Canterbury rocked to a brighter beat as about 140,000 people jammed into Christchurch's Hagley Park on Saturday for one of New Zealand's biggest free concerts.
The city hosted earthquake-relief party Band Together for Canterbury, with stressed residents taking a break from the ongoing tremors to dance and sing to the sounds of leading Kiwi musicians, including The Exponents, Dave Dobbyn, Anika Moa and The Feelers.
Promoter Paul Ellis, who helped organise the event with Opshop frontman Jason Kerrison, said the turnout had left him "stunned, shocked, humbled and happy".
When he had first talked about throwing a concert with Kerrison, the suggestion had been an indoor event with five bands and about 5000 people.
However, plans ballooned rapidly, and Ellis was thrilled the extent of problems at the alcohol-free gig had been limited to a few lost children.
Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker admitted he was a bundle of nerves before his performance on guitar with iconic Kiwi band The Bats.
"That was more nerve-racking than anything else I've done in a long time ... it was like putting myself in harm's way personally. At least with the earthquake you had no choice."
While only a fraction of those at Band Together had been forced to move out of their homes because of the September 4 earthquake, it was clear New Zealand's small population meant everybody had family or friends who were struggling.
Those with children spoke of youngsters who were too frightened to go to sleep at night.
For many, Band Together was a chance to relax, dispel some stress and reclaim some normality among the constant aftershocks. Fortunately, there were none on Saturday afternoon.
Aranui mother Amy Murcott said her house had not been seriously damaged but many of her friends had not been so lucky.
A neighbour's circuit board had exploded during the quake, leaving him without power for days. Another friend had his house burgled after they were forced to move out because of damage.
Murcott's two children, Lilly, 4, and Bobby, 15 months, had been unsettled after the quake, but were slowly recovering.
Going back to preschool, where regular earthquake drills were held under the guise of a game, had helped Lilly.
"They shout out 'turtle' and everyone dives under the desks," Murcott said.
For a Redwood family, the Turners, Band Together was an opportunity to forget about the limbo they are in with their property.
"We had to come it's been so difficult we had to be part of it."
While their house was not a write-off, they are still waiting for a visit from Earthquake Commission inspectors, while liquefaction continues to bubble up through the ground with every aftershock.
Justine Turner said last Tuesday's magnitude 5.0 aftershock was more stressful than the initial earthquake, as her six-year-old son, Liam, was at school and the phones were not working.
However, Liam and his friend, Jack Prebble, were loving the concert, enjoying the music and dancing in the sun.
Jack said the earthquake had not bothered him, and he had even given advice to his family during the big shake.
"I ran out the door and jumped on my Dad and said, 'Get under the door'."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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