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February 27, 2012 | by  | in Arts Music |
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Big Day Out 2012

Eighteen years is too young to die, and the Auckland Big Day Out died a lonely death. Lonely with a lack of mourners to hear the eulogies, which were heartfelt and excellent.

Soundgarden won kudos from the crowd when they dedicated their ‘Blow up the Outside World’ to the people of Christchurch. Local talent Six60 and Kimbra both spun a thread of fun into proceedings.

For some, the feeling was deflated on learning that many of the punters were not real punters. Ticket sales had slumped, so in an attempt to make up numbers, organisers let veteran BDO attendees in for free – their shirts from festivals past being their tickets. Some ticket-holders were livid, most a lot less so.

For the ultimate year, the Boiler Room shed its walls and roof. Air quality was greatly improved; the smell of other festivalgoers’ cannabis seemed to waft away a little more. Nero and Royksopp drew powerful crowds. Six60 rivaled them, drawing equally chocka crowds with a more relaxed, hugely New Zealand vibe.

The main stage was more constrained this year, with no D-barriers and fewer people. The nearby Skate Stage was the runt, upstaged by Tony Hawk and the local skaters on the adjacent ramp. Its high point was The Bronx’s eccentric Mexican alter-ego Mariachi El Bronx, who left some waiting Soundgarden punters confused.

For me, it was the Green Stage that best kept its happy atmosphere. Noel Gallagher and his post-Oasis band, the High Flying Birds, closed the casket with ‘Don’t Look Back in Anger’ (if you don’t recognize the name, you’ll know it by lyric). Some festival-goers had their arms around each other’s shoulders in short rows of people, others just swayed or sang along to this last song. It was one of the rare moments in the day where I felt buoyed by sharing in something particularly awesome with everyone who had made it there. A highlight best enjoyed with friends, the best way to end the day.

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