So after the obligatory herding of cats and packing of bags, we set out in convoy for Mt Smart, taking the back way through the Mt Roskill badlands. Getting to the gate turned out to be the easy part: inside was a scrum.
We got to guest services and I managed to blag my friend Simon an Immortals bar pass from a passing promoter. I sent him off with Phil and Renee and I set off with this year's partner in crime, my darling (henceforth: MD) to the far side of the stadium.
The food concessions were set in two lines, back to back below the west stand. Which might be fine for a Warriors crowd, but it's a bit of a nightmare when there are 45,000 people on site, because the queues take up all the thoroughfare space.
MD began to look a bit stressed by the long struggle through crowds (which turned out to be the worst crush we'd strike all day). I guess I did too, because I was perspiring heavily by the time we reached the East lounge and the sanctuary of Mr Slack's hospitality table. If I have not noted before Mr Slack's status as a gentleman of the first order, I am doing so now.
The East lounge is the long, glassed-in area in the new East stand, where Warriors' after-match receptions are held. It's available by the table for the Big Day Out, but the legal capacity is quite low, so compared to the rest of the site, it is almost weirdly spacious. I don't feel guilty. I think there should be a special lounge for everyone who's been to every Big Day Out anyway. The boss lady having awarded them not only the day off, but a table, the Pead girls were there, amping, and they would continue to amp for the duration. After some rest and refuelling, we set off for the music.
Diplo wasn't working in the Boiler Room, so we headed over and caught the end of the Vines, who rocked unto actual smashing of guitars. The Presets, next, wore off pretty quickly.
You don't realise how popular some acts are until you see the crowd assemble, and assemble it did for Lily Allen. I love the fact that all the little girls know the words to her sassy, funny songs. It wasn't remotely heavy, but it was highly enjoyable. Plus, she has good banter and she's cute. Funniest moment: a posse of gym-bunny gay guys emerged all shirtless and sweaty from the scrum up the front of the Boiler Room and MD gave them a little cool-down with her battery-powered fan. In wholly unsurprising news, the Boiler Room was hot.
An unfortunate scheduling clash saw that seeing Lily meant missing both Luciano at the Lilypad and Kasabian on the alternative stage, but I am assured by Mr Slack that Kasabian fully rocked, and I trust the word of Mr Slack.
For me, The Killers were easily the best band in a generally unappealing mainstage lineup. They play their big, anthemic pop songs without pretension and they're good stadium fun. Earlier we'd rested up while Jet played an interminable set of their by-the-numbers rock music, then caught Scribe, who I appear to have liked better than most people. Slipping the 'Seven Nation Army' riff into 'Not Many' worked pretty well (maybe I just like seeing the bros with guitars) and a new song incorporated a Hendrix lick. A pointer to the new album, presumably.
We really wanted to see the Mint Chicks, so we bailed from the Killers over to the alternative stages, where they were playing up a storm. I went all funny when they launched into 'Crazy? Yes. Dumb? No.'. Simon's 15 year-old daughter (who had travelled independently and made it clear that as a one-year BDO veteran, she would not be hanging around Dad) and her friend hove into view, hurled their bags at him and disappeared into the mosh pit. It was almost heartwarming the way they didn't even stop to speak.
Ah yes, this is the new thing for the Big Day Out: your children are old enough to come - and because promised them they when they were old enough you would take them, you're taking them. My friend Nat had to be there for the first band and then spend the day with his 14 year-old daughter and her friend - including all of My Chemical Romance - in steadfast sobriety. Another buddy - in not such sound mind at the time - got a text from his 18 year-old daughter. She'd taken a party pill earlier and was feeling cold and sick. He found her and spent some quality time before reuniting her with her friends for departure.
Oh yes, the party pills. One of the problems with BZP is that the fun part of taking it doesn't last as long as the tense, headachey part afterwards. And taking more is just storing up trouble. There were a few teenies with strained faces by the closing stages, and a guy sitting in one of the first aid tents, draped in a blanket, staring hard into space and looking bloody miserable.
Then it was the day's surprise package. I have the Veils' album, Nux Vomica, and like it well enough, but they're a revelation live. I'd pay to see that band play again in an instant, and that 'Jesus Jugular' is a grand song. Nice!
To say the Streets were better than last time they played the event is putting it mildly. We caught the latter part of their Boiler Room set and, for all the cheesy crowd interaction, it was a good show. How many times did Mike Skinner pull the "go low" thing? Four? Five? It went like this: he'd say "go low", thousands of people crouched down and, on the count of five, sprang to their feet cheering and waving their arms, silhouetted against a bank of blazing white light. It sounds dumb, but it was quite spectacular.
I loved Dimmer last year, but they didn't seem to be having the best of nights, so we caught a bit of OpenSouls then made our way across the stadium floor for one last pitstop at the lounge, and to pick up our little backpack in preparation for the final round.
Which meant we caught a little of Tool, I'm sorry, but: I. Just. Don't. Get. Tool. Lots of other people appear to have glimpsed the face of God during their set, but it all sounded like a pretentious downer to me. Here's what passes for a chorus from Tool's last album:
Over thinking, over analyzing separates the body from the mind.
Withering my intuition, missing opportunities and I must
Feed my will to feel my moment drawing way outside the lines.
Meanwhile, the Crystal Method DJs seemed to manage the odd good tune in 90 minutes, but were essentially just as arse as I had expected. Away with your glitching and endless fake crescendos, you plonkers - somebody find me a groove. Memo to the promoters: how about next year we get an actual house music act high up on the Boiler Room bill? Remember how good Basement Jaxx were? (I guess I'm somewhat influenced by having rediscovered my housey-housey side at Beatport, and in particular by discovering Ortega and Gold's astonishing remix of Stonebridge's 'SOS'. Preview that on Beatport and tell me it wouldn't have changed a few lives in the Boiler Room this year.)
