Big Day blog

By Megan Gibb, Megan Gibb blogs live from Ericsson Stadium

10.30pm: Detroit band The White Stripes round out my day with their main stage set. Decked out in their trademark red and white style, the huge stage was easily filled by the duo's instruments and some white painted trees. Drummer Meg perched behind her kit on the left, while singer Jack White was front and centre with his piano to the right. There was no sign of the vocal problems that forced the band to abandon their Japan tour two weeks ago, as they rocked though an hour long set. Catchy single My Doorbell tested the crowd's vocal chords and personal favourite Seven Nation Army closed the three-song encore.

Decide I'm too tired to check out Fat Freddy's Drop who have the latest set of the day on the Green Stage, and decide instead to head back into town in search of a decent meal to refuel my weary body.

* * *

9.15pm: Hotfoot it down into the main stadium in time for on of the day's top drawcards - Iggy and the Stooges. Snake hipped singer Iggy Pop does not disappoint. Iggy storms around the stage arms flailing, climbs on amps and writhes around on the ground, all the while screaming out songs from Stooges timeless back catalogue. Iggy seems stoked at the mini invasion from about 10 or so fans who somehow make it over the crowd barrier, run the gauntlet of burly security guards and vault onto the stage for an extended dance party. In fact, he encourages it. Later in the set he gets up close and personal with the front rows, climbing off the stage and running along the space in front of the crowd barrier.

How he manages to climb anything in those tight-as-if-they’ve-been-painted-on blue jeans is beyond me, but he does offer an eyeful of backside cleavage while hes at it. Although much of the crowd weren’t born in the Stooges' punk rock heydey they know a legendary rock performance when they see one and roar their approval.

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8.15pm: The Bleeders' frontman Angelo Munro copes valiantly with sound problems to blast through a energy packed set on the Green Stage. The reason for the move away from last year's main stage spot is unclear, but I'm sure we will be seeing them back there next year after what is sure to be a big year for them. Tracks for upcoming album Sweet as Sin, as well as recent singles The Kill and Out of Time, showcase rock, punk and hardcore influences.

* * *

7:45pm: Somewhat predictably, Henry Rollins started his spoken word set with an apology for George W Bush. He spent the next half hour telling us tales of previous festivals he had played with the "king of rock and roll'' Iggy Pop, the stupidity of America's obsession with guns and how it is important to get out and see the world so we would have "good stories to tell your kids'.' Sounds like something my dad would say.

I know he's not supposed to be a comedian but I kept waiting for some sort of punchline or even some sort of tangible point to the story but it never came. Somewhat disappointing.

Rollins wrapped up early so I had time for a quick trip to the surprisingly clean portaloos. Must be becasue they are so far away from the garden bar. 

Wolfmother, a Black Sabbath-type classic rock band, were up next. I love a bit of Sabbath so these guys style suit me nicely. Tearing around the stage with abandon, the guitarist made use of the whole stage while blasting out gallant rock riffage. Being stuck behind a keyboard didn't limit the keys player who busted out some impressive kicks despite the tightness of his jeans.

Time for a feed I think. The lines for Hell Pizza and Fatima's are too long to risk missing any of the bands soon to appear. Hot chips will have to suffice until I make it home.

* * *

5.45pm: Time to rehydrate and kick back for a bit. I catch up with some friends while the Go Team play the Essential Stage. Eclectic but highly entertaining, the six-piece band from the UK kept up an instrument musical chairs throughout their set. Their peppy front woman (who also took a stint on drums) couldn't help make everyone smile with her unending supply of energy.

For a change of scenery the amusements area is my next destination as I want to see how many brave souls are tackling that waterslide. None, it seems, as it has been shut down. Concerns about flooding from the over-flowing splash pool at the bottom was the culprit.

* * *

5.00pm: Back to non musical attractions. This year sees the return of Tesla Coil Man. Last year he wowed the crowd from his podium on the mainstage field, firing lightning bolts out of the top of his head and more. Remarkably, he seems to have survived 2005 intact and is back to illuminate Big Day Out proceedings with even crazier arcs of electrical madness.

Wonder if Jack White will be heading over to discuss the merits of the Tesla coil with him. White is known to take an interest in the life and works of the coil's inventor Nikola Tesla. A vignette in Jim Jarmusch's 2003 film 'Coffee and Cigarettes' saw White demonstrating a Tesla coil to bandmate Meg.

* * *

4.15pm: Guitar rock dominates the line-up on the main stages today and the next few acts on my list certainly fit that label. Auckland's Cobra Khan, who fit in the hardcore/rock'n'roll sub-set of that definition, give an enthusiastic performance given their slot at the atmosphere-lacking Local Produce stage.

Illinois, USA, metallers Mudvayne draw the goat throwers in the crowd, maybe the only big draw of the day for them. Frontman Chad tries to rev the crowd with lots of cliches: "I want to hear you scream...Can you dig it" and so on. The crowd in front of the main stage still isn't particularly large. Many seem happy enough checking out the sideshows, eating or wandering around aimlessly in the sun. Me included.

