Splendour In The Grass 2008 – Part 3

Back over at the Supertop and it’s time for Cold War Kids. Looking at the line-up for the weekend you can’t help but get the feeling that the organisers had their ears glued to their radios on the 26 January, when Triple J does it annual Hottest 100 run down, and then rushed out on the 27th January and booked as many bands as it could you had featured in the higher reaches of Triple J’s list. So many of the bands on this year’s bill seem to fit that category, and lacking a weighty back catalogue have the feeling of ‘one-hit wonder’. Cold War Kids with their third top billing on the main Supertop stage exemplify that theory. Whilst they put on an entertaining live show, complete with Joe Cocker influenced hand gestures, there’s not much of substance in the music that lies behind.

Cold War Kids

By now the sun has set and it’s gotten quite cold. Good job I have all those walks over to the GW McLennan stage to keep me warm. When Band of Horses’ singer Ben Bridwell greets the audience with ‘G’day ya facking cants’ it’s not much of a surprise to find that they’re friends with The Drones and being supported by The Gin Club on their East Coast tour. You can just see The Gin Club’s Ben Salter doling out the tequila backstage and telling him to say that if he wants to make an instant impression… But with the introductory pleasantries out the way it’s straight into ‘Is There A Ghost’ from last year’s excellent ‘Cease To Begin’ album. Although I can only stay for four songs they are one of the highlights of the day (but I do have a soft spot for alt-country in my old age…).

Band of Horses

Band of Horses

Band of Horses

Band of Horses

Australia’s very own Stray Cats tribute band, The Living End, are next up on the main stage. Although they’ve just released a new album, that they’re one of Dew Process’s latest signings made them a shoe-in for the festival. I’d seen them once before, at Homebake in 2005, watching their set in the midst of a sea of drunken, shirtless bogans. This time I’d managed to avoid that unpleasant experience somewhat by being in the photo pit but as last time there’s no great shakes about the band, not even from a photographic point of view as they play most of the first three songs under the glare of some very red lighting.

The Living End 

The Living End

My final trip of the day back to the GW McLennan stage – my seventh for the day – is for the tent’s headliners, The Polyphonic Spree. Again a band I’d seen once before, at Glastonbury in 2003 and again a band that I hadn’t really been that impressed with, largely due to them not really being able to project their performance from the Glastonbury’s main Pyramid stage, despite the numbers in their ranks, in the middle of the afternoon. However, it’s a completely different scenario when they’re playing somewhere more intimate at night and you’re in the very front row. There’s something really overwhelming about suddenly being confronted by a twenty-something strong band right in front of you. With all the backlighting my poor camera was finding it difficult to focus quickly and, with the Spree starting late and the time lost thanks to The Fratellis not being made up, I only stay for one song, needing to make sure I get back to the Supertop in time for the day’s headline band, Devo, and I don’t get much good in the way of photos.

Polyphonic Spree

Somewhat strangely Devo are very big in Australia. Before the festival people seemed very excited to either be seeing them here or at one of their side-shows or, if they hadn’t got tickets, jealous that they were missing out, in contrast to my own ambivalence. Whilst they’re known in the UK, I think it’s more as a one/two hit wonder band (‘Satisfaction‘ + ‘Whip It‘) from back in the day. As such, to me they weren’t major festival headlining material. I still don’t think they are major festival headlining material, but I really do enjoy what I see of their set, the first 4 or 5 songs. It’s fun, quirky, played with good humour and they sound really fresh and surprisingly contemporary for a largely electronic band from the 1970s consisting of a bunch of guys pushing 60. Fun to photograph as well, despite all the red light, as they give you something to work with. 

Devo

Devo 

Devo

Devo

With Devo starting late, by the time we get out of the photo pit it’s gone 11:10pm, with Tricky’s set due to start at 11pm. Anticipating that we’ve probably missed out first three song allocation to photograph him from the pit we don’t even try to add another act to a very long day. For me it’s a real shame as he was one of the acts that I was most looking forward to seeing and photographing. Bloody Fratellis… We walk past his show on the way out and it looks very dark so it doesn’t look the photographic experience would have been all that great. Or at least that’s what I keep telling myself…

Back to Ballina, everything is set to re-charge overnight and the photos are downloaded and quickly assessed. By 1:22am it’s a time for bed, and a time to dream of a 6am alarms and some proper editing of the 16 acts I photographed on the Saturday. After all, tomorrow is just another day…

Plenty more Saturday Splendour photos on Yahoo Music. 

One Response to “Splendour In The Grass 2008 – Part 3”

  1. […] play to the biggest audience of the weekend, a crowd that far exceeds the numbers who saw Devo the night before and the numbers that will see Wolfmother later this same day. They go straight into ‘Kill The […]

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