Me vs Splendour In The Grass 2010

SITG 2010

Having photographed Splendour In The Grass in 2008 and 2009, I find myself in an interesting position for 2010. I have a free media pass but because Mess+Noise (who I’m covering the festival for) forgot to apply for a photo pit pass before the deadline and before all of the passes were allocated, I don’t have any pit access. They’re happy with crowd shots and scenic panoramas and hopefully, as long as it’s not too busy now that the festival is being held at Woodford with an increased capacity of 30,000, they’ll be some potential for shooting a few of the earlier bands from the wrong side of the pit: it has happened a couple times in the GW McLennan tent previous years down at Byron even with a photo pass due thanks to over-zealous security guards.

On the upside I don’t have to worry too much about editing and meeting deadlines as I would if I was photographing as many bands as I could fit in over the three days of the festival; it was hard enough when Splendour was just the two days. Plus I’m still trying to blog All Tomorrow’s Parties from last December and Soundwave from February in the neverending backlog of blog posts that has built up since last year.  And, as I found out at BluesFest, camping and photography don’t really mix. So it looks like I’ll get to focus on the important things such as having a few drinks and seeing some bands instead of spending three days running between stages and seeing a few songs of most of the acts.  (Of course if anyone is offering a photo pass I’d bite their leg off, but it’s not going to happen so I’m having to get used to it).

Normally I do a bit of lineup analysis at this point in the post and compare it to previous years. This year, with the extra day, you can’t really compare it to past Splendours. Of the 86 acts on the lineup (including the DJs), I’ve photographed 27 of them before, plus The Stroke’s Julian Casablancas’ recent solo show, Jónsi when he was played with Sigur Rós a couple of years ago and Van She when they’ve played as a band as opposed to their Van She Tech DJ set. Of that total of 30, nine have been overseas acts, 21 Australian (doing the whole Australian thing and assuming NZ band Fat Freddy’s Drop to be ‘local’).

Links to those blog posts are hyperlinked in the list below.

The Strokes Alberta Cross
The Pixies Surfer Blood
LCD Soundsystem Space Invadas
Broken Social Scene British India
Midlake Washington
Ben Harper & Relentless7 Philadelphia Grand Jury
The Temper Trap Clare Bowditch
Mumford & Sons Band of Skulls
Florence and The Machine Two Door Cinema Club
Scissor Sisters The Drums
Empire of The Sun The Mess Hall
Art vs Science Violent Soho
Band of Horses School of Seven Bells
Goldfrapp Fat Freddy’s Drop
Richard Ashcroft Last Dinosaurs
Grizzly Bear John Steel Singers
Angus & Julia Stone Yacht Club DJs
Hot Chip Jonathan Boulet
Wolfmother Dan Sultan
Passion Pit Oh Mercy
Jónsi Cloud Control
Paul Kelly Boy & Bear
Foals Ernest Ellis
Sally Seltmann Tijuana Cartel
Bluejuice Frightened Rabbit
Laura Marling The Joy Formidable
Operator Please Skipping Girl Vinegar
Lisa Mitchell Gypsy and The Cat
The Vines Money For Rope
Miike Snow JaC Stone
Kate Nash Zennith
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club Tim & Jean
Tame Impala Bag Raiders
The Magic Numbers Van She Tech
K-OS Anna Lunoe
Midnight Juggernauts Kid Kenobi
Little Red Yolanda
Ash Be Cool
Whitley The Only
Yeasayer Purple Sneakers DJs
Miami Horror Miami Horror DJs
Delphic Graz
We Are Scientists Levins

Excluding bands I’ve already photographed, there are a few bands that I really would have liked to photograph; Florence and The Machine, Kate Nash, Scissor Sisters, Goldfrapp (although I’ve heard it can be awkward/difficult through a combination of artist temperament and management contracts), Richard Ashcroft, Ash (both for old times sake rather than anything else). But there’s always next time, right?

Although there’s an extra day and even more bands the price is really exorbitant; even more than in the last few years. This year an event only ticket is $360.20 ($350 + $10.20 booking fee) if bought online or $362.20 for phone bookings (with an extra $2 charge for using a telephone). The event plus camping ticket is an incredible $461.80 ($450 + $11.80 booking fee) for online sales, $463.80 for phone bookings. Last year a two-day event ticket was $240 + booking fee, which itself was a 20% increase on the $199 + booking fee for the 2008 festival. There’s an extra 50% of festival with a third day, but the ticket price has gone up by almost 46% since last year and just under 76% since 2008. As ever, I’m amazed but not surprised that the 30,000 tickets sold out in the first few hours. The festival bubble might be bursting for some but obviously not Splendour.

