Big Day Out - best of the day

By Russell Baillie, Scott Kara, Joanna Hunkin

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It may have been a Big Day Out where the headliner's legacy stretched back to Woodstock but, funnily enough, it was a day for the kids. Even if the number of young ones was down on previous years because of old-timer - and rock legend - Neil Young being last on the bill, there were still plenty of big kids, older kids, and hey, lots of grandkids too.

It was a well-balanced crowd, like New Zealand's biggest music festival was getting back to its early 90s alt-rock roots. That meant a line-up featuring more rising Brits, fewer superstar Yanks, more gals, and a local line-up with a few less hardy perennials. Young is Canadian, of course. It was another stunner, and here are some of the best bits.

BEST PARTIE STARTERS
American disco party rockers Black Kids had their work cut out for them playing an early afternoon set but soon warmed the crowd up with some hip-shaking tunes from their debut album Partie Traumatic. Special mention to band members Ali Youngblood and Dawn Watley, for bringing a double dose of girl power to a usually testosterone-filled day.

BEST DOUBLE-ACT
And possibly a Big Day Out first. Long-haired lout Evan Short played guitar for metallers Subtract, the opening band on the main stage, and then strode to the other main stage, picked up his bass and gutsed it out with rowdy punks Cobra Khan straight after.

BEST GROUP HUG
Luger Boa's Jimmy Christmas jumping off the speaker stack, throwing his arms around drummer Beaver Pooley - also from his old band D4 - and not letting go until the end of the band's last song. So sweet. Also winner of best banter, Christmas footnoted the song Mutate or Die - which includes the line "We are all monkeys" - with the proclamation, "Other bands sing about girls they can't get. We sing about evolution." And was that Alistair Riddell's old Space Waltz scarf he was wearing with Marc Hunter's old blouse? Mr Christmas has undergone a sartorial change for the elaborate since his denim days in D4.

BEST BLONDIE
British newcomers The Ting Tings may only have released their debut record in July last year but their contagious brand of dance pop took over the top field as a capacity crowd squeezed in for a mid-afternoon boogie. Of course it helps that frontwoman Katie White is the most charismatic - and smokin' hot - rock chick to have graced these parts since Debbie Harry last stopped by. Armed with a fluoro green and pink microphone, White proved she's not just a pretty face, rocking out on a guitar, keyboard, marching drum and cow bell. Skills.

BEST, ER, PUBLIC ADDRESS
P-Money fancies himself as an MC now. "You guys are the shit. I'm not done yet. I got some more." Where's Scribe when you need him? Still, he got the party started in the Boiler Room with a set of everything from Michael Jackson's Got To Be Starting Something and Daft Punk's One More Time along with more than a few of his own.

BEST CROWD COSTUME
The girl wearing nothing but her underwear, chaps, and a kinky devil's tail. She'd just been sitting down on the grass and even had lawn imprints on her bottom. Crazy? Yes! Dumb? No!

BEST FREE SAUNA
It was hot, until it clouded over ever-so-slightly, and around the time of State Of Mind in the Boiler Room at 1pm the masses headed to the tent to escape the heat and instead turned it into the country's biggest mass sauna ever.

BEST SUMMONING OF THE SPIRITS
Tiki's set-ending conch call and haka. Pre-European drum'n'bass bro, it's back in style, and better than any of that modern day Australian drum'n'bass in the main stadium. And man, some sweaty spirits sure turned up too.

BEST BAND WE WOULD HAVE LIKED TO SEE SOMEWHERE SMALLER
The big question with New York freaks TV On the Radio was: how will they pull off their sound live? Well, at first they didn't. It was a messy wash of noise, as it is at times on the main stage. But they came right for current hit Golden Age and the propulsive beauty Wolf Like Me. But just imagine if they were playing on the top field at 7.30pm!

BEST BAND THAT WE SAW SOMEWHERE SMALLER
My Morning Jacket, the rootsy Southern American art-rock outfit who were all over the shop, style wise, but what a neatly eccletic outlet it was, part funk emporium, part art gallery, part tumbleweed bar Some of the guitar stuff had us shouting us requests for "Freebird!" but shaggy frontman Jim James was a sideshow in himself, especially with his James Brown-tribute cape choreography. They started out a little tenative but wound up delivering a bigger better rock weird-out than the more highly touted Tv on the Radio.

BEST PRODIGY SONS
Who knew Aussie techno-metal was so big? Pendulum, with their stadium-pounding, shouty, black-T-shirted drum'n'bass, created the day's first mass movement and the biggest daylight crowd in recent memory. They induced an urge to wave their hands in the air like they just don't care (in everyone else), or an urge to play video games - really fast, violent ones (in us).

BEST REPLACEMENT SHIHAD
For what seemed like the first time ever - but was actually the third time in the festival's 14-year history - Shihad weren't on the line-up this year. Instead, Cambridge's finest, The Datsuns, filled the late afternoon slot, placating the crowd's desire for some dirty, long-haired headbanging. Dolf didn't follow John Toogood's tradition of getting shirtless but was otherwise a fine replacement.

BEST CARBON COPY
Local lad-done-good-overseas Zane Lowe got snapped spinning the exact same tunes, in the same order, with same stops and segues, as his previous night's set at the Powerstation. Come on Zane, mix it up for the homecrowd. We don't get to see you that often, show us why you are the BBC's star spinner. As it was, Lowe saw the boiler room temperature drop to a simmer.

BEST SOLO SET BY A LEBANESE-AMERICAN-KIWI
Former System of a Down frontman and now Kiwi resident Serj Tankian was up there like a ringmaster in his top hat, delivering a set which included everything from bad jokes to flamboyant operatics and rampant metal. We'll take him as one of ours.

- additional reporting by Joanna Hunkin and Russell Baillie

- NZ Herald

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