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A Day In The Life Of Southern Amp 2008

A Day In The Life Of Southern Amp 2008

Story & Images by Leah Duran
Additional Photos by Oli Fagg

I'm wired, inspired and exhausted. It's 3 p.m. on Monday and I'm in recovery mode from Southern Amp 08, Sunday's all-day music festival in Christchurch, New Zealand. But let's backtrack to how I got into this whipped, but eternally grateful, state:

Sunday, November 9, 2008

11:35 a.m.: The florescent green and orange sticker affixed to my camera bag reads "Working." And so I am, if you can call it that. I'm covering the Southern Amp 08 festival for the lovely folks at Scoop.co.nz.

The Exiles open on the New Zealand Music Stage at 12:30 p.m. People are still sleeping off their post-election hangovers. For those who missed out on morning coffee, here's your wake-up call. Bright lights, two keyboards, tons of energy, an indie rock sound with a hint of electronica. A faithful following are up on their feet and dancing already.


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The Exiles: Vocalist Mahuia B-C stirs the crowd to clap along and keyboardist Jessica Hindin jumps up and down in bare feet.


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After a 45-minute delay, The Exiles arrive at The Edge 88.9 FM Canterbury Signing Tent. (By the way, the girl's shirt says "Impossible Love" between a cactus and a balloon).

1:16 p.m. finds me at the Christchurch Music Stage. I move from the heavily layered power-rock of The Exiles to the soothing banjo, harmonica and acoustic guitar sounds of The Eastern. "The more records you buy, the more we eat and drink," singer Adam McGrath says. So kudos to everyone who came out to support all the artists at Southern Amp. It's still a job, though it may not seem like it.

Even with running between four stages to catch snippets of each act, I still have time to kill, so I wander around the festival grounds of the Westpac Arena. Other people kill time by playing Hacky Sack and drinking. Despite a record-breaking crowd of more than 7,000 attendees, there are still plenty of open spaces.


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Carnival rides add to the festive atmosphere.


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Thrill seekers (who also happen to be music lovers) have a go at the vertical bungee. If I had went on that, the steak sandwich I ate for lunch would have been all over the pavement.

The crowd is a lively mix of diverse personalities and fashion tastes. One guy wears a shirt that tells me the weather report: "Mostly drunk, with a chance of scoring." The forecasters are wrong again; it was pretty warm, slightly windy.


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I like your style, girl. Rock those heart-shaped sunglasses!

Artists strolled through the crowd intermittently, making it seem like one big cheery family gathering (except way cooler than your average family get-together {sorry Mom!}, because, they're like, rock stars).


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A gang of friends gathers outside the signing tent. Vodafone (who also ran a campaign to recycle old cell phones on site) supplied the blow-up guitars; now everyone can be a rock star!


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This is Oli. He's cool. He took pictures posted here where noted. For the record, he uses hair spray. Lots and lots of hair spray. Note members of Cairo Knife Fight in the background.


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Pitch Black plays on the Ministry of Sound Stage, reserved for electronic acts such as New Zealand's own Concord Dawn. The set is so invigorating that this guy is reading a book.

3:10 p.m.: The Cairo Knife Fight gets political. "Have we got any National Party fans in the audience?" double-trouble drummer and vocalist Nick Gaffaney asks. Silence. "No? Well, it's a new day, it's a new dawn."


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Cairo Knife Fight plays with a lineup that includes two female backup singers. (Just because you can't see them here doesn’t mean they don't exist).

The day is filled with great music, even between sets. I hear The Fratellis' "Chelsea Dagger" and The Zuton's "Valerie." When the clock strikes 3:30, the tone switches with Ed Muzik, who offers amusing lyrics about a girl's school and bad drug trips set to funky electronic beats. "You've got to keep dancing to stay warm," Ed urges, hopping offstage and showing his moves.


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Shedding his Royal Tenenbaums-esque Adidas tracksuit for Los Angeles Lakers' gear, Ed Muzik is equally ready for a workout and the stage.


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Why is that horse carrying a piece of wood? "Because we don't want to," the handlers tell me. (Apparently, the musician Dirt uses it onstage as a platform).


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Why is that guy dressed up as a bear? No answer, but he went crowd-surfing during The Living End's set.

5:10 p.m. and it's time for me to camp out at The Rock FM main stage, situated inside the arena. I want to make sure I'm up front for The Dandy Warhols. In the meantime, Aussie rock band Gyroscope takes the stage.


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Daniel Sanders of Gyroscope pours his soul into his songs.

6:25 p.m.: There's nothing fake about UK band The Charlatans – just fun, feel-good vibes streaming from the keyboards and guitars of this Britpop alternative act. Following a slight break in the set, singer Tim Burgess declares, "I want to keep dancing." And he does, smiling and swinging the microphone like there's nothing else in the world he'd rather be doing.


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Up close and personal with The Charlatans' Tim Burgess.


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Tim Burgess' smile lights up the stage almost as much as those purple background hues.

THE DANDY WARHOLS:

They're so good that they get a review all to themselves:
Alchemists of Sound: Dandy Warhols At Southern Amp


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Here's a teaser picture (find more by clicking on the link above). So Courtney Taylor-Taylor likes Star Wars. And he uses these really cool triangle guitar picks.

8:30 p.m.: I'm on a high from The Dandy Warhols. The world could end right now, and that would be OK (it's got to happen sometime, right?). There's no time to relax, as The Living End yanks the crowd's energy up a dozen notches. The music also increases peoples' desire to crowd surf and shove bodies every which way. My legs hurt from standing, my neck is sore from surfing and lugging around a camera, I'm slammed against the metal stage barrier, and I couldn't be happier.


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Chris Cheney of Australian rockers The Living End infuses life into the crowd.


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The Living End's Scott Owen makes his double bass sing. Check out that silhouette.


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Cheney uses a beer bottle as a slider on his guitar…/Picture by Oli Fagg


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…And then drinks it! Yes, you're a real rock star now.


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Chris Cheney hops up on Scott Owen's double bass.


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Owen raises his double bass in a farewell gesture (It must be decently heavy).

10:00 p.m.: My front-and-center-stage stakeout ends. After The Living End, I step out for much-need water and grub, along with some crowd shots.


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Seether finishes off an invigorating day overflowing with superb music from all genres/Picture by Oli Fagg

ENDS

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