Splendour In The Grass 2010 – Festival Review

Review by: Hannah Collins

Another year gone by, another 20 odd festivals down and yet nothing could prepare you for the 3 day onslaught that has been 2010’s annual epicentre of music extravaganza.

SITG photos here…

Splendour In the Grass, is as its name suggests and a culmination of some of the best local and international acts the current mainstream music scene has to offer. Selling out in record time… four months before the gates crashed open on a feature of the most sought after bands on the international circuit; and turning the page on it’ first decade amidst the front line of dramatic competition that encompasses the Australian festival rotation, the Splendour team were proud to announce that for 2010… the overwhelmingly ecstatic crowds could grace Splendours presence in the outlandish setting of Woodfordia, better known as the home of the Woodford folk Festival.

With a new exciting location more appropriately suited to the never ending sprawl of stages, speakers and tents, SITG’s finetuned organisers had knuckled down months before ground zero to primp and prime this year’s Splendour for liberation, ensuring it to be one of the most epic music festivals this country has ever seen. People streamed in from all four corners of our nation and whether by plane, car or foot, they were not about to miss the fusion of sight and sound that has surely etched it’s place in the memories, and burnt a very deep hole in the pockets, of all who attended. Many arrive early, to secure a conveniently placed camp site in the heart of the valley which produced this year’s Splendour finery. Some even arrived two or three days in advance, seeing the loins of Woodford town erupt from the seams of its pants. The local stores were stocked; local B&B’s booked out, petrol bowers dry and live stock running for the hills.

Driving up the main drag of Woodford, signs are scattered at sporadic intervals on the little country road that leads you to the last legs of your journey, before the mighty spread of tents becomes visible over the hill. Entering the rustic valley that is home to the sites camping area, you can easily see why it was, that it took Friday afternoons arrivals over four hours to gain entry to the site. (leaving the area on Monday was much the same.) There’s only one road leading in.. and it’s small. One lane each way, and a bottleneck at the main car park, the 100’s of volunteers directing traffic didn’t seem to make a dent in the travesty that was simply getting in or out of the venue. The smarter kids, all dropped anchor a day early and made the most of a long weekend.. and to their credit, the Splendour team shone again having scheduled shows on Thursday night, opening a small number of stages late PM, easing the early arrivals into the inebriating influx of performances they were about to embody.

The Line up was larger than life. Passion Pit, The Stokes, Florence and The Machine, Band of Horses, Kid Kenobi, Tijuana Cartel, The Drums, Miami Horror, Yeahsayer, The Magic Numbers, The Pixies and so many many more. It’s a list longer than a sleazy business man’s credit card bill after a night at the local strip joint. The Festival organisers need to be well recognised and highly decorated for their collaborative efforts to bring to the public such a well put together event. Although there were the usual ques at peak times for both toilets and booze (if you’re a festival goer and aren’t used to or prepared for these yet.. then stay at home) , there was no shortage of food, or alternate entertainment.

SITG photos here…

If you’ve never been to Woodfordia before.. picture this… an out of town Australian styled oasis, an area covering acre after acre of meticulously placed hills, creeks damns and walkways. Over the peak of the first hill, the ground opens up and the immediate valley below is host to numerous stages, spread far enough out so as not to interfere with each other’s sound, but close enough together and so different to the next, that after a moments walk from one to the other, you find yourself in an enchanted land so different from the last it’s like walking the Narnia wardrobe. Stringed on the outskirts of these musical wonderlands, were visual appetisers like giant blow up hands and randomly placed artworks, drapery covered laneways, market stalls… endless rows of market stalls and more food stops than they could concoct on ten seasons of Masterchef. There were side show tents with circus performers, cabaret dancers and contortionists, massage parlours, tea houses and tepee’s. This phenomena they call Splendour In The Grass was a city of musically induced randomosity, and it fulfilled its purpose perfectly.

Now picture the crowds; a montage of stereotypes from every category you can fathom. Families with kids in prams, junked up party pumpers in their phat pants, Rock Jocks, Hippies, The causal types that appear to have never been to a festival before with their backpacks strapped high for postures sake and site maps tied to their necks. There’s media with camera’s, sound production teams and ever visible, every annoying security guys strutting around in their high vis.

The three day anomaly went off (pretty much) without a hitch, until the sun goes down on Saturday night. Most punters were content to chillax and enjoy what the evening had to offer until half of the festivals populous attempted to enter the (already at capacity) main ampetheater for Florence and the Machine. Before the set people were asked to stand up and squish in to make way for the now frustrated alcohol fuelled ramshackle that congregated around the main entry. Security were rushed to the area yet their forceful idea of “damage control” induced a breed of premature riot. Slowly the masses are thinned and the bars were soon reopened as concern for issue subsided and the bender roared on like none before it.

There are simply no other Australian festivals that an compare to this one. The venue, the line up, the organisation, the patronage and the unity. Splendour In The Grass has given me a whole new perspective of what “Festivals” are all about, and I’ve been to a bucketload… of festivals. Without giving you a set by set account of the artists who showcased, It’s easily said that this one event has blown the top off a normal expectionation of what productions of this stature should be like. This one weekend, has been the sole purpose of existence for a very large percentage of our youth population for months, and did Splendour In The Grass deliver? Hell yes! I do pity you if you’re one of the unlucky ones who missed out.

Get on YouTube, grab a podcast cause it’s all available to rehash. I sincerely hope that this production is the turning point for the birthing of a new generation of what we’ve come to know as a music fest, that we can begin to catch up with the rest of the world and get around not only one, but three to five full days of musically induced debauchery at a time, and make our mark on the world as home to some of the greatest events, the international music community has to offer. It’s time to step up Australia. The bar has been raised.