Big Day Out Closes in New Zealand After 18 Years

After 18 years, New Zealand hosted its final Big Day Out festival on Friday, January 20. The last festival, held at the Mt Smart Stadium in Auckland, saw attendance fall sharply from the 45,000 attendees the venue has held in the past. Soundgarden was the final headliner for the festival.

Big Day Out is typically held at one day each in five Australian cities and Auckland. Previous incarnations of the festival have seen the New Zealand show subsidized by sales from the Australian shows, but Big Day out organizer Ken West admitted that the Auckland show was no longer financially viable, and that it has lost money since it began in 1994. After the sharp decline in ticket sales, West allowed anyone who had a ticket from past Big Day Out shows to attend this year’s New Zealand show, apparently as a parting gesture.

However, West also announced that Big Day Out will continue as an entity, and that he hopes to expand the number of markets for the festival in coming years. After recently severing ties with co-founder Vivian Lees, West announced that he will partner with Texas based C3 Presents for next year’s shows. He says that new markets for future festivals may be in the United States or Asia. C3 Presents is known as the promoter of Lollapalooza and the Austin City Limits Music Festival.

Big Day Out received its initial setback this year when it failed to land its initial headline targets Prince and Eminem. The internal conflict that led to Lees leaving the festival also put the entirety of Big Day Out in danger. Speaking with Australia’s The Sun-Herald, Lees said, “I loved being in Big Day Out and it was a very poor outcome for me.” He went on to say that West would not compromise on the recapitalization Lees thought the festival required.

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

Big Day Out was held Sunday in Gold Coast, Australia, and has four more dates this year in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth. The final show is February 5.