It’s Sunday morning. Day 3. Last day of the fest. Yet the lineup today could easily stand up to any one-day fest anywhere else. After the whirlwind of interviews, bands and beer, DJ Ribut and I make a pact – to take it easy. We haven’t even got any pictures of ourselves and in the digital age that is as good as not being here, so the cams are out.
As the familiar chords of ‘Nobody Move Nobody Get Hurt’ ring out I wander off towards the McKellan tent where Fanfarlo has just launched into single ‘The Walls Are Coming Down’. Their folky cacophony of mandolin, trumpet, glockenspiel and guitars goes down a storm.
Despite pulling an impressive disco electro set, Swedish dance outfit Miike Snow is not in the best of moods and cancel my interview. It’s impeccably bad timing because I spot We Are Scientists in the artist area and singer Keith Murray is looking the fox with his salt and pepper do. Gah! Celeb hobnobbing thwarted! It’s nothing some tasty tucker can’t fix so I head in the direction of the Temple Stage.
For the next few hours me and Ribut mooch around the Global Village opposite, indulge in the much lauded Byron Bay doughnuts and pull up a seat at the Forum where musos try and outdo each other at music trivia or engage in debate: Music Piracy, Social Media, Privacy…. If you can drag yourself away from the music and the bars, there is so much else going on. I even sign up as a member of Sea Shepherd and buy a tee, while somewhere in the distance Ash, The Vines, Broken Social Scene and Jonsi play on. We feel the lure of the stage again.
“If you go watch Passion Pit does that mean you’re gay?” a cheeky Vines fan is overheard saying as he exits into oncoming Passion Pit traffic. The throngs making their way past the installation art (spooky winking and smiling faces projected onto trees) care not and as if to underline this there is a temporary lock down. I had an awesome interview with the band’s Berklee alumni Jeff and Ayad prior to call time – they reveal themselves to be Mad Men and Dexter fans respectively – and I’m stoked. The Reeling is a brilliant single, the more upbeat disco successor to MGMT’s ‘Electric Feel’.
In the wash of synths, vocodered vocals and innocuous glitterball beats, the masses gathered before us are up for one last big hurrah and crowd participation is high. Even Aussie festival fixture “naked golden man” has been spotted amongst us. He must be bloody freezing as it’s cold out but I need fire not falsetto so I’m off to see Kate Nash.
There are a lot of women here and I get the impression that if the girlfriends weren’t hanging onto their boyfriends’ hands, the men would bolt. Perhaps it’s the sign hanging fm Kate Nash’s keyboards: “A c*nt is a useful thing” that scares them off. Conversing with the crowd as if confiding with an old friend, Kate strikes an easy rapport with the crowd, and asks repeatedly for the lights to be on it rather than herself. It’s all the better to see the heart shapes that the sisterhood throws up with their hands. It’s reciprocated with screeching punk anthem ‘I Just Love You More’ delivered rock kangkang style atop a speaker.
Â Simultaneously flirty and beguiling, indignant and spewing vitriol, her impeccably delivered spokenword rant ‘Mansion Song’ is a particular highpoint. But for every outspoken oratory comes its saccharine pill antidote, ‘Mouthwash’ and the revealing ‘Foundations’ among them. When she finally kisses us goodnight with ‘Pumpkin Soup’, she’s signed her fate as the day’s revelation.
It’s midway into Goldfrapp/Mumford And Sons’s set now (oh the humanity!) as Ribut and I make our the way over to the unfolding drama at McKellan. The stage is empty, the lights are up and there is a restlessness as crowd shifts impatiently on their feet. A roadie comes on and announces the show’s over, Richard has lost his voice. Whether this is true or the sparse crowd already divided between The Pixies and Empire Of the Sun are to blame, Richard has retreated one song in. Unimpressed, the gaggle chant “Wanker!” and there’s even a dispirited attempt to trash the place. Out of 200 over bands, only one tantrum. I’d say that’s impressive.
To have to the decide between The Pixies and Empire Of The Sun on a Sunday demonstrates how truly spectacular Splendour is! It’s the likelihood that we will never get to witness The Pixies again that sends us upwards towards the mainstage and with considerable misgivings I eschew Luke Steele’s hallucinogenic mindfcuk of a show. On route Ribut and I go groupie on Andrew Stockdale of Wolfmother and Amandah Wilkinson of Operator Please; at precisely the moment she is tackling a hotdog. Oops.
Given The Pixies’ notoriously acrimonious relationship it’s unsurprising that there’s barely any interaction between them. Instead any engagement comes from Kim Deal, who stays off jumbotron at all times. Someone in the audience conjectures there is a bassist conspiracy, as they never appear on cam, but despite the stony front, The Pixies display some seriously showmanship and stamina, running through material from all four albums and playing at twice the speed of the younger Strokes before them – without breaking a sweat. As a huge full moon rises behind the stage and ‘Debaser’ and ‘Monkey Gone To Heaven’ plays out, it’s plain that there could be no better ending to an amazing weekend! When encore ‘Where Is My Mind?’ rings out someone lights up sparklers. We exit spent but satisfied, the chorus of ‘Here Comes Your Man’ ringing in our ears.
Do we really have to go though? Past Ibeefa, where earlier in the day ravers danced on the grass and cavorted at the Chupa Chups foam party, at the Teepee Forest, stragglers that refuse to go quietly into the night gather to commune under the stars to the thump of dance music for the final time. I survived 3 days of Splendour and suddenly next year feels like a long time to wait. The withdrawal symptoms taking hold. Fortunately, there are festivals happening throughout the year in Australia and beyond, and they’re only an Air Asia X fight away. What you waiting for music fans?! Let’s go!!