This final review was a collaborative effort, and I hope it doesn’t get too confusing. The first part was written by Callum, the second part, Declan. Enjoy.
With our stomachs and heads spinning from the out of control night before, the last thing we wanted was alcohol. However we had bands to see and opinions to be had so I traipsed off to see Grouplove, again unaccompanied. I’ve had a number of arguments with Big D in relation to this band, him being the eternal pessimist and against any band who haven’t established themselves as punk rock gods. But I like them, and was immensely glad I saw them. The charisma and life shown within the band, translated directly into their live show. Unfortunately we would never find out the result of their FIFA match against Foster the People.
The next act I saw was The Vaccines. There was going to be nothing stopping me from seeing these guys, despite a clash from Yelle. I have feeling I would have spoken about them more than any other band on my blog posts. While only playing in front of a smallish crowd, the band were visibly impressed with the attendance, confirmed by a later interview on Triple J. Some people may find their genre a little repetitive and boring, but it is certainly enjoyable in a live setting. Their gig on which we saw on Wednesday night in Melbourne will be review in more detail laterI would have enjoyed to have seen Yelle, but every festival will have these clashes and you have to make the most of it. Also, lying in the tent quietly moaning, needing a hug and cursing that bottle of vodka and apple juice you drank last night is a perfectly legitimate way to enjoy the morning.
It’s amazing how far Cloud Control have come in recent years. We first saw them sandwiched between Last Dinosaurs and Yves Klein Blue in a gig at Corner Hotel. Last week they opened for Arcade Fire in Milan. This is no Milan in Sydney. This is Milan in Italy. Sunday afternoon they played a brilliant set in front of roughly 10,000 people. The band had new bass player in tow due to Jeremy Kelshaw recently becoming a father. You could tell they had been touring with Arcade Fire, as halfway through the set, the band rushed off stage and returned with giant coloured balloons to hurl into the crowd. As the balloons bounced around, the stage went quieter as the Circle of Life tune blasted over the speakers. The footage of Raffiki holding up Simba on Pride Rock was replaced by Kelshaw holding up his newborn baby girl. As those in the upper areas of the ampitheatre craved a dance, a stampede like mosh pit formed on top, led by a man clad only in yellow budgie-smugglers. It feels so trivial describing the set with words. My vocabulary simple is not vast enough to correspond the degree of epicness about this set.
This next part was written by Declan
The sun was setting and we decided to tactically miss The Vines because their set at Big Day Out had been horribly discordant and out of time. However reports came back they played a very tight set, maybe rock and roll does have a future on the Australian music scene. However, we are not here to speculate. Following and orgiastic intermission filled with pepsi, fried chicken and garlic mayonaise we ventured to the now dark and slightly chilly ampitheatre once again to see professionally under-rated band Elbow. Hailing from Manchester, having played together for over 20 years and winning a Mercury prize three years ago, these guys were not mucking around. Sitting on the hill we listened to the front man’s practiced and perfected banter, chatting to the crowd in a gentle and friendly manner, a style which also adequately describes the musical style. Coldplay without the mainstream success, as they are usually described, is too simplistic and really doesn’t give Elbow enough credit. Their orchestral pop rock had the crowd swaying and singly along to their tunes which truly reached out to everyone in the not yet full out the ampitheatre. As Guy Garvey proclaimed ‘let’s do festivally things’ then commanded the crowd’s hands to sway back and forward, the punters gladly obliged, impressed by the musicality and showmanship of the first of four British bands to close out the festival.
Gums and Big D, ludricious nicknames we had given each other at one of the sillier points of campsite discussion now ventured into the mosh for the Kaiser Chiefs. This is a band that has been around for a while and we were not expecting an overly inspiring performance but I at least was pleasantly surprised. The band having just released their fourth album exploded onto stage and thoroughly inspired the few of us not simply staking out a claim for Coldplay. Playing through some new tracks and their back catalogue which did include more anthems than I remembered, Never Miss a Beat, Ruby and I Predict a Riot all inspiring much merriment from us and the few Scottish backpackers next to us. The peak of the set was easily The Angry Mob which had much of the ampitheatre, or at least those who were quick to learn, “We are the Angry Mob, We read the papers every day, we like who we like, we hate who we hate but we’re oh so easily swayed”
The Coldplay worship continued as we found ourselves amongst a plethora of barely legal females to whom we had to explain exactly who and what Pulp were. Now in this day and age Britpop is largely dead, Damon Albarn writes symphonies and rap songs, Noel and Liam are will never stop fighting but one thing is exactly the same as the glorious 1995. Jarvis Cocker. He, the lead singer of Pulp, for those who are woefully and pitifully un-educated in this area, is simply sex. He exudes appeal and charm in the most stumbling and unassuming way possible, softly engaging in improvised banter and ingratiating himself with the audience. The set began with an excruciatingly drawn out process of questions flashing across a screen at the front of the stage like which ranged from the pertinent “Do you remember the first time?” to the absurd “Would you like to see a dolphin?”, after which an animated dolphin appeaered. The show finally started with the soft opening chords of Do you remember the first time? and didn’t end until an hour of glorious Manchurian charm and Britpop. The crowd really began to dance during Disco 2000 as Jarvis recited various strange and esoteric facts, at one point producing two air-horns and then miniature video camera for the ever voyeuristic and sleazy I Spy. Later on he exclaimed ‘This might be the last Pulp show in Australia’ which drew much sadness from the dedicated members of the audience and later on from Chris Martin of Coldplay. Sorted for E’s and Whiz was all the tribute to drugs and a party culture it was when it was written and became particularly pertinent when the lyrics where changed to reference the very festival we were at; “I seem to have left an important part of my brain somewhere in a field near Brisbane.” Finally, sadly, restricted by time and assaulted by the smell of the emptying of the porta-loos at the top of the hill, Pulp were forced from the stage at the great pain of their small group of vocal fans. They didn’t leave without the final treat however Common People arrived in all its a grandiose and exclamatory magnificence, satisfying a crowd who sang along to every last word as Pulp slowly disappeared from the ampitheatre.
Finally, it was time for Coldplay. We had retreated to the top of the hill to relax and take in one of the biggest acts in the world. There was hardly a person sitting but we managed to find a clear viewpoint from which we were able to be sarcastic and pretentious. Everything considered, it was an enjoyable set, filled with hits that were easy to listen to and even easier to sing along to. As a headliner for a festival like Splendour in the Grass, Coldplay was no match for last year’s Pixies or the year before’s Flaming Lips, however much of the crowd seemed to lose their proverbial shit as Coldplay finsihed their set with the classic Fix You and their new non-sensical number Every Teardrop is a Waterfall. It was enjoyable enough but nothing to write home about. It will be interesting to see the direction Splendour in the Grass takes next year as they failed to sell out the festival with two of the biggest acts in the world. It seems to me that these acts (Kanye and Coldplay) appeal more to the casual listener who is far less likely to buy tickets that cost in excess of $500. However, that kind of analysis is best left to another post and it is essential to finish on the point that Splendour in the Grass 2011 was one of the best weekends of our lives. We danced in the glow of the sun and reveled in the warmth of brilliant music and, surrounded by friends, we truly lived.