The one key thing to remember about this BDO is that I wasn’t actually planning to go – its just that when the time rolled around, I had talked myself into a bunch of the bands, and had heard more from them all – like, during December and January, leading up to the festival, I managed to pick up copies of Black Eyed Peas’ ‘Elephunk’, Lostprophets’ ‘Start Something’ and ‘The Fake Sound of Progress’, Muse’s ‘Absolution’ and ‘Origin of Symmetry’ (all of which now rank among my favourite albums of the last 10 years), as well as Metallica’s ‘St Anger’ and The Strokes’ album. I ended up buying my ticket about 2 days before the show, and catching a ride down to it with my Mum (she was going to Aucks anyway). Oh, and I was by myself as well. Here’s what I managed to see:

8 Foot Sativa: New Zealand’s very own entrant in the “Pantera Sound-a-like Sweepstakes” basically embarrassed themselves on stage, as far as I was concerned. I sat towards the back of the field, where the mainstage sound is actually best, and they still sounded horrible. 40 minutes of music, and I couldn’t understand a single word, except for when the singer yelled out “F*** you!” at the crowd. Needless to say, he won’t be getting a job in public relations.

(Because of this set, I actually secretly enjoyed (in a bad way) seeing their drummer playing along with a computerised drum beat on P-Money’s ‘Stop The Music’ video. I felt bad for Elemeno P’s guitarist though – he was playing along with one of the lamest riffs ever, and then had to pretend he was playing the worst lead ever as well)

The Darkness: At the time, all I knew about The Darkness was that their singer, Justin Hawkins, had an incredibly high-pitched voice, and they sang the song ‘I Believe In A Thing Called Love’. What I saw from them on stage was one of the most entertaining sets ever – they fully play throw-back metal, harking back to the glory days of “glam” from bands like Bon Jovi, Whitesnake and Iron Maiden. Just a great show – and Justin Hawkins costumes made it even better – at one stage he was wearing a one-piece, pink-and-white striped, body suit. Highest of high comedy.

(one thing that was really funny on this day: a little later in the day, I was watching one of the bands, and standing next to this tall, lanky guy with long hair. I turned to him and said something like “Having a good day mate?” and he replied “Yeah, its brilliant” in an English accent. It wasn’t until the next day when I saw a clear and close-up photo of him, that I realised I had actually been speaking to Justin Hawkins himself, and didn’t even know it!)

(And what’s worse is that is my sole claim to fame)

Black Eyed Peas: As anyone who knows me well can testify, I’m not a big fan of hip-hop, with only a few acts actually getting my attention. One of those acts is Black Eyed Peas, especially since I saw them in 2004 at BDO. Their latest album, ‘Elephunk’, is one of the best albums of 2003, and they played most of the classics at BDO 2004 – including the hits ‘Where Is The Love’, ‘Shut Up’ and ‘Hey Mama’, as well as my personal favourite ‘Hands Up’. The thing I liked most about BEP, aside from their incredible stage presence, was the fact that they had a full live band, and all the music was done live. A great surprise to top off one of the surprise highlights.

Lostprophets: Having left Black Eyed Peas early, I made my way to the Essential stage, where Lostprophets were playing – I got there just in time, as they walked out onto the stage after just a minute of waiting. They subsequently launched into one of the best sets I’ve ever heard at the Big Day Out – easily cracking the Top Ten Best Ever Bands at BDO. They played all the classics off their first album, including ‘Shinobi Vs Dragon Ninja’, ‘The Fake Sound of Progress’ and ‘Kobrakai’, and mixed them in with the best songs off their latest album, ‘Start Something’, which was released only a week prior to the festival – including such brilliant tracks as ‘Burn Burn’, ‘Last Train Home’, ‘Make a Move’ and ‘We Still Kill The Old Way’. Lostprophets succeeded in showing me that they are one of the best acts ever to come out of Britain (they are the most successful Welsh artist since Tom Jones), and, since the Big Day Out, they’ve vaulted themselves into my personal pantheon of Best Bands Ever … Period.

(Honestly, I can’t say enough good stuff about these guys – as good as Metallica and Muse and Black Eyed Peas were, in my eyes, none of them even held a candle to Lostprophets – and that is saying something)

The Datsuns: I decided to take in a late lunch (consisting of a pie, a cup of hot chips and a drink) so while I was doing that, the Datsuns came on stage on the mainstage. As mentioned, I’m not really a huge fan of these guys, but even I was a little disappointed, given the amount of hype that The Datsuns get, especially for their live shows.

