Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Big Day Out 2009


My 9th Big Day Out demanded the wearing of my Big Day Out '94 T-shirt and armed with goodies for the day I headed off from my favourite parking spot to see what the day would produce. Small queues greeted me and as gates opened, it would be fair to say people didn't pour in. Still crowds built as the day went on.

An Emerald City
First up on the Green Stage was Bionic Pixie - at times reminiscint of an electro Ting Tings - this robo pop had plenty of lyrics about plastic this and that. It had its moments, though they were few. Bang! Bang! Eche! were next on the local produce stage and the local B-net winners gave it 100%, impressive chaotic rock. Watch for these guys. After catching the tail end of Quay St. Social Club on came An Emerald City in the dance tent - how impressive were they? I knew nothing much about them but the heady mix of heavily Asian-influenced fusion rock was one of my enjoyable surprises of the day. A brief look through the fence at The Wellington Ukele Orchestra ended as I headed off to see The Naked & Famous, who I totally rated.


First mainstage act I caught was The Black Kids, the lead singer has a voice remarkably like Robert Smith of The Cure and the band's sound is not unlike the Go! Team, though more pop, less chaos. Pretty tame stuff, but moments of promise - Not gonna teach your boyfriend how to dance was a good finish. Elemeno P then showed why they are one of New Zealand's top pop/rock bands, finally getting the crowd moving with some classic kiwi tunes like Urban Getaway, 11.57 and so on.


The Ting Tings drew an enormous crowd to the top field and I was keen to see how they would pull off their songs. As a two-piece I thought they'd have their work cut out, but they pulled off a great set of songs from their 2008 album such as We Walk, Shut Up and let me go, Fruit Machine and the crowd favourite That's not my Name.

I went next to the mainstage again and caught Pendulum doing their stuff on the mainstage. A fusion of rock & drum and bass these guys threw themselves into it and the massive crowd they pulled were well pleased. Not really my scene, but what they did, they did well. Following Pendulum came TV on the Radio - this was what I was looking forward to the most, Dear Science being my best album of 2008. Expectations were high and I suppose that's always dangerous, bits of the set were lost to me at times but some songs worked a real treat A Wolf Like me was brilliant, as was Staring at the sun and the songs off Dear Science seemed to be carefully chosen for the live performance. An important band, great to see, maybe would have been even better in the dance tent?


TV on the Radio

The Datsuns then hit the stage to blast out a range of great retro-rock tunes. Four albums in and the hype disappearing, I still love these guys. I then went up to the Green Stage to see My Morning Jacket - these guys were one of my other big draw cards for BDO. The album Z was one of my favourites a few years back and though the album Evil Urges has it's moments, it doesn't quite have the same appeal. Still, live the songs came through well, even if the stage presence was less than engaging (it took me a while to work out the lead singer was actually on the stage - with guitar, to the right). He did do a cape, vampire type thing later on?! Some people would hate the singers voice and the bands blend of alt-country-rock. Not me, I rate them. They were better than the Mint Chicks, who again disappointed me - though less than the other times I have seen them. I always go expecting to be blown away, the hype that follows their live performances is well known, I always leave wondering when I might just give up on them. There were some gems, and I did enjoy Blue Team Go at the end, before the overstayed their welcome and got cut-off. Cue The Black Seeds who led the crowd through a fun set of new tracks off Solid Ground along with some older favs. Predictable, but solid.


Artic Monkeys took the mainstage at 8pm and fired through a similar set to the Tuesday night's gig and appeared as comfortable on the festival stage as they did at the Town Hall. A great show. Then came my big surprise, Neil Young. The guy has never done much for me, despite the adoration he demands. However, he stormed through a bunch of hits like Cinnamon Girl and Hey Hey My My, wooed the crowd with a great acoustic set which included hits like Heart of Gold. You knew you were witnessing something special, fan or not.

video
Neil Young - Heart of Gold ( a snippet)

To end the night I went with half of BDO to witness the irresistable antics of The Prodigy - these guys produced huge sound with killer tracks that the crowd loved Breathe and Spitfire went off. I didn't catch it all as I really wanted to see the reformed Headless Chickens and managed to finish the night listening to songs like George, Gaskrankistation & Choppers. These guys really created ground breaking music back in their day - but they were looking old!

So ended the day - nothing completely mindblowing but everything consistently good and this made for a great Big Day Out.

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