Blog: Big Day Out 2009

Last updated 15:35 17/01/2008
BEN CAMPBELL/Fairfax Media
HE'S A FIRESTARTER: Keith Flint performs with The Prodigy in the Boiler Room at the 2009 Big Day Out.
SHANE WENZLICK/Fairfax Media
KEEP ON ROCKING: Iconic rock star Neil Young performs on the main stage at the 2009 Big Day Out.
SHANE WENZLICK/Fairfax Media
PRETTY VISITORS: Alex Turner from the Arctic Monkeys on the main stage at Big Day Out.
SHANE WENZLICK/Fairfax Media
AUSSIE BOYS: Chris Cheney from The Living End performs at the Big Day Out 2009.
SHANE WENZLICK/Fairfax Media
TOP MAN: Serj Tankian performs on the main stage the Big Day Out 2009.

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Entertainment reporters Chris Schulz and Tracey Bond brave heat stroke, hearing loss and claustrophobia to report live from the 2009 Big Day Out music festival.

* Scroll down to read posts from earlier in the day. And check back later for full reviews and updated photos from the 2009 Big Day Out.

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rainbowBlogger:
Tracey Bond
Time: 12.30am
Without a doubt, The Prodigy were my absolute highlight of Big Day Out 2009. One thing's for sure - the guys still know how to get the party started.

If the Neil Young crowd was starting to look a little bit thin towards the end of his set, it was because all of Mt Smart stadium was finding its way to The Boiler Room.

Late arrivals had no chance of getting anywhere near the tent, or around it - people climbed up scaffolding and supporting guy wires to get a good vantage point.

A rousing rendition of Firestarter had people frantically bouncing up and down.

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As well as crowd pleasers like Voodoo People and Smack My B**ch Up, the crowd was also treated to a couple of new songs off their forthcoming album, including Take Me to the Hospital.

Keith Palmer aka Maxim and Keith Flint verbally sparred onstage with each other, the crowd and and the rest of the group.

"Represent, New Zealand - I wanna see everyone jumping," urged Maxim and the Boiler Room was only too happy to oblige.

The Prodigy turned the Boiler Room into a vibrating mass of writhing sweaty bodies - which is exactly as it should be.

It was the perfect end to this year's Big Day Out. 

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rainbowBlogger: Chris Schulz
Time: 10.00pm
He might be the oldest person at Mt Smart Stadium, but the dude knows how to play guitar. Dude knows how to play a mean guitar.

Neil Young performed like the true legend he is. If you told me he was born with a guitar in his hand, plucking away at the chords for Rockin' in the Free World, I'd probably believe you.

I am pretty gullible though.

Despite his age, Young is still an entertaining character. I like the way he stomps his feet when he's deep in one of his lengthy guitar solos, like a kitten who hasn't quite learnt how to control all four of its paws.

He performed in front of one of the mellowest main stage crowds I've seen in years. Parents were rocking out with their kids, and there was no pushing or shoving like there was for Rage Against the Machine last year.

Best of all, there were no queues for the D barricade, so I got right up close to hear him sing those immortal lines, "Rock and roll will never die".

After all these years, you still believe Young when he sings them. Perhaps all these oldies can teach us young 'uns a few tricks after all.

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rainbowBlogger:
Tracey Bond
Time: 9.25pm
Boy, Pretty Visitors by the Arctic Monkeys is one catchy tune, I've only heard it twice now - last night at the Powerstation (the gig that Chris didn't go to) and again tonight and I can't stop humming it.

The D barricade was absolutely packed and began bouncing as the first bars of This House is Circus filled the stadium.

By the time they got to I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor, the place was a seething mass of bodies.

The lads from Sheffield seemed to be genuinely enjoying the vibe from the crowd.

The area emptied out as they left the stage.

I'm quite tempted to join the queue for the Super Loop ride - now that would be a surreal way to experience Neil Young.

This year the reduced capacity seems to have had a positive effect on the queues for the loos and for food.

