Determined to put the past behind me, and on my own for the first time ever, I headed to Auckland for my 6th consecutive Big Day Out. It was a pretty good day in all. Even though nothing much happened.

Blindspott: For the second year running Blindspott played the main stage, although they didn’t open this year. A great set – marked by the fact that they kicked it off with a haka and a full on Maori ceremony to start their set off, followed by the guitarist coming out and saying a few words in Maori – to great effect. Then they launched into ‘Nil By Mouth’, which was awesome.

The Living End: I had never seen these guys live before, so this was a special moment for me – especially since their bass player does all his live shows with a standup bass. In fact, I can’t even remember what songs they played, because I was too busy watching the bass player for the whole set. I do remember they played ‘Second Solution’ though – just because its my favourite song of theirs.

28 Days: Not much to say about these guys – they were pretty much the same as 2 years earlier.

Deftones: If there was one band whose reputation was hanging in the balance at this gig (at least with me) then it was these guys. This one show would determine whether I listened to them much again. I had been following them for years – I had their first 2 albums, ‘Adrenaline’ and ‘Around the Fur’, and had skipped their third album, ‘White Pony’, because it was too “arty”. I was certainly not disappointed – but neither was I incredibly impressed. They just got up, did their thing, and got down again. When you take into consideration that Chino Moreno, the singer, was mostly out of key for the whole show, they lose points, which would maybe have made it a better set.

Millencollin: These guys suck. Its that simple.

Murderdolls: Only one thing drew me to come and watch these dudes – the drummer played for Slipknot, and is very good. The rest of the band? Nyeh – I’ve seen better.

Queens of the Stone Age: One of the drawcard acts for me personally, QotSA burst on the scene in 2002 with their album ‘Songs For The Deaf’, and their single ‘No One Knows’, which featured Foo Fighters singer Dave Grohl on drums. On stage, QotSA are one of the premiere bands in the world – a great stage presence, great songs and a great musicians to boot – highlight tracks included ‘Millionaire’, ‘No One Knows’ and ‘Lost Art of Keeping a Secret’. The only real problem was that they started having PA system problems halfway through their set, but they played on – the main problem was that they lost sound through the front of house system. But they made up for it later, as you’ll see.

Pacifier: The Kiwi kids came back again, this time under their new name Pacifier, and played one of the best sets of the day – filled with all their classic tracks, and a couple of tracks from their new album, ‘Pacifier’. The only problem? By now I was starting to get a bit bored of them, since this was the 5th time I’d seen them at BDO.

(While we’re on this, where does ‘Shihad changes their name to Pacifier’ rank on the ‘Worst Mistakes in Music History’? I’m thinking it cracks the top ten, since they only changed it for the American market — Shihad apparently sounds too much like Jihad — and when you consider the fact that they ended up focusing on the Australian market anyway, and then changed it back to Shihad in late 2004, it just adds up to one big stuff-up)

Janes Addiction: To be honest, I don’t really like Janes Addiction — admittedly they have some good songs, as well as one of the best singers around (Perry Farrell) and one of the best guitarists (Dave Navarro – you may recognise him as Carmen Electra’s husband in ‘Til Death Do Us Part’) – but I decided to hang out and watch their show anyways. They played some cool songs, like ‘Just Because’ (which is possibly their best song ever), but they didn’t really give me a reason to go out and suddenly buy their albums. A solid set, but just not my style of music.

Foo Fighters: The second time I had seen the Foo Fighters at BDO was something I was looking forward to, and they certainly didn’t disappoint – they played classic after classic, played some newer songs, like ‘All My Life’ and ‘Tired of You’, and got the crowd going crazy. I don’t know why though, but I actually thought they were better in 2000 – but that’s because they were on another level then. Some other highlights: ‘Everlong’, ‘Stacked Actors’ and ‘Breakout’. A great set by one of my favourite bands at the time.

(One disappointment: in 2000 they played their cheesiest song ‘Big Me’ (which surely qualifies as one of the cheesiest songs of all time) but they didn’t play it here – I hate this song, but I would’ve been satisfied hearing it, I think)

The Datsuns: After the Foo Fighters were finished, there were whispers that Queens of the Stone Age were setting up on one of the smaller stages to play another set, since they had PA problems before. I made my way up to the Essential stage in time to see the end of the Datsuns set – maybe 2 and a half songs. My first experience of the Datsuns was a pleasurable one – just total rock music – the only song I recognised was ‘Freeze Sucker’ (one of the better songs of the day, in fact). They did their last song with the D4 on stage, which was quite cool. After they finished there was a break, but then …

Queens of the Stone Age: … got up on the stage next to them. The only reason I knew it was them was when I saw the bass player (quite a unique looking fella), and they launched into ‘The Sky Is Falling’ (one of the better tracks from ‘Songs For The Deaf’). QotSA were just as good the second time round as the first – and they were smart too, by not playing any of the songs from their first set. Between this set, and the one earlier, QotSA crack the Top Ten Best Ever bands at BDO – I’d say they’re about 7th.

Xzibit: On my way out the gate, I had to stop at the hip-hop stage, just to satisfy my curiosity. Live, mainstream, American rap music is just as you would expect – lots of bass, and lots of ‘Uhhh. Yeeeawh. Come awn.’ To his credit though, Xzibit is the only mainstream American rapper to make an appearance at Big Day Out – rumour has it that in the last couple of years the BDO has been turned down by the likes of 50 Cent, Snoop Dogg and Pharrell Williams/N-E-R-D (50 Cent still has never played a show in NZ).