Blog: Live from the Big Day Out

By Joanna Hunkin, Megan Gibb, Edward Gay

Our reporters Joanna Hunkin, Megan Gibb and Edward Gay are at today's Big Day Out and will bring you updates, blogs and photos throughout the day.
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11.10pm, Joanna: Okay, I'll be honest. I didn't quite make it to the end of the Big Day Out.

I tried, I really did. But eventually my weary legs got the better of me.

Besides, it was only two weeks ago I saw Supergroove at the Coroglen Tavern in Whitianga. How different could it possibly be?

For the record, they were awesome then.

So that's it for another year. I am now safely ensconced in my bed having snuck out before the masses.

That's it from me. Word.

10.24pm, Joanna: Right, so when I last left you I was pondering the audience reception to
Bjork.

Having decided the Icelandic pixie was not my cup of tea, I moved on to the Boiler Room where UK DJ Krafty Kuts and MC Dynamite were playing.

We only caught the last ten minutes but we were most impressed by the master sampler.

With a short break until LCD Sound System we decided to work our way to the front of the tent and grab a better possie. After the first three songs we were loving it but feeling it, so decided to bail.

One question plagues us still though - where the hell are those guys from? We thought they were English but the accents would imply otherwise.

$5 to the first right answer...

Back at the mainstage, it seemed the vast majority of people were at the BDO for one thing and one thing only. Rage. Though the crowd stretched as far as the eye could see, it was surprisingly subdued.

Clearly the heat of the day had finally taken its toll.

So, just Supergroove and The Clean left for the night. Will my tired legs survive? At this point, it's looking questionable...

8.40pm, Joanna: Besotted, bewildered or just bored? It's hard to tell. One thing is for sure, the thousands-strong crowd for Bjork is unflinching.

After a colourful entrance, complete with brass band, Bjork emerged in what can only be described as a Mongolian technicolour dreamcoat and headpiece.

From there, it was all downhill. Convinced it must be nearing the end of her set, I was shocked to find we were only 15 minutes in.

As someone said to me, perhaps it would be more poignant if you could understand Icelandic.

Given that I can't, it was lacklustre to say the least.

Hardly a fitting warm up for Rage Against the Machine.

Still, each to their own. As we head into the final two hours, I'm just focussed on reaching the end of the day.

8.17pm, Joanna: So two questions. Can anyone remember a time Shihad haven't played the 7pm slot on the Blue Stage?

Indeed, was there ever such a time? And, When will Jon Too Good finally decide he's too old to strip off mid show?

Don't get me wrong. It wouldn't be the BDO without such antics. But I am curious.

The stadium is now fully packed and amped. Bjork better deliver or there will be some very angry punters to deal with.

7.24pm, Joanna: BREAKING NEWS: Shihad's set has been stopped in an attempt to control the crowd. Too many people have entered the D-barricade and the people at the front are being crushed.

An announcement was made after Arcade Fire for the crowd to move back and to tell people the area was now full.

Less than three songs in, Shihad stopped their set to insist people move back.

The band restarted after a few minutes but the stadium is still crammed full. It is near impossible to move anywhere.

St John's ambulance staff are concerned about the crowd numbers and told the Herald people are being crushed by the masses.

In other news, Arcade Fire delivered a blistering set that is sure to be the highlight of the day. Anyone who can rock a piano accordian and violin clearly deserves special commendation.

The stadium is now a sea of people, constantly swirling but not actually moving anywhere.

6.22pm, Joanna: Quick update - Arcade Fire are amazing. Awesome. Fantastic. Will write more soon. Need to concentrate now and appreciate the show. Best band of the day without doubt!

6.00pm, Megan: Smoke machines and music that sounds like it could come from a Tim Burton film herald the arrival of Brit music outfit Unkle in the Boiler Room. A rockin' beat segues into atmospheric keyboards before the thumping bass kicks in and the crowd begins to move. It's great to see that music that probably created on a computer translates this well to a live 5-piece band's performance. Rythmic guitar riffs over thumping drums and bass continue at a ridiculous sound level for the 15 minutes I can stand the sweatbox that is the Boiler Room. Apt name for the place really.

As I'm leaving I walk out past a coffee bar doing a roaring trade in cappucinos and lattes. I ponder how anyone can drink hot coffee in this weather. Then I walk past an even longer queue at the Indian stall, buying butter chicken and the like. Someone give me an ice block!

