The Big Day Out came back with a bang. Here are the best bits - and one gripe - from a day otherwise full of highlights.

1. Randa shakes the Lake side

The pint-sized Kiwi rapper had the unenviable job of opening the Lake side stage at 12.15pm. Half an hour later, she'd left a trail of canny celebrity references (she turned Dakota Fanning into a hook!), random references (skittles! Battlestar Galactica! Jeff Buckley! Walter White!), brilliantly bassy trap beats and - along with her DJ - some seriously sassy dance moves. Imagine Robyn being thrown into a blender with Q-Tip and the entire interweb and you might come close. We want more. We want gifs, memes and instas. And we want an album. Now.

2. This D-barricade dancer

Before Pearl Jam's set it was surprisingly easy to get into the D-barricade for most of the day - and if you made it there, it's likely you met this guy. No matter who was playing, the hipster hippy was lost in his own little world, and he had just one style of dancing - best described as countrified line dancing crossed with syncronised swimming. Promoters should employ this guy to strut his stuff at the back of every concert there ever is or will be - he was mesmerising.


3. How to recover from a fall
The Naked and Famous returned for a triumphant main stage mid-afternoon set after a couple of years away. But Thom Powers got so excited that during the first riff breakdown in Punching in a Dream he tripped over his guitar lead. Not to worry. The smiles on their faces afterwards said it all: the Naked and Famous have become as relaxed as a beach chair in festival settings, and they proved their latest album In Rolling Waves is made for an event like this. Title track was a hand-waving fuzzball blitzkreig of synths and shouted lyrics that deserve being sung from rooftops. Wonderful.

4. Swedes are funny

As energetic and powerful as The Hives were during their late afternoon set, it was front man Pele Almqvist's between-song banter that really stole the show. He applauded us "hobbits" for multiplying since they were last here in 2006, screamed out things like, "this next song is called YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH" and even managed to get the entire stadium to sit down before a song. With 41,000 people through the gates, that's no mean feat. Oh and ninjas. They had ninjas.

5. Dillon Francis' celebrity dance troupe

With Pearl Jam and Snoop Dogg vacuuming up most of the crowds to the main stages, Los Angeles dance guru Dillon Francis knew he was on a hiding to nothing. So Francis enlisted some A-list help in the form of every member of Major Lazer, including Diplo, and rapper Mac Miller to turn his show into a goofball dance party. The quartet opened with co-ordinated dance moves to TLC's


, jumped off speaker stacks, threw out animal balloons, acted the goat and geniunely had a blast. Only 100 or so people saw it and loved every second. Those who didn't - well, you really missed something special.

6. Arcade Fire ruled, ruled, ruled
Yep, they need 10 of them on stage to create that carnival atmosphere, and their bizarre stage outfits made them look like they'd been dressed by a failed Project Runway contestant with a chip on their shoulder. But wow, how good do Arcade Fire's Reflektor songs sound in a festival setting? Even those that haven't warmed to their indie-rock racket over their past three albums were surely won over after what had to have been the best act of the day.

7. Pearl Jam bring out a Finn

When Liam Finn showed up to help out a rowdy Pearl Jam fire up for


, it gave a nice nod to all those years ago when they bought out Tim and Neil Finn for their 1995 Mt Smart Supertop show for

I Got You


History Never Repeats

. Said Liam mid-song: "Speaking as a child of the 90s..."

8. Deftones played out of their skin
At their two previous Big Day Out showings, the Deftones delivered aggressive but wayward sets that suffered from bad timing with mid to late afternoon timeslots performed in full sun. Not this time. Kicking off in full darkness at 9pm, the Sacramento metallers delivered the kind of searingly aggressive and full-on show everyone knew they were capable of, cramming in a greatest hits setlist that culminated in the brilliant headbanging sludgefest Rosemary and the finale 7 Words. Unbelievably good. Deftones fans can rest easy knowning they've seen them at their absolute and undeniable best.

9. Souped up sound

From the Lake Side's bass theatrics to the crisp-sounding Aroha and Tamaki stages, and the full on power of the main stages, this might have been the best sounding Big Day Out ever. No matter where you stood, no matter how heavy the wind, it sounded great from all angles. And if you stood in just the right place on the hill between Pearl Jam and Snoop Dogg's set, punters were treated to the weirdest grunge/hip-hop mash-up of all time.

10. Lorde's awkward cameo
Diplo promised the Herald he'd be hooking up with Lorde during his trip Down Under, and when we saw the pair hanging out during Snoop's set, we thought something was up. But when Lorde was invited on stage to help Major Lazer, two twerking booty babes and, yes, Mac Miller, out with some co-ordinated dance moves, all predictions flew out the window. Lorde had a look of 'WTF' awkwardness written permanently all over her face. At least she didn't try to twerk.

Lorde on-stage at the Big Day Out with Mac Miller and Major Lazer


Lorde, Mac Miller, Diplo and Major Lazer at the Big Day Out in Auckland



10. Waiting, waiting, waiting

Whether you were trying to get an R18 wrist pass, buy a beer, get some Chow Town tokens, log in for the promised free wi-fi (yeah, cos that worked) or just go to the freaking toilet, you were faced with a looooong wait for most of the day. And when a bottleneck formed at the entrance to the Lake Side stage during Concord Dawn's mid-afternoon set, things got just a little too heated for comfort. Campbell Smith has promised to fix things next time. So yes! There's going to be a next time. Bring it on, because it was the best Big Day Out in ages.

I'm sorry about queues, they were unacceptable. There's plenty to work on to make it better. But overall i think it was an epic homecoming.


* What did you like about the Big Day Out? Post your comments below.