The Dandy Warhols: All I know about the Dandy Warhols is this: 1) they play the song ‘Bohemian Like You’, which is a decent track, and 2) I never want to see them live again … ever … I mean it. I wouldn’t even accept free tickets at this point. They were the most boring band I’ve ever seen and heard (and remember: I saw Placebo a couple of years back). As well as that, the singer may have been stoned – I was too far away to tell, but he was acting like it.

Muse: To be honest, I can’t remember who played between Dandy Warhols and Muse – I can remember feeling like between Lostprophets and Muse was almost a dead zone – there were no good bands playing anywhere. However, by 6.30pm, I was ready for entertainment, and Muse didn’t disappoint. They immediately launched into their hit tracks ‘Hysteria’ and ‘Time Is Running Out’, and even launched in to some of their other brilliant tracks (they started their set with ‘Apocalypse Please’, and also played ‘New Born’, ‘Bliss’, ‘Plug In Baby’, ‘Space Dementia’ (all from ‘Origin of Symmetry’), and ‘Sing for Absolution’, ‘Stockholm Syndrome’, ‘Butterflies and Hurricanes’, ‘The Small Print’ and ‘Thoughts of a Dying Atheist’ (all from ‘Absolution’). Overall, Muse were the second best band of the day, behind Lostprophets, and easily got themselves in the Top Ten Best Ever Bands at BDO. Matt Bellamy, their singer, is one of the most talented guys ever – a fantastic, unique voice, a great guitarist and a great pianist as well – and on top of all that, he’s as crazy as a loon! Just a total entertainment package.

The Strokes: The only thing I can remember about The Strokes is how boring they were live, except for their singer. They played their good songs, like ‘Last Night’, ‘12-51’ and ‘Reptilia’ but there was just something missing about them, and I don’t know what it was. On the other hand, their singer was drunk out of his mind, and kept doing stupid things on stage, like stumbling around and falling over, sitting on the edge of the drum riser with his head in his hands, and jumping into the crowd, and then having trouble getting back onto the stage. While that was pretty funny, he pretty much let the team down as far as musical quality goes. A good set, marred by a bad singer. Pity.

Metallica: The first time I thought about going to a Metallica concert was backing 1993 – they played on my birthday, and I had just started getting into the Black album, which featured classics like ‘Enter Sandman’ and ‘Nothing Else Matters’. By the time the Big Day Out 2004 rolled around, I wasn’t really a die hard fan of theirs anymore, but by the time they were due on stage that day, even I was hyped, and ready to rock out with them. What followed was one of the most amazing things: y’see, in my walk with Metallica, I had fallen in love with their earlier music (on albums like ‘Ride The Lightning’ and ‘Master of Puppets’) but had been disappointed with their more recent stuff (‘Load’ and ‘Reload’, and to a lesser extent ‘St Anger’) – but they got up on stage, and performed an hour and a half of the best songs they ever wrote. I was in absolute Metallica bliss! They played all the classics, like ‘Creeping Death’, ‘Fade To Black’, ‘One’, ‘Enter Sandman’, ‘Maser of Puppets’, ‘Welcome Home (Sanitarium)’, ‘Battery’ and ‘Blackened’, as well as the best songs off ‘St Anger’ – ‘Dirty Window’, ‘Frantic’ and ‘St Anger’. I should be pointed out that they played officially ZERO songs from ‘Load’ or ‘Reload’. Basically, what Metallica did was make the Big Day Out worth going to – the fact that I was late getting my ticket, and the fact that I didn’t know many of the bands terribly well, was all OK, because Metallica took me back to a time when their music was absolutely awesome. The singer, James Hetfield, was exactly the showman I thought he would be, the music was pulled off with absolute precision, and I even found myself getting annoyed at Lars Ulrich, the drummer – just like I was expecting to! Absolutely fantastic!

(Since then, Metallica have basically re-imaged themselves, by returning to the music that has got them to where they are. It helps, too, that their new bass player, Robert Trujillo, is out of this world, and brought a new element to the band. They also released a feature length documentary, entitled ‘Some Kind of Monster’, which actually cracked some critics’ top 10 of 2004 lists. The future looks pretty bright for the ‘Tallica boys)

The Flaming Lips: The Flaming Lips play a particularly experimental brand of acoustic-folk-pop music – their latest album’s hit song (and title track) was a peculiar track called ‘Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots Part 1’ – what made it weird was that this wasn’t a quirky title – the lyrics actually talk about a girl called Yoshimi, who is going into battle against an army of pink robots. Seeing the Flaming Lips on stage was quite surreal – they had about 20 people dancing on the stage, dressed in animal costumes, and the musicians themselves were dressed oddly as well – including Gary Coyne, the singer, who did most of the set with a hand puppet on his right hand. Pretty weird stuff, but kinda sickly entertaining as well. I’m not sure why.