Music

You Told Us Your Favourite Australian Festival Memories And Wow, They Are Wild

"Accidentally getting into the front row for Blink 182 at Soundwave and Tom DeLonge spat honey on my face."

Big Day Out

A little while ago, we posed the question: Is Australia on the cusp of another mega festival golden age?

With festivals like Good Things, Ultra Australia, Festival X, and Download moving back into the festival space, Australia’s summers are looking almost as busy as they did 10 years ago, when events like Stereosonic, Soundwave, Big Day Out, and Future Music dominated our calendars.

Unsurprisingly, the article prompted a wave of nostalgia for summers past. People began contacting us with stories of their first festival experience at a sweltering Big Day Out, or their tales of nearly getting crushed in the mosh during [insert band here, most likely Rage Against The Machine or Rammstein].

So we decided to collect all these memories, preserving them somewhere outside of our own brains. We made the callout for your favourite stories from now-gone Australian festivals, and the response was…well…overwhelming.

It wasn’t just the punters that got in touch either: Recovery’s Jane Gazzo and Channel V’s Jabba both offered up their treasured memories.

So dive in, and pack your bags for a trip down memory lane.


“Silverchair on the tiny 3RRRFM Stage at the Melbourne Big Day Out 1993/4? (Earliest festival appearance). People were climbing roofs, trees and each other to get a look at the band. It was a sea of people watching a band who were about to explode nationally.” — Jane Gazzo

“Watching Queens of the Stone Age from side of stage with Scott Owen from The Living End after Queens blew up the PA on the main stage and insisted on playing after the last act at BDO 2003 in Auckland. And sets from Nirvana, Korn, The Prodigy over the years.” — Jabba

The crowd immediately started breaking stuff and, hilariously, tried to burn a Slayer shirt.

“When Slayer cancelled on Soundwave at the last minute, and the host of triple j’s Short Fast Loud had to announce to about 1000 angry Slayer fans that they weren’t coming out to play. The crowd immediately started breaking stuff and, hilariously, tried to burn a Slayer shirt. When it didn’t burn, someone screamed ‘IT ISN’T BURNING, JUST RIP IT UP!’.” — Albert Santos

“I watched a guy slowly and very deliberately plunge a pair of scissors into his neck, narrowly missing his jugular by centimetres, while high as shit on mescaline at Rainbow Serpent.” — @broek_af

“Parklife, 2011. Gossip start to play ‘Men In Love’ and this chick from the crowd gets onto the stage somehow. She’s got a poster and she’s aggressively waving it at the crowd. I can’t remember what it said, but security kept trying to get her, and Beth Ditto — while still singing — is standing between them and the girl, waving them away, letting this girl rant and rave while still performing.” — Daniel Trevor

Big Day Out 2014. Photo credit: Jennifer Sando/inthemix

“Soundwave, Perth 2008. Killswitch Engage were the last band left playing at the festival, on a side stage near the exit. Crowd was already heaving, but grew to hectic levels as punters stopped to watch on their way out.

The frontman at the time, Howard Jones, climbed a speaker stack bearing down on the crowd from about four metres up. He didn’t look too keen to jump — it would have been a broken neck if they dropped his heavyset frame. Chants urged him on. Jones jumped, twisting in the air as he fell. Fans caught him on his back. Mayhem ensued.” — Mark Donaldson

Slipknot telling the entire crowd to sit on the ground at BDO 2005, and watching all these big metal dudes instantly comply and sit down.

“The year Metallica played (twice) I went to the first BDO show and there was a huge storm before they played, lightning was crashing over the stage (while The Strokes were getting booed). We rode the lightning that night, my friends.” — Cam Williams

“2004, BDO, Sydney. Metallica headlining, playing ‘Ride the Lightning’ and what started? Thunder and lightning. Then it pissed down rain. I was on the fence at the front loving every second of that set. I’ll never forget it and especially because before Metallica’s set all the metal heads cheered like never before when The Stokes announced ‘This is our last song!’.”– Tristan Lee

“Metallica opening their Melbourne Big Day Out set with ‘Blackened’. The mosh pit went fucking bananas and probably half the people in there noped the fuck out straight away.” — Thereisatown, Reddit

“I was in the D-Barrier for Slipknot at the BDO and they got the entire mosh to sit down during their set while they did a breakdown and then they got everyone to jump during the heaviest bit.” —Cam Williams

