On the ground at the Parachute Festival

Organisers of the largest Christian rock festival in the Southern Hemisphere say they are expecting to break attendance records this year.

With seven stages and more than 100 bands, Parachute '07 got off to a roaring start on the main stage last night, with Auckland's hip hop band Nesian Mystik drawing huge applause.

Tomorrow MPs Bill English and Sue Bradford will host a debate on social injustice, with an estimated 4,000 people expected to attend.

Herald.co.nz entertainment editor Annette Lee is at the festival for the first time and describes the atmosphere:

"It's not often nowadays that you can feel 100 per cent safe but at Parachute 07, it comes pretty close.

"With an estimated 30,000 punters expected on site at Mystery Creek just outside Hamilton, it could be a logistical nightmare, but it isn't.

"And before non-Christians start groaning - no, I haven't seen a single Jesus sandal, no-one's rammed anything spiritual down my throat and last night I even heard someone swearing.

"So take a step back and look at the Parachute phenomenon.

"It's a music festival just like any other and on a par with the more trendy Big Day Out events.

Last night saw a throbbing crowd doing what rock fans do, enjoy the music.

"But, and this is the difference, there was some old fashioned courtesy out there. No pushing, but a fair amount of moshing, no alcohol, but some very "intoxicated" people - happiness being their drink of choice - and it was certainly noisy (now that's me showing my age).

"Even though the Christian tag may not have been so prevalent, you would find yourself looking out at the faces in the crowd as I did during Nesian Mystik's gig and think, 'I want what they're on'!

"So what is it that makes Parachute so popular with Christian and non-Christian alike?

"Auckland bands Nesian Mystik and Mumsdollar took the main stage by storm to a packed audience with My Life Story closing the first night at just after midnight with little sign of the crowd flagging.

"Over the weekend all kinds of people will enjoy the music, the sunshine and the numerous activities onsite.

"Saturday's line-up sees US band 'The Lads' and Kiwi band 'Spacifix' take center stage and on Sunday Kiwi favourite Dave Dobbyn closes the main stage session."

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