After a long journey up from Sydney, it was finally time to embrace the sweet sounds of Splendour in the Grass for 2011, which had returned to Woodford for the 2nd consecutive year. Unfortunately, the usual logistical delays of picking up our campervan kept us from enjoying some of the early sounds of the day, so my festival kicked off with Perth heroes Jebediah.
The band played to an impressively sized crowd, eager to remind the band that Australia is glad to see them back out on the festival circuit - and with new material to boot! Latest single "She's Like a Comet" went down a treat towards the end of the set, and was followed by crowd pleaser "Animal" - but it was "Fall Down" that got the best reception. A great set from the rock band who are now very much veterans of the touring circuit... a great way to start my Splendour bender!
Next up on the main stage were The Kills, who saw Kate Moss adoring her man Jamie Hince from side of stage. This was the second time this year I'd had the chance to see the duo, and third in total - but the first time I'd truly enjoyed the experience. They were totally into it, as was the crowd, and it made for an engaging, entertaining and technically spotless performance. It was The Kills set that I'd always wanted!
"Kissy Kissy" was a particular highlight of the set, as was "Heart is a Beating Drum" and "DNA". The band are at their best when they both don the guitars, or at the very least both engage in some musical action as in "Tape Song" - Mosshart on the drums? Yes please!
Future Starts Slow
Heart Is a Beating Drum
You Don't Own the Road Play Video
The Last Goodbye
Pull A U Play Video
Pots & Pans
Fried My Little Brains
Over on the other stages, James Blake treated a packed out tent to songs of his LP and EP. It could be argued that he's not a "festival" act - suited more for the concert halls and theatres - but with the bass cranked up and his voice echoing throughout the Mix Up tent, it seemed to go down pretty well. Bridezilla-esque Warpaint, meanwhile impressed at the McLennan stage, with highlights including "Composure". Unfortunately set length limitations prevented the lengthy jams they've become known for - for which they were apologetic - but it did little to deter the enthusiasm of their many fans, who had packed the tent out!
Back at the main stage, Glasvegas proved to be one of the disappointments of the festival. Lead vocalist James Allan just seemed indifferent to the whole thing - not to mention a bit out of it following a late start to the set. While "Geraldine" briefly got the crowd singing along, for the most part the crowd was either twiddling their thumbs, waiting for the next band, or thinning out to move onto another stage. I found myself in the latter category.
I thankfully caught a short amount of Boy and Bear's stellar set over at McLennan. However, they'd packed out the tent so much so that you couldn't really get anywhere near it. Thankfully, their songs drifted out quite nicely, with "Rabbit Song" and in particular "Fall at your Feet" providing incredible singalongs! The latter gave yours truly a good deal of goosebumps. The easy highlight of the day! Just wish I had actually been IN the tent for it!
I caught up briefly next with the sweet reggae sounds of New Zealand band The Black Seeds. "Afrophone" was a highlight, and the band lived up to the name they've given themselves for an engrossing live performance.
Eskimo Joe gave us a taste of their new album Ghosts of the Past (due for release 12th August) over on the main stage, with tracks like "When We Were Kids" off new album. "Love is a Drug" and "From The Sea" were personal highlights of the routine energetic set.
UK electro heroes Does It Offend You, Yeah? were playing "Wrestler" as I arrived... and baffling batmans! Did it sound amazing or what! The set had a superb light show, the band were in impressive form and the crowd were ridiculously into it. I couldn't help but get to that point myself... "We Are The Dead", which was introduced as a slower number (indeed, it starts out as such, but ends up as one of the most epic songs the band has ever recorded), was a set highlight, and the band played two songs they'd never played live before (off the new album), including the phenomenal "Pull Out My Insides". But "We Are Rockstars" probably got the best response of the night... no surprises there!
Having spent longer with DIOYY? than I had planned, I missed quite a lot more of Modest Mouse than I would have liked, making just "Float On" and their set closer "The Whale Song" - which blew the crowd away much as it did earlier in the week in Sydney. No doubt a phenomenal set preceded these tracks - it usually does!
I spent the rest of my night at the Ampitheatre stage, to witness an epic one-two punch: The Hives and Kanye West. The Swedish played a large pile of your favourites, in the manner you usually expect: plenty of speaking in the third person, giving you one hell of a fun time in the process. Even though I've seen them a half dozen times now and know their shtick pretty well, it's scientifically impossible to not enjoy a Hives set. They're just too much fun and Pelle is just too damn charismatic. Also, their roadie plays the maracas WHILE HE'S FIXING THINGS ON STAGE. THAT'S AWESOME.
Two particular moments of awesome: Pelle gave The Hives credit for creating the ampitheatre we were watching them perform in... because thousands and thousands of years ago the crowd wasn't good enough, so he blew them all away! Or something like that... Later, in set closer "Tick Tick Boom", Pelle ordered the crowd to all sit down, so they could jump up again - but he waited until every last person had sit down before he "You might not have all day, but we do! I'll speak slower for all the stupid people... s-i-t d-o-w-n..."
Now that's how you command attention!
Go Right Ahead
Die, All Right!
Walk Idiot Walk
Hail Hail Spit n' Drool
Hate To Say I Told You So
No Pun Intended
Take Back The Toys
Try It Again
Won't Be Long
Tick Tick Boom
From one act who works the crowd hard to one who says nothing and has the crowd chanting his name. Kanye West. Mr West, Mr West, Mr West...
Delivering the same epic production we witnessed during the Coachella live stream (the set was virtually identical - even to the point of the unrealised Jay-Z rumours!), the set was nothing short of a spectacle. He got amongst the crowd, had dozens of ballerinas, fireworks, lasers... just about everything you could want in a Kanye show and more. Well, that's as long as you can handle mountains of autotune.
Some tracks were abridged (such as "Diamonds...") in order to save time, while others were given the full treatment. But it's safe to say he got through more than enough of the new album, as well as his back catalogue (plus some of the tracks he guested on with other artists) to keep everyone happy. The "new shit" definitely shined the brightest in the set - it was, after all, structured and designed around the new material. "Monster" was particular well received (to the point the girl next to me squealed like a chipmunk), and even Kanye commented on the trend towards the newer material: "I love the classics but I just love doing the new shit!" And indeed we love hearing it.
He commented on his visit briefly - including the lyrics "It feel like Australia" in "Good Life" and commenting on the beauty of the venue, saying he was "lost for words" at what he saw before him. Indeed, it was a beautiful sight.
Separated into three acts, the final act was essentially the encore, with "Runaway" (set highlight), "Lost in the World" and "Hey Mama" closing out the night, bringing to an end a spectacular first day of action at the festival. And in spite of there being 2,000 less people there, you could have fooled me! This was one packed out event.
Worth mentioning, however, is the fact that we literally drove straight into our campsite today... absolutely no dramas. Well done to the organisers for locking that down so nicely!