“Slipknot telling the entire crowd to sit on the ground at BDO 2005, and watching all these big metal dudes instantly comply and sit down.” – Sharnee 

“The pole climbing guy during Nine Inch Nail’s set at Sydney BDO. Police were telling him to come down for about 20 minutes, and when he finally did, he channeled Spiderman, swinging across to an ice-cream stand and disappearing into the bleachers. That, or mounted police trying to stop people from entering an already over-capacity boiler room for Chemical Brothers, 2000.” — Mike Olivotto 

“Watching my favourite band Brand New for the first time at Big Day Out and immediately sprinting to watch Rage Against the Machine straight after. I was already pretty emotional from Brand New and then to actually see Rage in the flesh was just overwhelming.

RATM, Melbourne. A flare got shot at a guy hanging from a tree in the crowd.

“It’s probably my favourite moment in music, even now. I was 18 at the time and couldn’t afford my ticket, so a friend who had a spare just gave it to me ’cause he knew how much it would mean to me. I really owe him one. — Jessicaalz, Reddit

“Rage Against The Machine, Melbourne BDO. The ground was shaking, the sound towers were full of people who were kicking while getting dragged down by security. A flare got shot at a guy hanging from a tree in the crowd, and the whole show got stopped until people got off of the roof of the bar tent. Iconic.” — Matty Rendell

“Rage Against The Machine at Sydney BDO 2008 cussing out the newly ex-PM John Howard to the crowd’s delight, not to mention feeling the earth shake as the whole crowd moshed along to ‘Killing In The Name’. A once in a lifetime show for fans who never got to see them in their ’90s heyday.” — Robert Cleary

“Being on a spinny ride in the air at Big Day Out and 50,000 people jumping up and down to RATM’s ‘Guerilla Radio’.” — Angie Malone

“When Crowded House headlined Homebake back in the day, they covered ‘Throw Your Arms Around Me’ and everyone in the crowd just started hugging. It was wholesome as fuck.” — Krissi Amiet

“Watching TISM with giant balloons on their heads, BDO 1993.” — Wilful, Reddit

“Once at Stereosonic, we saw this guy completely off chops, sitting in a chair in the middle of a passage where people walk from one stage to the next. He couldn’t even keep his head up straight. As I got closer, I realised it was my 18-year-old brother.” — Anonymous

“Stereosonic 2015. I waited 45 minutes for some hot chips then as I sat down to eat them then two lads having a tussle stepped on them. Devastating.” — Bobby Alaalatoa Griffiths 

“Running to the front of the stage at BDO when Tool opened their headliner set with ‘Third Eye’ and hearing some girl say to her friends: ‘These people probably all worship the devil…Maybe we should go…'” — Pat Chylinski 

“BDO 2000 Gold Coast, when Korn crash tackled Marilyn Manson, because Manson had said ‘Fuck Korn’.” — Matthew Dixon 

“Standing at BDO in Adelaide watching 10 dudes come out of the ground from the sewer holes wrapped in garbage bags and hard hats and running away from security.” — Cassandra Vozzo

“Silverchair covering ‘I Don’t Wanna Be The One’ at Homebake. Muse pulling Nic Cester up on stage to sing ‘Back in Black’ at BDO. Ben Lee playing ‘Cigarettes Will Kill You’ at Homebake, and shooting flower petals out at the crowd.” — Justine McNamara

“Watching Neil Young finish his set at the Big Day Out in 2009 by literally breaking every single string on his guitar one by one and then just bashing it with all the broken strings flying around.” — David James Young

Standing at BDO in Adelaide watching 10 dudes come out of the ground from the sewer holes wrapped in garbage bags and hard hats and running away from security.

“The Flaming Lips closing BDO 2004. Drew Barrymore was on stage with the band dancing in a rabbit costume and Wayne Coyne was full of joy and excitement.” — Christopher Jaeger 

“Seeing The White Stripes play for the first time in Australia on a teeny tiny stage (the Blue, I believe). Will never experience Jack White that intimately again. For a long time fan, it was a pretty crazy dream come true.” — @_lalaphoto

“Knocking myself out on the fence at the bottom of the hill at Gold Coast BDO when running to catch Soulfly in ’98.” — Redzrain, Reddit 

Big Day Out 2014. Photo credit: Jennifer Sando/inthemix

“Accidentally getting into the front row for Blink 182 at Soundwave and Tom DeLonge spat honey on my face.” — Jake Riley

“Parkway Drive’s main-stage set at Gold Coast BDO, 2012. 20,000 punters inside D barrier (not bad for an Aussie band with no radio play) and Winston’s stage dive into the crowd would have easily been a 15 metre leap.” — @stev0182

Being in the pit for Rammstein at BDO and just before the set started the guy next to me whipped out a leather gimp mask and a ball gag.

