Never Say Never: Splendour In The Grass 2012

Splendour! Splendour! Can you feel it now…Splendour! Splendour! The madness has begun.

I’m slowly growing warmer and warmer. The joints in my lower back are aching and then, achu! No! Not another sneeze. Cough. Oh no I didn’t!

It’s the evening before departing for a four day bender at musical festival extraordinaire, Splendour in the Grass, and I’m down with the flu. Unforeseen, but then again, the same thing happened to me last year. A full day of rest has me hoping it will blow over and then around 8:30 pm I get the call, “we’re here!” It’s time to head south to Byron.

Splendour in Byron Bay means the luxury of five adults squeezed into a 1 bedroom apartment costing us each 400 bucks a pop. But what I would pay for warm showers and cold beer. About a kilometer walk in one direction is the festival grounds, and in the other the sanctuary of town – where coffee and warm breakfast await alongside the ocean.

With our phones synchronized to monitor the weather as if the apocalypse would come and cancel the event, we were all smiles as 4 days of yellow suns appeared on our iPhones and Blackberry’s smiling back at us. In a rush to devour the must have Hare Krishna feast of Govinda’s, it was quite a shock as the skies darkened outside the food tent and it slowly began to drizzle. Panic set in as our flouro attire and stylish kicks were worn without fear of disaster.

Fork in mouth, I continued to devour my kofta balls observing festival goers embrace the rain and newly acquired mud. The festival now deamed Splendour in the Mud. The gum boot stand apparently sold out of rain boots and people were lining up for ponchos. The kofta balls came to an end and we contemplated heading over to another Splendour staple, the Moroccan Wine Bar, and just then, the apocalypse we never saw coming came. Hail! Mother of all hail, big hail, little hail, fast hail and slow hail. What looked fun at first, looked like it would hurt as it kept coming down.  And then moments later the skies cleared, the sun came out, and we moved on. Did that just happen?

Aside from the mud, my favorite part of Splendour is two things: music and food. Let’s start with the food.  Apart from Govinda’s, duh,  there were  scrumptious corn fritters topped with meat balls, and deep fried crab rolls with cream cheese with sweet soy drizzled on top, and noodles covered in satay. Whew, and I wish I got to try to more.

And then there’s the music. I was a bit upset at first, comparing the set up of Splendour 2012 at Byron Bay to my experience last year where the event was hosted in the Sunshine Coast hinterlands of Woodford. I was expecting an amphitheatre, and outdoor space, and places to chill. I also wanted the plethora of toilets that didn’t seem to be present here. But once all the anxiety settled and I appreciated what was at hand everything worked out.

The attraction of Splendour, with headliners like The Shins and the Smashing Pumpkins is incentive enough, but my personal appreciation for the event is getting acclimated with Australian bands I know I would never come across in the States. Two piece band of awesomeness Big Scary, Brisbane firecracker’s Ball Park Music, San Cisco, Tame Impala, Last Dinosaurs, Jinja Safari and more!

But my 3 top moments were Jack White’s overwhelming performance and belting out classics like Hotel Yorba and ending in a crowd fisting Seven Nation Army; Super cutey Luke Pritchard and the Kooks taking me back to London 2006; and then ending with Smashing Pumpkins reminiscences of my 14 year-old self.

Until next year, thank you Splendour!


I’m only happy when it rains

Oh, the rain! Rain rain rain. It’s almost painful without being touched. For the past handful of nights I lay with my window open, falling asleep to the mad rush of rain pellets against the roof, the windows, the pavement, slashing against the trees, car tires screeching, sirens blaring, running water rising higher in the corners of the streets; it’s almost a constant whipping sound. I just think to myself, dear god, not the floods.

I arrived back from the US a mere two weeks ago and immediately the cabbie was reminding me that it is officially one year since “the floods” as it is most commonly referred to.

I can tell you exactly what I was doing this time last year as the water peaked at 14.6 feet in Brisbane city. I was sitting in another city who just years before fought a very similar devastating battle, New Orleans. In between po boy sandwiches and late night shenanigans on Bourbon Street, mixed amongst all day work meetings of course, it was confirmed that I would be moving to Brisbane pending visa approval. Sold on a city that was under water.

