Big Day Out Bows Out Of NZ

Big Day Out’s Jan. 20 show at Auckland’s Mt Smart Stadium was its last in the country, after 18 years. Promoter Ken West admitted it was no longer viable.

In the past, the NZ show had been subsidised by grosses from the Australian dates. Numbers were well down from the 45,000 who used to pack the venue in the past. As a parting gesture, West allowed anyone who could produce a Big Day Out ticket stub from the past to attend for free.

Last year, West and longtime partner Viv Lees parted ways after the budget ballooned to millions of dollars – required in order to entice headline acts.

Eminem turned down a $6 million fee, and Soundgarden reportedly got $5 million. The NZ show was downsized from four to two stages, and Kanye West dropped from NZ and some Australian shows.

Acts including Kasabian, Noel Gallagher and Odd Future were retained.

West admits he badly misjudged what his audience wanted. But with a new partnership with Texas-based C3 Presents, he says he’s rebuilding the event from the ground up, with acts already being booked for 2013. A move into Asia is being considered.

In the meantime, Viv Lees broke his silence since his departure to The Sunday Age.

“It was appalling,” he said of his split from West. “I feel like I’ve been in an abusive relationship.” When the 2012 event’s budget blew out, he suggested to West they cancel this year’s festival, and return in 2013.

Lees said, “Ken wouldn’t hear it. His response was not to look at it as a business proposition but to barge ahead and try to overwhelm me with his arguments.”