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Published on July 25th, 2013 | by Dedee W


My Splendour in the Grass Mixtape 2013

On May 22nd I won a prize to go to Splendour in the Grass, a three day music festival in Australia. This happened purely because the amazing folks at 95bFM drew my name out of a hat, after taking names for several weeks for the prize draw. The breakfast hosts called me up and I was still half asleep, doing my best to sound awake, but they totally called me on it – I was dozy as, completely caught out, and sounding slightly dazed and full of disbelief. It was pretty classic.

I couldn’t quite believe it, I’d never won anything this big. It won’t even seem real til I get on the plane I think. I’ve never won anything with free flights before! Especially not to a magical place like Byron Bay, where apparently you can still go camping at the end of July, yet you’re not in Europe. (How does this work Australians??) Minutes later, as my phone filled up with congratulatory texts, I suddenlly felt sick with nerves, thinking “Oh my god, who the hell am I gonna take?!!”

I hate big decisions like this, and picking a festival buddy is no mean feat when you don’t have just one best friend you know you’re gonna take. Some of my best mates couldn’t come for various reasons, so I decided to go on the hunt for someone truly deserving.
While I was quietly freaking out about who to take, I devised a set of six simple questions to gauge people’s excitement about the line-up and who wanted it most.

Question six was this:
“I’m looking for the ideal festival and travel buddy who loves this shit as much as I do. What do you think makes you an awesome festival/travel buddy?”
To which Greta simply replied:
“I love music it’s probably one of my best friends, I also love to meet new people and travel. Let’s party late into the night and make amazing memories together.”
Done. I was sold.

So in honour of the awesome weekend ahead, I’ve put together a Splendour mixtape for 2013. It’s by no means a definitive list of all the highlights, but I had to stop somewhere or I’d be here all night.

TV on the Radio – Dancing Choose
They killed it at Harvest festival in Melbourne last year. I’m very much looking forward to seeing them again. I got into them late but seeing them play live surpassed my expectations, they’re sharp, dancey, clever, and tight as f**k. What’s not to like?

Jake Bugg – Two Fingers
This became a bit of theme song around the time I was feeling fantastically happy about quitting my day job. It really does sum up that feeling of breaking away to escape. As you blaze off into the sunset on that hot summer’s day, you can bet you’ll be blasting this song..
(This is also the song I played before I phoned Greta to ask her to come to Splendour with me. She was so excited she started swearing and said her heart was racing! It was the best reaction I could’ve hoped for.)

Frank Ocean – Sweet Life
Channel Orange has become one of my favourite new albums, and I’ve given it many listens in the run-up to Splendour. This track is as smooth as ever, and flows like the best dark chocolate for your earholes.. (I’m dedicating this one to Dahnu, who I wish I could take with me in my suitcase, especially since I found out how much he loves Frank Ocean. I’m pretty sure he has a man-crush on him. If you were coming and we’d bagged your dream interview with Frank somehow – I’d let you ask all the questions dude!)

Laura Marling
This woman’s voice is pure loveliness. I found this 18 minute short film called ‘When Brave Bird Saved’, inspired and soundtracked by the first 4 tracks from her new album, ‘Once I Was An Eagle’.
I think it makes a pretty good introduction.
You can hear a bit of Joni Mitchell in here, with the same relaxed, open storytelling voice shining through on every song. Listening to this is enough to make you relax and sit back in awe for a while.

Mumford and Sons – Little Lion Man
For those who think it’s painfully uncool or naff to like Mumford and Sons, well this one’s for you! I was a fan of their first album, enjoyed hearing the uncensored version of ‘Little Lion Man’ on bFM with the f-words left in, and was lucky enough to see them play an in-store on a tiny little stage at a record store called Puregroove in London. A record store so well set up for in-stores they even had their own bar.

UMO – So Good at Being in Trouble
This song is so effortlessly cool. Like a soft-focus love song that some days really sums up my mood. UMO are even more amazing live, and I’m looking forward to another big singalong of this song with a massive festival crowd.

Babyshambles – A’rebours
I’m stoked to be seeing Babyshambles again, they make me all nostalgic for my London days, when we used to go to their gigs and wonder if Pete Doherty would show up. I’m glad to say he always did. (To the shows I saw anyway!) I never got to see The Libertines, arrived too late for that, but I thought this band were better than Carl Barat’s Dirty Pretty Things.

Fidlar – Cheap Beer
Fidlar are another band I’ve only recently discovered, through much hype, excitement and radio play, and this particular single. How can you fault a band that takes the time to celebrate the simple things in life?
I can see myself getting amongst the crowd for this killer chorus:
“I drink cheap beer! So what, f*ck you!”

Haim – Forever
I’ve only just started listening to this band, a four piece from LA who take their name from the surname of the three sisters in the band. This fresh summery pop song with a bit of a carefree 80s sound makes me think they could be good live.

Darwin Deez – Radar Detector
I saw this guy at the Kings Arms a little while back, he has the most infectiously happy pop tunes you could wish for, and some great dance breaks performed by the whole band throughout the set. This is a damn cute little video, full of fantastic ideas such as the modified plastic fork vampire fangs, or the panoramic camera hat. Watch and learn!

Architecture in Helsinki – Heart It Races
Having seen these Aussie favourites a few times before, I’m looking forward to seeing their smiling faces again. Here’s an oldie but a goodie from the 2007 album ‘Places Like This’.

