Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Don't Believe the Hype - A Splendour Review [Part 3]

Ben Lee poisoned me.

Woah! I have been waylaid for a week and a half. I got a vicious infectious disease, probably caused by Ben Lee. I think it was he who snuck into my tent at Splendour and infected me with a strain of H5N1, commonly known as Avian Flu. It has prevented me from finishing my Splendour review. My immune system has finally kicked into gear and I have emerged victorious. Now, without further ado....I bring you the final chapter in the trilogy, Splendour in the Grass, Part 3.

Day Three

I wake up with a feeling akin to a hangover. This is strange because I didn’t drink the day before. Perhaps Ben Lee snuck into my tent and poisoned me during the night. Feeling a bit of an outsider at the festival so I decide to attempt to fit in. I don an Australian flag as a cape, a pair of Ray Bans, a wife-beater, and a giant sombrero. Back to the amphitheatre.

I’d never expect to see a boy and bear on stage together, but Splendour is all about surprises and that’s exactly what we get when Boy & Bear emerge on to the main stage. Have you ever seen a full grown bear do a Kirk Hammett-esque guitar solo before throwing himself into a crowd of folk music loving music fans who fail to catch him and result in a horrendous shoulder injury? Well, I now have. This unfortunate event cut short the set. Indeed, boy looks a bit lost without his bear.

What is funny about Cloud Control is that in addition to playing instruments, they're also a group of traveling meteorologists with a social conscious. They play a bunch of songs from their debut record Bliss Release including the hit single “There is Nothing in the Water That We Can’t Fight” which is actually protest song regarding government proposals to put fluoride in our water supplies. A person dressed up as a large tooth complete with cowboy hat joins the band on stage and does some kind of rap, followed by a slow break dance. Presumably this is some sort of public health announcement.

When Cloud Control are not playing festivals, they're predicting weather.

A crowd gathers around the front of stage eagerly awaiting the imminent return of We Are Scientists to Australia. Several men in black roll out laboratory tables and a giant periodic table. Three guys in lab coats emerge sans instruments, instead carrying centrifuges. They perform a number of experiments, including mixing magnesium with oxygen to produce magnesium oxide. It’s all pretty exciting and I felt like I really learned something. Not all agree, going by the amount of beer cans that are thrown at the stage.

Ash used to have a super hot chick in the band. But she left to pursue a solo career. Still they have some great songs like ‘Kung Fu’ and ‘A Life Less Ordinary’. Now they’re getting a bit old and fat and the drummer looks like Adam Spencer. Still their rousing rendition of ‘A Life Less Ordinary’ pleases the gathered crowd of fashion victims from the late 1990s.

The Vines are crap. Someone hurls a wheelchair at Craig Nicholls, which he narrowly avoids. It skittles along the stage floor, crashing into the drumkit, ruining a kick drum on the way. The band regretfully have to finish ‘Highly Evolved’ without drums before trudging off the stage.

Mumford and Sons play to a massive crowd of people who love a second rate Fleet Foxes. However, they do love a good banjo. It seems that Mumford and Sons are only popular here in Australia given that they’ve been here about 50 times in the last 6 months. They are joined on stage by another hack that seems only popular in Australia. Ben Harper comes out to play a twenty-minute banjo solo during 'Little Lion Man', failing to notice the rest of the band packing up 5 minutes into his cameo. Somehow this song segues into a rousing version of 'Mama's Trippin' and I think I saw a guy in dreadlocks get an erection. Ben comes to at the end of the song, realising that everyone has left the main stage and promptly starts crying. It's a touching moment and I feel like I want to kill myself.

Richard Ashcroft is a megalomaniac. He beings with a rendition of the Verve’s ballad ‘The Drugs Don’t Work’ clearly sending a message that his usual dosage of prescription medicines are failing to prevent him overcoming his natural inclination to wankery. Reacting negatively to a few missiles thrown in his direction, Ashcroft hurls himself off the stage into the crowd screaming ‘I’ll take you all on!’, arms flailing like a crazed dervish. Security guards prevent the ‘superstar’ from hurting anyone, demanding he return to the stage. Ashcroft seems perturbed, refusing to perform anymore, stating he’d rather go see the Pixies.

Often, it is puzzling how one song can define one bands career. Empire of the Sun actually only have one song – 'Walking on a Dream' - which sounds like it has been ripped off Boy Meets Girl 80s song ‘Waiting For a Star to Fall’. Luke Steele arrives on the stage dressed as giant flamingo. This costume is so outrageously large, he cannot fit on the stage without some emergency modifications to his costume. They play a 45 minute version of ‘Walking on a Dream’ before leaving to a rapturous applause. They return for an encore, in which they play ‘Walking on a Dream’ once again.

Black Francis has let himself go.

It’s getting late and Pixies are the final band to grace the main Splendour stage.Once the band that was worth a lot of indie street cred, this is the group's second visit to Australia in 2010 since the GFC destroyed their superannuation in 2009. Frank Black sit up behind the rest of the band, Jabba the Hut style, lying back on a throne, playing guitar and eating weird chicken like animals sourced from the depths of Tatoonie. Joey Santiago resembles a reanimated corpse, while Dave Lovering could actually be using a modified version of Stephen Hawking’s wheelchair as his drum kit. Still, they play a bunch of songs that are pretty awesome. However, the best is yet to come.

During ‘Where is My Mind’, spectators are shocked when a drunken Tim Roger’s charges on to stage and tackles Kim Deal, sending her prosthetic leg flying into the crowd. ‘Where is my Mind’ inevitably becomes ‘Where is My Leg?’, and the entire crowd is forced to search amongst the slew of rubbish that has gathered over the past few days for Kim’s missing appendage.

Pixies wind down what has been a thoroughly bizarre three days. I spend 10 hours in traffic on my way back to Brisbane.

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