Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: The Big Day Out, Auckland, 2009

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  • Geoff Lealand,

    ...you are just teasing us again...8 seconds of "...I've been to Hollywood, I've been to Redwood. I've crossed the ocean for a heart of gold...". Those of us who didn't get to BDO need MORE!

    But pleased you enjoyed it so.

    Screen & Media Studies, U… • Since Oct 2007 • 2311 posts Report Reply

  • anth,

    The Headless Chickens were great, the highlight of the BDO for me. We should have stayed around for more of Neil Young rather than going to see Fantomas though.

    My wife liked Bullet for my Valentine and Arctic Monkeys, which I though a little odd because usually our musical tasts mathc a bit better than that. I guess they were OK

    Since Nov 2006 • 77 posts Report Reply

  • Jackie Clark,

    I've said it before, and I'll say it again. I've never been to a BDO yet, and each year, I think - maybe this is the year, and each year, I think - there's only a couple of acts I would want to see, and let's face it, I'm not exactly the BDO demographic. It's a young peoples' game, largely, isn't it? Loud music, and mashing and stuff. And yet. And yet, people like Neil Young come to play there. And aren't music festivals the place those acts are made for? So this year, for the first time, yes, I am regretting not having made the effort. Maybe next year.......

    Mt Eden, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3123 posts Report Reply

  • Grant McDougall,

    So Luger Boa resembled The Saints, huh ? Well, the real deal were pretty bloody impressive yesterday at All Tomorrow's Parties, on Cockatoo Island Sydney.

    The Island was a great venue, a short ferry ride there, before having a good nosey around it. Over the years' it's been a prison, reform school and boat-building yard.
    There were four venues (one big, one small, two medium) scattered around the island.
    After a look at the Louis Wain art exhibition (psychotic cats, etc), it was time to check out the first bands...

    Hunter Dienna played swooping pop music, good but nothing truly amazing. The Stabs are an abrasive Melbourne trio, they resembled The Gordons, so I was sold on them from the word go.

    On the main stage, Bridzilla, who were until a few months ago a schoolgirl band, played very twisted pop, but without guitars, utilising sax, violin, drums and bass. The actor, Jack Thompson, came on and guested on harmonica for their final song, which was a cool little bonus.
    The Holy Sea were a perfunctory, melodic pop band; capable, but nothing else beyond that. Beaches were an all female quintet (three guitars plus rhythm section; they play intense pop songs which really took off when all five sung in unison.

    Conway Savage, Bad Seeds pianist, played an impressive set of stripped-back, melancholic ballads.

    Up on the main stage, Hoss played dirty, fuzzy, swamp rock.

    Around on the (medium) Shipbuilders Stage, I saw Japanese duo Afrirampo give the first truly stunning show of the day. Using just drums and guitar they played truly warped fuzz-rock, that had all manner of bizarrre arrangements withen each song. The singer / guitarist hollered away brilliantly, while the singer / drummer went totally mental.
    Their set finished with them going into the middle of the crowd, setting their drums up there, pounding away and getting everyone to chant along. It was goddamn magic, some of the best original music I've heard in years.

    On the main stage, US trio Dead Meadow let rip with some solid, blasting, psych-rock.
    Back on the Shipbuilders Stage, Harmonia made the whole trip worthwhile. As a major krautrock fan, I never thought I'd ever, ever see these three men. And they did not let me down. MIchael Rother effortlessly hit into his motorik guitar groove, while Roedelius and Moebius laid out their legendary electro-grooves. They were, it mut be said, transcendent.

    A reformed Laughing Clowns were just as stunning, their eerie post-punk / jazz really came across strongly and seeing them proved that Ed Kuepper is one of the most under-rated guitarists ever, while Louise Elliot played some very spooky sax lines.

    I caught a bit of Robert Forster (great version of 'Quiet Heart'), before going to the small stage to see former Birthday Party guitarist Rowland S Howard. The guy's as skinny as a rake and has a voice flatter than three-day-old lemonade, but it was entirely appropriate to the serated, direct songs. The guy's guitar lines are still utterly unique, as well. As with Harmonia, someone I never thought I'd see and he lived up to his reputation, too. Mick Harvery played drums for him, incidentally.

