10 acts that could replace Blur at Big Day Out 2014

Following the shock announcement that Blur have cancelled their headline set at next year’s Big Day Out, the festival’s promoters have promised to find a suitable replacement act or acts. Here are 10 possible candidates.

The Big Day Out has a long history of promoting huge festival lineups and an even longer list of phone numbers for agents and managers across the globe. The BDO team – including festival founder Ken West and recent investor AJ Maddah – are are working on booking the replacements and have promised to announced new additions as soon as possible. Big Day Out investors C3 Presents also produce the Austin City Limits Music Festival and Lollapalooza so it’s a fair bet that their recent headliners have also been on the receiving end of a few “Hail Mary” phone calls over the past 24 hours.


So who definitely isn’t the replacement act?

While the checkbooks are open, replacement acts for “white whales” that have recently headlined Coachella and that haven’t toured Australia in 17 years aren’t easy to find with just eight weeks notice. Many of the potential acts big enough to be considered as a replacement have already announced Australian tours – or would be locked in for tours with other festivals such as Splendour in the Grass or Groovin’ The Moo.

Arctic Monkeys, Pixies, Jay Z, and Justin Vernon’s Volcano Choir have American gigs that clash with the Big Day Out. Flaming Lips and The Bronx / Mariachi El Bronx can also be ruled out as they’re playing together at My Morning Jacket’s “One Big Holiday” festival in Mexico. While they’re not big enough to be a replacement act, Mogwai have an English tour locked in, which means that they’ll miss out on a great opportunity to sell truckloads of their famed “Blur are shite” t-shirts. And before you ask… Big Day Out CEO Adam Zammit has already ruled out Daft Punk from contention.

The Rolling Stones announced their Australian tour last week and other big acts including Bruce Springsteen, Eminem, Nine Inch Nails, Queens of The Stone Age, Vampire Weekend, The National, Phoenix and Paramore also have other plans for Australia. The timing of this year’s Grammy Awards on January 26 could also pose a problem for the Big Day Out’s search for replacement acts. The festival has already lost Kendrick Lamar to the awards and while the nominations won’t be announced until December 6 it could affect other acts who expect to pick up a Grammy or two.

10 acts that could replace Blur on the 2014 Big Day Out:

1. Soundgarden

With Pearl Jam and Mudhoney already on the Big Day Out lineup, Soundgarden would be an ideal addition to the lineup. 2014 marks the 20th anniversary of their first BDO tour and they recently stepped in to headline the Big Day Out in 2012 when poor sales forced Kanye West to cancel his sets in Adelaide and Perth. And they still haven’t toured their comeback album King Animal in Australia yet. Coincidentally, Soundgarden are billed in third place on the lineup for Lollapalooza in Argentina just behind Arcade Fire, which is exactly the same billing as Blur on Big Day Out. It all appears to line up very neatly, but the tour schedule could kill drummer Matt Cameron if he played with both Soundgarden and Pearl Jam.

2. Foo Fighters

Foo Fighters will return after a very short hiatus to play shows in Mexico City next month so they’ll be match ready for an Australian tour. They’ve also played two Big Day Out tours – 2000 and 2003 – so they know just how much fun a “Big Day Off” summer tour can be. Dave Grohl also toured Australia with Pearl Jam back in 1995 so it could set up some incredibly nostalgic jam sessions.

3. Beady Eye

For anyone still living out the classic rivalry of the Brit-pop Beady Eye would be an ideal replacement for Blur. Liam Gallagher and fellow Oasis members Gem Archer, Andy Bell, and drummer Chris Sharrock have released two records as Beady Eye but still haven’t toured Australia. The band’s new bassist is Jay Mehler who has toured with the Big Day Out three times as a guitarist with Kasabian (2007, 2010 and 2012) so he can probably put in a good word for the festival.

4. The Black Keys

Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney owe the Big Day Out a tour after bailing on the 2011 tour just two weeks before the start of the festival citing “exhaustion”. They returned to Australia late last year to play a run of headline shows before returning to the studio to write and record the followup to 2011’s El Camino. That new album is expected out some time in 2014 so the Big Day Out could present them with an ideal place to road-test their new material.

5. Massive Attack

The Bristol outfit were booked to headline AJ Maddah’s Harvest festival and didn’t announce any replacement shows when the festival was cancelled. They would help replace Blur’s place as a legendary ‘90s British act on the Big Day Out lineup, but their close relationship with Damon Alburn suggests that it’s an unlikely booking. Albarn appeared on their 2003 record 100th Window and their most recent album 2010’s Heligoland.

6. Atoms For Peace

Radiohead are on a break while Thom Yorke focuses on his other band Atoms For Peace. Could we see two appearances from Flea on the Big Day Out tour in as many years? Last year the Melbourne-born bassist played a headline set with Red Hot Chili Peppers and perhaps he enjoyed the Australian summer so much he’s managed to convince his Atoms For Peace bandmates – Radiohead’s Thom Yorke, longtime Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich, drummer Joey Waronker and Brazilian percussionist Mauro Refosco – to join the 2014 tour? Atoms for Peace were also part of the lineup at Big Day Out’s “sister festival” Austin City Limits earlier this year.

7. The Cure

If you’re looking for a legendary English act that’s long overdue for an Australian tour it’s hard to look past The Cure. Their headline set at this year’s Lollapalooza festival in Chicago sparked BDO rumours, but sadly the band still hasn’t played a full Australian tour since 2007. Their exclusive Vivid LIVE shows at the Sydney Opera House in 2011 which saw the band playing their first three albums live in full were rapturously received, so we know they still have the goods to deliver a killer festival set.


8.The Strokes/Julian Casablancas

Although they didn’t tour their fifth album Comedown Machine, The Strokes recently announced that they are working towards a “return to the scene” in 2014. Their late addition to the Big Day Out tour would make the 10th anniversary of their visit in 2004 when they played second fiddle to Metallica. Frontman Julian Casablancas will perform solo at Lollapalooza festivals in Chile and Argentina in late March/early April next year so he’s certainly been in touch with the C3 Presents team.

9. Kings of Leon

Kings Of Leon were in Sydney last week to play two intimate promotional shows in support of new album Mechanical Bull, and confirmed that they’re keen to return for a proper tour in 2014. “It’s rock solid that we’re coming to tour Australia in 2014 for sure,” lead guitarist Matthew Followill told the Sydney Morning Herald. “We are just not sure exactly when yet … but hopefully it’s in the summer.” Speaking to triple j’s Veronica And Lewis, frontman Caleb Followill also confirmed the tour plans and suggested that they’d play shows in “Brisbane, Perth, Gold Coast, Melbourne, Adelaide: The whole deal.”

10. Nick Cave

Nick Cave has a solid history with the Big Day Out tour, joining the touring party three times (in ‘93 and ‘97 with the Bad Seeds and again in 2011 with Grinderman). Cave and his gang toured their new record Push the Sky Away earlier in the year, but surely we deserve another visit from everyone’s favourite expat saint.


Big Day Out dates

Friday, January 17 – Western Springs, Auckland

Sunday, January 19 – Metricon Stadium & Carrara Parklands, Gold Coast

Friday, January 24 – Flemington Racecourse, Melbourne

Sunday, January 26 – Sydney Showgrounds, Sydney

Friday, January 31 – Bonython Park, Adelaide

Sunday, February 2 – Claremont Showgrounds, Perth