Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Day Three Splendour

The stunning folk rock tunes of Boy and Bear could be heard as we made out way through the last check point and into Splendour. Being the third and final day, people were beginning to look a little worse for wear, especially the campers, but this year organisers did their best to ensure people remained energized and recharged by offering organic food to keep you going and even a Splendour Day Spa 
Enjoy a pampering massage, hot spa, wash and blow-dry or a make-over. Napoleon Perdis and ghd are on board to ensure it’s quality, luxury and pampering all the way”.  

With packages such as Groupie, the Guest list, Rock n’ Roll and AAA all on offer for between $25- $144. But why bother? No one expects you to look radiant and I’m pretty sure the worse you look is only a sign of the more fun you’ve had. Still, there were plenty of chicks who made use of this. 

Boy and Bear’s debut album With Emperor Antarctica clearly having made a massive impact on their legions of fans as the GW McLennan tent was packed, overflowing and even forcing people up on the near by hill. For an opening time slot this turn out was incredible. Meticulously building upon each element, Boy and Bears performance was dense with colourful and joyous harmonies. Lead singer, Dave Hosking’s vocal ability was stunning and was further amplified by the beautiful melodies of the rest of the band. With every member playing with their bodies facing the audience it felt more a serenade than a performance. Either way, this exhibition was further heightened by the bands balanced equation of acoustic and electric instruments that was warm, honest and a splendid way to start the end of this festival. 

Heading back towards the amphitheatre having sadly missed Scottish quintet Frightened Rabbit, Sydney drum/guitar two-piece, The Mess Hall, were embarking on their musical journey of edgy blues-rock. Jed Kurzel and Cec Condon have come along way since their 2001 self-titled debut which I struggled to get into. This set however was enticingly heavy on deeper melodies and fuzzed-out guitar riffs. Their Delta blues vibe was strong on Sunday and many elements had a very The Black Keys feel. The soulful swamp rock tracks off their recent album For the Birds were extremely well received. Leaving mid set to catch Sydney indie rock quartet Cloud Control, we were welcomed by the bands loveable folk pop performance which was laidback, fun and again drew an impossibly strong crowd

Finally back at Mix Up tent in anticipation for Swedish dance rockers Miike Snow “and no, my names not Mike”. Forming back in 2007 Miike Snow consists of vocalist Andrew Wyatt and producers Christian Karlsson and Pontus Winnberg who also go by the moniker Bloodshy & Avant and have produced tracks for some massive pop artists including Spears, Madonna and our very own Miss Minogue. Despite usually performing in masks like fellow Swedes, The Knife, Sundays set saw the lads getting around in matching black tracksuit jackets. With a predominant Euro-house flavour their throbbing electro songs had been built up and extended their splendour performance. Sounding like a cool version of Calvin Harris with way more street cred Miike Snow were laying down highly infection electronic elements combined with intricate danceable melodies.

Looking out of the tent the dust from the festival site was catching the afternoon light and looked as if silver smoke was spilling over the crowd.  Add this to the purple/grey haze coming off the stage and this was the perfect time for Silvia to finally drop, creating a euphoric and surreal vibe that pulsated through the gathered horde who were now moving as one.  Although usually not a long track, Sunday’s performances had morphed into a delicious seven-minute jam before the band closed with hugely popular Animals.

Back in the melting sunshine the guitar-heavy sounds of indie rockers Surfer Blood were just finishing.  Missing much of the dissonant power-chord and glorious pop hooks of Astro Coast, Surfer Blood closed with the powerful reverb and exploding chorused that is Swim. Next, and for the first time this festival I took a seated position for a New York-based rockers We Are Scientists. Just as much comedians as they are musicians, the between-song banter was hugely entertaining.

Over at the GW McLennan Tent again, fresh-faced 22-year old singer/songwriter Lawrence Greenwood, a.k.a. Whitley was beginning to stun his audience. Despite singing about more mature topics of  loss, hope and regret, between songs Greenwood was all about ‘getting cooked’. This kind of destroyed the uncontrived and honest image I had of him. His soft and passionate music not at all a reflection of who he is as his persona drastically flipped between songs. Bipolar much? Despite minimal showmanship Whitley sounded beautifully well rehearsed. Joined on stage by his touring band, Whitley performed immaculate renditions of crowd favourites Head First Down, Killer and Poison In Our Pockets as part of his last tour. The band later left Greenwood stranding solo, centre stage to cover ABBA’s Dancing Queen. Although his hosts were singing along gracefully I could list a million songs that would have been a better choice. 

Remaining in positing next up was Canadian indie rock musical collective Broken Social Scene. Referred to as a collective rather than band because of their sheer size and are more akin a super group with members usually well known in their own right. Currently sitting at nine members but sometimes ranging anywhere from few as six and as many as nineteen. The bands unusual song structures are heightened by the versatility of each member. As the arrangement shifts shapes, people switch places and trade instruments. This was all being done with a precise ease that surprisingly never sounded or looked messy. Broken Social Scene created a cacophony of experimental orchestral sound that was layered with guitars, horns, woodwinds, and violins

Relative newcomer Lisa Lobsinger, provided a welcomed balance duding Sunday nights performance with her delicate yet slightly odd performance. Drifting on and off the stage her movements became to focal point and distracted us from the constant shifting taking place behind. Her beautifully meticulous performance of All to All was sultry and seductive.  These angelic vocals the perfect counterpoint for Kevin Drew who’s immense vocal attitude only enhanced the euphoric riffs of Forced To Love.  

Yet again a festival highlight, Massachusetts five-piece, Passion Pit were incredible. Providing us with pop hooks, electro beats and emotive falsettos lead singer Michael Angelakos’s showmanship was applaudable. My only criticism of this set - the lacking sound. Unsure of it was the band or a tech issue, the performance was slightly on the softer side. Highlights of the performance were again Little Secrets, Sleepyhead and Mike climbing over the audience wearing nothing but gold spray paint.

Up next, English duo Goldfrapp. Usually consisting of vocalist Alison Goldfrap producer Will Gregory on Synths, Sunday night’s performance had evolved into a large scale full band ordeal. Still heavy with their famous dance floor baselines, Gregory's multi-layered synth arrangements perfectly complemented the 80s glam rock siren call of Alison Goldfrap

As the music came to a grinding halt at back at the GW tent I had just missed the Richard Ashcroft dummy spit. With a 5 minute delay before any sign of life, initial assumptions were that the ego maniac was waiting for more punters to arrive. Competing with A – the Pixies and B- Empire of the Sun this was sure to be a challenge for the ex-Verve frontman. Eventually an intro started and after running for two minutes, no one entered the stage. Lights downed and more moments of nothing. A longer wait. Finally the intro started again and a band appeared later to be joined by Mr Ashcroft who began to sing briefly before throwing his mic across the stage. Moments later more items were thrown and he left the stage. Post festival comments made by his PR blamed the incident on the fact that his vocal chords had been strained due to the previous side shows and that after walking on stage he soon realised he would not be able to carry out the evening’s performance. Poor Richard.
Finally, American old school alt – rockers who formed way back in 1986 -The Pixies. While their Sunday night closing slot sounded as tight as their heyday, time had not been so kind on the band. Overweight, balding and lacking any real onstage energy. If it wasn’t for the even the briefest of introductions from Kim Deal there would be even less said for showmanship.  Despite the much of the crowd being younger that their fan base, the Splendour audience were still wallowing in nostalgia as this iconic band could not be missed. 

Pics and Post by Bec Clark

No comments:

Post a Comment