Splendour in the Grass

A few months ago I forked out $925.20 for two tickets to a 3-day music festival that ran over the weekend of July 30th through August 1st. For this rather hefty price tag, I was given a few square metres in a paddock that had recently been vacated by dairy cows (or so I assumed – the fresh cow droppings gave it away) and 84 hours of musical and artistic education. The second ticket allowed me to endure this with my girlfriend. This was to be my Splendour in the Grass.

We allowed two days to drive to Woodford, Queensland (about 2 hours north-west of Brisbane), stopping in Byron Bay on the way up. We couldn’t escape the torrential rain during the entire 10 hour drive, so gumboots became a sudden necessity.

The sun did come out though and as it set on the Thursday afternoon our $600, 6-man tent (dubbed the Taj Mahal) was erect. All traces of bovine activity had been flung across to other campsites in spectacular fashion (as long as we didn’t have to step in it we didn’t care where it went) and Splendour was underway.

The three days for me was a blur of mid-strength beer, men dressed as hotdogs and amazing musical acts. It’s hard to describe Splendour to those who weren’t there (I’ll rub it in a bit more) but is really all about the vibe. There is in incredibly uplifting atmosphere that puts a smile on everyone’s face.

Stand out acts (in my opinion) were Florence and the Machine and the Strokes back to back. Dancing around in a natural amphitheatre with some 20,000 people is a good feeling. That’s not to say that K-OS, Broken Social Scene, Tame Impala, Temper Trap, Mumford and Sons, Hot Chip, Two Door Cinema Club, Ben Harper, Goldfrapp, Yeasayer and Jonathon Boulet weren’t awesome as well. ‘Coz they were… all of them were unbelievably good. I was disappointed with LCD Soundsystem, and I thought Passion Pit were a bit lacklustre as well (it’s hard when the lead vocalist sounds like a 5 year old girl). The Pixies also did a one-off show exclusively at Splendour. I’m not 100% sure, but I’m fairly certain they were scheduled to headline Splendour 2008 and cancelled at the last minute. I got the feeling though that the slightly youthful crowd had a diminished appreciation for them (myself included).

All in all though, it is a truly unique festival and I would highly recommend to anyone who has any interest in music to experience Splendour at least once. The new site at Woodford is infinitely better than last year’s site at Byron Bay. Don’t think for a minute though that ticket prices won’t go up again.

Splendour in the Grass… 5 stars.

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