Friday 31 July 2015

Splendour in the Mud 2015: Day Three

Although weather wise the morning looked promising, I wanted to explore Byron Bay for a bit. So I headed to the bus and jumped on with a bunch of other campers covered in mud, and to sunny Byron we headed! Except it wasn't so sunny. In fact, it pissed down within moments of me arriving. So my day of walking about in something other than mud and gumboots was a fizzer. I did get to sit at a bar and drink Dr Cooper's finest though, which was a nice break from the Extra Dry.

Heading back to the campgrounds after lunch, I spent some time drinking Matilda Bay beer. It's a fine beer, but at 8 bucks a schooner (425ml) it was a bit rich. They had drink cards, so it never felt I was really spending any money, but in retrospect it's fucking expensive.

One of the first things I watched was a talk on energy in the Guardian tent. It was mostly around fracking, which is a big issue in that region of the world. I liked the balance on the panel, but fuck me, the Liberal politician was a cunt. I get it dude, you're facing a hostile audience, but you sir need some media training! You came across as a rude, arrogant, out of touch prick who can't even think for himself. Which is sad because you are a doctor, and a couple of the things you said were worth investigating. But rather than listen to you, I just wanted to punch you in the face.

Anyway, after this I wanted to hear some music and wandered over to the GW McClennan tent to see the Districts. I'd not heard of them before, and they were playing some really nice, bluesy kind of music which was quite enjoyable.

I noticed there was a ARIA "Songwriters in Discussion" in the Guardian tent, so grabbed a beer and sat down to hear Robert Forster talk about his time in the Go Betweens. The GW McClennan stage is named in honour of the other member of the Go Betweens, so this was a fitting talk. He talked about the start of the band, how much trouble they had getting successful, and even did a few acoustic songs.

As that was finishing up, I noticed a large crowd of people standing around in an odd spot. Moving my way to the crowd, I saw what they were cheering at - a naked man covered in mud in a Sisyphean effort to climb one of the many slopes. The "Mud Monster" as he's since been labelled was a highlight of the festival. (This is not my video)

 After the Mud Monster, I went to see the Swamp Monster, CW Stoneking. Such a weird sounding dude, dressed all in pristine white, andamazing Louisiana style swamp blues which seemed appropriate for the accommodations. Unfortunately I don't appear to have any pictures of CW :(

Jamie T was on the main stage, and I wanted to get a good spot to see Blur, so headed back to see him. I really enjoyed him the first time I saw him - I went on a whim after reading an interview in Beat Magazine. He's certainly grown as a performer, and although he's a little less like the Streets and more like other modern British popular music (give me a break - I don't know what to call it!) he still projected a lot of energy for the last night.

But that was totally eclipsed by Royal Blood. I've never seen so much energy from just two people on stage. Consisting of just drums and guitar (and bass guitar at that!) the sound they bring was incredible, and they truly know how to rock. This was probably the best set of the festival in my opinion.

Tame Impala are another Aussie band I am really enjoying, and their set was awesome. After the energy of Royal Blood, they brought it down but it was a very smooth and psychedelic ride, with trippy projections and effects blasting through the speakers. The crowd loved the shoutouts to them, including to the giant Lionel Richie head. (Which I sadly never got a picture of :( )

And then it was time for Blur. I cannot for the life of me figure out why I didn't see them play in Adelaide in 1997. Either they sold out, or I was doing something else (although what that was I can no longer recall!) and I missed them. So, 17 years later, I finally get to see them.

And they were good. They played "There's No Other Way" as the second song, and I lost it! Every song was played well, and I jumped around like a lunatic to one of my favourite bands in the world.

But, if I'm brutally honest, I was a little disappointed. After the previous sets from Royal Blood and Tame Impala, and the previous night with Florence, they just didn't seem to match the energy of the other performers. I know a lot was to do with my own levels of energy too - I went arse up into the mud right before their set so was muddy and wet and sore, but still, there was just a sense of anticipation with them which was never realised.

And I realise with a band like Blur with so many years and so many hits they're not going to play everyone's favourite songs. For a festival, I thought they played a few too many songs from the new album. I loved the songs, knew all the words, but still - it's a festival. They did play their biggest hits of course - There's No Other Way, Coffee and TV, Tender (and yes, I still teared up during it!), Park Life, Song 2. But they missed out a lot from the era I loved them in - Country House was notably missing. And a band with a song called "Pressure on Julian" should know to play it when they come to this country, surely!? ;)

I did, however, see Blur in Melbourne on Tuesday night, and it was a very different gig. The mud, the lack of sleep, the smell, the munted youths, all of that was gone, and I could see them very well and take pictures without fear of dropping my phone in 3 inches of mud. And they were fucking AMAZING! There new stuff was more appreciated by the crowd, and their energy levels were perfect, and they seemed to be enjoying the gig a whole lot more the second time around.
I know I did!

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So, that was my first Splendour experience! If it wasn't for Blur being on the line up, I wouldn't have gone. But I'm glad I got to experience it, mud and all. I did have a great deal of fun, and saw some amazing music, which is the whole reason I put myself through this type of thing.

If I ever go again for the 3 days it would have to have a tremendous line up. If I could be guaranteed of no mud it would make the festival much more attractive. I was there for 5 days, and that does take it's toll. Even Womad is exhausting, and that is a come-and-go festival with lots of grass and trees and very flat.

I certainly wouldn't camp at the venue again, unless is was in the most pimped out RV money could hire. Even then, I'd rather park at a nearby caravan park and travel to and from the venue every day. Being able to escape - the mud, the crowd, the incredibly expensive drinks - is definitely something I need in future.

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