Monday, January 30, 2006

An Old Codger Speaks...

Contrary to the author of this piece, I would love to watch Sepultura perform their entire back catalogue a capella, especially the first three songs from Chaos A.D., which would sound great with a few barber-shop harmonies. In every other respect, however, I am in complete agreement. The Big Day Out is indeed a load of cobblers, and I'm glad that I once again managed not to talk myself into going.

In my day (it was a Tuesday), I went to my share of festivals. Well, three of them. I have only been to one BDO, and it was so shit I can't even remember who was playing, or even which year it was, although it might have been 1997. (Yes, I am that old.) I spent the whole day in front of the Triple R stage, starving and thirsty after smoking a rather sorry excuse for a joint upon arrival, watching bands I could have seen any time at the Corner Hotel or the Espy for about ten bucks a throw. I ventured over to the main stages a couple of times, but was so freaked out by the pulsating mass of sweaty teenagers and drunken wankers, not to mention the crap sound quality, that I quickly retreated to the laid-back banality of the minor stages. I left early, missing the headlining act. I think it was Soundgarden. Remember them?

Since then, every year I say to myself - yeah, BDO, I should go to that, I like music and drinking and sunshine and stuff. And every year I end up giving it a miss because in the nick of time I remember how crap it was when I actually went, and how crap subsequent years have apparently been according to the the reports of friends and various other people who don't know me but whose phones I have tapped. The BDO is hot, smelly, and full of tossers, young and old. The sound quality is terrible, and many bands don't play full sets. Then there's the problem of schedule clashes. But leaving all that aside, the BDO sucks because although it may have once been a humble rock festival, bringing big-name bands together for the convenience of the masses, it is now just another element of the "alternative culture" machine that has pretty much ruined music in this country. It's basically the Triple J live show, and frankly Triple J these days has nothing to contribute that is not as safe and unthreatening as a Seeker's best-of. Check out the top ten of this year's Hottest 100 - you'll find more attitude and innovation on an episode of Video Hits. Or Australian Idol.

Kids these days (and don't all the best sentences begin with those words?) seem as happy/morose/ugly as kids in my day, indeed probably kids in any day. I don't blame them for the BDO or Triple J or Ben Lee, because teenagers are natural, not to mention willing, victims of herd-thinking and marketing. It just seems that all popular music these days, not just actual pop music, has largely been tamed and brought into the fold of the marketing men and the promoters. Why bother sticking your middle finger up when the only way to get anywhere is by going with the flow? There are plenty of interesting, even great, bands around, but music in general kind of sucks right now. But then, maybe it always has.

(I know: this has absolutely nothing to do with books. Sorry.)


At 3:58 PM, Blogger JPW said...

Monica (and yourself) are dead right: the Big Day Out is shit. I say this with complete confidence, though I have never attended a "music festival" of any sort. Anywhere noisy, hot and filled with people is rubbish as far as I'm concerned, and unworthy of my attentions. I'm happy to watch a mate's band play the Townie but, outside of that, I don't believe I shall ever again go to a concert of any sort.


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