Another Auckland band, heavy hitters Blindspott, open their main stage set with well received recent single Yours Truly. A mix of old songs and new from their currently-being-recorded album get a good response.

* * *

2.50pm: BDO veterans, the Living End bring their punk-a-billy style to the biggest stage in the venue. I spend most of their set with my eyes on their entertaining bassist who makes playing a stand-up bass while head banging and foot stomping look easy. I hope the front rows haven't had lunch yet, it might end up money wasted with all the pogoing they're doing.

A question I ponder while sitting in the stands: Why are battered hotdogs still so popular? They look and smell disgusting.

* * *

2.05pm: I must have missed the memo about MC Jean Grae cancelling, which meant the walk up to the Green Stage was unnecessary. Now I have no idea who's playing as my schedule still lists her. Thankfully, the smaller than usual crowd makes for congestion-free walks between stages. I share my confusion with a passing friend who sets me right by explaining End of Fashion are due next.

A person dressed in a huge Duracell bunny suit punches the air, obviously enjoying the garage rockers as they launch into their first number. But I'm not, so I keep moving.

There may be less people but there sure is more advertising. From the person dressed as a piece of cheese, handing out crackers at the entrance, to stickers, balloons, CDs, sunscreen packs, even the back of hotpants, everything has a brand on it.

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1.35pm: Hips are swaying to jazzy percussion-filled grooves in the always aptly-named Boiler Room tent, where a larger crowd is gathered for Sola Rosa. They're good but perhaps they would be better situated outdoors, reminiscent of their inspired set as the sun was setting at the recent Rhythm and Vines festival in Gisborne.

Three massive screens at the front, side and back of the tent make it easier to see the action on stage and they're drawing more and more of the crowd as the set goes on. Many are adding their own smoky "special effects" to the chilled-out atmosphere.

I wander out past a massage tent. The entry cost - a purchase of two Kit-Kats (the sponsor) - will be a small price to pay to rest those aching muscles later on. And get a chocolate fix while you're at it.

* * *

12.30pm: Well, I'm surprised there are not many here yet. Apparently the organisers were a little worried about ticket sales. I wonder how much the crowd will grow as the day goes on.

On the Orange stage, Kiwi band Steriogram's more well-known songs, like Walkie Talkie Man, and White Trash go over well with the small but enthusiastic crowd already in the mosh pit.

* * *

11.40am: When will I learn? Every year I tell myself, this time I'll make it out to Ericcson Stadium early enough to get oriented and see the first acts… having made it to 6 previous BDOs you would think I would have myself sorted by now. And yet…here I am squashing though the gates along with thousands of other punters…(there, now that's out of the way - I promise you won't see the word 'punter' on this page again!) at 11.30am.

My upbeat mood for the day has kindly been set by the guy lounging at the back of the bus this morning whistling Franz Ferdinand's Do You Want To. Maybe he caught their show at the Transmission Room last night.

Downpours yesterday had me nervous, but I'm relieved the day has dawned sunny and warm today.

Judging by the size of others' bags it seems they've brought the kitchen sink with them. Bet they'll be sick of carrying that around by 11pm! I've managed to whittle it down to some key items, including sunglasses, cellphone and cash.

I see the outfit of choice for under 18 females (bikini tops and mini skirts) hasn't diminished in popularity this year. Good luck avoiding a 'wardrobe malfunction' girls! Still, this year they have more reason than before…. Organisers have introduced the Fruju Vibe Slide. The slide, a waterslide 30m long and 7m high is situated near the Green and Essential stages. Organisers have kindly provided changing rooms for those who didn't feel like suffering chaffing from wearing wet togs all day.

Another new attraction is the Silent Disco. Provided with wireless headphones, up to 200 people at a time can get their groove on to music mix transmitted directly to their ears. The concept was launched at last year's Glastonbury Festival in the UK in an effort to get past late night noise regulations. I'm not sure what the point is here, where music from the other stages is sure to keep the residents of Penrose awake into the night.

But enough of the extras, what I'm really here for is the music…so lets get to it!

While I'm not overly enthused about this year's line up, I'm hoping to be surprised by a few of the acts I'm less familiar with, which is why I had a plan to arrive early. Still, here now, and first on the agenda is Auckland punk rock veterans Kitsch, who have landed the opening spot on the site's biggest stage.

* * *

10.00am: Once again, I'm off to the Big Day Out, a year's worth of top international music acts squashed into 12 hours on one site in Auckland.

While disappointed that the band I was most looking forward to, melodic punk band AFI, cancelled several weeks ago, my schedule is highlighted with the following acts: Henry Rollins, Iggy & the Stooges, Wolfmother, Bleeders and Blindspott. Sensing a common theme? It's not hard to schedule an all rock day when so many of the main acts this year are hard rockin' dudes.

Oh all right, I'll be switching it up with a bit of P Money and Common too. Much of my list is featured in the later part of the day, which means I'll have plenty of time to walk around and keep you up to date with what's going on throughout the day. Make sure to keep refreshing the page for updates.

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