    I caught a slice of The Necks delivering their drony, minimalist jazz, sounded pretty good.

    Back on the main stage, The Saints were a pleasant surprise. I'm not overly familiar with their material, but they hit the sweet spot nicely. Chris Bailey's a hell of a front man, while Ed Kuepper again proved to be worth his salt. Great version of 'I'm Stranded' which the crowd went mental at.

    Then it was Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds; this was the third time I've seen them over the years and, again, they did not let me down.
    Cave was even more OTT than usual, while Warren Ellis's contributions on guitar and violin really flesh out the songs magnificently. Plus, it must be said, Thomas Wydler is one hell of a drummer. They manly played songs from Henry's Dream, Let Love In, Dig Lazarus Dig and selected '80s classics like 'Tupelo' and 'Deanna'

    Around on the Turbine stage, Silver Apples poured out their proto-electronica; as with Harmonia, this was weird grooves at their best, plus Simeon's languid voice really suited the songs and general atmosphere.

    It'd been a hell of a day / night and I made my way to the ferry, very, very delighted with what I'd seen.

    Dunedin • Since Dec 2006 • 606 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    As a rule, it would be practically impossible for any band called Bullet for My Valentine to actually be good: it’s just such a complete loser name. And so it proved.

    I was hugely entertained by their shittiness because they were so humourless and 80s-Iron-Maiden-y. They actually headbanged in unison, for goodness' sake! I spent most of their set in hysterics. Bless.

    Jackie, I encourage you to go sometime! I am totally Oldy McOldster and my husband is perilously close to 40. I was not wearing anything like the Official Female Uniform of the BDO (bikini top, short-shorts and a headband), and I'm sure we both looked very silly dancing around to Simian Mobile Disco, but at some point you've just got to say 'fuckit' and go forth and rock! Or something.

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3656 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Jackie, it isn't easy for those of us over 40 -- we were joking at one point about how the whole thing is an exercise in self-abuse -- and I'm lucky enough to have a lounge to retire to at crucial times. According to Sofie in another thread, the Summit Bar seems to have been a good place to chill this year.

    There were one or two oldies looking somewhat alarmed to be cast amongst tens of thousand of munted youths before Neil Young, but it's really quite a safe place these days. They make drinking alcohol difficult at the BDO for a reason ...

    Also -- and I meant to put this in the post above -- there was a view abroad that the more mellow vibe this year was partly down to the absence of BZP-based party pills. I certainly saw far fewer taut, strained faces.

    The big thing was that, pricewise, seeing Neil Young at the BDO cost about the same as seeing him at his own show would have. It was quite a deal.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18884 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    I detect a distinct dissonance between this report and the views of most of my friends. Anyone who has been around for a while knows the only reason a promoter would "limit" a venue to 5,000 less than its capacity would be to avoid the embarrassment of it being reported that his crap line was being punished by a significant no-show. Promoters will always jam another few hundred in if they can get away with it, it is the nature of the beast.

    Which isn't to say everyone didn't have a good time. It is just to say that thousands of people interested in music didn't go to this years BDO because they thought the line up was the minimum a complacent promoter thought he could get away with and still sell-out the venue.

    Hate to be a bit of a curmudgeon, but this year the emperor had no clothes.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1806 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    In some sense I feel the same about Burning Man - I don't have to see everything - I've learned to take it easy and not push myself during the day - lying in the shade and drinking is a perfectly great way to spend the day if you're with friends - I certainly don't have the stamina of a 20 yr old anymore, I can't stay up all night to dawn for a week no matter what substances are floating around

    We've decided that hanging back in the shade and watching the 20-somethings work into their heat stroke is more entertaining .... every so often one wanders into camp with a story like "I had an argument with my girlfriend, and then I met this hot chick, and I spent the night in her tent, I went out for a pee and couldn't find my way back, and I need my clothes, my girlfriend's car keys are in the pocket ...." and one of us gets to play surrogate parent (that was a real story)

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2152 posts Report Reply

  • Mark Easterbrook,

    I was blown away by the sense of reverence and respectfulness that descended once Neil Young was in full swing - up in the East Stand where we were sitting, it was like the whole crowd was leaning forward in their seats, hanging on every note. It was absolute magic, and I can die happy having seen Cortez the Killer performed live, and beautifully.

