BIG DAY OUT 2011

It’s still feeling peculiar writing ’11 for the year. I guess that tends to linger until the end of the summer. Which is creeping alarmingly close, actually. January’s really disappeared rather quickly.

But this blog is not to whine about my perception of time. Nay, this entry is about something far more exciting. For last Friday was the Auckland stop off the Big Day Out. And, unsurprisingly, I was there. It’s become my rule of thumb that if I’m in the country, I go to BDO, because there will always be some bands I love, even if I don’t know it yet. This year’s major drawcard for me was Ms Mathangi “Maya” Arulpragasam, AKA the supergoddess M.I.A.

But that’s getting ahead of myself, really, if I want to describe the day in any kind of chronological fashion. I didn’t go for the queuing for the gates to open approach that I’ve taken a couple of times in the past, since the first band that came under the Need To See heading was The Greenhornes, who weren’t on until after midday. So I turned up around eleven, and caught a little bit of the Kids of ’88 (latest Big Thing in NZ techno-pop), enough to hear a song that I knew, anyway, and the second part of Luger Boa‘s set (although I thought I was listening to Die! Die! Die! – oops) – and then it was time for The Greenhornes. I managed to get a pretty decent front-and-centre type position, and they killed. I haven’t listened to much of them later, but circa ’07 I was pretty into them, what with their Jack White affiliations and the fact that they featured heavily on the soundtrack for Broken Flowers, and I was in my I WANNA BE INDIE SO BAD phase. I was suitably impressed, and intend to reintroduce myself to them.

The day progressed. CSS were adorable, and I’m madly in love with Lovefoxxx. The Silent Disco was fun, for ten minutes or so. What I heard of the Deftones was pretty decent, likewise Wolfmother. The Black Keys regrettably didn’t make it to BDO in the end, so they were off the menu, but Shihad‘s playing through of The General Electric was badASS. Pacifier is an amazing crowd song, it has to be said, and Jon Toogood has some serious flair.

Thennnn a little bit of Iggy and the Stooges was experienced, but we had migrated further up into the stands by this point as the heavens had decided to open. I’m not entirely devastated by this, as I saw them a few years back. C’est la vie. So instead of kind of experiencing them from a vague vantage point, I decided to bail and went to check out The Naked and Famous. I’d seen them open for Florence + The Machine back in August, at the time only knowing one song, and since then they’ve released an album and revealed themselves to be Thoroughly Excellent. Their cover of The Mint Chicks’ Crazy? Yes! Dumb? No! was a little overlong, but cool nonetheless.

Post TNAF was Sia. Sia’s one of those musicians I know I should listen to and like, but to be honest, I haven’t really done so yet. I stayed for the first couple of songs, and she was adorable, but I had been informed by all and sundry that Rammstein was a set not to be missed. Pyrotechnics are always a good drawcard. So upon my return to the main stadium stages, I joined the crowd, and was blown away. They were beyond epic, even pyrotechnics aside. I’m currently doing some serious Rammstein investigation, and since many of my uni friends are of somewhat metal-oriented music taste, I’m in good company to learn more. Du Hast was the only song of theirs that I knew in advance, and when they played it the crowd at large went a little cray cray. It was awesome.

Tool were next, and I saw quite a bit of their set, both from ground level and up by the Summit Bar. And although big fans have said their performance this year wasn’t as good as concerts past, I was still impressed, and am also in the process of investigating them. New musics FTW! BUT. Viewing of Tool was cut short because starting at the same time they finished, but over in the Boiler Room, was the aforementioned M.I.A., and crowd permeation was all too necessary.

I had seen M.I.A. once before, at Coachella ’09, and she was spectacular, but I didn’t really know her music beyond Paper Planes, and since she was on the Coachella main stage, the experience was mostly had on the big screens from afar. This time around, with The Boyfriend’s skills and company, we were about two metres from the stage. Can I get a ‘HELL YEAH’?

She looked smoking hot – unfortunately I brought my new little Samsung camera with me which has proven absolutely shocking at managing unblurred concert photos, so I don’t have any of my own to share, and the internet is proving less than fruitful at this point in time. Alas alack. But she did. Let me tell you. She has a fine pair of legs, does Ms Maya. Aesthetics aside, she was in fine form, and the setlist was varied and awesome. She opened with The Message, appropriately, and it was excellent. Bamboo Banga was amazing, Galang filled me with glee and dancey dancey funtimes, Born Free was full-tilt  awesome, and Paper Planes was, of course, hugely crowd-pleasing. It would have been enhanced if she’d played Bucky Done Gun, Jimmy & XXXO, but still.

For the entirety of her set, I think, it was pouring down outside the tent – which kind of made me retract every feeling of malaise I’d had towards her being put in the Boiler Room. We were still damp from sweaty Boiler Roomness and the water spray, but not freezing like the rain had brought upon us all earlier in the day.

I’m not sure if it managed to top BDO ’08, because, I mean, Bjork. And Arcade Fire. But between Rammstein and M.I.A, and others too, there was some seriously amaaaaaze musical action occurring at Mt Smart this year. I’m still debating whether I’ll go to the Laneway festival on Monday – probably not – but either way, it’s been a stellar start to 2011’s musical offerings. Woo!

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