Herald photographer is now pondering what he's going to do for the rest of the evening as some cheeky punter tore his photo pass from his neck while he was taking shots of Dizzee Rascall in the Boiler Room.

5.54pm, Joanna: The working day is clearly over and the stadium is packing out. It has become impossible to move between the stage and the media centre so I have resorted to texing updates. Apologies if they are nonsensical.

Pluto are doing a stand up job of amusing the main stage crowd, who are preparing for Arcade Fire. Seas of people have swamped the stands, settling in for the evening's line-up. It's set to be good times all round.

5.03pm, Joanna: Victory! The good thing about having low expectations is eventually you will be pleasantly surprised.

The surprise act of the day so far was American rock outfit Spoon. Their rollicking tunes were fun and danceable, providing a much needed energy boost following Kate Nash's sleep-inducing set.

From there it was on to the dreaded Boiler Room for Dizzee Rascal. He was awesome - for the four songs we could stand the heat. Eventually the sauna-like temperatures got the better of us and we had to abort, as rivers of sweat - both ours and other people's - flowed down our arms and legs. Gross.

A quick trip through the mist tunnel was deemed compulsory before returning to the cool shade of the box.

Now we're listening to the inoffensive rock of Aussie band Grinspoon. It's not bad, but not particularly inspired either. Just somewhere in between.

4.51pm, Megan: An informed source tells me a funny little story about about Die! Die! Die! Their singer, Andrew Wilson, wanted to crowd surf during their set but the bouncer warned him off as he approached, with a hefty punch to the stomach. Wilson managed to slip past the burly bouncer the second time, launching himself into the crowd while still singing. A third time, Wilson went to jump while the bouncer was looking the other way, then realised the crafty bouncer had wound a length of the microphone cord around his arm so Wilson couldn't jump and keep up with the song.

There's currently more people than I've ever seen in the east stand, lingering in the shade. There aren't as many people on the stadium floor either, but from my perch from high in the stands I see a huge crush waiting to get into the Boiler Room to see Dizzee Rascal.

4.17pm, Megan: T-shirt update:

* Even Jesus hates Creed

* Trust me I'm a doctor

* Cheer up emo kid

* But I beat Tom Morello at Guitar Hero!

* Body by XBox

* Good Afterbull Constanoon

* He Man is the coolest

* Russian Roulette Tournament Champion

3.43pm, Joanna: Curiosity led us to Kate Nash but boredom drove us away. The supposedly Lily Allen-esque singer lacked the lippy Brit's charisma and energy and was, quite simply, dull.

We pushed our way through the sizeable but still crowd, but things failed to improve with our closer proximity to the singer. Polite applause followed each song but that was about it. Not what one expects from the BDO.

Our excursion confirmed our suspicions that the media box really is the best place to be. It took more than 10 minutes to fight the crowd through one gate, which involved mashing up against sweaty, smelly, wide-eyed revellers.

Still, nothing ventured, nothing gained. So next it's off to the Boiler Room for a bit of Dizzee Rascal. If he can't get people moving, no one can.

3.20pm, Megan: There's a great response to The Bleeders on the main stage. The guys are all wearing tight blue jeans. It seems black jeans are so last year folks. It's the longest I've stood in the sun all day and I can feel my skin cooking. Time for more sunscreen methinks.

I make it up to the Converse Stage for the first time today to see the end of Kate Nash's set. Or rather, hear her set. I couldn't get close enough to the stage to see much and I'm sheltering in the shade of a food stall. Herald photographer Richard Robinson tells me she looked uncomfortably hot during her performance.

Weather update: Speaking of hot, did I mention it's HOT?. There's barely a cloud in the sky now, and the gentle breeze can only be felt in open places, of which there aren't many in this 45,000+ crowd.

2.33pm, Megan: I have lost the ability to text or call on my cellphone. It seems everyone is having the same problem, so maybe Vodafone is overloaded? Certainly not great when I'm trying to meet up with friends. Shows how much we rely on texting these days. We also lost our internet link, so I have spent the past 40 minutes trying to figure out a better place to file these updates. That involved lots of walking around the stadium and up stairs, which has left me sweaty and disgruntled. I did manage to catch some of the Lookie Loos though, they were cool. Jangly upbeat Brit pop indie rock and a guitarist with disturbingly tight white jeans. Yikes!

