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!

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?