Splendour Bender: Part Three
Buckled in mind, body and soul, three days of festival filth were washed away following a refreshingly brisk (it was fucking freezing) dip in the sparkling blue-green water of Byron Bay. Many a festival goer could be seen taking a cheeky snooze on the beach pending the final night and potentially the long trek home, but Splendour ain’t over till its over; there were still corn dogs to be eaten and we had a date with Mr Corgan.
Our final day of Splendour began with ex-Fleet Foxes drummer Joshua Tillman, more commonly known under the guise of Father John Misty. With quite a commendable rock band in tow, Tillman gave a thoroughly engaging and enjoyable romp through the tracks of his latest offering; ending with Triple J’s favourite, ‘Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings’. Sauntering across the stage like a six-foot tall Iggy Pop and with a voice just as commanding, Tillman was a true showman, and proved to be a festival highlight.
Canadian indie-rockers and triple j darlings Metric fronted the Super Top as the sun began to set. Front woman Emily Haines looked lusciously fresh and windswept, while Vulture was practically stewing in a combination of our own juices and mud. Delish. Her stage presence is difficult to ignore, and while we can’t say we’re huge fans, ‘Help I’m Alive’ was performed more or less perfectly.
Joining the list of festival lowlights, however, was Wolfmother, or should we say, Andrew Stockdale and band, as he is the only original member remaining. Should we be surprised? It was fucking hilarious. Where to start? Shoddy equipment, a backing band who struck so many poses they ran the risk of looking stupider than Andrew Stockdale’s giant fucking afro. The crowd seemed behind them as they ran through that slew of songs from five years ago, but when Stockdale launched into their new single, there was little interest. Granted, they’re actually not a bad band skill-wise, but there is a great lack of depth and originality in the majority of Stockdale’s song writing.
Oh Azealia Banks, after your electrifying albeit incredibly short set (27 minutes to be exact – that’s what happens when you give a headlining set time to an artist who only has a four-track EP to her name), we can’t help but have a massive crush on you. The track that launched the career of this 21-year-old from Harlem and onto the top of NME’s ‘Cool List’ for 2011 ‘212’ was probably the most infectious tune we heard all weekend. Though we’re not so keen on the venues that this banger gets pumped (think those places you used to go as a just-18 year old in your club rat days), there is no denying this rapping, attitude-giving, booty-shaking babetown. We had a fair bit of time to spare before Pumpkins, so we decided to wet our whistle at the José Cuervo tent for a round (read: five) frozen margaritas and decided to check out 50 Years of Dylan. Comprising of Josh Pyke, The Grates’ Patience Hodgeson, Jebediah’s Kevin Mitchell and Eskimo Joe’s Kav Temperly, the group took turns giving their own interpretations of iconic Dylan songs. Seemed promising considering the material, but the execution left so much to be desired. Pyke seemed to suck all the power right out of ‘The Times They Are a Changin’, turning one of music’s greatest call-to-arms into a lullaby. Mitchell didn’t inject anything new into ‘I Want You’, and by the time Hodgeson was crowd-surfing while Temperly strutted around like a fucking idiot during ‘Rainy Day Woman’, we had seen enough.
By the time we had made it to the Super Top, four beings including one bald, slightly weathered-looking dude walked onto the stage. For the first song, we weren’t sure who the hell we were listening to. It looked like Corgan, but he wasn’t singing. The drummer was singing, and it sounded like shit because it didn’t sound like Pumpkins at all. “This IS Smashing Pumpkins, right?” we were forced to ask someone. They nodded. Then they launched into ‘Zero’. Thank Christ they pulled it off otherwise we would have been forced to think the inevitable had finally happened: Corgan is over the hill. We can’t fault his performance; it was perfect. He still belts vocals in his trademark nasally yowl, but there comes a time in every band’s life when singing about the experiences of a troubled American teenager no longer applies because the front man is in his 40s. Their new material is nothing to write home about, and we feel as though it might have been better for him to call it quits in 2000. Nonetheless, they put together a solid set of new material off Oceania and anthems of pretty much every teenager growing up in the 90s.
The music selection was top notch, especially the lesser-known bands. It’s great to see plenty of local acts getting a good run at such a massive festival.
The market place and food stalls were incomparable to any other festival we’ve seen and the twinkly lights make it a pretty magical place to be at night.
The weather – we’ve blocked the freak hailstorm from our memory and have decided to only focus on the glorious sunshine that greeted us every morning.
The location – Byron Bay is beautiful and sometimes it’s nice to escape the festival for a romp on the beach and a wash in the ocean.
What we didn’t like so much:
The toilets – kind of goes without saying but the toilets were fucking disgusting, and let’s not forget about the giant poo we found in the shower block on day three.
The location of the camp grounds – the fact that it takes half an hour to walk to the festival site (if you’re walking briskly) is a pain in the ass. Free shuttle buses are available if you’re willing to wait in line behind 300 other people too lazy to walk. A fair bit of planning needs to go into leaving for the stage, i.e. as it gets so cold at night, bringing jackets and other shit with you if you’re in for the long haul.
Despite our little niggles, Splendour in the Grass 2012 was fucking unreal and, having washed Splendour out of our hair and clothes, we’re feeling like it was all a bit of a dream; a beautifully soft-focused, colour-saturated dream. See you next year?