Big Day Out’s Ken West: “We got offered Blink 182”

Ever outspoken Big Day Out organiser Ken West has opened up once again, telling Scenestr magazine he had the chance to book Soundwave co-headliner Blink 182.

West said he turned them down, in part because of the chance their drummer Travis Barker – who survived a plane crash in 2008 – would not be able to fly to Australia.

“You know, we got offered the Blink[-182] thing, too, and I just thought that we already spent a year on that, and if Travis [Barker] gets on a plane, good on him, but we went right down that path and it didn’t happen. They wanted to use Big Day Out to get him on a plane, and that didn’t work, obviously. Who knows if he’s coming or not with this one? You never know these things … but they still wanted the maximum money, whether he came or not! And I said, ‘Well, you’ve got to get the full band to commit before you get the top dollars’.”

West also spoke about the festival’s recent ups and downs, including the sudden departure of co-founder Viv Lees last year (“I had to carry the weight of the whole show”), the deal he’s made with American festival promoters C3 Presents, how saturated the festival has become and how triple j’s blanket coverage doesn’t really benefit anyone.

“You don’t have any festivals in Australia that don’t have some sort of crossover, maybe because of triple j presenting too many. I wouldn’t want to offend them, but you know, you’re meant to be listening to somebody who’s recommending something, but they’re not really recommending anything any more because they’re recommending everything!”

West was frank in his appraisal of the Soundwave bill, saying the idea of booking 70-odd international bands “does his head in”. “The ten stages don’t make any sense for the same genre. You can do the same effect with half the bands, and people would have a lot more fun. There’s not much curating going on when you take everything. If I took everything, we’d have 200 acts. We wouldn’t be able to stay in business very long, nobody would have a good time and the audience would just be confused.”

He told Scenestr he’s really proud of this year’s bill, which features the likes of Animal Collective, Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Vampire Weekend and The Killers. He said a priority this year has been ensuring key bands play their full sets. “I’m proud of the acts on it,” he said. “I think the freshness with it is there, I know the dynamics of the day and the flow from the time sheets I’ve done … We want to make sure bands get to play their full sets this year. Animal Collective will play for an hour-and-a-half. Chili Peppers will play for an hour-and-a-half.”

Another change for next year is the introduction of the “Like A Boss” ticket for those who want something special. They’re not called VIP tickets for a reason, West said. “People who pay more aren’t VIPs, they’re just people who pay more.”

Big Day Out 2013 line-up

Red Hot Chili Peppers (Exclusive Australian Shows)

The Killers

Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Vampire Weekend

Band Of Horses

The Bloody Beetroots (Live)


Animal Collective


Sleigh Bells


Alabama Shakes


Crystal Castles

Pretty Lights



Against Me!

Gary Clark Jr

Nicky Romero

Morgan Page


Every Time I Die

Delta Spirit

Childish Gambino


Hunting Grounds

Jeff The Brotherhood

Death Grips

Adventure Club

Jagwar Ma

House Vs Hurricane

Avalanche City Toucan


Nina Las Vegas

Sampology (AV/DJ Show)