The second 'Big' Day Out announcement was released today, and wow.
For once I don't mean 'wow' in a good way. I'm extremely disappointed.
Essentially, Kanye West has been cancelled - which I don't really mind, even though I had been looking forward to his show - and the bands released today were decidedly 'meh'. It's not actually the lineup which matters to me, it never has, it's the change to the atmosphere that gets me.
The number of stages has been halved from 8 (including the Silent Disco) to 4. The named acts number 40. The Big Day Out is nowhere near what it was. One of the main stages has been dropped in favour of a skate park. You can read more about the changes in the official statement.
In 'stripping' the Big Day Out and going back to it's 'roots', the Big Day Out is going to lose much of what makes it special.
There's no room to discover new acts, there is no 'Local Produce' stage (one place I always made sure I visited 2 or 3 times during the day), and there is half the number of headliners. The Auckland show is now simply a sideshow to the main performances on the Australian circuit.
I understand that it is a tough economic environment, and I sympathise with the organisers struggling to put on a show at all, but this is not the day I love. This is a shadow of the day I love, and I'm going to vote with my feet. I will not be attending the 2012 Big Day Out.
Ultimately, the act I am most excited to see, I have already seen. Recycling of acts has been the case with the last few Big Day Outs. I haven't even been down to the mainstages during the headline acts for a few years now as I've already seen what's on offer.
I made this table today. It shows in cold hard numbers what has happened to the Big Day Out and what this reduction means to your pocket. Take a look, share it around (it's already on Twitter here, Facebook here and G+ here). These numbers came from my original tickets and the final timetables (obviously, with the exception of the 2012 event, which is yet to release the timetable. The numbers for that line are taken from the Big Day Out website). Up until 2012, we were paying less than $2 per ticket for each band. Now we are paying twice that for a lesser festival.
You might get a $20 merchandise voucher with your 2012 ticket, but NOTHING is $20 at the merchandise stand. You'll get a discount, but you'll be giving more money to the promoters. I wouldn't call that a bad thing (I've bought several t shirts over the years, happily), but I wouldn't call it a ticket discount either - which is why it has been acknowledged, but not included in the calculations.
Ultimately, I'm giving this Big Day Out a miss. Maybe it will be back in 2013, and maybe I will go, but if I can't count on the atmosphere, then it's definitely going to come down to the lineup - and if I were to judge every Big Day Out on it's lineup alone, I wouldn't have gone to half of them.
I was interviewed about this by Auckland Now (part of Stuff.co.nz). You can read that article here.