With the extra day, direct comparison of value for money on an overseas versus Australian band basis can’t really be done. This year 36 are from overseas, 50 Australian, roughly a 42%:58% split.

In last year’s first Splendour-related post I wrote:

The disappointment is in the Australian acts, which are the same tired old acts that get wheeled out at every Australian festival on a two-year rotating cycle, e.g. Grinspoon, Hilltop Hoods, Little Birdy, Josh Pyke, Midnight Juggernauts, Augie March, etc. There’s the usual Dew Process shoe-ins in Sarah Blasko (who I quite like) and Yves Klein Blue (who I don’t and who also played last year) and I’d expect new signings Bluejuice to be added in the next round of announcements. Nothing from the Modular roster as yet (certain NY band pending), but Tame Impala seem to be omnipresent at the moment so I’d expect them. With Little Birdy just having released a new album and with Hilltop Hoods about to release a new one, you know that they’ll be playing Homebake, Falls Festival, Big Day Out and every other festival in-between for at least the next twelve months. Let’s just hope that they don’t take it to Wolfmother extremes and stretch it out to about 4 years…

Another year and nothing much changes.

Applying that 2 year cycle theory, there’s eleven bands from the 2008 lineup:

  • Band of Horses
  • Laura Marling
  • Wolfmother
  • The Vines
  • Operator Please
  • Little Red
  • Art vs Science
  • British India
  • Bluejuice
  • Clare Bowditch
  • Bag Raiders

And if you include Van She/Van She Tech and Jónsi from Sigur Rós that makes thirteen, more than 15% of this year’s lineup.

In addition, there’s five acts who played in 2007:

  • Ash
  • Hot Chip
  • Paul Kelly
  • Midnight Juggernauts
  • Operator Please

And a further five who were on last year’s bill:

  • Midnight Juggernauts
  • Bluejuice
  • Little Red
  • Art vs Science (who replaced The Middle East who played last year as well)
  • Miami Horror

This means that Midnight Juggernauts, Little Red, Bluejuice, Art vs Science and Operator Please will have the somewhat dubious honour of having played three of the last four Splendours, with Bluejuice, Little Red and Art vs Science the last three years in a row. And there seem to be more Dew Process shoe-ins to the bill than ever; Bluejuice, Whitley, Ernest Ellis, Last Dinosaurs, Mumford & Sons and Alberta Cross.

It is good to see that they took my comment from May 2009 on board though – “John Steel Singers? They’d be a good band to put on at Splendour” (although if you believe everything you hear they’re on their way to being a Dew Process band anyway).  Velociraptor for 2011?

What’s even more surprising is that as well as relying heavily on bands that have played the festival in recent years, this year there is also a contingent of overseas bands that have played other festivals and tours earlier in the year; The Pixies, Florence & The Machine, Mumford & Sons, Grizzly Bear and Passion Pit.  Is there such a dearth in bands at the moment that festival organisers are having to get back bands that were only here a few months ago.  On a related note, with The Pixies’ headline spot being advertised as their “only Australian show”, there’s a cast iron, winnable lawsuit in the making thanks to them also playing a show at The Zoo the night before their Splendour set.  It would have been good to have seen them in such a small environment, although recent experience has shown that it would be unlikely to hold a candle to the band that they were 20 and more years ago.

The timetable has just been released and as I can’t get there until mid-Friday afternoon (thanks to a very expensive one-and-a-half-day work conference down on the Gold Coast that was booked six months ago) I’ll be missing at least two bands that I wanted to see in Violent Soho and School Of Seven Bells, and possibly a few more by the time I get in, get a tent put up and find my bearings. 

Depite the lack of proper photo pass I am looking forward to it.   I’m not sure what the mobile reception is like at Woodford or if I’ll have access to a media tent but if either of those things are happening I’ll be trying to do the usual tweeting and hopefully some daily blog posts from the site.  It’s crept up on me so I probably should think a bit more about getting organised for the weekend. 

If anyone’s going and wants to go see some bands and have a few drinks let me know.

One Response to “Me vs Splendour In The Grass 2010”

  1. Darragh says:

    You’re right about the price. Even with exchange rates, it is more expensive than Glastonbury. Unfortunately, with Splendour nearly always likely to sell out, people will pay this ludicrous price.

    Also annoyed about the whole side show issue, which I blogged about some time back. It is ridiculous that somehow playing splendour is equated with playing Brisbane. There is no harm in a side show, Splendour will sell out regardless. Let the people who missed out at least have some opportunity to see bands they have supported.

    Still, I wanted to go, if only to see Grizzly Bear and Broken Social Scene. I’m disappointed that the ticketing system was so bloody screwed and I missed out, like countless others.

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