Rebecca Barry: Helping the aged get down

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Let's be honest. The Big Day Out is a young person's gig. A whole day in the sun or rain, listening to loud music while drinking as much beer as the heat allows, as you rub yourself against the sweatiest people this side of Fat Bastard may not be the ultimate pastime for those with more in common with hip ops than hip-hop.

So is it just us or is the line-up particularly well qualified this year? Experienced? Dare we say it - old?
It's not the first time bands from yesteryear have lit up the BDO stages, but you have to wonder if whoever's doing the bookings is still living in the early 90s.

After all, will the teens know the words when Rage Against the Machine, Supergroove and the Clean perform?
Okay, so Arcade Fire aren't exactly knocking on heaven's door with an average age of 27.5, although they did call their first album Funeral, and Win Butler sounds pretty convincing singing My Body is a Cage.

But a quick glance at the other headliners' birth certificates - all right, their birthdays according to Wikipedia - suggests it won't be hot chicks and beer backstage, but chiropractors and Pimm's. The later in the day, the more oldies come out to play.

Arcade Fire are followed on the Orange Stage at 8pm by Bjork, who turned 42 in November, yet still enjoys ripping men's shirts from their backs.

Even the members of Battles, the one band who sound young enough to have come from the future, are pushing 40.

Surely us Kiwis will inject a little yoof into proceedings? Not when you consider that OpShop, Katchafire, Shihad, Pluto, Supergroove, Tiki Taane, SJD, Dick Johnson and Dam Native are all over 30 - the Clean, who are last on the Essential stage at 10pm, have an average age of 47.5 going by brothers Kilgour alone.

And although Liam Finn and Kate Nash are practically still in school, they'll be sharing backstage sweat towels with Billy Bragg, 50, and Paul Kelly, 52. Is this really the Big Day Out? Or Sweetwaters?
Yes, there's still the Boiler Room - the dance tent where the wrinkle-free and midriff-baring roam. Surely the peeps spinning those cutting-edge tunes are yet to sip from the fountain of senility?

Well, other than Dizzee Rascal, who at 22 has been relegated to the pre-bedtime slot of 3.45pm, and Scribe ("my old man" to his son), it's a downward slide into middle age. Krafty Kuts' Martin Reeves, 30-something, is at 8pm; LCD Soundsystem's James Murphy, 37, is on at 9pm; and Carl Cox, 45, closes things with a 90-minute set from 10pm, by which stage we'll be dreaming of a nice cuppa tea and wishing someone would turn that bloody racket down.

Perhaps it's no coincidence that Mt Smart's huge new east wing has been designated to the VIPS, accommodating all seasoned BDO-goers who'd rather not queue for the loos or digest their chicken and pesto paninis in the moshpit.

Is there still a machine to rage against? Or is there a far more silly scenario unfolding? Check out these bands on the bill - Supergroove, Spoon, Grinspoon, Lookie Loos, Kool Keith, Cool Wise Men and Hilltop Hoods - and tell me it's not a double-O conspiracy.
Of course, age is just a number, experience pays, good music is timeless and all those cliches.

Which is another reason for older Big Day Out-goers to stay up until The Police play Western Springs the following night. Does Sting have a sting in his tail at age 56? Who still pays Roxanne for her services? And when will the band change the words to Every Breath You Take Is Closer To Your Last?

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