Big Day Out is back

16:00, Jan 14 2014
Campbell Smith
ROCK ON: Big Day Out promoter Campbell Smith stands in front of the two main stages that will be graced by the likes of Pearl Jam and Arcade Fire on Friday. 

All eyes are on the weather as the stage is being set for the return of the Big Day Out this Friday.

The massive musical festival is under construction at its new home in Western Springs Stadium following a one-year hiatus caused by poor ticket sales in 2012.

This year's show will be headlined by nostalgic grunge act Pearl Jam, Canadian indie group Arcade Fire and infamous rapper Snoop Dogg.

Promoter Campbell Smith says the revival of the annual show hinged on having it at the new location.

"I really wanted to come here. In fact I said that we shouldn't bring the show back unless we could come here," he explains.

"I didn't want to bring it back and go to Mt Smart. I don't think it would work. A crucial part of the idea of reinventing the show was being at Western Springs."


The new site has the capacity for a crowd of 47,500 people, just a shade larger than its previous home which could accommodate 45,000.

Mr Smith says it has been fairly smooth sailing getting nearby residents onboard for what is guaranteed to be an uproarious event.

"It's fair to say a lot of them aren't huge fans of speedway, but they seem to be supportive of music events taking place at Western Springs," he says.

However, some neighbours are blissfully unaware of the approaching festival. The birds that reside at Western Springs Park will be treated to the sounds of Concord Dawn and P Money at the new Lakeside stage, which replaces the traditional Boiler Room tent.

"It would be criminal to tent off a site that backs onto the lake," Mr Smith says.

"The Boiler Room is a special memory of the Big Day Out at Mt Smart, but we are going to build some new memories here.

"And I think being outside by the lake with swans and ducks will be interesting."

The resurrected festival is also raising its game with several new non-musical installations.

This year sees the introduction of Chow Town, which gives punters the opportunity to sample wares from culinary rock stars.

Chefs from some of Auckland's most popular kitchens have created affordable "handheld" dishes that will be on sale throughout the day.

"We've still got the chips and hotdogs and your standard stuff," Mr Smith says.

"But the idea was to try and find a better culinary experience for people that want something a little more high-end."

Mr Smith says many of the changes are aimed at giving the festival a distinctly New Zealand feel, rather than being a tack-on to the Aussie shows.

"I like the fact that it's a right-of-passage for teenage kids, to come to your first Big Day Out is a big deal," he says.

"I think just the experience of being able to say you were there while Snoop was playing on the grass, no pun intended, will be pretty cool."

The event has a five-year consent to be held at Western Springs Stadium, but Mr Smith says this Friday will be the test before committing to any more shows.

"If it all works well from both a logistical and financial perspective then we will be back for years," he says.

"If it doesn't work, we won't. But we are feeling confident."

Auckland City Harbour News