2.19pm, Joanna: I have adopted a new favourite Big Day Out pastime: Mullet watching. It's like whale watching, but with a higher strike rate. So far we've seen several variations: The 'dreaded' mullet, the 'mohawk' mullet and the 'greasy, slicked-back' mullet. It's strange because you hardly ever see mullets in real life, but they're everywhere at BDO. Where do they all come from? They must take a long time to grow and I doubt they're cultivated especially for Big Day Out.

The proliferation of mullets is but one of several Big Day Out mysteries we've noticed today. Another is how soft-core, melodious bands like Op Shop (who are currently playing) manage to sound so noisy and tuneless at Big Day Out.

Third mystery: Jeans and bikini tops and singlets with scarves. Do some people's bodies exist in multiple climate zones? Likewise, we've seen several people in hoodies and jeans. What's up with that? Even in the shade I'm a melting pool of sunscreen.

Our final mystery revolves around Emos. We've noticed a large number of those present today aren't as skinny as they used to be. If they're so depressed, shouldn't they have stopped eating?

I'm currently sitting in front of the Super Loops ride. Just watching it is enough to make me ill. Given the vast quantities of sun, beer and junk food being consumed today, it's only a matter of time before someone spews on the crowd below. I won't be hanging around in this spot!

Off to the Essential Stage now to catch Kate Nash - just out of curiosity.

1.47pm, Megan: US band Anti-Flag are on the main stage. They resiliently jump about, despite the heat. And it is HOT. The sun is back, and its almost unbearable. I'm jealous of the couple near me wearing sombreros. Anti-Flag's catchy brand of punk rock is going down well with the crowd, They're good, but their singers' repetitive "Nuuuuu Zeeeeeelaaaaaand" shouts are a bit grating.

I'm heading up to the Local Produce to check out Hamilton band The Lookie Loos. We had a video of them rehearsing the other day, and they seem intriguing. I'll let you know.

1.37pm, Joanna: Phase one complete - it's only taken an hour and a half to get from town, pick up our passes and find the media base. Not helped, I might add, by the Big Day Out staff, who seem to become more incompetent ever year.

En route to the west stand we've already seen:

* One man passed out under a running tap

* Youths arguing over the best time to consume their illicit substances

* Numerous girls in varying states of undress

Just the usual Big Day Out stuff...

I've yet to find my colleagues, but I've learnt from past experience there's no point wandering around in a futile quest. So I'm just going to stay put and let them find me.

I'm currently looking down on Anti-Flag playing a raging set to a relatively small, but hardcore crowd. They're angrily moshing away with fervour. I just hope they take a break soon and save some energy for Rage.

12.51pm, Megan: Weather update: It's mostly sunny with a few clouds hanging around but we've just felt the first spittles of rain. It'll probably evaporate before it hits the ground in this heat!

Food Update: Edward has consumed a $6.50 beef burger. He was dismayed to find it containing only beef - and a bun. I'm excited to see one of my favourite Mexican restaurants, Mexicali Fresh, has a stall here this year. Not so impressed that other stalls are selling cans of Coke for $4.

T Shirt slogan update: Seen so far...

"I'm a bomb technician, if u see me running, try to keep up."

"If anyone asks, this was a sick day."

"Bring back Georgie Pie."

"I listen to bands that don't even exist yet."

This year's style statement: Huge, wacky, bright or 80s sunglasses... or a combination of all three.

12.32pm, Megan: I'm used to seeing Die! Die! Die! in slightly more intimate surroundings, say, the Kings Arms. Nevertheless, the main stag at the BDO suits their energetic and theatrical style. I could do without their trademark feedback through those huge speaker stacks though.

There's the inevitable funny t-shirt brigade - randoms wearing witty slogans on their chests - and those with their hair dyed with food colouring and spiked into mohawks. They'll regret that if it rains! But what always impresses me are the groups of people who all come together in themed dress, like the group of about 10 dressed in shiny LA Lakers uniforms. Or those wearing homemade t-shirts decorated with names written in puffy fabric pens (those in their late 20s may remember them being called 'Fluffits' back in the day).

I've been for a walk up to the Boiler Room in the Supertop, it's about half full with people dancing to a DJ's beats. I'm quite impressed with the constellation of mirrorballs hanging from the roof. Classy.

12.18pm, Edward:The Big Day Out crowd is growing, with hundreds of people still pouring through the gates. James Sturman, sporting a new red mohawk, said he and his friends celebrated with a few drinks last night after all going under the razor.

"I'm not feeling too good, I feel so rough," Mr Sturman said.

It's the second time he's been to the Big Day Out and he's looking forward to the politically infused rock band from the US, Rage Against the Machine.

