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February 25, 2008 | by  | in Music |
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Big Day Out

Perspective 1:

By Christopher Gilbert

It’s a soul-searching moment when you walk through the gates of Mt. Smart Stadium into yet another Big Day Out. The line-up is 80% hype, the water is more expensive than V, you get covered in dirty bogan sweat as you try to squeeze your way through the crowd, and the bands playing the main stages progressively evolve into the “Clash Covers Band” category more every year. Thank god 2008 was an exception. This year was the year of Bjork, LCD Soundsystem and The Arcade Fire.

Beautiful, intelligent music reigned.

Forced to choose between Battles and The Arcade Fire, I decided to go with my first love and got the best view in the house, right up the front of the D Barricade to see the acclaimed “Best Band in the World” in action. The Arcade Fire lived up to their reputation. It was incredibly refreshing to see all ten members of the extended band giving the performance everything they had, and totally loving every note of their music. Will Butler was even passionate enough to climb half way up the stage and bang his drum while dangling 15 feet above the audience.

Bjork is renowned for being an amazing – if somewhat bizarre – musician, and I’ll admit her sound mightn’t be suited to a crowd of fans thirsty to see Rage Against the Machine for the first time in fifteen years. Thus the wonder that was her set, featuring a laser show and a shower of confetti, was somewhat lost with the retreating sun. Yet I was practically at the festival this year just for her, and she did not disappoint at all. She ranged from the quiet brass lines of Anchor Song to the heavier electronics of Army of Me and Hyperballad. It was a show of hits and favourites, and although she went largely unappreciated Bjork was magnificent. And god I love that accent.

LCD Soundsystem should close every Big Day Out. I will put this as simply as I can: they fucking rock. I was so happy to hear the incredible new single All My Friends live and danced myself silly. The epic anthem that is Tribulations also featured in the set-list as did North American Scum and Daft Punk is Playing at My House. It is impossible to exaggerate on how overdue and how good this set was. LCD have to be one of the most under-credited bands on the planet. They were the tasty frosting on my musical cake. For the first time in Big Day Out history I went home completely satisfied.

Perspective 2:

By Tom Baragwanath

No doubt many of you will have joined in on the insanely exhausting 14-hour romp of live music that is the Big Day Out. 2008 heralded a fairly decent lineup by anyone’s standards, with Carl Cox holding up the DJ side of things, the Arcade Fire and LCD Soundsystem taking care of the indie kids, and Rage Against the Machine and Supergroove mopping up the rest of the demographic. Here’s a brief rundown of the highs and lows as I saw them.

Highs:

Spoon – I almost shat myself upon hearing of Spoon’s inclusion in the ’08 lineup. These handsome Texan gentlemen met every expectation I had, a fairly tall order considering the esteem in which I hold them. Despite the crowd’s fairly disinterested cavalier attitude, Spoon put on an expertly crafted set. And they played ‘Monsieur Valentine’!

Liam Finn – multi-instrumentalism + segments of ‘Dear Prudence’ in the middle of ‘I’ll Be Lightening’ + beard finesse + volume + stage presence = awesome.

Bjork – despite the sea of metalhead idiots booing Bjork in an attempt to get on to Rage’s set, she put on an undeniably amazing show. She’s pure magic, the stalwart of sophisticated electronic pop. Gaudy costumes, wrists that ejaculate silvery string, a pirate pianist; need I say more? ‘Desired Constellation’ was definitely the song of the day for me.

Lows:

Rage Against the Machine – whilst no-one can deny how tight these guys are onstage after however many years of separation, I’ve gotta say they couldn’t have been any more phoney. Surely someone else found it ironic that Zach De La Rocha took the chance to harp on about the evils of the pursuit of wealth and capitalism despite receiving a six-figure reunion paycheck? How very revolutionary.

Tom Morello (as ‘the Nightwatchman’) – not only did he switch spots with Battles, thus making it impossible to catch both them and the Arcade Fire, but his show was a total let down. I guess performing acoustic rebel-folk at the same festival as the legendary Billy Bragg is enough to give anyone stage anxiety, but Morello still couldn’t have been any less charismatic on stage.

Pluto – Auckland’s one-time favourite sons of quirky folk-rock suddenly seem so very, very overrated. Victims of their own hype? It would probably help if Milan Borich spent a little less time on his stage posture and more time writing decent songs.

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