Driving into the Splendour grounds was a mass of cars and campervans, all trailing like ants along the dirt road, directed by volunteers with dreadlocks who were all smiles until the security checkpoint. Each and every car was searched for suspicious substances, but with our vodka buried in the depths of the campervan and hipflasks in our pockets, security waved us through and we came out unscathed (others weren’t so lucky…)
A pretty substantial amount of people were already set up, with cars having to be parked away from tents due to the mud, but campervans having their own separate campsite. We were lucky enough to camp all together, though it was a huge battle for those in cars having to cart all their camping gear to the campsite! We’d set up a pretty epic site, with our van and tents all in a circle and a common covered area made of tarpaulins in the middle.
Lucky for us, we had a couple of engineers in our group who made the whole construction possible. We were camped right next to one of the car entrances, which required a massive generator and floodlight, though on the plus side torches wouldn’t be a necessity, and we were so exhausted from the day’s drive that we crashed right out.
Thursday was relatively uneventful, so we spent the day drinking very discreetly (security were literally 50 metres away) and watching as the police sniffer dogs and security guards completely pulled apart each and every car that entered the festival. All manner of things came out of those cars, and it wasn’t such a happy start to the festival for some…certainly gave us something to watch for the day. We also heard that for some people it had taken them 4 hours to get in! We were definitely thanking our lucky stars that we arrived the day before. It was the perfect day to peruse the festival and get our bearings, as well as sample the wine bars and plethora of food stalls before the masses arrived. Everyone was in a state of blissful excitement, and with a spot of rain that afternoon the Splendour mud factory was in full swing.
Friday marked Day 1 of the festival! Our crew was now complete, with a few more friends arriving by plane and battling the traffic to get into the festival. Facepaint, flower crowns, glitter and gumboots got us into festival mode, and off we plodded, through the mud and into the crowds for three days of Splendour fun.
Haim on day one kicked off my time with such high energy, these sisters sure know how to work a crowd! By the end of their set I was on top of the world, ready for whatever came next. Flight Facilities played to a packed out tent and got everyone dancing, and subsequently churning up more mud. I wandered to the food trucks for a feed while the Klaxons rocked it in the background, before heading to Mumford and Sons to meet up with the gang, who were easily picked out in a crowd because we all had personal battery-powered fairy lights, which were a great investment. The London boys and their signature banjo twang ended the night on a high note, complete with confetti cannon, and by the end of their set it had to be bedtime if I hoped to sustain myself for the next two days….
Day 2 started much the same. Loading up on dry shampoo, facepaint and glitter, and gumboots at the ready, one step outside of the campervan and I realised I had a gumboot blowout. Nothing that some gaffa tape wouldn’t fix! Ready to take on Splendour once more, and thankful that we were camping onsite, day 2 was underway. I can’t really comment on everyone else’s festival experience, because I inevitably spent most of it floating around doing my own thing.
Over the three days I bumped into people from the most random facets of my life: old work mates, old high school and uni friends, my friend’s bandmate, friends of friends, and even a guy I met in Spain last year! We’d stayed in the same hostel and he was from Brisbane, it continues to baffle me how small this world is…
The mud was pretty out of control, and at the perimeters of each stage it was like thick, gluggy quicksand. But that wasn’t enough to spoil the fun. Through the adventures of the day, notable acts were MS MR, who were so endearingly humble and full of smiles and just so stoked to be there. Fat Freddy’s Drop played their new album, Black Bird, in full, and their groovy, dubby tunes never fail to put me in a good mood, and Flume closed the show with an up-beat set of new and old tunes.
That night became a bit of an adventure, after dancing the night away at the Red Bull tent, making late-night friends at Govinda’s and bonding over kofta balls, before partying by the campsite bonfire and meeting possibly the most hilarious individual at the festival, who told us his tales of his day including a teddy bear’s run in with Luke Steel of Empire of the Sun, all with a piece of pizza pineapple in his ear. Go figure...
Sunday went out with a bang. During The Bamboos’ set, I had a great old dance with Alastair of Cloud Control, who evidently is the nicest guy out, and being in the thick of it for the last sweet lineup of bands – The Rubens, Alt-J, Passion Pit and Of Monsters and Men, who did an outstanding job of closing the festival in lieu of Frank Ocean cancelling (there were some DEVASTATED people, but I think it was well compensated for).
Exhausted and over the moon, Mel, Chloe and I plodded back to the campsite for one last time. Thoroughly sick of gumboots and mud, I was happy to retire to my comfy, dry bed but remorseful that the fun was over. Needless to say, packing up the gear was depressing to say the least, and the weather agreed as the clouds cried upon the muddy, sleepy, content, beautiful festival that was Splendour 2013. With the gear packed, we narrowly escaped getting bogged (thanks to some brilliant clutch control from myself) before hitting the road back to reality, accompanied by a soundtrack of memories of our epic weekend.