Splendour In The Grass 2010 – Day 2

To my surprise my alarm wakes me up on Day 2, meaning that (1) my make-shift tent didn’t fall over; and (2) it hasn’t rained during the night.  After some more extensive tent repairs (involving snapping off the broken one inch piece of tent pole and putting the tent back together properly, albeit with one pole an inch shorter than it should be) and a breakfast of a can of Mother and a few slices of raisin bread I’m good to go, with an early start required for the walk up to the festival and the bag checks in order to make it in time for the 10am Women of Letters panel at the Forum tent.  Having never seen the TV program, I find it really enjoyable, with the assembled panel reading letters they’ve written in homage to the song they wish they’d written.

Over at the Amphitheatre, Jonathan Boulet is battling one of the worst sound mixes of the weekend on the festival’s main stage.  Mid-way through his performance a small procession of very out-of-place looking people snake their way through the crowd a fashion photo shoot begins to take place not too far from the front.  It’s hilarious to watch as a girl in very inappropriate heels prances around, pulling poses, whilst a middle-aged photographer lies on the ground, with his assistants helping to support his back as he shoots, whilst others hold light meters (and don’t know how to use them judging by my photos) and reflectors.  It’s a must-photograph-moment, only for my attempts to document what’s pretty much the end of the music festival as I know it to be blighted be a couple of female assistants who do their best to keep standing in front of me and block my view, with one telling me in no uncertain manner that “This is for a fashion magazine”.  Well, duh.  My advice would be that if you’re planning on doing a photo shoot and don’t want people to take notice, don’t do it in the middle of a music festival crowd.

In fact, one of the most noticeable things about the 2010 Splendour is just how evident the infiltration of music festivals by fashion has become.  As well as Harper’s (I presume it was them, I heard that they were onsite doing photo shoots) fashion shoots in the middle of the crowd, there’s the boutique clothing stalls, including General Pants, Ksubi, Converse, housed in shipping containers near the Forum tent.  There’s also a tent where I think they’re doing beauty treatments (although I don’t go into actually confirm this).  In fact the first Splendour-related tweets I read on Friday morning via BNELife is “Dedication to skankiness: Bringing a generator to #sitg camp so you can plug in your GHD“.  Those 140 characters (or thereabouts) tell you so much about the demographic of your average Australian festival punter in 2010.

The other thing that really clicked about modern day music festivals this time around, and which I’d tweeted on the Friday night, was the dearth of band t-shirts.  They used to be a badge of honour and a show of allegiance, a common ground and a talking point between random strangers.  My Friday night estimate is that there’s probably less than 1% of the crowd here wearing a band t-shirt.  I even see a guy with a Birth Of Cool T-shirt, which by the font type looks very much like it’s a Volcom t-shirt: not even jazz is safe from being co-opted by hipsters these day.  My 1% band t-shirt estimate is probably an over-estimation judging by all the wife-beaters on show once the sun has come out and, as usual these days, there’s an abundance of shameless punters in festival fancy dress.

After a quick look at Earnest Ellis, and another attempt at trying to fathom Dew Process’s signing policy, it’s back to the Forum tent for a bit of the Social Media & Privacy Panel, something I didn’t realise was on until after it had started and would have been interested to have seen all of.

But there’s bands to be seen back at the Amphitheatre. Despite several recommendations, Surfer Blood don’t really do anything for me. They do even less when I realise during watching them that I’ve managed to lose my gold wristband somewhere, somehow. Probably thanks to my habit of letting my camera slide down by arm and wrapping the camera strap around my wrist when not using it. Losing my wristband is yet another disaster in a weekend full of them. I’m not particularly worried that I won’t be able to get into the VIP bar or the ‘Golden’ Platform, the structure in the middle of the amphitheatre that offers great view of the stage and bar for the ‘important’ people so that they don’t have to mingle with the proles, but crushed that I won’t be able to watch any bands from the seating at the side of the stage. Not having a pit pass made having a camera, a long lens and a gold wristband a godsend as it gave me an opportunity to get a bunch of photos that none of the photographers in the pit would be able to get.

As I tweeted at the time “Can’t decide if I like The Drums or want to punch them in the face”. There’s something so irritating about them, their image, their haircuts, and especially their OTT tambourine playing and yet their faux 80’s, faux English indie sound and them just really wanting to be The Smiths just gets through to me. Maybe it’s nostalgia for 80s English indie bands and not having listened to The Smiths for a while. [After the festival I buy their album; it’s not as good as seeing them live though].

