Big Day Out, Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland, January 15th, 2010

January 18, 2010

Biggest “Made My Big Day” Moment: Dancing with cute Kiwi muso chick Gin Wigmore to Groove Amarda in the boiler room at the end of the night. Well, technically I was dancing with her back. She just happened to be in front of me. But she did accidentally bump into me a few times (her backside touched my frontside), so that’s kinda like making out, or something, right?
It was a nice coincidence, seeing as I had been enjoying watching her on stage an hour or so earlier and found myself thinking: “Oneday, she will be mine. Oh, yes, She will be mine. (So long as my wife’s OK with that…)”

It’s an opportunity I could have easily missed had I freaked out and chickened out of forcing my way into the middle of the boiling supertop tent, which was already packed and spilling over with the converging crowds of the just-finished Muse and Head Like A Hole, who were now looking to end the night with some doof-doof.
It was cool seeing her go from being a performer up on stage to being a Groove Amarda groover down in the mosh just like the rest of us. The people trying take to pics of her while pretending to take pictures of the people around her reminded me that she wasn’t just like the rest of us.

Best Act I Never Saw: Bandicoot. A trio of Kiwi teens. Had never heard of them, so I checked them out on the interweb. Loved them. Wanted to see them. They were on from 10.30-11am. Gates didn’t open until 11am, though. WTF? I guess they got the role of the band that provides the ambient music and sound check while people are outside queuing. I really wanted to see them. Will have to see whether I can see them some other way this year.

First “Hairs-Raised-On-The-Back-Of-The-Neck” Moment: Catching Dimmer in the boiler room. I wasn’t planning to. I’ve been a fan of leadman Shayne Carter since the album Melt during his former Straitjacket Fits days became one of my favourites. But with so many acts on at once, the BDO is all about compromise as to what you catch and what you miss and I’d been fortunate to catch Dimmer opening for the Brian Jonestown Massacre a couple of years back. But then I happened to be passing and ended up with time to spare so popped in to catch the last of their songs. Their onslaught of rock noise blasted my ears and rib cage and drew me right up front for my first proper dance of the day. I’m still only just getting my hearing back.

Best “OK, You Do Rock” Experience: Ladyhawk. Saw her on the televised NZ music awards late last year and her performance was terrible. But I suspected the show’s sound engineering may have played a part in that so I knew I had to catch her live to decide. Her successful brand of retro rock really did rock. Was lucky enough to get up close and danced to her entire set. A guy from work didn’t enjoy her so much because he was stuck right at the back, but I guess proximity determines experience to a large degree.

The “Holy-Fuck-It’s-Bob-Dylan” Moment: Finn Andrews from The Veils.
Seeing The Veils play an awesome set at the Kings Arms Tavern in 2007 signaled my rebirth as a concert goer, so this was one of the bands I had to see again. Fought my way up close. Then it struck me that I’d never really noticed before just how much he looks like a young Bob Dylan. Or a young Jacob Dylan. So much intensity in his delivery. The band (or instruments) sounded a little off though and there seemed to be a little bit of Dylan-esque rekeying and retiming of songs. But I still loved it. And I do likes me a cute chick on bass.

Nicest Little W.T.F. Surprise: Dizzie Rascal. I like Dizzie Rascal, but again, I wasn’t intending to catch him. I couldn’t work out why he was on the main stage – surely he wasn’t a big enough act for it. Belonged in the Boiler Room tent. Boy was I fucking wrong. Walking down the arena stairs and being confronted with what seemed like an entire audience of tens of thousands of people up and dancing to Dizzie was a surreal experience. He went off. I’ve never seen so many people dance like that in one large space before. I gladly joined in and was thankful to catch his last three songs.

Biggest Disappointment: Lilly Allen. Dizzie Rascal did her a big disservice by being so orsum. She was a complete downer by comparison. We were all hyped-up and ready for something special and she took way too long to fire up. Sound set up for her stage also sucked. Still, I did like watching her perform.

The “Well, That’s OK Then” Moment: It was also annoying to see during Lilly Allen’s performance that a bunch of people had commandeered some wheelie rubbish bins and were using them to stand on to get a better view, which blocked the view of all the people behind. Normally I’d pull someone like that off their perch and beat them with an empty plastic beer bottle, but the people getting the better view were a bunch of cute chicks in short jeans shorts, so in this case I was happy to stand behind their behinds and say nothing.

Moment of Ewwwww: Getting to the secondary stage beer cage area about halfway through the day and discovering it had degenerated into a landfill. People had given up putting their rubbish in bins and the cleaners had given up trying to clean it. I joked about making beer angels in the piles of empty beer bottles, but I was definitely just joking.