I have to report that the One Love veggie curry was pretty darn yummy.

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rainbowBlogger: Chris Schulz
Time: 9.00pm
Last night's Arctic Monkeys sideshow left a bad taste in my mouth. They were performing at Auckland's Powerstation, and we had a reviewer's pass all sorted. That is until nasty British rock mag NME took it from us.

So I didn't hang around on the main stage for long. Even if main Monkey Alex Turner has the confident swagger of a young Mick Jagger, I'm still hurting from last night's snub.

So I headed over to see Hot Chip in the Boiler Room. Is there a more unlikely front man then Alexis Taylor? I doubt it.

If he walked by you in the street, you'd be more likely to ask the singer to fix your computer than for his autograph. 

He knows how to get the party started though. Ready For the Floor ruled, and Taylor even removed his flannel shirt for Boy From School.

Right, I'm heading back to the main stage for Mr Neil Young. Has there ever been a bigger age gap between two consecutive main stage acts than the Monkeys and Young?

It's gotta be another Big Day Out record.

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rainbowBlogger: Chris Schulz
Time: 8.10pm
I had fish and chips for dinner - it was the only food stall with a short queue - and I instantly regretted it. There were chips alright, but the fish was not fish. More like reconstituted horse hooves or something. Yuck. That wasn't caught from the sea.

I chugged it all down with a Pepsi (you can't get Coke here! Disaster!) while catching up with The Living End. The Aussie three-piece are a tight live band, and they sure brought back a few memories for me - as I bet Neil Young does for others later tonight.

Sure, Prisoner of Society and West End Riot are still great songs, and they continue to be the only band I can name with a member who plays upright bass. But, to be honest, I'm just a little bored of them.

There's bad news for anyone trying to get into the D barricade for The Arctic Monkeys - it's chocka. Sorry, but you're right outta luck.

Better off to sit down, take a load off and rest up for the evening onslaught.

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rainbowBlogger:
Tracey Bond
Time: 7.35pm
There are some frazzled-looking folk out there. The sun is no longer baking hot - but that's probably little consolation for all the people wandering around with burnt shoulders.

The Mint Chicks promised to be on their best behaviour and they were true to their word - but to compensate lead singer Cody Nielson decided to dress up a little for Big Day Out: in a zebra suit complete with little pointy ears.

Not to be outdone, Ruban Nielson had an arab headscarf wrapped round his head and goggles on.

The boys from Orewa played a mix of old and new stuff.

I popped my head into Simian Mobile Disco - the English electronica act had the Boiler Room bathed in pulsating pink light.

Right time for another feed before Arctic Monkeys.

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rainbowBlogger: Chris Schulz
Time: 6.40pm
Apparently I'm a secret agent. According to an unmarked brown envelope that was stuffed secretely into my pocket, I have been "hand selected" by someone called the "N.O." to become an agent. All I have to do is go to some website to activate my secret agent status.

Yeah, right. Sounds like guerilla marketing to me. Calm down, Chris. You're not James Bond just yet.

Anyway, obviously no one listened to me about Honey Claws, but I'm kind of glad as it gave me time to nod my head in peace along to their energetic electro-hop vibes, eat my kebab slowly and recuperate from the heat a little bit.

I stuck my head into the Boiler Room for Lupe Fiasco, but left just as fast when the US-based rapper said, "How's it going Austin! ... I mean Auckland ... I love Auckland!"

Dude, you spent at least 12 hours on a plane getting here, so get your cities right.

Just as well I left though, as I rushed over to the Green Stage for a thrilling set by countrified rockers My Morning Jacket. Louder than you'd expect, they delivered one of those classic Big Day Out moments that can't be scripted or predicted.

The cape-clad singer reminded me of a character from That '70s Show, the drummer was akin to a very large hairy bear, and they nailed grizzly highlight Highly Suspicious at the end - including that ear-piercing guitar solo.

