Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Splendid Splendour

So. Splendour is over for another year. Having only ever attended one-day music festivals at sites about a third of the size of Woodford, I spent quite a bit of time marveling at the organisation that must have gone in to executing not only an amazing line-up of over 60 acts, but also the creation of an entire metropolis in the middle of nowhere – complete with day spas, tarot card readers, cafes, pop-up stores, cocktail bars and a forum from which Julian Assange could bleat.

Nestled between Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast hinterland, Woodfordia is just another small country town… Made unique by playing host to massive music and folk festivals. Woodford Folk Festival is an annual must-attend for every hippy in the country, and Woodford was also temporary home for Splendour for the past 2 years while Byron Bay reinvigorates its own festival site. Splendour will return to Byron next year, however given Moreton Bay Regional Council’s recent purchase of the site ($4 million) and the stated intention that it be used as a festival location, I’m sure we’ll see many more events at the site in the future. Having now visited and enjoyed the spectacular sound of its natural ampitheatre, I can promise you this was a great investment! Although fewer rocks under foot would be great… My feet were killing me by the end of the 3 days! My only issue with the venue was the cold (not its fault) – it was distractingly cold in the amphitheatre at night and when the sun disappeared behind the trees, and I know of some campers who slept in their cars because it was too cold to camp. And lining up for a shower in the freezing cold just isn’t that pleasant… But that’s just me, and I do understand that summer is pretty festival-heavy already, so they need to break up the cost for music-lovers. And this was truly my only gripe about the location!

With that out of the way. On to the music!

There were so many highlights (i.e. I loved every act I saw), I’m going to have to break it down by day.

Day One – best on field went to Kanye West. Pyrotechnics, dazzling light displays, over 20 ballerinas and a stellar showman who performed for over 90 minutes in a 3 Act performance was a pretty amazing thing to see. Runaway, with a solo ballerina, was probably my favourite… But it’s honestly very hard to choose! A concert in its own right, I walked away so overjoyed to have seen it. The rumour that Jay Z was helicopter-ing in that night sadly didn’t eventuate, but he wasn’t needed. It was a fantastic, impressive performance (apparently DJ Shadow who was playing at the same time in the mix-up tent was also pretty excellent).

Other highlights for me were Gotye – it was so cool to see exactly how he makes his music (very tech!) and newbie Kimbra joined him on-stage for their hit Somebody That I Used to Know which brought the house down.

Kimbra’s solo act earlier in the day was so much fun, and she wore the cutest frou-frou dress. Definitely girl-crushing on Kimbra! She has a new album out in September.

James Blake made eccentrically beautiful music, and Eskimo Joe and Jebediah were both solid. The Kills were ok, except Alison Mosshart channeled Cousin Itt with her hair (apparently to block the sun… it was just annoying) and I’m pretty sure I saw La Moss backstage. I find their music a little same-y, so I wandered off (it was also time to change in to my warmer night-time outfit).

Day Two kicked off with a bang with Tim & Jean who I’ve had on my iPod for some time now. Danananakroyd (way too many anana I think) were really cute, encouraging the crowd to engage in a hug-off rather than moshing. So hipster. I loved it! Fitz and The Tantrums were AWESOME, and the lead singer is now also in my book of girl-crushes – she was so gorgeous and sassy. I had so much fun at this act, but it didn’t really rate a mention anywhere else (well, my music taste isn’t exactly that fantastic – I continue to adore Britney Spears after all!) Major error of judgment by the organisers re The Jezabel’s popularity, resulted in them being placed in the GW Mclennan tent when the size of the crowd completely justified main stage blessings. I caught the last half of Foster the People which was infectious fun – especially their hit Pumped Up Kicks. I found Gomez a bit yawn-worthy (they’re getting pretty old now!), loved Aston Shuffle and Thievery Corporation, and PNAU went bananas.

By Day Three I can promise you that the festival-goers were starting to look a little frayed around the edges, and almost all danced out. But the day was so good, we all persevered. For this little Dancing Queen, I couldn’t go past 2 fun sets from Hoops (all-girl DJ group featuring Nina Las Vegas and Triple J’s Saturday night mixologist). Oh God. Now I can’t remember if it was Danananakroyd or The Vaccines who did the hug-off… I saw The Vaccines, didn’t mind them but they didn’t stay in my mind… Sorry. Review fail. Saw The Vines and The Herd – both of which were good (I preferred The Herd), Flight Facilities and Cut Copy (love). I wish I’d seen more of Pulp (Jarvis Cocker – engaging, hilarious, uber smart and charismatic, incredible voice) and Coldplay were great… What I saw of it that is. This little festival-goer was almost asleep on her frozen feet, so we disappeared halfway through. What I heard of them was beautiful – truly. They have SO MANY hits, it’s mindboggling. And apparently the house was brought down by Chris Martin’s rendition of Fix You – using Amy Winehouse’s Rehab lyrics. I wish I’d seen it. Dang! Elbow, who I’d never heard of before were also fantastic!

And what of the fashion?

In: Onesies; heart-shaped sunglasses; animal outfits (the best one was the panda); tassles on bags, shoes, whatever; flowers in the hair; clothes that fit; nanna’s cardigan; feathers in the hair; wet-look black leggings; scruffy hair; naturally pretty girls (i.e. low on make-up - including minimal lip gloss, which probably had more to do with the dust than anything else); faux fur coats.

Out: Anything too tight; fluorescent anything; too much exposed flesh; fake tans; overly visible bra straps.

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