Moment of Turning A Frown Upside Down: I really wanted to see Gin Wigmore perform. So I did. Loved her. One day, she will be mine. Oh yes, She will be mine. Then there was a rush over to the main stage to see Muse, a big stadium act I really wanted to see. But turns out so did everybody else. By time we got there pretty much every vantage point with a view of Muse was taken. My compadres and I did manage to secure some seats up in the nose bleeds in the eastern stand. I could see them performing and loved their song choice, but the acoustics where we were were so bad that after half an hour I decided I wanted to go see Head Like A Hole instead. I had tried to catch the reformed dirty hard rock Kiwi band last year but missed my chance with the lead singer accidentally putting an axe in his foot. Going into the Big Day Out I figured I’d have to miss them again because of the Muse clash. But I’m glad things worked out as they did because HLAH were fucking awesome. With almost everyone else at Muse, I managed to get right up front and do a lot of jumping up and down with all the Westies who were also there to see them. HLAH came pretty close to starting a riot, with the next act on (Fear Factory) doing a rude non-silent sound check during the HLAH set on the adjoining stage. Some gathering Fear Factory fans also started throwing plastic bottles at HLAH. It was entertaining to watch HLAH front man Booga Beazley throw insults back at them and Fear Factory, then initially refusing to give up the stage at the end of their set. When they did finally say good night, I got some dirty looks from a few Fear Factory fans as I was leaving, which was amusing because, seriously: hahahahahaaaaohyou’resotough.
Then it was off to the Boiler Room and some more Gin Wigmore.

Moment of Thank-God-For-Drugs: My back was screwed the whole week leading up to the Big Day Out. I’d put it out helping my cousin chase sheep around the countryside. (It’s a long story). I feared I’d need a walking stick or Zimmerframe to get around the BDO. But I washed a double dose of painkillers down with energy drinks before going in and managed to get through the day just fine. Probably helped in no small part from the second hand highs from all the weed being smoked. But anyway. I’m not getting too old for this shit.


Dave Dobbyn & Gin, Waihi Beach Hotel, NYE 2009

January 2, 2010

I can’t think of a better way to see in a new year than with a legend of NZ music and one of its young rising stars.

No wait… actually, I can:

A better way would to actually have been inside the outside marquee concert at the Waihi Beach Tavern where Dave Dobbyn and Gin Wigmore were performing, instead of merely listening to them from the cold steps of a nearby caravan.

But I guess that’s what you get when you’ve got three children under the age of six and a legal system that prevents you from leaving them alone to go out and party. Bah.

Music is made to be heard though and at least I could hear them just fine, and they sounded, well, fine.

I initially thought the concert had started three hours early, but then realized that the pub was just playing their albums over the PA system. A little bit of a teaser before the actual thing. A little bit of overkill, perhaps.

Thankfully, the geezas across the road turned off their doof doof music to listen in as well when the concert started for real.
Thankfully the wind was blowing in our direction so we heard it loud and clear.
Unthankfully, it was a cold wind, and — seeing as it was meant to be freakin summer — I hadn’t really brought any warm clothes. So a blanket it was then.

The opening act was Christchurch band, Dukes. I hadn’t heard of them. One of my friends said DUDE, The Rock FM play them ALL THE TIME, but who really listens to the wireless these days anyway, so shutup.

We were drinking Tequila when Gin came on. She built up a great rapport with the crowd and sounded sweet. Bloody brilliant, actually. Am planning to see her for real at the Big Day Out. She closed with her hits Under My Skin and Oh My.

We got our lighters out as Dave Dobbyn came on … to light the mosquito coils.

He’s got such a large back-catalogue of hits to choose from and I thought every song selected was great. The old people from the bach in front didn’t think so though. They went to the concert, but only liked it when he played the two songs they knew.

How can you grow up in NZ and be so old and only know two Dave Dobbyn songs? Seriously?

He had a solid backing band and, as with Gin, it sounded like the sound engineer had got the mix right. The only time things didn’t sound so good were when the police went past with their sirens screaming ever 10 minutes or so to arrest some teenager trying to have a beer on the beach.

It also sounded like Dobbyn got a full crowd singalong near the end when he performed the two songs the old people did know: Loyal and Slice of Heaven. We joined in.

That continued with his farewell song, Welcome Home.

My only complaint was that he was five minutes late with the New Year’s countdown. My watch is synchronized to my work computer, which Bill Gates personally updates, so I knew my countdown was on time. But Dave Dobbyn and his audience were doing their 10-second countdown five minutes after midnight and that’s just plain wrong. Craziness.

Anyway, the great thing about listening to the concert from a caravan is that I could go straight to bed 30 seconds later. It was well past my bedtime, after all.