I couldn't be happier - I've found my new favourite band. Sorry Serj Tankian, but you're going to struggle to match those guys in the sheer amount of hair on stage stakes.

Just a quick housekeeping issue: Tracey, stop hassling my earplugs. They're ergonomically designed and sculpted for my lobes.

How can that not be cool?

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rainbowBlogger: Tracey Bond
Time: 6.00pm
There's a man in a red PVC lace-up devil suit wandering around this year's Big Day Out. I've seen him about five times now. Or maybe the heat has me hallucinating.

The lads from Nesian Mystik played to a small but enthusiastic crowd over on the Green Stage - I think they suffered from a timetable clash with TV on the Radio, which, as Chris has already said, sounded fantastic.

Sneaky Sound System were unfazed by an electrical fault midway through playing their new single Sixteen. They went on to play an acoustic version of the song, before popping off stage to fix the glitch.

Sadly as they left the stage the crowd began to leave in droves (and most of them, it seemed, chose to bump into me).

But as soon as they heard the strains of UFO, they made a quick about turn.

They've been one of the highlights of Big Day Out so far for me.

Over in the Boiler Room, Lupe Fiasco was working the crowd up into a sweat.

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rainbowBlogger: Chris Schulz
Time: 5.00pm
I've been waiting for a band to blow me away - well, consider me to be nuked. The biggest band of 2008 have so far proved to be the best band at the 2009 Big Day Out.

TV on the Radio were so good, a guy in front of me was mesmerised - and this is the weirdest thing I've seen all day - to the point where he ate an entire apple. Yep, even the pips.

Don't you know little apple trees will start growing in your stomach?

Despite admitting suffering from jet lag after a 36-hour flight, they nailed it. From the front man's way cool dance moves to the guitarist with the best beard ever, I loved them. A Golden Age, indeed.

Plus they had the best between-song banger ever: "Banter ... banter ... banter," muttered the guy with the beard (I could Google their names for you, but the internet connection here is so slow I'd miss Lupe Fiasco). Brilliant.

As for Pendulum, it may have seemed weird to have a guitar 'n' drum 'n' bass act like them on the main stage, but it worked a treat. Mt Smart Stadium turned into a giant Boiler Room under the midday sun.

Can't wait for the sun to go down actually.

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rainbowBlogger:
Tracey Bond
Time: 3.50pm
Tiki Taane's rendition of Tangaroa in the Boiler Room was epic and came complete with a conch shell.

Sadly as a result I'm now having difficulty interpreting what people are actually saying. Maybe I should have borrowed some ear plugs ...

Now I'm going to 'out' Chris - he actually had a sneak peak at the Ting Tings to see "why there were so many people there".

The Green Stage was in fact jam-packed.

Katie White of the Ting Tings is a tiny little thing. When she came out on stage and said 'Hello New Zealand" everybody in the crowd craned their necks to see where she actually was.

But boy she has bags of energy - she's like a minature energiser bunny. She kept jumping up onto a box so the crowd could see her.

Perhaps the attraction of the Ting Tings is their simple lyrics and catchy hooks and it didn't take much to get the crowd clapping along on Fruit Machine.

Although not everyone was convinced they were there for all the right reasons.

"I get the feeling I'm in the wrong place," said one baffled punter.

"I only know one song," replied his mate.

She lost the crowd a bit on We Started Nothing, which only highlighted the fact that White is at her best when she semi-shouts her vocals.

But the crowd forgave her on That's Not My Name until just about everyone was joining in on the chorus.

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rainbowBlogger:
Chris Schulz
Time: 3.40pm
The ambulance staff have Segways! How long will it be till some drunk idiot pushes one of them off to score a go for himself. If I wasn't too busy working, I know I would.

As expected, I bypassed The Ting Tings - I think Tracey is still stuck in the massive crowd bottleneck up there - and checked out Tiki Taane in the Boiler Room.

He sure has cleaned up his act since last year's shambles of a show. He had half of Shapeshifter with him and raised the roof - and the temperature - with hits like This Is It and set highlight Fade Away.

