The first date of this years Big Day Out tour kicked off today in New Zealand, and in a move that is bittersweet to local music lovers the organisers have decided to offer free entry to anyone who rocked up to the gates wearing an official Big Day Out t-shirt or with a ticket from the previous 18 years.

The surprising move was announced via the New Zealand Big Day Out’s official Facebook page which posted the following:

This is the last Big Day Out, we’re having a party and we want all our old friends to join us. So….

1.) Big Day Out fans with any previous year’s official BDO event t-shirt or any previous year’s BDO souvenir event ticket;
2.) Will be given free admittance to the BDO 2012 until 8pm tonight;
3.) Entry only via O’Rorke Road;
4.) Trains are running, no buses;
5.) Recommend drop-offs at venue, no parking.

Note: We know the t-shirts and tickets – they MUST be official.

The stunt is no doubt a reaction to several photos of the event that have been making the rounds on social media today showing the grounds virtually empty all day.

Big Day Out New Zealand

But even the last ditch effort to get people to event may have backfired on the promoters with a large number of people flooding to Facebook to express their disappointment at arriving at the festival only to be turned away. “Got there at 7.59pm, didn’t get in because some fucking asshole had a fucking power-trip problem,” wrote one disappointed fan.

Other fans pointed out that the promoters only gave around 2 hours notice of the offer making it impossible for many to take it up. Still, savvy internet users who were alerted to the offer and made it into the event by 8pm will be treated to free sets from the likes of Mariachi El Bronx, Nero, Noel Gallagher, and Soundgarden. A good reward for those slacking off on Facebook at work.

Organisers announced that this year will be the last for the Big Day Out in New Zealand after poor fan reception and extremely slow ticket sales made the event no longer financially viable.

Promoter Ken West has indicated however that he is looking at other territories, specifically Asia and the US, to expand the Big Day Out brand in 2013 and beyond.

UPDATE: A photo published by the Big Day Out shows larger crowds than earlier photos. However the crowd still appears to be somewhat disappointing given it was the last event to be held in New Zealand.