Queens Of The Stone Age / PJ Harvey / Coldplay: Sydney Big Day Out

PJ proves unassailable, while QOTSA convert thousands to the cause of balls-out rawk, as the Big Day Out festival hits Sydney...

The venue may have been built for last year’s Sydney Olympic Games, but the Homebush Showgrounds has become a field of dreams for the 55,000 music fans at the Big Day Out music festival. Devoid of the rising clouds of dust that are typical of Australian festivals, the concrete, steal and rubber matting over the grassed areas of the austere venue make the Sydney fixture unique on the six date tour.

While the event begins at 11am with up-and-coming Australian acts including hip-hop crossover outfit 28 Days, the rap act Resin Dogs and acclaimed punk band Frenzal Rhomb, it’s the low-key torchsongs of Coldplay which draw the first enormous crowd of the afternoon. And if they’re trying to shrug off criticisms for being too soft they aren’t showing it (much), first announcing that one of their songs is “a bit naff, but listen to it anyway”, before finishing with a cover of the Burt Bacharach-penned ‘What The World Needs Now Is Love’.

PJ Harvey is at her poetic best on one of the two main stages, with most naming her the performer of the festival as on the Gold Coast and Auckland. It’s a performance that contrasts sharply with many of the rock acts which inspire furious moshpit action throughout the afternoon. For raw rock power it’s Queens Of The Stone Age who, from their first few bars, show why many have dubbed them the future of rock’n’roll. While fans pack the massive shaded stands, many thousands brave the scorching sunshine for the first time that day, rushing to the stage area as they play ‘Monsters In The Parasol’. With abandon, but none of the

nudity that attracted attention in Rio recently, QOTSA clearly make converts of many punters who knew little of the group.

Michael Duffy