I've been running around like a headless chicken - how ironic seeing as that exact band is playing tonight - in a bid to see as much as possible but I'm yet to see anything really inspirational.

But there's plenty still to come, and I'm sure to find plenty of good stuff at TV on the Radio, Lupe Fiasco and My Morning Jacket. Fingers crossed.

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rainbowBlogger:
Chris Schulz
Time: 2.30pm
I was wondering where all the crowds had got to - and then I found them, sweating up a storm in the Boiler Room to State of Mind.

I don't blame them for wanting to escape the searing heat - even a scattering of cloud cover hasn't done much to cool temperatures.

Speaking on bFM this morning, Big Day Out organiser Campbell Smith said crowd numbers had been limited to 42,000 - down from last year's 47,000. So getting around stages is a breeze - unless you get stuck behind the various members of the forgotten generation ambling around, waiting for Neil Young.

While State of Mind hinted at just how sweaty the Boiler Room is going to get for The Prodigy later this evening, Lugar Boa gave a passionate performance over on the Essential Stage, singing a series of songs about evolution and monkeys. David Attenborough would be proud.

Then there was Elemeno P, who debuted a new song - called Pay For It - and demanded the crowd sing along with them. This is Elemeno P, so it wasn't too hard for the crowd to remember the lyrics. Like, two goes.

Singer Dave Gibson still sings like he has a frog in his throat. Someone should tell him about the magic of Vicks Vaporub.

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rainbowBlogger:
Tracey Bond
Time: 1.50pm
How did it get to be lunchtime already? I remember braving massive queues last year to get a burger, but this year I just meandered up to the Mexican place and got a burrito in seconds.

The only place that seems to be doing a roaring trade at the moment is the place where you show your ID to get a wristband which allows you to buy alcohol.

The queue for that is stretching right across the pitch of the stadium.

The Black Kids played an enthusiastic set filled with their brand of wholesome American Indie-pop on the Orange Stage.

Tracks Love Me Already and the band's big hit I'm Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How to Dance had the crowd jumping up and down, I even spotted a conga line snaking through the crowd.

I swung by LilyWorld to find a bare-chested man clad in brightly coloured feathers making tribal sounds. There's an inflatable platform set up just in front of the stage, so punters can literally bounce to the beat.

I think, despite my best intentions, and lashings of Factor 30, I've managed to burn my chin...

Ah well, off to see The Ting Tings... wish me luck. Oh and Chris Schulz is wearing earplugs. Wuss.

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rainbowBlogger:
Chris Schulz
Time: 12.45pm
So, I was sitting up in the main stage stand enjoying a nice plate of One Love vegetarian festival food (the peach havala is to die for) and taking in the not-so-soothing sounds of Cobra Khan when I started getting a little worried.

According to the official Big Day Out 2009 program manual (that little booklet you get at the front gate), there are sniffer dogs patrolling the stadium for punters laden with drugs. Yes: D.R.U.G.S.

Apparently, if a sniffer dog sits down beside you, the police have the right to search you. If this happens, you're advised to "stay calm, be polite, co-operative and let police search you".

Thank God I read it - I thought the appropriate response would be to sprint away as fast as possible while distributing bags of "grass clippings" into the arms of anyone and everyone nearest to you.

Oh. Upon further reading this only applies in New South Wales. Whew. Those Aussies must be dodgy.

Shame I was worrying so much I missed much of Cobra Khan's loud, brutally hypnotic set. The four boys on stage looked like worthy metallers, but what's the nice blonde chick doing in the band?

She looks far too innocent to be making a racket like that.

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rainbowBlogger:
Chris Schulz
Time: 12.15pm
Holy hell ... it's getting hot in here. It's getting so hot I've taken one of my three shirts off. I feel naked, but cool. In this heat, that's nothing short of a minor miracle.

