Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Splendour In The Grass, or "Vampire Weekend called, they want clothes back!"

"Is that the dude from Bliss N' Eso?"

"Yeah, I think it is."

"How much will you give me if I walk over there and say "OH MY GOD IT IS YOU! I love The Nosebleed Section!"?"

It was fairly obvious that we weren't really fit to be considered part of the human race as we staggered into the Sunshine Coast airport on Monday, post-Splendour. We left Sydney bright eyed and bushy tailed, and returned three days later as five puddles of stench and mess with brain matter oozing out of our ears and dirt in and on everything. None of us really cared though, because we had just arrived from Splendour in the Grass 2011 and that beats the house every time.

There are certain music festivals that one might attend where you can stand in the crowd, completely enveloped in sound and bonded to thousands of other human beings in a single moment of transcendental glory as a band or artist shatters your worldview, shakes the very foundations of everything you believe through an argument espoused in music, the most beautiful and universal language of them all...and then there are festivals where you stand in the showers and watch as another persons' wee streams by, dangerously close to your feet. Splendour somehow managed to be both - closer to the former than the latter thankfully.

I'm always intrigued by the crowds at an event like Splendour that tends to have a very eclectic line up. Turn your head in one direction, and you're confronted by a group of knuckle-dragging Neanderthals who are dribbling all over each other because they're already very drunk, comparing cock sizes and hugging a lot (but not in a gay way, I ain't no homo mate) and letching after the most vulnerable looking women in their immediate vicinity. Turn your head the other way, and you're staring straight at the cover of last month's edition of Frankie, watching the waif-thin indie kids sweat profusely, staring at the bright, hot ball in the sky and wondering why it's turning their skin a different colour from the well-maintained pallor that's the only tone they've ever known.

I can't tell a lie, I hate both of those groups.

One day, I am going to run my own festival. When you try to buy tickets, you will have to fill out this questionnaire:

Hello! Thank you for your interest in tickets to Loz's Superawesomefuntime Festival, this year being headlined by Journey and the Spice Girls (performing their seminal record 'Spice' in full). Before we process your ticket order, we just have a quick question for you.

1. Do you: (please tick all that apply)

- Have your post code tattooed anywhere on your person?

- Drink Rum because you actually like it, as opposed to it being the last thing left at the bar on the last night of a three day festival?

- Own an item of fluorescent clothing (a quick note to aid your search: this is likely to be a singlet)?

- Call your friends 'faggot', most likely as a means of masking your own latent homosexual tendencies?

- Have more than one Hilltop Hoods song on your iPod?

- Dress like the lovechild of Tim DeLaughter from The Polyphonic Spree and a 1970's wallpaper sample?

- Take a David Foster Wallace book to music festivals? (NB - I actually saw this, and you have no idea how much I wish I was making it up)

If the applicant answers in the affirmative to any of these points, I will redirect them to the Big Day Out website.

On the bright side, the bands were incredible. The line up provided enough variety that we were never going to be bored, and everyone delivered. We kicked off our Splendour in earnest on Friday night with a triple of Modest Mouse, The Hives and Kanye West. Modest Mouse were beautiful and the Hives (aka the best dressed band on the bill) were incredibly tight and entertaining, but Friday was always going to be about one man. Kanye was bombastic and put on a hell of a show, ensuring that everyone who had to follow him over the following two days had to work hard to get themselves involved in a conversation about the best acts of the festival. Given that the festival positioned itself as environmentally friendly, they were probably grateful that Kanye was able to glean the power for his set from his own ego - I'm not a climate scientist, but by my calculations that probably helped reduce the carbon footprint of the festival by somewhere in the vicinity of 612%.

To be fair, they did. Everyone from Bloc Party's Kele through to Friendly Fires attacked their sets with a fervour that you don't normally see from festival sets - perhaps there's something to be said for the one-off festival as opposed to a touring one. The really great thing for a music nerd like me to see was just how well the Australian acts stacked up against the visitors. Whether it was The Jezabels helping a packed G.W McClennan get their Saturday started right with a selection of tunes that were warmer than the afternoon Sun, The Living End starting a small riot in the amphitheatre or Drapht and The Herd keeping the energy levels up on Sunday, not a single local act that I saw disappointed.

And that, dear friends, is a very lovely thing indeed.