Splendour in the Grass

Splendour 2013, Yew!!

Getting there was half the fun. There was so much mud, but also green grass and trees and blue skies and sunshine. The line for the bus was epic but everybody was smiling and drinking cider and dressed super colorful. We did eventually get to see some music… it was excellent.

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Folks were waving fifties at passing cars trying to get a ride, there didn’t seem to be enough buses to contain the excitement of so many party people.

The cops were in good spirits and every body had a drink. People had come from everywhere but it seemed half of Melbourne had made the pilgrimage North.

Everybody got onto a bus eventually, everybody was stoked it wasn’t raining!

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This was the best seat in the house, trees and grass welcomed us as we walked to the site.

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Busted! The doggies were working hard all weekend.

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Splendour in the Grass, much like Byron Bay, has battled to maintain it’s alternative culture. There were big name bands but it was folk rather than pop. Fashion was everywhere but it was decidedly boho (so many Indian headdresses, bindis and rose tiaras). You could get trashed and rave out or you could don a kaftan and slide to some acoustic guitar.

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The first band we caught was Clairy Brown and the Bangin’ Rackets. Damn that girl has a set of pipes on her, plus a bangin’ booty.

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Damo and Russ were drinking wine.

Splendour_2013_06Keeping a straight face in teepee forest is always going to be hard.

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All smiles.

Splendour_2013_17 Splendour_2013_19Enter the dragon.

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I met heaps of legends just getting off on the good times.

Splendour_2013_32Wizards like to party too..

 

Splendour_2013_34 Splendour_2013_35 Splendour_2013_36Next up was Ms-Mr. Damn these guys were having fun on stage. The singer had a Florence and the Machine vibe but with punk sensibilities. She wailed into that microphone and the passion got everybody fired up. Boots were stamping in the mud and after that session my voice was hoarse, and it was only the first afternoon…

Baby Shambles were a highlight. Peter Doherty did his thing, it was good to rock out and forget about all the alt/folk/pop that would dominate the weekend. Doherty seemed lucid enough to remember his lines. At the end of his set he dropped the mic, you got the impression he would be straight on the plane. But sorry no photos. (Maybe on my film camera….)

But then it was on to Tv On The Radio and everything else was forgotten. These guys were dripping in sweat as they ran up and down the stage. It was funk but it was rock but the beats were bangin’. There’s no-one quite like these guys. Killed it! But sorry no photos. (Maybe on my film camera….)

Oh and then we saw Architecture in Helsinki to round out the night, they’ve gotta be the most colourful band I ever did see. Heaps of room to move down the back of that one, in the mud, avoiding the Mumford crowds…

Day two… cider for breakfast, then coffee.

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Got a lift with this guy… people smuggler – legend – lover.

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I’m realising now that I didn’t get a whole lot of shots of the bands… and writing about gigs is kinda weird, no-one wants to hear much of my vodka-infused recollections of dancing in the mud. So i’ll keep it the highlights…

Chet Faker, everybody loved this guy. I wandered around outside the tent taking photos and chatting to folks, it was an excellent soundtrack.

Splendour_2013_37 Splendour_2013_38Cloud Control are one of my favourites. I got to hang out with them when I was in Berlin last year and now they have a new album on the way and I’m very, very excited. These guys are gonna go large, be warned.

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Cold War Kids, damn these guys pulled a crowd. Everybody knew the words and everybody was throwing back beers in solidarity. So much sweat, so much energy.

Later on we saw Fatty Freddy’s Drop doing their thing. While I’ve listened to their albums a million times I realised I’d never seen them live. They were amazing, their MC introduced them and they had a horn section and their voices were pure. The trombone guy had a paunch and short shorts and he loved to dance. They really are something special. Plus we had a sweet spot right in front of the mixing booth. A spot to lean and firm ground was bliss.

So good was the spot we hung around for Alison Wonderland in readiness for FLUME.

I went to get a drink and when I got back I hit a wall of people. Flume is popular to say the least and I have never faced so much vitriole for trying to squeeze through a crowd. I was heckled from all sides, shoved and elbowed and cursed. I was apologetic but I wasn’t going to stop. I needed to get into the very heart of the tent, I knew my buddies would be there, I had a smile on my face as my body was flung and tossed through the crowd.

I squeezed through with excellent timing, i got big hugs from my friends and then the young man called Flume start pounding the speakers.

This kid has the world at his feet, he is as eloquent on the Facebook as he is with his beats, “Last year I opened the mixup stage, this year i’m closing it, thanks for the support, a lot can happen in a year.”

Damn straight. Everybody was dancing, reaching for the lasers.

Day three… a late start.

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We arrived in the afternoon and parked close to the gate. More cider, a glass of champagne and then to Lorde. This 17 year old from New Zealand got the call-up as Frank Ocean pulled out, apparently he had a sore throat, his fans were disappointed.

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We sat in the tan-bark and watched Hermitude destroy the speakers. We drank cold beer and watched these stalwarts of Aussie Hip-hop beats woo the crowd with all their bangers.

Splendour organisers did a super good job with their new site. It’s a festival for everybody. There was good food and good wine but also cheap food and shitty beer. You could always find somewhere dry to sit as well as having somewhere dark and dirty to get weird and dance.

Sure the buses were a nightmare on the first day but by Saturday night we were straight on a bus and out of there. They’ll iron out the kinks at Falls on NYE and by next year it will be a well oiled machine.

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But it’s not over yet…

Alt J were the worst kept secret of the festival. They are a special band their live show was so sick. The singer’s voice is so distinctive, the drawn out percussion and drums were haunting. They played their cover Slow-Dre, so good.

Then to James Blake… we were so spoiled. The sound was quality was amazing and there was plenty of room to move and everybody was swaying, eyes closed. It was an ethereal experience. This young Englishman had so much control of his keyboard and his samples and his voice. It was pretty special, he surely earned himself a few more fans.

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Laura Marling and the Presets… you couldn’t get a more contrasting pair of acts. Laura had a sparse crowd but everybody was in love her. She told us we were her favourite festival crowd ever. We were putty in her hands and her sweet English accent was divine. Her guitar looked huge on her tiny body but her voice filled the immense tent, very good.

The Presets have been closing festivals for a good ten years now. I’ve seen them countless times but satisfaction is always guaranteed. The rain started and everybody pushed into the tent. So many bodies swaying, it was muddy and hard to find your footing. There were smiles and screams and everybody was going a little loopy after three days of debauchery.
It was an appropriate end.

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