Philadelphia Grand Jury. Again. Didn’t they relocate to the UK a few months ago? Quite like the photos I took of them though from in the crowd.

There’s just something about photographing Clare Bowditch, I think that it’s really hard to take a bad photo of her (although I do manage this feat later in the year when I photograph her at The Hi-Fi).

My mobile battery chooses to die at this point.  Plus it’s now April 2011 and I had only drafted these posts up to this point, so without any tweets to act as an aide memoire, the rest is going to be sketchy, to say the very least.

It’s a regular occurrence for Australian festivals to book British bands that, rightly or wrongly,no one in the UK takes much notice of any more.  The Magic Numbers occupy that space on today’s bill at the GW McLennan stage but still get a healthy crowd in to see them and are still a pretty good band to spend a bit of time with.

Tame Impala win the award for being the second worst band over the weekend (the winner will be revealed in the post for the final day at Splendour 2010).  I really struggle to get it and understand why anyone thinks that they’re any more than Wolfmother Mk 2.  Their references might be a bit more obscure than Wolfmother’s really obvious influences but it’s still a little more than a rehash of late 1960’s psychedelia, as originally done by the likes of The Nazz, the first couple of Alice Cooper Albums (Pretties For You and Easy Action), who were actually called The Nazz before changing their name when they found out there was another band using the name, and the more obvious Cream.

In true and predicable Splendour fashion, Laura Marling played the festival in 2008, further proof of Splendour’s two year recycling of acts.  Last time she played it was a fairly empty tent, tonight it’s packed.  Guess Triple J must have had her on high rotation in the last few months to bring about the change from her last Splendour performance.

Amazingly this is the first time I’ve ever seen Paul Kelly play live.  I don’t know much of his stuff but he actually wasn’t what I was expecting, based on what I have heard, which was more of an acoustic troubadour.  I make up a bit for lost time by seeing him a number of times over the next few months.

Yet another walk from the McLennan Stage to the Amphitheatre Stage, this time for Florence & The Machine.  Whilst not really my thing, she was very impressive headlining at Laneway earlier in the year, when she put in a very slick and professional performance that put her in an obviously different class to most of the other bands playing on the day.  By the time I get to the gate, the area near the stage is already at capacity and the security are directing people to the areas up the hill.  As I’m not going to be in a position to get any close-up shots shooting from the crowd I decide to head to the very top of the slope and stake my place perched on the very edge.  It starts off being a pretty good vantage point but more and more people stream into the amphitheatre at the bottom entry gate and head up the slope, joining all the people who had taken the top pathway that led up the slope from way back down the road until it reaches a point where I just don’t feel comfortable.  There’s not even space to comfortably move your feet more than a couple of inches, and being in a precarious position, with a small drop down onto the slope right in front of me, makes it feel increasingly unsafe.  i don’t think I make it to the end of the second song, I just need to get away from where I am and get some space.  Heading back down the path towards the other stages I’m met with what seems an obvious outcome, in that they’ve shut the gate to prevent any more people getting in, which police being deployed to assist the onsite security.  There’s a real stand-off between the police and punters unable to get it; if I’d paid over $500 and wasn’t being allowed in to see one of the festivals main acts I’d be less than pleased to.  It’s not even like she’s playing in a tent (like seeing the Foo Fighters play their first gig at Reading back in 1995) but a huge outdoor space.  Any rumours of a riot are untruths; there was rattling of the fences and some of the hessian covering was ripped off.  Some people tried to jump the fence but were forced back by the police.  But that is about it.

After taking a few photos of the stand-off I go and see Band Of Horses, although I don’t take any photos of them.  I don’t bother going to see The Strokes.  Believed the hype, got The Modern Age EP, gave them a second chance with Is This It, have seen them live a few times but have always thought they were a terrible live band.  Maybe it’s the generation gap but it depresses me how they’ve become recognised as the Saviours Of Rock, single-handedly responsible for dragging rock music out  of its pre-2001 malaise.  Maybe it’s because I prefer the original late 1970s US punk scene, not the pale imitation.  Maybe its because I can’t take a bunch of millionaire rich kids, some of who met at a Swiss Boarding School, pretending to be street tough very seriously.  If they’d be a British band the music press would have never let them get away with their background, even if the music had been any good.

So I call it a night.

I get back to the field with my tent in it but find it had to recognise my tent as I walk up the hill towards my hire car.  Then I realise that the reason I can’t see it is that the tent has completely collapsed.  My working repairs from the previous evening haven’t worked, with the tent pole further splitting down its length, making it unrepairable.

I spend the night in the car.

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