After a whirlwind tour of some of the early bands, here are my short reviews: Clap Clap Riot - Someone's been drinking energy drinks for breakfast; Quay Street Social Club - It's never too early to play Salt 'n Pepa's Push It; World War Four - That's the kind of axe I dream I'm playing on Guitar Hero; and Subtract - Bleargh! Argh! Urghargle! (I think that translates as, "Don't get sunburnt").

But the highlight had to be An Emerald City. Imagine Tool doing an instrumental jam with The Flaming Lips and you get somewhere close. The poncho-clad Kiwi lads are recording their new album in a cave, and that's the kind of smoky intensity they bought to the Boiler Room. Watch out for these guys.

In my travels I spotted a few celebrities, most notably TV3's Samantha Hayes and David Farrier, and C4's Dai Henwood. Then there was Clarke Gayford, who was giving away free samples of chewing gum.

Dude, I know it's been a while since we've seen you on prime time television, but has it come to this?

If it's any consolation, the gum was excellent.

Speaking of food, the stalls - especially Fatima's, Hell's Pizza and some Mexican joint - are doing a roaring trade already. I'm guessing quite a few punters skipped breakfast in a bid to get here early.

Naughty, naughty. You'll be filling up on carbs later in the day.

I know Tracey is our fashion reporter, but I have to mention the couple dressed up as The Flinstones. Their Bedrock-inspired outfits are easy, breezy and super sleazy.

But there are far too many teens running around in just their bras. Did mum let you leave the house like that?

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rainbowBlogger:
Tracey Bond
Time:11.30am
It is hot as hell already out there people. My ears are still ringing from last night's Arctic Monkeys gig at the Powerstation.

The lads from the UK had the dancefloor jumping - quite literally - you couldn't stand still on it, but there again why would you want to?

They gave the crowd lots of old faves as well as a sneak preview of four new songs.

They opened with new track Pretty Visitors which looks like it could be the first single off the new album.

I've just been out and about talking to some early arrivals, including one gent who got his family up at 3am in Taranaki to drive up to Auckland.

And who's he here to see? Neil Young. And to hang out in the Boiler Room checking his sons don't get up to too much mischief.

Subtract have just started playing on the main stage - I'm going to head out and see who is wearing what. 

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rainbowBlogger:
Chris Schulz
Time: 11.15am
Here are some insider tips for anyone heading to the Big Day Out later today. While watching the punters rush through the front gates - it felt like a peaceful sales crowd at Farmers - I got talking to a Boiler Room "runner".

So, according to him, you can expect plenty of pyrotechnics in the Boiler Room - possibly for Hot Chip, almost certainly for The Prodigy.

I'm no expert, but isn't letting fireworks off in a sweat-drenched, punter-filled tent just a little, you know, dangerous? Canvas and flames don't usually go so well together.

I haven't been camping since the infamous 2003 incident at Whitianga involving a tent, a camping stove, a small gopher and a burnt sausage. Just. Don't. Ask.

This "runner" guy - I think his name was Matthew, and I hope he doesn't get fired for telling me these tips - also said Neil Young had asked for an "analogue" set-up for his main stage show.

Analogue? What is this - 1976? Hey grandad, welcome to the naughties.

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rainbowBlogger:
Chris Schulz
Time: 10.45am
I believe this is what sailors refer to as "the calm before the storm". Mt Smart Stadium is a picture of serenity with it's beautifully cut grass and empty stands.

As we know, it's about to be blown apart.

Several metal bands, including Subtract (Orange Stage, 11.30am) and Cobra Khan (Blue Stage, 12.15pm), are set to open the main stages at the 2009 Big Day Out with some of the heaviest sounds of the day.

I'm not used to listening to heavy metal first thing in the morning, just after I've eaten my cornies, so I'm going to head up to Bionic Pixie (Green Stage, 10.30am).

Anyone with a name like that deserves at least a cursory glance.

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rainbowBlogger: Chris Schulz
Time: 9.30am
Bugger. It had to happen eventually. Especially when you've been to as many Big Day Outs as I have (I've lost count, but it's definitely into double figures). My legs are going to be killing me by the end of today.

