Splendour In The Grass 2010 – Day 3

Day Three of Splendour and the battery in my mobile lasts long enough for a single tweet: Tent collapse. Slept in car. Need hat. Bad hair. Festival oversold. Florence carnage. Raisin bread and can of mother for breakfast. #sitg. It’s a good summary of Saturday night/Sunday morning.

I keep seeing the reformed Pixies and they keep disappointing.  Out of all the recent shows I’ve seen, tonight is probably the best, mainly thanks to their setlist, which is immense and everything you could ask for.  But once again it’s a shame that Black Francis’s voice can’t do justice to the songs.

As for the rest of Sunday:

The Good

  • Live Music & Threats Panel and Piracy Debate – I love talking about music in general and the panel sessions were a real highlight of the festival, more so than most of the bands actually playing…
  • Broken Social Scene – had never seen them before and really enjoyed their set.  It was the set of the day.
  • Goldfrapp – again had never seen them before and not a fan but they were really good to watch and I got some nice photos from the crowd.
  • Jonsi – I really wish I’d seen the whole set rather than the utterly amazing last ten minutes.  Even from where I was standing at the very back of the tent it looked and sounded astonishing.  I manage to miss a potentially amazing shot of a girl standing on someone’s shoulders with amazing back-lighting by not having my camera out though.

The Bad

  • The Vines – Worst band of the weekend by a country mile.  Amazingly they’ve been booked again for the 2011 festival, having already played the main stage at Big Day Out earlier in the year.  People really need to stop encouraging them.

The Ugly

Although Pixies headline the main stage, Sunday night was all about Richard Ashcroft at the McLennan tent.  I was there at the front and just about everything you read in the Australian papers wasn’ t true.  He showed no sign (at least to the crowd) that he was unhappy about the size of the crowd, he didn’t “lash out at Splendour organisers for putting him on at the same time as two of the festival’s major draws, Empire of the Sun and the Pixies“.  He didn’t stop mid-song and “tell startled fans he may as well go and watch the Pixies instead of continuing with his set“.  It was amazing how quickly untruths were being republished by other media outlets without even the slightest hint of some fact checking going on.  There were even tweets being sent and re-tweeted saying he had punched a fan in the face before storming out, again something that didn’t happen.

What did happen?

The band came on, started up, Ashcroft came on, sang for a bit, it sounded pretty good and out of nowhere he throws down his mic and hurls his maraca across the stage, jumps down into the photo pit, remonstrates with a photographer and storms off at the end of the pit to behind the stage.  I asked one of the photographers in the pit what he had said and they had no idea.  Was there any sign of the vocal problems that were being blamed the following day? Not as far as I could tell.

I like the first couple of Verve albums (one of my housemates at university was at school with them so saw them play in front of about 30 people when they came and played Newcastle at the time of the first album) but always thought the mega-successful Urban Hymns was a load of turgid crap, some of which Simple Minds at their very worst would have been embarrassed to have released.  So I have no real reason to defend Ashcroft or his actions, but the poor reporting of events by the Australian media left a lot to be desired.

I was really low on batteries and memory cards (despite being a three day festival, Splendour doesn’t provide a media tent for photographers to work in or provide any power for camera batteries and laptops to be charged up.  They could take some lessons from BluesFest in terms of providing facilities for people covering the festival for media outlets) and with Ashcroft being the final act of the festival and having got enough photos of him during that first song and as it came from out of nowhere towards the end of the first song, I wasn’t prepared for it to happen.  With having to take photos from the crowd, I had a long lens on the camera and didn’t have enough time to swap to a shorter to try to catch what went on in the photo pit.  The lead photo is the only shot I got I think, happening just after he’d thrown his mic down, giving me enough time to turn my camera back on and get the photo (even though it’s not a particularly good one).

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Splendour done for another year and despite all everything going wrong, from my tent collapsing twice and having to sleep in the car on the Saturday night to somehow managing to lose my VIP wristband, it was a really fantastic festival.  It wasn’t necessarily the band though; the one thing that set it above so many other festivals was the location and Woodfordia was an absolutely perfect setting for a music festival, even with the massive hike to the amphitheatre stage.  The overcrowding issues were serious.  Rumours from backstage were that there were 39,000 people on site, although it felt like even more than that, and I expected there to be a lot more fallout than there was about it.

Heading straight back to Brisbane after the Pixies had played was a good move and I was back home just after 2am.  The photos from the weekend were downloaded and renamed and three hours of sleep later  I was back up to go through them and send them off to go with the review, before taking the hire car back and trying to find some proper food for breakfast (although I was too late for the breakfast menu and so ended up with an early lunch of cheeseburger and chips…).  It felt like I’d be coughing up Woodford dust for days and my lungs and eyes felt terrible.  Looking back at the tweets I sent that day, it’s interesting to see that rumours about Iron Maiden playing Soundwave started on the Monday after Splendour (and I did get the photo pass I asked for!).

It looks like I’ll be back at Woodfordia again this year and I’m really looking forward to it, although I think I might go for a campervan this year rather than take a tent.

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