underway. Subsequent tours continue to feature a "D-barricade" (a purportedly safer barricade design reducing the risk of a crowd crush). For more information, see 'The Jessica Michalik Incident' at the bottom of this page.

In 2004, two slightly reduced capacity Sydney shows took place back to back, bringing the total number of shows on the tour to seven, as part of their payment headlining act Metallica took all the proceeds for the second show on top of their appearance fee.

On 13 October 2006, the 2007 Sydney BDO show sold out in record time of just 12 hours, breaking the previous record of 9 days. Due to this, organisers were forced to suspend ticket sales with 10,000 tickets to the show remaining; however, this turned out to be 12,000 tickets after multiple orders were cancelled and the remaining tickets were sold via a weekly Internet ballot. General-sale tickets to the Gold Coast show also sold out in record time, with the remaining tickets distributed in a similar fashion. Subsequently the Melbourne, Auckland, Adelaide and Perth shows all sold out in record time, making it the first time where all shows have sold out, previously the closest to that has been in 2005 where all Australian shows sold out.

On 10 October 2007, tickets for the 2008 Sydney Big Day Out sold out in record time. The first release of tickets available on the official Big Day Out Website sold out by 8:00 AM. The second release sold out in just under 5 minutes. The main international acts of Rage Against the Machine and Björk combined with the increasing popularity of the event ensured this depletion of tickets. The Gold Coast and Melbourne shows also sold out within a day of ticket release. Organisers announced on the Big Day Out website that Rage Against the Machine would be playing at all shows on the 2008 event.

Announcement Hoaxes:

There have been various fake press releases in the last few years; however, two hoaxes have received considerable media coverage.

Big Day Out 2004

In late 2003, shortly before the first announcement was due, the Big Day Out's official online forum was hacked, and a fake press release was written and posted under the alias of the forums administrator, and as such many believed it was real. This press release indicated the as-yet unannounced line-up for Big Day Out 2004. Further adding to its authenticity was that it included two bands that had already said they were playing (Metallica and The Dandy Warhols) and another number of bands that were rumoured or highly speculated, instead of the common theme of fake announcements which had bands such as Nirvana or The Beatles. The fake announcement spread to various websites and was pulled from the forum after about 20 hours.

Big Day Out 2007

Again, shortly before the first announcement, a fake press release was posted on a the BDOFORUMS Myspace which is designed with the same artwork and colouring as the official Big Day Out website, but is not directly affiliated with Big Day Out (as it is a fan operated site).

The fake press release was obtained by several media outlets, including Triple J, Channel [V] and various newspapers. It was read out on Triple J Radio during Jay and the Doctor's breakfast program on October 4, 2006, and was discussed with Humphrey B. Flaubert of TISM. Jay and The Doctor (Both of Frenzal Rhomb) and Flaubert refuted that their respective bands who were on the fake line-up were playing.

Channel V reported the announcement as being official and made the headlines in their music news program.

Despite poor grammar and spelling, the fake lineup was believed by many people; Australia and New Zealand wide.

The Flag Banning:

On 21 January 2007 a decision was made by the organisers to discourage Big Day Out patrons in Sydney from bringing and displaying the Australian flag. The organisers said the decision was a result of recent ethno-religious tensions in Sydney, complaints that the previous year's festival had been marred by roving packs of aggressive flag-draped youths, and recognition that some indigenous Australians have issue with celebrating the start of British settlement.

Sections of the community had strong views supporting or objecting to the policy. The Prime Minister John Howard, New South Wales Premier Morris Iemma and Federal Leader of the Opposition Kevin Rudd publicly condemned the move. Premier Iemma suggested the event be cancelled if the organisers cannot secure the safety of attendees. Main stage act Jet performed in front of a large backdrop of a black-and-white Australian flag cut-out of their name, with lead vocalist Nic Cester adding "I can't tell anyone else what to do but we as a band are very proud to be Australian and we don't want to feel we are not allowed to feel proud".

However, other people including Andrew Bartlett of the Australian Democrats, sports writer Peter FitzSimons and members of the hip hop outfit The Herd expressed concern that the flag was being misused by a handful of aggressive attendees in a jingoist manner, and that rock concerts were not the appropriate venue to be waving a flag.

The Jessica Michalik Incident:

Jessica Anna Michalik (1986 - 26 January 2001 in Concord, New South Wales) was an Australian teenage girl from Dee Why in Sydney who died of asphyxiation five days after being crushed in a mosh pit during the 2001 Big Day Out music festival during a performance by the rap metal band Limp Bizkit.

The Coroner's Court of New South Wales findings into her death criticised the crowd control measures in use at the time, and also criticised Limp Bizkit lead singer Fred Durst for "alarming and inflammatory" comments during the rescue effort.

Oddly enough, the band At the Drive-In had mocked the crowd earlier that day for moshing during their set. Cedric Bixler-Zavala, the band's lead singer, called the crowd "robots" and "sheep" and then baa'ed at them before leaving the stage.

The band Grinspoon performed at Jessica's funeral, and moments of silence have been held at subsequent Big Day Out festivals. Performers at the Big Day Out observe the "minute of noise" each year to honor her memory.

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