Monday, 2 August 2010

Don't Believe the Hype - Splendour in the Grass: A Review?

Hola! I'm Penfold Krackerbarral and I went to Splendour in the Grass. I've packaged together some of my thoughts for Daz's benefit.

I arrive at my campsite late on Thursday night and pitch my one-man tent. I’m crammed up against the male toilets next to a group of people who’ve been sitting around drinking beer for most of the day. They’re busy telling each other about how much more superior their musical taste than the average festival punter. I do end up confused because despite such claims, many in this aforementioned group feel compelled to state repeatedly how much they’re looking forward to watching Mumford & Sons the next day. To tell you the truth, I’d prefer watching Garry MacDonald and Ruth Cracknell do a 45 minute enactment of the best of ‘Mother & Son’ on the main Splendour stage than catch the aforementioned winners of the Triple J’s “hottest 100” of 2009. I roll my eyes and return to the safety of my fortress of solitude. I’m a tired mofo.

Mother & Son - far superior to Mumford & Sons

You see, I left Brisbane 12 hours earlier; arrived at the grounds an hour later, then spent 11 hours in a holding queue. I almost died of thirst, but was lucky enough to have enough distilled urine to prolong my feeble existence, a trick I learned from the ever-helpful ‘Man v Wild’ television series.

Friday – Day One

I’m up at the crack of dawn. I’m not missing Jinja Safari for the world. These guys won some competition presided over by Richard Kingsmill, future leader of North Korea. Ironically, despite being the first band on the bill, Jinja Safari is probably the best of the entire festival. It’s a shame that not many people are here to see them.

I stick around to see local grunge band Violent Soho sans Thurston Moore. They have a song about Jesus stealing girlfriends, which is historically inaccurate at least in a literal sense. They pretty much rock the fuck out and rip a few bottoms apart here and there.

British India
play a set typical of a band who admire colonialism. Included in the setlist is an anti-Gandhi anthem, another song about bringing civilisation to the savages and a folk-esque tune that looks into the fiscal benefits of exploiting the third world. Actually, all of that might not be true, as I cannot remember any of their set because I fell asleep.

Megan Washington looks like an attractive female Beatle, judging by her haircut. She plays some songs and does a great Abby Dobson impression; everyone is holding hands and slapping each other on the back. ‘Yeah, we’re cool!’

I take a break for lunch, and spend $40 on a hotdog. It cost me $10 for some bbq sauce as well. Good value for money. It’s fortunate that I budgeted $5,000 to attend this festival. Who needs two kidneys anyway?

I return to the GW McLennan tent to catch Midlake. They emerge from stage left dressed as 19th century American puritans, pitchforks in hand. They don’t actually play guitars, instead opting to shovel hay for 45 minutes. Still, their set is more enjoyable than Angus and Julia Stone.

Angus has been getting around in a beard of late, attempting to look like Devendra Banhart. Julia gets in on the act, playing their entire set with a large bushranger-style beard. During ‘Mango Tree’, Julia dons a Ned Kelly style metal helmet, a long brown jacket, completing her outfit with two holstered pistols. Near the end of the set, she leaves her piano and ambles towards the side of stage, firing two shots into celebrity onlookers, mortally wounding Andrew Stockdale from Wolfmother. The crowd rejoices at this development, but joy soon turns to melancholy, as Julia is taken away in shackles.

Police sketch artist depiction of a murderous Julia Stone approaching Andrew Stockdale

One of two horse themed bands here at Splendour, Foals attempt to engage the crowd by catapulting a horse carcass into the mosh pit. Screams of joy turn to screams of agony as a 900-pound horse crushes several Foals fans. This naturally puts a dampener on proceedings and the usually upbeat ‘Spanish Sahara’ takes on more somber tones.

The Temper Trap hit the main stage to play a bunch of songs they stole from U2 and now pass off as their own. Still, the crowd gathered round the main stages are excited. ‘Sweet Disposition’ goes down as expected, with the surprise appearance of the Edge, who parachutes from 20,000 feet and lands directly on to the main stage in order to operate guitarist Lorenzo Sillitto’s digital delay pedal.

It’s getting dark now and that means the vampires are out. Worryingly, I note several blood-drained corpses left willy-nilly in the mandatory festival recycle bins. I shake my head with a sense of disappointment: you can’t recycle that!

Bears are usually a OH&S nightmare, particularly at large Australian music festivals.

Grizzly Bear played a great set, mostly comprising of their work from 2009’s acclaimed record Veckatimist. To heighten audience suspense, the group let loose several untamed grizzlies, brought with them all the way from Alaska. Much like the Foals debacle earlier in the day, things don't go to plan, with several punters being mauled throughout the duration of the set. Lucky St. John’s Ambulance was on hand to issue band-aids and re-attach limbs. The set ends with a cracking version of ‘While You Wait for the Others’.

Ben Harper & the Restless 7 close out day one proceedings. You know what? I can hazard a guess as to why the Restless 7 are restless. It could be because they’re beginning to realise how crap it is being in a band with Ben Harper. I stay for about 10 minutes before wandering off to find some thalidomide. I must purge these memories.

Day one comes to a conclusion and I feel fortunate to be alive.

[To be continued]


Denis said...

I admire the fact that you deemed fit to watch the worst/useless/unnecessary/lame acts on Friday (apart from Washington and Grizzly Bear) instead of great sets like those of Foals, Hot Chip, LCD and Scissor Sisters and still laugh about it.

Jodi said...

Fucking classic.

Darragh said...

He's a wild man!

Anonymous said...

"They’re busy telling each other about how much more superior their musical taste than the average festival punter."

Speaking of Elitism.... how was the view from your high horse...?

I understand the intent of satire, but I'm sorry, I just didn't find it funny... Oh well, there's always Day 2 to await with bated breath... but then again, I enjoyed the M&S live set on JJJ, so who am I to judge, right?


Darragh said...

Jameses - fair point, but consider the irony of a character, like the reviewer, who is clearly prejudice and elitist making such a judgment on others.

The long acre said...


'I can hazard a guess as to why the Restless 7 are restless. It could be because they’re beginning to realise how crap it is being in a band with Ben Harper.'

Darragh said...


Anonymous said...

Daz, I get it...

I'm just getting old... and tired... :)

I'm sorry if this was a well-thought out character of yours and a channel to make a bunch of clever witticisms and observations on the state of Australian music/festivals... or just a bunch of random jokes...

I'd love to see a review for a festival that Penfold actually enjoyed... although I can only imagine that he listens to bands that are so avant garde that they haven't even established a following yet...

It actually sounds like Penfold's the one getting old and tired... and disenchanted ;) I'm surprised he didn't mention the traffic...

Darragh said...

His favourite band is Cold Chisel. That tells you something!

I believe a comment on the traffic is forthcoming for the third day review.