And so I’ve returned from a 3 week work/holiday stint in New York ready to take on summer full swing, but I’m met with the damn road block of constant rain! I’ll give it to you straight.

Big Day Out

Big Day Out is a multi-city all day festival. It has a reputation of being for those youngins because it’s a 15+ show, however when I saw the lineup I said myself, of all the new music I’ve exposed myself to the 7 months I’ve been here, how can I deny myself a hard core rage to My Chemical Romance and a nostalgic sing along with long time idol Noel Gallagher? Cleary impossible. So I paid the $175 to go.

I arranged for my Sunday best. I braided my hair the evening before to result in perfect crimps, I removed the packing from my shinny new fanny pack (which have I mentioned has a whole different conotation here?), and I pulled up my socks to the knees and stepped into my gum boots (uhum rain boots). I then knocked on new roomie Kelvin’s door, a manager at a top of the line fashion distributor, to get confirmation that my attire was suiting. What I received in response was a huge laugh. I defended myself stating, perhaps you don’t know I dress for comfort and convenience, over style. So off I went.

I arrived at Roma Street bus station, where I pre-purchased a round trip bus fair to save myself or others the inconvenience of organizing transportation, amongst the plethora of 16 years olds attending the show. I caught my reflection in the mirror and thought two things, holy shnikes my outfit does not look good in one bit, and secondly, am I getting a rush of being too old for this? Shnikes is right! Luckily the bus ride was calm and quiet.

I arrived a good 1.5 hours before my friends so opted for some lunch, a decent scope of the arena, and a first up jam out to the Medics, an unique Aussie indigenous band who’s bassist rocks out like no one I’ve ever seen, seriously! After a quick stop off at Calling All Cars and the Cairo’s my friends have finally arrived and we tango’d with some heavy metal sooo not my speed before I removed my gum boots to relax to California natives Best Coast.

Jacqui and I at BDO

I secretly (I think I just changed the secrecy aspect of it all)  just went to the show for two reasons, amongst some other decent acts I wouldn’t mind having on my score card (Foster the People, Kasabian, Kimbra, Architecture & Helsinki and more), but ideally, it was a hard core rock out to My Chemical Romance and a nod and shake to Noel Gallagher and the High Flying Birds. But holy what, MCR was a disappointment! I’ve seen their shows in London, New York and Philadelphia and they are always a literal pee-in-your-pants raging good time. But on the Gold Coast this energy was low and sound quality bad. I thought it was just them but as I danced my way to Kasabian it was the same, nooooo way, this crowd should be rocking out to this way harder despite the downpour, but no avail.

So when my friends waited in the pouring down rain for Kayne West I walked away to see Noel G, shuffled myself to the second row from the stage and it all came rushing back. I was 13 again belting out Oasis B-sides, known classics, and the good stuff from his new album. Here he was, Noel Gallagher mere meters (whatever that is in feet) from my face. And after all the rain (yes, my gum boots finally came in handy), and after all the running from stage to stage, this was it, just me, myself and I, raging out to Noel Gallagher, my teen idol, and taking the bus back to Brissy with a huge yawn and smile on my face. Yeah, yeah. It may never go away.

Noel Gallagher

A Virtual Reality

Virtually speaking, I thought it would be a good idea to video my life here in Brisbane for a 7 day period. Wouldn’t my friends, family, and those people I don’t know but secretly adore who follow my whereabouts be interested to see where I live, work, and socialize? In theory, great idea. In practice. Not so great. But I did it anyway.

Below is a 4 segment series of ‘A Video Diary’ which took place in Brisbane from October 1 -11, 2011 (note, a bit longer then the 7 days I anticipated. It’s quite easy to fall in love with the camera). Don’t worry, I cut out all the inappropriate stuff!