“One year at Homebake we saw The Hilltop Hoods — right when ‘Nosebleed Section’ was huge — and we were on such a high after we jumped a fence and they were standing right there so we met them and hung out for a bit.” — Cam Williams

“Being in the pit for Rammstein at BDO and just before the set started the guy next to me whipped out a leather gimp mask and a ball gag.” — Daleabbo, Reddit

“2013, Sydney, Soundwave. Linkin Park were a few songs from the end of their set when someone in the crowd collapsed in the mosh pit (from a suspected broken arm or leg). Chester Bennington stopped mid-way through a song, called out for the ambulance with his mic, made sure everyone moved out of the way so the emergency crew could get through and get the person help. They even replayed the song from the beginning.” — Christie Coughlan

“I once got drunk at BDO and forced my way onto the stage with Bluejuice. I think they figured I was too belligerent to do anything about it, so they just let me dance badly in the corner for a while.” — Krissi Amiet

“Harvest Festival 2011 Brisbane Botanical Gardens — where I met my husband, saw Flaming Lips and Portishead.” — Amanda Evenhuis

I once got drunk at BDO and forced my way onto the stage with Bluejuice.

“My friends took a couple of tabs of acid each before their first Big Day Out in 2010. First two acts of the day were Frenzal Rhomb and Parkway Drive. Those guys in the pit looked like beams of light in swarming darkness. Afterwards they had to lie down for a few hours.” — @FazeOutBoy

“Telling Primal Scream I couldn’t go backstage with them because I’d got separated from my friends and had to go and find them. Doh…” — Jackie Chadwick

“Watching an old couple with walking frames get to the barrier to see Slayer at Soundwave Melbourne.” — @Macattack

“Good Vibes 2008 — Snoop Dogg as a special guest, he came out and sang ‘Paul Revere’ with the Beastie Boys. Now that was something.” — Madhatcher, Reddit

Big Day Out 2014. Photo credit: Len Panecki/inthemix

“Getting on stage with Iggy Pop and the Stooges at the BDO on the Gold Coast. I looked down and saw my Dad in the Mosh go bonkers.” — Tom EC

“The guitarist from The Strokes asked if I was okay at 2004 BDO, because I got hit in the head by a water bottle.” — Patrick Lenton

“Coming back from Sunbury covered in mud. Mum wouldn’t let me in the house until she hosed me down in backyard.” — Jane Drew

“Smashing through BDO security to get into the huge jammed Carl Cox dancefloor to get in the Boiler Room Chemical Brothers set early 2000s.” — Lucas Barsby

“Getting $500 plus in tips at BDO because punters were too cooked to get their change. This was well before the token system…probably why they put it in.” — Grant Alexander

“Alternative Nation 1995 — watching little known bands Regurgitator and Powderfinger play in front of a small audience playing from the back of a truck.” — Lee MacDonald

Big Day Out 2014. Photo credit: Jennifer Sando/inthemix

“2004. My first BDO, and first music festival. Having to stand on bins outside the tent to see Jet, watching Muse and having them totally change my life and Metallica singing ‘Nothing Else Matters’, standing there with my brother who introduced me to them in 1991 when I was 12.” – Rae Spillane

“Melb Warped Tour in 2013: Offspring were playing and all the sprinklers went off in the crowd at Birrarung Marr. It only added to it as everyone danced around getting soaked.” — Simon Harrax

“Watching Jared Hasselhoff from Bloodhound Gang scull a jug of beer and then vomit it back up over the front row at Perth Soundwave. Afterwards, we were watching another band (can’t remember who) and Hasselhoff suddenly appeared near where we were sitting. He began getting swarmed by people for pics, and was definitely lapping up the attention though he did say loudly, ‘I just came to watch the band.’ Some dude who got a photo with him was all, ‘You chucked up all over me, so great’.” — Goya Olecki

“This one time I helped light a cigarette for Adam and one of the Nervo twins back stage at Stereonsonic.” — Ben Riches (see below)

Photo credit: Ben Riches

Some responses have been edited for clarity. 

Photo credit: Jennifer Sando/inthemix. H/T: Cameron Williams