Splendour In The Grass got off to a super muddy start for the second day, but this time, I was ready; prepared with some brand new boots after the Vans I had on the Friday were sacrificed to the vengeful festival god. It made walking into the Supertop to catch the breezy-indie pop stylings of Last Dinosaurs (pictured) easy, and it’s hard to think of a better soundtrack to wade through mud to than their whacked out cover of Modjo’s “Lady”.
After finding a firm(ish) ground to dance around on, the Brisbane lads busted out the phenomenal anthemic “Honolulu” (with surprisingly tight and in-time backing vocals provided by the almost-at-capacity tent) and capped the set with “Zoom”, leading the crowd through the rousing refrain of “finally we can be/part of history”.
From there, it’s time to head to the Splendour Forum for Wil Does Parky, where comedian Wil Anderson sits and grills guests. After a short detour to the Smirnoff Cocktail Bar to listen to the I OH YOU DJ’s pump out some throbbing electro hits for the clubhounds not satisfied with the mystifying drum-and-bass pumped out through the Supertop speakers between acts, seats are found and the Q+A session begins. Anderson profiles and takes the spotlight away from guests, and besides the main attraction of a half-hour with Billy Corgan, there’s little of interest besides the surprisingly revelation that independent MP Rob Oakeshott can’t wait to see Hilltop Hoods, and the savaging of Occupy Melbourne spokesperson Carl Scrace who despite rallying for a good cause manages to be utterly insufferable.
When Corgan finally takes the stage, it’s a rare and surprising look at the Smashing Pumpkins’ frontman; he’s disconcertingly affable and self-deprecating in the name of humour and is able to bounce off of Anderson. Quietly spoken and very considered, he plots the path of the Pumpkins’ both past and future, revealing thoughts of how “(we’ll) last another four or five years…and have to become more visual or multimedia oriented” and that he’s “very interested in what people are thinking and feeling” when it comes to both performances recorded and live. There’s the standard preaching of the death of the album via the internet, but the twist is that Corgan recognizes the need to move forward and abandon the current music industry model. It’s an interesting insight into a man that has spent the latter half of his career holding stubborn by way of not playing old material and alienating previous lineups of the band. Oh, and he performed a wrestling move called “The Claw” on Anderson.
From the Forum it’s a short stopover to the Supertop for Band Of Skulls, who have a huge crowd replete with fist pumping and massive shoutalongs, but my schedule moves me along to the Mix Up Tent to see Seekae. The contrast is massive; Seekae has a small but dedicated throng of people bobbing along to the beat, and while the band’s brand of chilled out electro is an entire world away from the bluesy rock and roll Band of Skulls pump out, it’s not less thrilling, and brings a nice change of pace compared to the rest of the weekend.
I’m able to see the last of The Beautful Girls’ set before Mudhoney; the crowd for TBG is massive, and at first I’m worried it’s all for Lana Del Rey later that evening and I won’t get a decent spot for the grunge pioneers. While the band reaches out the back of the tent and is packed solid, it’s kind of comforting to know they’re here for TBG; as soon as Mat McHugh and co. finish the last chord, they’re out of there. However, it sucks that they’re not here for Mudhoney, but it’s their loss; the Seattle rockers put on a show that’s the highlight of the weekend. Running through their fantastic back catalog with mainstays “Let It Slide” and “Touch Me I’m Sick” early in the set, it’s a heavy aural assault that simply doesn’t let up; the bewildered teenage girls caught between older thrashers provide one of the most hilarious images of the entire weekend.
Miike Snow are probably the first band to truly provide an epic light show for the festival; multiple lighting rigs combined with the standard Supertop setup bathe the stage in light, pulsating in time to driving drum beats and dancing synth lines, and from the vantage point I have it’s an almost perfect mix. “Burial” and “Bavarian” open the set, and an early appearance of “Silvia” enthrals the audience, with one member climbing the tent supports to gain a better view. Singer Christian Karlsson goes on to dedicate “Black & Blue” to the climber, and eventually closes the set with crowd favourite “Animal”.
As soon as Bloc Party start their fourth Splendour appearance (not third, as Kele Okereke later suggests) that security seem to finally notice the tent climber, but he remains stuck in his perch until the very end of the set. It’s a barrage of both hits and new material; unlike the reformation of At the Drive-In a day earlier, you can tell the band is enjoying themselves, with drummer Matt Tong grinning away the entire set, and Okereke cheekily goading the audience into responses and sing-alongs. New cuts “Octopus” and never-before heard “The Truth” show two eclectic sides of the new record; while “Octopus” is epileptic and stutters through to the Muse-esque guitar solo, “The Truth” slows things down to an almost balladish pace. There’s a short leave before the encore, where heavyweight songs “Ares” and “Flux” give way to the primal, mass singalong of “Helicopter”; Okereke lets the audience sing the first verse, and it’s shouted back at a volume exceeding Russell Lissack’s guitar. It’s the first true “Splendour moment” that I’ve had, and one that’s kept me grinning since Saturday. A fine return to form for the veterans, and an incredible cap to the halfway point of the festival.