Big Day Out - NoSpace for i-generation

By Russell Baillie, Scott Kara, Rebecca Barry Hill

Left-field theory as to why the Big Day Out was so popular this year. Yes the line-up covered lots of bases and had some Very Important Bands. But maybe it's this: Music is important again.

Relegated from its central role in pop culture in past years, just maybe it's back in the driving seat care of an iPod-MySpace-digitalthingamy world.

Yes, it's hard to equate that change in consumer behaviour with a teeming Mt Smart Stadium on a hot summer's day - if this was a music website it would be called NoSpace.

But if the toilet queues disappeared over the horizon, it was still a BDO memorable for far more than the controlled crush or the import headline acts, many of whom seemed to be summoning the ghost of Freddie Mercury - whether it was My Chemical Romance's various kitset Bohemian Rhapsodies in their afternoon slot (the Herald review team's still arguing about whether they were the new Queen or just the new Fergie), Las Vegas pop wonders the Killers, or English art wonders Muse.

Talking of Blighty, this was the year of the British invasion. As well as the return of extravagant sci-fi rockers Muse and Brit-hop wideboy The Streets, the day saw a big surge into the Boiler Room for It-Girl Lily Allen while Oasis-heir-apparent Kasabian impressed with a main stage-sized performance on one of the minor stages.

And there was a pronounced influence to everybody from the Killers, to Aussies Jet to the-local-band-we-didn't-realise-was-so-popular, the Tutts.

As for the rest, well that's where, as always, it all gets a bit random:

Best quote of the afternoon: "Look at the emos, they're so happy," - from Aimee, 20, Gisborne, as My Chemical Romance launched into the anthem The Black Parade.

Most distracting visuals: Spank Rock with their kinky, yet slightly censored montage of the famous no-undies shots by Britney, Paris, and the like, from last year. No wonder it was a mashed-up and sweaty set in the early hours of the Boiler Room.

Best animal instincts: Actually, three hairy animals that make up Auckland's Rock and Roll Machine with primal garage rock and a nice wee instrument-throwing tanty at the end of their set on the Local Produce Stage.

Biggest announcement (annoyance): The two young hoons with a megaphone wandering round looking for "Dylan. Are you there Dylan? Where are ya Dylan? Burp." Viral marketing probably.

Best rock you could dance to: Kasabian and their cross between the Stone Roses, Happy Mondays and Oasis. Rock 'n' roll hasn't sounded this groovy in years, geezer.

Potential family tiff: Evermore. Peter Hume, the difficult middle brother, is a wannabe frontman and he could have someone's eye out with all that keyboard throwing about. We blame the parents. However, a sweet dynamic set from the classy expats.

Potential hit single: Scribe's flash new speed-soul song, Tick Tock even if it was played as if someone has a stopwatch on its running time. The hip-hop star and new band also won the magpie award for purloining the riff from White Stripes' Seven Nation Army into Not Many as well as Jimi Hendrix's Hey Joe. But many were left unmoved by his early evening mainstage set.

Most likely to suffer from neck problems in later life: American metallers Trivium who played floury, showy metal that was more about complicated fingerwork than enticing. Their set included a cover of Metallica's Master of Puppets and some major sound gremlins which had the singer shouting to his bandmates that the chorus was up next. You call that a chorus?

Best stoner rock: Or that's how David Kilgour described his low-key but sun-struck and quietly mesmerising set on one of the B-stages with backers the Heavy Eights.

Most disappointing: Not much addictive affection for My Chemical Romance, who played a handful of poppy anthems that never really got going. Might have had something to do with the timid crowd. Or because they simply needed to turn up the volume. Lacked intensity. Needed to project more.

Best mouth: Lily Allen. A lot of lip from such a small girl. With her calypso band and witty rhymes about exes, she was a big presence in a packed Boiler Room.

Best hip-hop: Lupe Fiasco. The Chicago rapper, also here for the first time, opened with his most famous recording, Kanye Wests' Touch The Sky, in what was a vivacious performance. Most of the Boiler Room had emptied out to see the Killers but that didn't stop him from making an incendiary performance.

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