Segment 1

Segment 2

Segment 3

Segment 4

Now that you’re done watching my affairs I thought I’d share with you a few more things. Firstly, Oktoberfest in Brisbane. You saw it with your own eyes and could you have expected it to be as such? I was surprised by much of the authenticity and flair to the event. As soon as I heard the word Prost shouted at the top of every one’s voices my mind and body rushed back to Munich 2006. Oh the memories flooded in.

Now I would say it was a blessing in disguise that my costume never arrived in time. I would have been one blending in with the crowd. How appealing it was too see how many people took this grand event so seriously. So there you have it. $10 beer steins and schnitzel. I can’t wait until next year!

On a different note you may not know that at the young age of around 12 or 13 my bestie Nat and I thought we had discovered a phenomenon: the shortening of words. Yes, it was magical! In the summer you wore your bader (bathing suit), you hung out with your G’s (girlfriends), as you discussed the sitch (situation; made popular prior to The Situation debuting on Jersey Shore).

So there you have it. It stuck and it spread. From Nat to Ab to Kris to Ker to just…G. At the time however, it was appalling. How will you get a job if you speak like that?! No one will understand what you’re saying! I’ll tell you now dear friends and family, I’ll tell you who knows what the heck I’m saying – Australians! If there is a rule book to shortening words and making up new ones the Aussies have it down pat!

You know what else that have down? Doing away with cheques. When I set up my  new bank account months ago it would actually cost me money to get cheques. People just transfer money from one account to another, for everything! To get paid, to pay the cleaner, to buy concert tix off a friend. Everything. I think the US should move toward this model.

Did you notice how in the US area codes just keep changing? As the population grows, that oh so sacred three numbers that used to be associated with your home phone is no longer the association to your state etc. Well, as discussed last time, because the population is so small, each state has its own prefix, as in one, and all mobiles start with 04. Every single mobile in the country. Impossible I say!

I’ll leave you on a final note as it is Friday evening and beers are being had in the kitchen, at my work, directly above from where I’m typing. I finally found an Australian hobby. I’m learning it at the moment. Not this very moment, but this moment meaning last week and the weeks to come. Are you curious yet?

If the moon was made of cheese, would you eat it? Splendour in the Grass 2011!

I wonder what my temperature is in Celsius? I’ve come down with a fever, but don’t want to blame it on the 4 day rager that just went down in Woodfordia, fondly known as Splendour in the Grass. For months I thought to myself, what’s this “Splenda” that everyone keeps talking about?  Like the artificial sugar?  But then I had a flash of cognition that made me go, oh, you’re all saying “Splend-er”. I think I’m the silly one here.

I was offered a ticket to the multi-day music festival, one of the biggest indie rock events in the country, merely days before the event. Before coughing over a few hundred dollars I had two simple questions, Am I going to freak out? Where do I pee?

And that’s that. I spent last week roaming the city streets in and out of every cheap Asian store and more, identifying the perfect festival outfit and ticking off the list of many provisions: gum boots (aka rain boots), torches (aka flashlights), sunnies (aka sunglasses), thongs (aka flip flops), track pants (aka sweatpants), and of course goon (aka boxed wine).

After a hard day of work Thursday, Jacqui, Nidya, Fairlie and I, over many a wines (not the driver mind you), shoved, and twisted, and pushed, and finagled, well, basically painfully tried to get all of our camping gear in a tiny 2-door sedan. But alas, we were four cramped girls in a car on our way to Splendour!

One would compare the festival perhaps to the likes of Coachella, Lollapalooza, or Glastonbury. Not that I’ve ever been to any of the above unfortunately. The cool part is, although it’s HUGE, it’s mainly comprised of Australian artists. That’s what’s so neat; I was exposed to a whole world of music that frankly would never make it largely in the states, because they kinda have their own thing going over here being so far removed and all. So yea.

We arrived at 1 am on Thursday night, Nids and I in a very inebriated state of mind, and set up camp in the dark. I held the torch while the others did the prodding, until the sleeping bed rejected the metal pole directly into my face with a sharp, Owwwwww! Right, lets layer up, trek over the festival grounds to scope out what we’re dealing with here, then have a snooze fest so we can wake up to sweet jams!

