Great expectations

By Scott Kara

Rage Against the Machine

Rage hit the stage at around 10.30pm in front of the biggest crowd in Coachella's history. The Los Angeles quartet split up in 2000 - because the rest of the band didn't get along with lead singer Zack de la Rocha - and this was their reunion gig.

Earlier in the night Crowded House got abuse and bottles hurled at them by Rage fans who were getting impatient waiting for the return of their band.

When they did come on, opening with Testify, the crowd celebrated but the band didn't exactly look happy to be there. Then again, this is Rage we're talking about; smiling is not their strength. They prefer confrontation, intensity and revolution. And they delivered.

Apart from one political tirade targeted at President Bush, there was scant talk from de la Rocha - not that the fans gave a hoot. Songs like Bulls On Parade, Know Your Enemy and rampant finale Killing In the Name are still potent fist-raising anthems.

Will Rage attract a bigger mainstage crowd at Mt Smart Stadium on January 18 than Metallica in 2004?

Bjork

Bjork is strange and her concerts are stranger. Let's face it, it's been a while since the world actually got what she was on about - possibly 2001's Vespertine, or even Homogenic in 1997, was the last time.

Don't be surprised if her show goes over your head, just enjoy it.

The Iceland Queen's set, including everything from classics like Army of Me and Hyperballad to new song Earth Intruders off her latest album, Volta, was more like a grand pageant than a gig. It was an extravagant affair, with an all-female brass section, lasers and lights, crazed costumes, and her elaborately composed music and other-worldly vocals.

Her kooky sense of class is exactly what the Big Day Out needs because it will extend the audience from the jeans and T-shirt wearing variety to those who don't mind getting dolled up for the day. You could even wear a skeleton bodice and hula skirt like Bjork did at Coachella.

Arcade Fire

As rock bands go, Arcade Fire are easy to spot - they're the one with violins, horns, xylophones and the violently enthusiastic accordion-playing of founding member Regine Chassagne.

Drawing on a mixture of material from debut album, Funeral, and this year's Neon Bible, Arcade Fire were one of the highlights of Coachella because they were sonic, inspiring and enlivening.

The shimmering No Cars Go with its male-female vocals and all-in "Heys", got the crowd swooning and swaying and the jaunt of Keep the Car Running conjured up a berserk wave of bobbing heads.

They're like an orchestra but far cooler, because they have perfected the art of grandiose rock without sounding outrageous.

LCD Soundsystem

James Murphy, the man behind dance punk outfit LCD Soundsystem, was dressed entirely in white and he looked pretty snooty about being there. Hey, he's from New York and being nonchalant is cool, okay.

Depite his indifference, LCD's set was the biggest party Coachella's Sahara Tent saw all weekend.

The baddest boogie went to Daft Punk Is Playing At My House; he got sentimental on New York I Live But You're Bringing Me Down and the crowd went nuts during North American Scum, from Sound of Silver, one of the albums of the year. Murphy may not be the most enthusiastic host, but he knows how to party.

The line-up so far: Rage Against The Machine, Bjork, Arcade Fire, Shihad, LCD Soundsystem, Dizzee Rascal, Billy Bragg, The Clean, Katchafire, The Phoenix Foundation, SJD, Grinspoon, Cut Off Your Hands, Hilltop Hoods, Paul Kelly, Battles, Young Sid, Antagonist, Motocade, White Birds And Lemons.

Where & when: Mt Smart Stadium, Maurice Rd, Penrose. January 18 from 11am.

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