    Not sure about the rest of the day. Having my lovely wife along, who is 6 1/2 months pregnant, we went later (4pm) and steered away from the crush of the Boiler Room. We stuck to the 4 main stages, and it was...okay. TV on the Radio was, sadly, like listening through a wall of porridge. My Morning Jacket seemed a bit all over the place, great moments here and there. The Mint Chicks sounded fun, but I think you needed to be right up the front. The popularity of The Living End, like Powderfinger, is one of the great enduring mysteries of the BDO. And The Arctic Monkeys never seemed to quite fire properly, and their cover of Red Right Hand probably seemed like a good idea in the rehearsal room, but...

    Regardless, $130 for 90 minutes of classic Neil Young was worth every cent. Everyone, from the genuine old hippies, to the 30 something hipsters, to the cool kids, to my as-yet unborn son, was loving it. He kicked his way happily through the whole set.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 244 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Which isn't to say everyone didn't have a good time. It is just to say that thousands of people interested in music didn't go to this years BDO because they thought the line up was the minimum a complacent promoter thought he could get away with and still sell-out the venue.

    Hate to be a bit of a curmudgeon, but this year the emperor had no clothes.

    Really? Big call from someone who didn't even go, Tom.

    Yup, I suspect that the reduced capacity was indeed making a virtue of necessity. Perhaps if they'd headlined with some machine-rock act that was big with the kids they'd have done better. But then it wouldn't have been such a good day.

    And with tickets for the likes of Coldplay and Leonard Cohen topping $170 and The Who starting at $130 (and going up to $300), $130 for a truly brilliant Neil Young show plus whatever else you fancied seems a good enough deal to me.

    As I said, I was actually really pleased with the quality of music I heard, and Neil Young was quite possibly the best show I've ever been to. I hope you had a pleasant evening at home.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18884 posts Report Reply

  • dc_red,

    and Neil Young was quite possibly the best show I've ever been to.

    No mean feat! A bugger I'm out of the country, would have been great to catch Old Neil, and, as you say, anyone else who caught my fancy.

    Oil Patch, Alberta • Since Nov 2006 • 706 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Not sure about the rest of the day. Having my lovely wife along, who is 6 1/2 months pregnant, we went later (4pm) and steered away from the crush of the Boiler Room. We stuck to the 4 main stages, and it was...okay.

    Yes, take away the Boiler Room and you missed a bit -- Hot Chip were right up there with LCD Soundsystem's show last year. And if you didn't see the Ting Tings or Pendulum you missed two of the most fun outdoor shows.

    But I gather the Dropkick Murphys pleased thousands of punters while Neil was playing. They mean pretty much nothing to me, but it's nice that they did it for their fans. Ditto for Fantomas and Serj Tankian, whose charms are similarly lost on me.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18884 posts Report Reply

  • Josh Addison,

    I wonder if any of you BDO-goers can solve this mystery for me:

    I live on Mt Smart Road, and on Friday night - about when the BDO was getting out - a car came driving past my house playing "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" at full volume. Over the course of the next couple of hours the same thing happened another three times. So either it was one car driving around the neighbourhood with the same Cyndi Lauper song on loop for hours at a time, or four different cars all happened to have the same tune blasting out at the same obnoxious level on the same stretch of my street.

    Was this some sort of promotion? A radio contest, where if the right person hears you playing that song, you win a prize? Or were they just cocks?

    Onehunga, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 297 posts Report Reply

  • Julian Melville,

    I'm going to differ quite a bit then - I loved the Living End, haven't seen them for 11 years and they played a decent set to not enough people. The crowd wasn't big enough but at the back left of the stage you could see a bunch of the other bands (Dropkicks, Bullet For My Valentine) boogying along.

    Hot Chip though -- yeesh, we stayed for a few minutes through what sounded like the short-haired bloke having a piano lesson and left in a hurry for the stage next door.