"I'm here for the big acts but anything really heavy and rocky," Mr Sturman said.

11.37am, Megan: Just saw a ripping set from Antagonist. There's a decent-sized crowd in front of the stadium stage for the Auckland hardcore band who get the crowd moving into a large moshpit despite the heat. Steady on guys, you've got 11 more hours to get your groove on! I can't really blame them. Antagonist are on form. "Don't go all crayfish" singer Sam says, reminding the crowd to "slip, slop and slap" before launching into the metallic riffs of their song Hollywood. I can't help but smile when I see their bassist Josh nonchalantly bat at a beach ball launched from the crowd using his pick hand but not missing a note.

11.10am, Edward: The gates to the 2008 Big Day Out are now officially open. A huge cheer went up as thousands of people streamed into the ground as Antagonist took the Blue Stage.

11.04am, Megan: I went up to the main gates to check on the crush and found a surprisingly relaxed-looking crowd of people sitting on the grass waiting for the alleged 11am gate opening. It's steaming hot already! I'm hanging out in the media room for now, until the action starts. It sounds glamorous, but really it's a concrete bunker with no lights. Ahh well, at least we have out own toilets. Herald photographers Dean Purcell and Richard Robinson are entertaining me with stories of the gecko they found in here last year. Apparently the poor lil fella ended the day without his tail, much to the surprise/concern of the photogs.

10.45am, Edward: Big Day Out goers are trickling through the gates at Mt Smart Stadium. The grounds are nearly empty with a last minute induction of security staff going on in front of the main stage.

The sun is still shining while last minute changes are made to temporary fences and rubbish bins. Sound engineers are inspecting the instruments on the main stage as electric blues pours out over the empty ground from the PA.

10.22am, Megan: There's good news and bad news. The good: It took just 14 minutes in a taxi from the central city to Mt Smart Stadium. The traffic was flowing freely on the motorway, but don't count on that, it may just be because it's still early. Now for the bad: It's muggy and hot, but I think Bob McDavitt might be onto something. There are ominous grey clouds hovering over the stadium.

There's no one in the stadium at present. Being able to have a look around and walk freely is a great feeling. I stand where the goal line usually is and think about how the Warriors are going to go this season... Maybe we can make it to the Grand Finals... a girl can dream... but wait, that's not what I'm here for! Only 40mins till the music starts!!

9am, Joanna: So the big day is finally here... again. Call me jaded but the thought of this year's Big Day Out just doesn't fill me with jubilation. Looking through the day's schedule, there are just a handful of acts that I'm interested in seeing, and even then, the interest is lukewarm at best.

Having said that, the Essential Stage line up is looking solid throughout the day, and I can definitely see myself setting up camp in the sunshine, listening to the sounds of Liam Finn, Kate Nash and Billy Bragg.

This evening it will be off to see Arcade Fire and Bjork - simply to see if she spits the dummy and storms off stage.

Those heading in early today should definitely keep an ear out for Aussie popsters Operator Please (Essential Stage, 11.45am) and Shore boys The Checks (Green Stage, 12.30pm).

My goals for this year are simple. To not get heat stroke; avoid the Boiler Room at all costs (even if it means foregoing Dizzee Rascal); And not to spend the day wandering in circles looking for people.

If I can achieve that, it just might be the best Big Day Out ever.

NB: You won't hear from me for a while as I'm on the late shift and not heading in till 2pm. I haven't just gone AWOL, promise!

9am, Megan: The weather looks great outside, as for the Big Day Out, apparently it's only rained twice in all the years the event has been running. So I'm sceptical when I see Bob McDavitt from MetService is saying there might be rain on the way today. I'll believe it when I see it! I've packed my 50+ SPF sunscreen (It's thick, it's messy, but there will be no sunburn for me today!!) to ward off that blazing sun I'm expecting, plus the usuals, bottle of water (unopened) sunglasses, hat and sensible shoes.

So, now to the hard part - besides actually making it to the stadium in the traffic - who to see, who to see? My line up looks something like this: Local hardcore boys Antagonist (first up at 11.00am) and the Bleeders (2.30pm on the main stage). Brit singer Kate Nash is on at the same time as the Bleeders, not sure what I'll do there. And yep, that's it for my planned schedule. I don't have anyone I'm dying to see this year which is a good thing, it means I dont have to rush around and might be exposed to a few bands I haven't seen and don't know much about.

Oh, PS: Don't forget to send us your BDO photos and reviews tonight or over the weekend!

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