I'm talking about the major timetable clashes at this year's Big Day Out. Like Chickenman, they're everywhere, they're everywhere.

TV on the Radio (Orange Stage, 4.10pm) or Lupe Fiasco (Boiler Room, 4.30pm)? Serj Tankian (Orange Stage, 6pm) or The Mint Chicks (Essential Stage, 6.30pm).

And the big one: Standing around with the grandads to watch Neil Young (Blue Stage, 9.10pm), or waving my glowsticks at The Prodigy (Boiler Room, 10.15pm)?

Sheesh. I didn't know I'd need to be an Olympic athlete to catch all the bands I wanted to see. Hey, Big Day Out organisers - are you trying to kill me? My mum won't be too pleased if you succeed.

One thing is for certain: I won't be anywhere near the Green Stage at 2.30pm. If you see me there, you have permission to punch me. Like, right in the face.

Give me a kick or two as well, because anyone who listens to British pop-schlock act The Ting Tings - who are nothing more than a glorified Mickey Mouse Club - and enjoys them deserves all that, and probably more.

Let me say this slowly: I. Can't. Stand. The. Flippin'. Ting. Tings. Got it? Good. Fellow blogger Tracey Bond has drawn the short straw on that one.

Still, there's plenty else to see and do. I've been told Tiki Taane (Boiler Room, 2.45pm) has something special in store, and I'm definitely checking out TV on the Radio, My Morning Jacket (Green Stage, 5.30pm) and Hot Chip (Boiler Room, 8.30pm).

And here's my random pick for the day: Honey Claws (Local Produce, 5pm). Their brand of low-fi electro hip-hip could be the perfect antidote to the guitar-fired rock populating the main stage this year.

Let's hope there's no one decent playing at the same time, 'cos my legs just aren't up to it.

* Stuff's Big Day Out blog will be updated every 45 minutes throughout the day, so keep checking back for regular updates, reviews and photos.

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rainbowBlogger: Tracey Bond
Time: 9.30am
Last year I ran around like a headless chicken trying to see as many acts as possible, and left the 2008 Big Day Out with the world's worst dehydration headache.

This year I’m giving in to the fact that some things - like being in two places at once - are not yet scientifically possible.

I’m also feeling the need for a bit of a dance this year, so Sneaky Sound System (Essential Stage, 4.45pm), and The Prodigy (Boiler Room, 10.15pm) are firmly on my radar.

Trying to squish the whole of Mount Smart Stadium into the Boiler Room is going to be very, very interesting.

As Chris refuses to be anywhere near the Green Stage when The Ting Tings (Green Stage, 2.30pm) are on, I’m taking one for the team.

'Schlock-pop' they may be Mr Schulz, but they’re still going to be one of the main draws.

I predict you’ll be able to hear the crowd chanting, "That’s not my name!" from the sweaty confines of the Boiler Room.

I’m looking forward to seeing what The Mint Chicks (Essential Stage, 6.30pm) get up to this year. They're returning to the same stage where front man Kody Nielson literally tore apart the stage back in 2005.

No pressure Kody.

American indie pop group The Black Kids (Orange Stage, 1.00pm) and British lads Arctic Monkeys (Orange Stage, 8.00pm) are also on my To Do list.

I interviewed singer Reggie from The Black Kids yesterday. He was taking his first Big Day Out in his stride and said he was really excited to be playing in Auckland.

You can see Stuff.co.nz’s interview with The Black Kids and The Mint Chicks here.

And don't forget to get your glad rags on, people.

Stuff.co.nz is doing things a little differently this year. Throughout the day I’m going to be on the lookout for the best, worst and wackiest dressed folk at Mount Smart Stadium.

Ben, our intrepid photographer, will capture them in glorious technicolor for your viewing pleasure.

Blog on. 

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* What do you think? Post your comments below.

- Stuff

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