REVIEW - Splendour In The Grass 2011

02 August 2011

Nestled in amongst a natural amphitheatre in the sunny Queensland town of Woodford, Splendour In The Grass draws tens of thousands of passionate music fans every year. The team headed out there to check out some of the world's biggest acts as well as a host of local talent at the three day festival... and we were not disappointed.

Kicking off the first day of the festival was Kate Moss' husband Jamie Hince's band The Kills. The Kills are always a sight to behold... first of all because they are a just a duo (electric guitar being the only live instrument to compliment vocals) and also because their singer Alison Mosshart is one of the hottest rock chicks in the business. Playing to a packed crowd on the Amphitheatre Stage the band lived up their name by putting on a super exciting show.

The next act we checked out was Scottish band Glasvegas. Playing to a smaller crowd on the main stage, the band kicked out some epic jams... for just a four piece band, they achieve a monstrous level of volume, and politely blew out our ear drums in preparation for Australia's most exciting new talent Boy & Bear.

B&B are a great band. We were super pumped to head over to one of the smaller tent stages to check them out, but due to ridiculous overcrowding were unable to get a decent view. How did these cats get so big? Sitting on the hill listening to their acoustcy mellowness was a good moment though, and the perfect way to pysch ourselves up for Gotye.

Click here to check out the pics!

Gotye's latest song featuring Kimbra 'Somebody That I Used To Know' had become somewhat of an unofficial anthem for the festival...every car was cranking it over their speakers all day, every day... and the question on everyone's lips was whether or not Kimbra would join him on the track. Fortunately, dreams came true... he smashed out an incredible set climaxing with a version of the song with Kimbra on co-lead vocals that people couldn't stop talking about all weekend long.

Swedish band The Hives are one of the best rock bands around today... the way that front man Pelle Almqvist whips the crowd into a combusting bag of stupendous excitement is nothing short of genius... and tunes like 'Walk Idiot Walk' and 'Hate To Say I Told You So' served as the entre main course to the Kanye juggernaut that followed.

Kanye is such a dude. The only show he played in Australia this tour was this Splendour gig, and it's pretty obvious that he'd spent quite some time constructing a show that these Woodfordian's would adore. It's easy to forget how many amazing tunes Kanye has... "I know you love the classics, but I love playing the new shit too!" he announced... fortunately we were treated to a massive helping of both. 'Diamonds For Sierra Leone' and 'Touch The Sky' sounded fresh as ever, meanwhile newer songs like 'Runaway' and 'Run This This Town' were amazing to see live. The show featured what seemed like 15 or so backing dancers, amazing visuals, costume changes, fireworks... Kanye seriously delivered.

Waking up bright and early on the second day to catch Aussie rockers Tim and Jean was a risk. What if they'd sucked and we'd gotten up early for nothing? Well, lucky for us... Tim and Jean were actually one of the day's highlights. The crowd that had amassed to check these guys out was huge... and each and every punter was treated to an incredible dance party to start the day. Nice work lads.

Next on this list, Foster the People. This band has been lurking around for a while now and are just starting to cross over into commercial radio world. They played to a packed stage of fans getting their sardine on at the Mix Up tent - this band sure has developed since their last tour of Australia for Laneway Fest. Sweet, sweet music like their latest single "Pumped Up Kicks" really connected with a packed crowd of Splendourers. We'll be watching this LA band with great interest in future...

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Enough of that though, it was time to mosey on over to the Amphitheatre once more to watch The Living End. "The Living End? But they're boring and play at every festival!" I hear you say... well, clearly you have never actually taken the time to see them. The Living End are one of Australia's finest live bands and playing a hit filled set to please the thousands of crazy LE fans that had accumulated in the mosh pit was always going to go down a treat. 'West End Riot' and 'Second Solution' were highlights in amongst a set of both new and old material. No matter what you think of the records, in a live environment these guys are off. The. Chain.

Saturday's headliners were US rockers Jane's Addiction. We caught a Q+A session with Janes lead singer Perry Farrell earlier in the day, who told the small crowd that their later set would "Kick all of our asses,". And they did. They might be one of the oldest bands on the bill, but these guys still rock... Dave Navarro is the ultimate rock star and Perry Farrell is a true showman. Saturday's highlight hands down.

Getting up on the morning of the third and final day was always going to be a struggle... but knowing of the delights that were due to come later in the day, it was all worth it. The first of these delights was Hungry Kids Of Hungary. These guys are the ultimate party band. They mightn't have had a crowd the size of Kanye, but that didn't stop them from putting on a show to get the crowd dancing. And they threw really awesome beach balls into the crowd. Play on.

The afternoon was a lesson in band dedication. This writer happens to be a massive, massive Coldplay fan... so we staked out a prime position for the afternoon in preparation for Chris Martin and his band of merry men.

One of the highlights of the afternoon was The Vines. Fresh from a recent performance at Russian Standard Vodka Live At The Chapel, Craig Niccols and co reeled out the hits: 'Get Free', 'Animal Machine' and new single 'Future Primitive' were all sickening high points.

Up next was Elbow... who quite frankly bore me to tears. This is definitely a band that your parents would like. I'm sure they're all amazing musicians... but by golly playing an hour worth of slow ballads is a tough ask on a festival main stage, and it wasn't too much of a big ask to upstage them.

Fortunately UK natives Kaiser Chiefs absolutely blew the crowd away. They have more incredible songs that you (yes you) give them credit for. 'Ruby' was one of the best singaloings of the whole weekend, 'Everyday I Love You Less And Less' was a cracking opener, and 'Oh My God' sounded epic. You go you Kaiser Chiefs you.

Another highlight of the day was recently reformed UK birtpoppers Pulp. Fronted by the dazzling Jarvis Cocker (who also has the second best ass in rock and roll) they played heaps of their 90's hits including 'Do You Remember The First Time', 'Babies' and finishing with the much loved 'Common People' the stage was well and truly set for Coldplay.

The crowd was seething with anticipation as the band walked onto the stage backed by Jay-Z's '99 Problems' (Quite ironic considering the rumours flying around that Jay was set to join Kanye a couple of nights earlier). First up? 'Hurts Like Heaven'. Next? 'Yellow'. Next? 'In My Place'. It was a hit parade. The crowd were singing along with every word and Chris Martin was lapping it up. He even slotted in a moving tribute to Amy Winehouse before launching into 'Fix You' and the closer of 'Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall' was backed by fireworks filling the sky.

The perfect way to finish one of the best festivals this country has ever produced.

Review by Steph @ Take 40.


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