    My favourite bit of Pendulum was that the crowd was so big you could clearly see the ripple as the sound waves went out - the folks at the back were leaping up and down at quite a different time to the folks at the front. I'd love to get a hi-speed video of it.

    Auckland • Since Dec 2006 • 184 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    The Who startingat $130

    I think that's for seated? GA is $98 or something.

    (Mark, I wonder if I saw your lovely wife? There was a gorgeous pregnant person wandering around the main stage area at some point...)

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3656 posts Report Reply

  • Jen Ferguson,

    All I can say is: LILYWORLD. Miles Cleret, Hot Afro A Go-Go, the mighty, mighty Son Of Dave... A little bit of Glastonbury/Bestival in Aucklalofa. We could have stayed there all day were it not for the fact Mikey Havoc had been inexplicably scheduled on later in the evening.

    Ooh, and Tiki Taane in the Boiler Room was just awesome, especially for my best mate back from Barcelona after many years away - what a homecoming.

    (And what was with the Cyndi Lauper? We heard it too on our stagger back to the car - most unexpected!)

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 21 posts Report Reply

  • Thom James,

    I was brought up on Neil Young by my old boy. 'Harvest' is one of my all-time favourite records, and his was the only name (bar TVOTR, who unfortunately sucked) that really leapt out at me when the line-up was announced.

    And what a surreal experience it turned out to be, hearing that beautifully cracked voice live, singing all those songs I'd sung along to with my dad as a wee fella. My mates and I kept turning to one another saying, "Holy shit, I can't believe I'm watching Neil Young." I was absolutely transfixed, and at a time of the day when you feel like you need a rocket of a performance up your backside, I was quite content to stand there and drink in what will more than likely be a once in a lifetime experience.

    I didn't bother with the Prodigy because a) I couldn't get near the bloody thing, and b) how the hell do you top Neil Young? I went home a most contented chappy. Far from the best BDO, but probably the best performance I've seen.

    Auckland • Since Apr 2007 • 63 posts Report Reply

  • Nik Dirga,

    Great report as always Russell. I was so glad to finally see Neil live after years of near-misses. My report's on my blog, http://spatulaforum.blogspot.com/

    It was such an interesting contrast to the vibe on the field pre-Rage Against the Machine last year when it seemed to be nothing but shirtless young guys wanting to punch someone. This time I was surrounded by bearded gents passing around their joints! Lovely.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2009 • 15 posts Report Reply

  • Mark Easterbrook,

    (Mark, I wonder if I saw your lovely wife? There was a gorgeous pregnant person wandering around the main stage area at some point...)

    If it was a gorgeous pregnant person with black 50s inspired hair, big white sunglasses and a long black floral sundress. Hey look! I'm a guy and I remember what my wife wore 3 days ago!

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 244 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    If it was a gorgeous pregnant person with black 50s inspired hair, big white sunglasses and a long black floral sundress.

    Yes! That was her! Actually my friend turned to me and said 'look at that styley pretty pregnant lady!'

    I covet her hair a lot, but it seems like it might be a lot of work, and I'm lazy. :)

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3656 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Nice blog thanks, Nik.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16662 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Great report as always Russell. I was so glad to finally see Neil live after years of near-misses. My report's on my blog,

    Thanks Nik. I did see your blog but I ran out of steam on linking yesterday, so I'm pleased you've posted it.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18884 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Meanwhile, count your blessings that Auckland police are a bit more sensible than those on the Gold Coast.

    In what looks like nothing so much as a police makework scheme, they made 120 drug possession arrests, 51 of them with the assistance of sniffer dogs stationed at the gates for the first two hours.

    In Auckland, there was a total of three arrests.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18884 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Even though the BDO is still my idea of fresh hell (big crowds still freak me out), nice to know everyone had a good time -- especially when, if my memory serves, lots of people were a bit "meh" about the acts last year. But I guess that's the quid pro quo -- you run the risk that a over-hyped act or an old favourite is going to phone it in, but there's also the chance that someone you've never heard of is going to shine.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11992 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Oh, and I ran into Gemma from the Ukulele Orchestra yesterday, still buzzing from their completely jam-packed 12.30 set at Lilyworld. Wish I'd seen them ...

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18884 posts Report Reply

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