So it was down to Shapeshifter, with MD, Andy and Phil (I had to break it to Andy that he was only my second favourite BDO partner in crime, and that MD, who is rock 'n' roll from way back, was number one - he took it very well). And if they weren't precisely the groove we were after, they were still amazingly good: assured, atmospheric, sophisticated and highly propulsive. You could take that show anywhere in the world. After I'd danced myself to a standstill, we nipped out 10 minutes before closing, to beat the crowd. We heard the Violent Femmes on the way out, but I felt no compulsion to revisit my youth.
So it was back home for a smoke and the last of the BenRiach 20 year-old out on the deck, with nothing but the murmur of a Pt Chevalier night to trouble our ears. For all the grumping about the lineup, I actually wound up having a string of quality music experiences. It really did turn out to be a good one. And yes, I'm going next year.
But wait! That's not all. There was a very large volume of BDO bloggage this year - more than last year, more than I could get around to linking to. There were also foreign-language blogs (German, Dutch and Spanish tourists) and one or two that were just too personal to draw attention to. (If Insane Nutter happens to read this, girl, I hope your medical stuff goes well.)
The thing I like about Big Day Out blogging is that it's all about stories. Check out the adversity here: "I discovered, nearly two hours later, just before getting to Waiouru, that I had left the oil cap off. I discovered this because the car stopped." Dude's buddy drives down from Auckland and picks him up. They go on to have an epic BDO.
Stinkypoopuppys also had a travel story:
Arrived in Auckland around 4-ish (cant remember, hazy) and checked into our motel. Sat on the bed for 2 hrs watching "Deal or No Deal!" on Prime, before the rest of our friends turned up who were sharing our unit with us. All 10 of them. :) We actually had this cool place that had little flat type things with 8 bedrooms in each, 4 showers, 4 toilets, 2 fridges and balconies, we hired a whole one out. :) Designated room B4 as the shagging room, but unfortunately nobody got lucky (even us non-single people).
Hannah from the Swoon pulls a 22-hour marathon owing to bFM duty and finds her personal moment at Peaches:
I think photo-taking Connor summed it up right when she said afterwards "I was nearly crapping my pants the whole time". I couldn't wipe the grin off my face. Peaches owns.
There was dancing. There was Le Tigre when there wasn't Le Tigre. There was 14 pairs of underwear. There was a married couple. There was a guy made to hold her guitar while she played it. I feel as though I'm degrading myself by mentioning it - but I was also pleased when she demanded everyone remove their shirts - I didn't, but all the hot boys I didn't know around me certainly did. I wanted to be her, and to pash her - it was a confusing time.
Another nice bFM vollie blog from Joe Nunweek, who loved Lily Allen, got power-tripped twice by security and explains why people like Tool.
Speaking of which, 17 year-old Holly braved the headliners' mosh pit:
i think i almost died when i saw them walk on! well.. i actually almost did several times during thier performance coz i was the smallest person amongst shit loads of 6 ft tall guys moshing and i could only see two other chicks around me (eleanor was one) lol i got so many bruises haha (in fact i seriously think i cracked a rib..) but i coulda been a lot worse, i had a random guy looking after me so i woodnt get too hurt. he was my hero! awww ;-P
Saffron had a nice story about people helping people through Tool too:
A cute guy asked if he could hold my hand as we squeezed our way out of the main stadium. I said no, I was attached (holding on for dear life lest I be consumed by the thousands of worked up "Tool" worshippers). He smiled and then asked if he could hold H's hand too. Laughter all round. Thing was, he really meant it. The poor lad was just as overwhelmed and fearful of getting stuck as I was. A whole chain of us were clutching at each other, trying to exit, whilst the Tool fans wound themselves into a frenzy.
And also Saffron's pictures. And there are also some good crowd shots which seem to have been taken onstage with Blindspott. And there are some good Tool and Muse pics with all the pretty lights and stuff.
Conscious Effort has a report plus loads of pics and videos of the Tutts, Lily Allen, the Killers, Shapeshifter and others.
Zorran took some nice pictures and got stoned for Jakob.
The Herald had maximum real-time girl-blogging.
Report of an emo kid "getting outta lunch with the grandparents because the only bits of skin he had exposed (hands and face) are burnt as all hell and covered in huge blisters....clearly he hasnt learnt that emo kids need sumblock to cover their pasty whiteness."
Why were the emos crying? "One because they couldn’t believe they were watching My Chemical Romance and two because they were too short to actually see My Chemical Romance."
The Pet Sitter testifies to the fact that it wasn't always easy, especially being around all those middle-aged people with dilated pupils:
I had had such high hopes for this, but by this time I was angry and moody and stuck alone five people from the front of the stage, surrounded on one side by high middle-aged people with dilated pupils and on the other side by tweens who only knew Blister in the Sun but pretended they knew more. I nearly punched this guy in front of me; I think I remember him from last year. He had a fucking ear piercing whistle that he just had to use every five fucking seconds. Then I had a breakdown, found Becky and left. And McDonald's wasn't serving people.
But all in all, you know, it was brilliant.
Some people, however, did eat all the burgers:
After leaving the venue, the boys and I went to get some burger king. anson ordered a triple cheese burger with FIVE extra patties. OHMYGOSH WHATWASHETHINKING THATTHINGISMEGAHUGE. with the use of refillable fanta to wash down the saturated fats and processed carbohydrates, anson was able to amazingly down the whole burger. it was sickening and fabulous in the same time. he says next time he will ask for extra bacon and cheese. probably should add a coronary double bypass surgery with it too. Hey, that makes a great combo.
Apparently it took the best part of half an hour to polish off that burger.