The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world
Big Day Out Red Hot Chilli Peppers Live Australia Perth January 2013




28th JANUARY 2013







From a rock music point of view we are blessed in Australia this year with all of the varied acts hitting our shores, and from a Festival point of view 2013 will certainly be seen as a high point by many.  An early year highlight has to be this year’s Big Day Out that saw its final show in Perth, and whilst headliners The Red Hot Chilli Peppers may have stolen the show with their energetic performance that had the entire Showgrounds jumping, the great news was that the diversity of this year’s incarnation saw a perfect blend of all shades of rock.   




Where else could you see a band like the Chillis rubbing shoulders with The Killers, home-grown talent like Grinspoon, Americana’s finest Band of Horses and the blues brilliance of Gary Clark Jr? Add to that the sideshows that offered everything from Mexican Wrestling and Burlesque, the cool of acts like Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Vampire Weekend  and more home-grown up and comers like Sugar Army and Sons of Rico and you have a day to remember, in fact we would be prepared to go as far as to say that this year saw the Festival reborn.




Down to the action those that were there early enough got to see a couple of great Australian acts in The Medics and Hunting Grounds who set the pace that never seemed to let up throughout the day, while over on the Red stage  there were enthusiastic reports back from Dead Owls and Rainy Day Women.  




Our first real glimpse of what a triumph the day was though was on the main stage for Against Me! who put on a ferocious set of pop-fuelled rock in front of an appreciative audience that swelled in the Perth heat as the day progressed. If you haven’t had a chance to catch the band live they are one to keep an eye on and a band that you can definitely see making their way up a line up than this.
One of our early highlights though was Texan guitarist Gary Clark Jr. who took to the stage like a reincarnation of Hendrix and exceeded our expectations even based on the hype. Every note that came from his guitar was gold and when you couple that with his voice and understated stage persona you really felt like you were in the presence of greatness. To put someone like him on a festival like BDO was a stroke of genius and we would recommend everyone out there to pick up a copy of his latest album ‘Blak and Blu’.


If you wanted guitar ‘Jeff the Brotherhood’ that followed hit all the right spots despite a clash with one of our highlights of the day the sublime ‘Band of Horses’. As a fan of the band from their first release it was hard to express what a relief it was to finally catch these guys live, and despite a few issues with guitar early on in the set the band went on to produce one of the sets of the day with their brand of rock-infused Americana which clearly won over a lot of new supporters on the day.




‘Vampire Weekend’ received one of the day’s best welcomes as they trotted out their own unique brand of reggae and ska infused and at times Carmen Miranda style pop. The band looked more than pleased at the size of the crowd as they stormed through a set that had the masses singing alomg to sogs like ‘Cousins’and ‘Oxford Comma’.


Elsewhere Childish Gambino was one of the day’s revelations with Donald Glover of ‘Community’ fame bringing real life to a genre that relies so heavily on samples and pre-recorded music. To see a ‘Rap’ artist with a real band of real musicians on stage was something that provided a huge talking point.    




As someone only casually acquainted with ‘Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ their set was a watershed and Karen O has to go down as one of the performers of the day. The band didn’t put a foot wrong with a succession of crowd pleasers and the crowd certainly agreed starting o dissipate around the end of Vampire Weekends set to move slightly to the right from the Orange to Blue stages.


Back out away from the mains there was plenty going on with ‘Sons of Rico’ an early highlight with their own brand of alt-rock, and both ‘Alabama Shakes’ take on blues and roots with a twist of Joplin (Janis that is) and ‘Foals’ drawing decent crowds away from the gathering masses.


For many though the day hung on the two headliners ‘The Killers’ and ‘Red Hot Chilli Peppers’. Sadly at the last minute The Killers decided that they didn’t want any photographers cramping their style and decreed that the pit wouldn’t see any which led to a mass exodus of the yellow-shirted brigade for the more appreciative stages (pretty much everyone with a lens headed to see ‘The Foals’) . Musically though, the band couldn’t be faulted and with a show that began with ‘Mr. Brightside’ and ended with ‘When We Were Young’ the crowd was at its wildest. Even a snatch of some Crowded House later on in the set didn’t slow things down. This I’m sure is what the organisers of 2013 had wanted to see – a rebirth of the festival – everyone in the crowd singing, everyone together enjoying a band that had the power to hold everyone.




By chance earlier in the day I bumped into Sea Shepherd’s Australian Director Jeff Hansen and the Chilli Peppers took to the stage after the big screens promoted the activities of the organization that seeks to end the destruction of habitat and slaughter of wildlife in the world's oceans and of which Anthony Kiedis and the Chillis are vocal proponents. If you have a moment you can check out their activities at


In a set that pleased everyone the Chillis showed why they were top dogs here and why in 2013 the Big Day Out is again so essential. To all those past Festival-goers who were there and knew what it meant in the early years, new Festival-goers this year got to see first hand what the 2000 Big Day Out headliners were capable of, and witnessed a rekindling of the flame of Australia’s best known Summer Festival after diminishing returns in the past few years.


The band provided the hits and the energy the BDO needed in what had been touted a ‘rebirth’.  The audience lapped it up from first note to last. Reports of sparse attendances from other stages – particularly the sets by Animal Collective and Sleigh Bells suggest that you don’t want to go up against the Chillis.


In a mesmerising one and a half hours the band was a ball of energy and impossible to take your eyes off: a worthy headliner and the sort of band that certainly at this point in time seems to have done what the BDO needed to do – both bring back the faithful and the Festival virgins. The BDO may always have looked to the young to fuel the crowds but this year the mix appeared to be just right, broadening the appeal across the ages with the right acts, it’s a trick that looks like it worked a treat.


Check back for our expanded reviews of individual acts over the next few days.



words and photos by Mark Diggins