Big Day Out

Trip Start Feb 17, 2005
Trip End Feb 27, 2006

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Saturday, January 21, 2006

I had a bit of trouble finding accommodation in Auckland due to the number of people who were coming up for the Big Day Out. I planned on staying for 3 nights, but the best I could do was to stay in the YHA for 1 night, then transfer to Base for the remaining 2 nights. It wasn't ideal as I'm not a fan of Base's large dormitories and noisy clientele, but at least they had lockers...and I'd hardly be there anyway. Besides, I didn't have much choice as everywhere else seemed to be fully booked.

I was waiting at a set of traffic lights on my way to the YHA when I spotted a familiar face staring back at me from the other side of the road. It was Dan from The Mount, my table tennis partner who'd refused to go out on New Year's Eve. I had a quick chat with him, but he was also staying at the YHA, so I said I'd catch up some more later (my backpack was weighing me down at that point!). It was yet another coincidence to add to the growing list...

After checking into the almost plush YHA, I made a beeline for the nearest Burger had been over 2 weeks afterall! Don't get me wrong, I really enjoyed the food that Ann and Graeme dished up (barring the mussels), but I craved something unhealthy after all the salad I'd eaten. It didn't disappoint either, as the first bite of my chicken burger tasted delicious!

Thursday was an organising day that began with a trip to the information centre. Although not particularly enthusiastic about it, I'd decided to head down to New Plymouth after the Big Day Out, and spend a few days coming back up the west coast of the North Island. There was little reason to do this, but it's the only area that I've not been to and my journey to New Zealand would have felt incomplete had I not done so. So I booked my bus journey, and also sought out information as regards getting to the venue the following day. As expected, they were putting on lots of extra buses that were departing from the top of Queen Street, so it wasn't a problem at all.

I transferred my backpack to Base in the aerly afternoon, then had a marathon session typing up my journal on the internet (which explains why you were all bombarded with about 7 entries to read at once!). It's always a relief getting up to date, and I could relax as I headed back to the hostel that night. However, I thought I'd walked into the wrong dorm when I found somebody else in my bed! It wasn't a big deal though and I just moved my stuff to a different one, and the guy did apologise to be fair.

I woke up early the next morning and thankfully, it looked like a perfect day weatherwise. I remember buying my ticket for the Big Day Out 4 months ago, on the very same morning that they came on sale. The line up was great, and I didn't want to miss out. Roll on to the 20th January and it still hadn't sold out, meaning that I carried the ticket around for months for absolutely no reason! Anyway, I'd managed not to rip/lose it during that time, and now the day was here at long last...

I'd arranged to meet Ali outside the venue as it was easier for her to get the train, whereas it was easier for me to get the bus. I had no problems getting there, despite a huge queue of 'characters' at the bus stop. There were all kinds of weird and wonderful people on show, including goths, punks...and a guy wearing only a pair of green trunks! Throughout the day, we saw him on a number of occasions, and Ali was usually the first one to spot him (I wonder why!).

Ali got her wires crossed when working out the train route, and ended up being an hour and a half late. She texted me to let me know, so I made my way inside and got my bearings. Inside the main stadium were two stages, and bands played alternately on them. I watched a good Australian band, Gerling, just after midday and it was a relief to hear that the sound was spot on.

I eventually met Ali beside the rollercoaster shortly after 1.30pm, and we went and got something to eat. I had a greasy sausage sizzle, which I'm sure made Ali jealous as she's a veggie! We mooched around for a bit before sitting down in the stadium to watch the tail end of Pluto's set, and the beginning of Mudvayne's. The latter was particularly amusing as they are one of those bands, like Slipknot, who just make lots of incomprehensible noise! The fans seemed to like them though, as there was plenty of moshing.

The first of my 4 must-see bands were The Magic Numbers, who rolled onto the Orange Stage at 3pm. They certainly don't look like rock stars, but they played a quirky 45 minute set that didn't disappoint. All my favourites from their debut album were played, as well as a couple of new ones, and their upbeat, jangly sound fitted the sunny afternoon perfectly.

We hung around that area immediately afterwards as Ali wanted to see Breaks Co-op, a Kiwi band featuring Zane Lowe. They were pretty uninspiring really, and we just sat down on the grass and chatted, relaxing amongst all the other revellers. Ideally I'd have watched The Go Team afterwards, but they clashed with the Kings of Leon, who were definites for both of us.

We got into a decent position for their set, but poor Ali was too small to see anything. I offered to give her a lift on my shoulders, but she said she was ok. The good thing about the Kings of Leon is that they have so many 'singles,' and every song is catchy in their own country rock way. A couple of idiots in the moshpit threatened to spoil things by throwing bottles, but the band ignored them and carried on playing belters from their first two albums. I'd love to see them in the future in a more intimate venue...

After a couple of slices of pizza each, it was time for Franz Ferdinand, who I'd last seen supporting Morrissey. They were great then, and they were great here, playing with great energy. My favourite song was the recent single Do You Want To...which got the crowd going, as did their most well known song Take Me Out. We'd agreed to sit in the stand for the remaining bands, and it suited me fine as we were still reasonably close, and Ali could at least see something from there!

We had a final toilet break after the Franz set, which was easier said than done as the women's queue was ridiculous. In fact, they'd decided to take over the men's as well, so it was a bit chaotic to say the least! I had another sausage sizzle on what was what turning into an unhealthy day, but that's never bothered me before. So we were all organised ahead of the headliners, The White Stripes, taking to the stage.

We got good seats and did a lot of people watching whilst we were waiting, observing some strange dancers and a couple of girls in Air Hostess uniforms (I spotted them!). On the far stage, Iggy and The Stooges were rocking out, allowing a stage invasion at one point. It was good entertainment, and as usual he pranced around without his top on!

Finally, at 9.15pm The White Stripes came on stage and launched into Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground, my favourite song. I've never been a huge fan of theirs, but Ali was in awe and I could tell by the look on her face that she was enjoying it. Luckily they played a lot of their singles (Hotel Yorba, Hardest Button to Button etc) which I recognised, and their encore was a great version of Seven Nation Army. I'm not sure if they totally suited a headline slot, as a lot of the crowd didn't really get into it, but you can't argue with the intense, frantic performance they put on.

It was pandamonium once their set had finished, as everyone made their way to the Orange Stage to see Fat Freddy's Drop, New Zealand's biggest band. It was like being in the moshpit, such was the crush, and the current simply took us through the entrance and out of the exit! I wasn't too bothered though as dub/reggae isn't really my thing, so we decided to head for the train station...I said that I'd go back with Ali now we'd established that the train actually passed through the city centre.

It's happened many times before, and it will surely happen again, but we arrived just as a train was leaving! So we had a 20 minute wait sat by the platform, again watching the characters walk by. I saw well over a hundred Ramones t-shirts throughout the day, but my favourite outfits were the completely bizarre, e.g. two guys dressed in nuclear protection suits!

Another crush on the train followed, before we arrived at the Britomart Train Station just after midnight. Ali's connecting train didn't leave until 12.45am, so I waited around with her, killing time by taking random photographs of eachother (including one of Ali next to the drinks machine). This behaviour can't even be attributed to the alcohol, as neither of us had drank!

I made the short walk back to Base to bed was empty! A good thing too, considering I had to wake up in 6 hours for my bus to New Plymouth...
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