Fat Freddy’s Drop – Blackbird
With the richness of the extended live versions from these Wellington legends, a whole hour set should be just enough for four or five songs then? I’m looking forward to it. Dallas Tamaira’s heavenly honey-coated vocals and that mean horn section are enough to have me up the front for this band. This is the title track off their new album.

James Blake – Limit To Your Love
People can’t seem to get enough of this guy right now, and after a closer listen I can see why. His soulful vocals are quite haunting, with a voice that belies his age at just 24.

Klaxons – Atlantis To Interzone
I haven’t seen Klaxons for years, this’ll make me feel nostalgic for ye olde London days again, when I first heard their album ‘Myths of The Near Future’. Do I even know any of the new songs? Probably not. But I quite like this one, from back in 2006. It was a bloody good year.

Deap Vally – Gonna Make My Own Money
This band hail from San Fernando Valley in California, and by all accounts they aren’t ones to be messed with. They’re a female duo of heavy rock riffs and rough screechy vocals that’ll no doubt be very satistfying to see live. I can’t wait. Recommended for fans of The White Stripes and Janis Joplin.

You Am I – Heavy Heart
This song is just beautiful. I love the lyrics.
‘Every t-shirt’s got a wine stain, I’m loving cigarettes again. I know every tune about guys and girls and hurts and hearts and moons. I miss you like sleep, there’s nothing romantic ‘bout the hours I keep. The morning’s when it starts, I don’t look so good now I’ve got a heavy heart..’
It captures the perfect mix of bittersweet, heart on your sleeve emotions. I’m a sucker for that, I gotta admit. It’s the same reason I used to crank up Blur’s ‘Tender’ and listen to the sound of Damon Albarn singing about his breakup. Sit back, soak it up, sing it out..
Then again, this weekend you won’t be able to wipe the massive smile off my face. So there ya go -that’s good too.


What I’m expecting from my first time at Splendour!
As a seasoned festival goer, lucky enough to have been to festivals both here and abroad – there’s one thing I know to expect at a big music festival:

Timetable clashes, and welcome surprises
There’s always so much on, and with so many musical gems and must-sees crammed into one big delicious line-up, it can be a bit of a mission – and Splendour is no exception. But while I may not be able to see everything on my wishlist, I know I’ll find some unexpected gems as I wander from stage to stage like a wide eyed munchkin in the land of Oz.
This is why I didn’t look too hard at the timetable when it first came out. I’m the kind of person who likes to see everything. So seeing which of my fave bands clash with each other would only annoy me. Best just to run around and lap it up on the day, seeing as much musical goodness as you can, and discovering some great new faves as you go.
For example, this is happening on Saturday night on the G.W. Mclennan stage –
8.15 – 9.30: Polyphonic Spree (performing the Rocky Horror Picture Show)
I just noticed this as I scanned the line-up again, freaked the f**k out for a second, and did a double take. Polyphonic Spree – remember them? I remember their song ‘Soldier Girl’ from 2002, as a distant trippy memory. I never saw them play live, but seeing them perform The Rocky Horror Picture Show? We’ll that’ll be a spectacle. We could be in for a treat there, who knows?!

Beautiful festival people
Going by the gallery on the Splendour in the Grass website, this is one picturesque motherf*cker.. and a lot of the people there are very photogenic. I’m looking forward to mixing with this beautiful crowd in this little piece of paradise called Byron Bay. I’ve never been there before, and something tells me I’ll wanna go back and check it out beyond the festival grounds of North Bryon Parklands.

Stricter drinking rules?
Reading up on the festival rules is important when you’re new to a festival, and as a certified newbie to Splendour in the Grass I thought I’d better study up.
I’d been told that apart from the super strict rules against bringing any booze in you’re also not allowed to bring alcohol into the campground. Does this surprise anyone else ? Clearly I’ve become too used to the ‘looser’ rules of the fests of the rest of the world, where they trust us to party and drink responsibly with our new friends and neighbours. Ah well. Not saying I’m a complete alkie, but I do enjoy a Bloody Mary with breakfast when I’m camping, this was something I did with my neighbours at Latitude festival in England once. I’d highly recommend it. Guess I’ll be going straight edge for most of this festival then.

All night parties,.. or not?
‘No noise permitted in the campground between midnight and 8am’ – it says in the fine print.
Hmm, is the whole festival campground like a Family/Quiet camping zone? On the bright side, I guess that means we’re guaranteed a good night’s sleep every night. Either that or we’ll be having silent disco parties, dancing around with big headphones on, or quiet acoustic guitar jams, singing Laura Marling songs and a few hushed rounds of Kumbaya. Party on kids! Shit’s gonna get sensible this weekend..
Let’s be clear though, I’m not complaining – these are clearly first world problems and should be largely ignored.
Above all I’m there for the music. I’m a sucker for live music, and will be til the day I die. It’s nice to know there’s a festival this good and this diverse just over the ditch – and as you can see from the mixtape, there’s much to look forward to – and that’s just a sample of the plethora of treats in store.



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About the Author

Freelance arts journalist who goes to far too many gigs, comedy shows and everything in between. But still loves every minute of it. Gig junky/arts enthusiast. dedee(AT)presencezine.com

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