Matt Nippert - bloomin' late, Auckland

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Number of the beasts

I have seen Fight Club and it is inside the Slipknot moshpit. At the Big Day Out the masked thrash-metal band starts playing 'The Heretic Anthem' and many thousands of people go mental. I think they are dancing, but I could be wrong.

From my perch above, the crowd of blackshirted metallers boils violently. Temporary circles form and aggressive young men stomp around the impromptu arena, deliberately knocking each other to the ground. This ritual is known as the fight circle , similar to when stags cross antlers during mating season, and they aren’t for the faint-hearted or unlucky. A small chap not wearing MTV-issue black gets caught out as one such circle forms around him. Ouch.

Away from the groveling, jumping and fighting teens, the day offers much for the more civil of heart. Also wearing black are Matt Heath and Chris Stamp of Deja Voodoo, New Zealand’s answer to the rock-com masterpiece Spinal Tap.

With lines in their bar-room anthem 'Beers' like; “I write songs that always rhyme/That’s why I made this one rhyme” and “Songs this good don’t write themselves/That’s why I wrote it myself”; it’s a travesty they were overlooked for a Silver Scroll. Two shirtless men in the crowd certainly agree. Overcome with euphoria they shout “Yeah!” and swing open palms for a high five. Missing with their first attempt, the second connects with a meaty smack. There is irony applenty in the goats being thrown, irony lacking when the Slipknot crowd, as one, salutes their leaders.

I modestly suggest to Stamp and Heath a follow-up to their classic 'Today, Tomorrow, Timaru.' They know where to send the cheques when 'You’ll Die Happy in Taihape' goes gold. Blending deconstructionist rock and hedonism, Deja Voodoo are quite possibly the smartest thing to take the stage all day. But, I could be wrong, it’s possible they’re simply dumb rockers.

North Shore boys the Checks will soon be old enough to enjoy a well-deserved post-gig pint, Scribe’s still playing that song, and Shayne Carter and Dimmer still don’t get the crowds they deserve. Punishing drum’n’bass act Concord Dawn are off to Austria in August in an effort to conquer the world and Trinity Roots played as the sun set on both the stadium and their time together as a band.

“Seen anyone passed out and convulsing?” journalists frequently ask, getting desperate for horror stories as the day wears on. They seem to have missed the ruccous on the dancefloor. Despite all the indigenous talent on show, the locals don’t get near Slipknot for fan frenzy.

Their music may be described by the Guardian as sounding “halfway between the full-on assault of Motorhead and a tramp vomiting into a cement mixer”, but the stage show is truly something to behold. If Tim Burton directed The Nine Boilermen of the Apocolypse it would look something like Ericsson Stadium that Friday afternoon.

Their fans like to call themselves maggots, and from my perch in the top of the stadium at the bar the crowd certainly looks like a wriggling mess. The next day a maggot writes on the internet that he lost his footing “and disappeared under every other motherfucker and it all went black and I thought I was going to die … Got bruises all over me, boot prints on my back. Hell yeah!” I think they were having fun, but I could be wrong.

Sitting far above the seething mass of aggressive, flailing bodies, I play Where’s Wally?, trying to find the woman wearing the oversize red and white Dr Seuss hat. Not since the heyday of the Kiss Army have I seen so much white makeup, and not since the Men of Destiny marched on parliament have I seen so many black T-shirts.

On first glance they may not seem similar, these Men and maggots, especially now the Men wear white jumpsuits, but they’ve more in common than you might think. The maggots roar “people equal shit”, the Men of Destiny stand against sinners and sodomites. The two groups don’t seem to be polar opposites, rather different ends of the same horseshoe - all tight-knit anger, forged outside mainstream society. I'm sure they both know, in the heat of the moment, march or moshpit - mobs rule. But, I could be wrong.

The next day I see belligerent and aggressive blackshirts everywhere. Nursing a stout and dazed head, I took a smoko break while watching the first match between the Black Caps and the World XI. While I’m out, cursing bright sunshine and enjoying fresh air, I miss three scoring strokes. Stephen Fleming struck 6 6 6.