Friday was a great day. Hanging out in the morning at the camps site, eating baked beans and Cup of Noodles over a Bunsen burner and feeling the sun shine its gloriousness all over. We mingled, and drank, and pondered over the 3 full-day itinerary of music deciding how to shape our time amongst the three stages.

We trekked up the dust covered hill, pointing out right on the onset the ridiculous outfits and costumes amongst the crazy crowd. First stop in was Aussie hip-hop artist Illy. Now, here’s what interesting, I like to say “white Aussie hip hop” is a whole movement over here, but to be correct, I’m told it’s just called “Aussie hip hop” in general, because they’re all white anyway. I’m not saying any of that with a hint of racism, it’s more brought up as a fact, and in general, Aussie hip hop is a pretty interesting scene.

Anyways, onward march! We have tons to do, drink tickets to buy, festival food to eat, markets to shop in. And of course, squeeze in Modest Mouse, Kimbra, The Kills, Jebediah etc all before headliners The Hives and Kanye West hit the stage later on.  As the day wore on, we partied on. What’s also great in addition to the music is all the stuff to do. Mentioned above, as well as tents dedicated purely to certain entertainment aspects like the Chai Lounge Tent, or the Mexican Cantina Tent, or the Smirnoff Bar, and the Wine Bar. Yeah. By the end of day one, there were two things I was absolutely certain: the girls were already sick of hearing me saying “I have to pee” every 7th minute and I had completely lost my voice.

Saturday I was in no way surprised to find out that I was snorefest – apologies to all girls in the tent with me, while Nidya was seeing shadows on the tent walls.

Time out! Just took a break from blogging to go to doctor to
find out what my temperature really is in Celsius. Hello hello hot Irish doctor! I think I’ll have to get sick a little more often.

Back to Splendour…Saturday afternoon we ate delicious kofta balls at Govinda’s hut, I fell in love with bands called The Grates and Time & Jean, we mingled with our gay bf’s Wes and Nick. The night ended with me popping a squat next to the tent, only to find our neighbors were sitting out the whole time. I gave them a friendly hello with my pants down.

I can’t believe Sunday has arrived already. World-wind of a weekend. I had known for years that I do not like drinking cider like Magners and Strongbow but I thought what the hey, I’ll give it a whirl. Upon my first sip it was reconfirmed, I do not like drinking ciders but after a few more, that stuff aint’ too bad. Lucky for us the furry parade of all those dressed in costumes was happening at the Strongbow boat so we headed over to have a peek, and take fun photos in the photo booth. I fell for bands called Friendly Fire and Cloud Control.

During Cloud Control it was amazing. Did I mention how many damn dirty hills there were! To pee it was up the hill, down the hill, don’t step on that person’s face, I think I got dirt in my mouth, where is the group, right found the group, cool, wait, now I have to pee again, up the hill, stand in line. Right, so during Cloud Control a huge crowd gathered on the hill at the amphitheatre. At first they were all just jumping up and down in unison but then there was the awesome idea to climb the hill, and hundreds of people ran down it at the same time. It was super fun to watch, but I couldn’t help but think, and this is how people die.

The show ended with final sets from the Kaiser Chiefs, Pulp, and Coldplay. My voice disappeared again. I ate what is a bit of a carnival treat called Dagwood Dog. It’s basically a deep fried hot dog with ketchup on top. Kinda weird, but delicious. We didn’t make it for our nightly closing dance party at the Smirnoff tent so instead had a dance party in the Mexican canteen tent before learning how to do fire breathing tricks. I chose not to partake after witnessing two failed attempts from some acquaintances.

Is Splendour really over? We took our time waking, didn’t brave the showers, and packed our tents. It was lovely to get a note from our neighbors who left us some treats with their local band info on it. We queued to leave the parking lot, and it was odd because everyone around us was eating carrots. Of all things to have left over 4 days later, and for more than one group of people to be eating them, carrots, really?