Flaming Lips singer, Wayne Coyne, gets a piggyback from a gorilla during the band’s Splendour performance.
Flaming Lips singer, Wayne Coyne, gets a piggyback from a gorilla during the band’s Splendour performance.

Young crowd shows no festival fear

Narrowly avoiding Byron’s wet festival curse, Splendour in the Grass has come and gone, and while 2009 nearly saw the new Yelgun site tested, our humble little town was again blessed to play host.

Splendour is often referred to as a ‘young crowd’, and the insight into youth culture is always a delightful burst of energy and enthusiasm.

 Cameron Bird (of ‘Architecture in Helsinki’) recently stated that playing to young people was refreshing because they are ‘always up for it and uncynical’, and that pretty much summed up the weekend – 17,000 kiddies ready to party.

Like any good party though, you’ve got to have the right clobber, and if you can convince your mates to dress the same way, all the better.

For those not in costume, black was definitely the new black, and there is something decidedly 80s about the current look (scary considering the inevitable progression into glam rock), but the sideshow of punters becoming partners in the Splendour spectacle represents something of this youth’s generation that doesn’t fear standing out, is media savvy and keen to connect.

The Splendour site was a like a 3D social networking page, complete with intersecting groups and overt self-disclosure.

Carrying a camera through the crowd, people demanded I take their photo then struck instinctive model poses without care (or fear) of who or what it was for.

If these guys are our future, it’ll be a friendly place without secrets.

With so many stages, it’s impossible to take it all in and for every band seen there were three others missed, so to state the highlights is impossible.

 Of what I saw, there were good performances from Manchester Orchestra, The Specials, Birds of Tokyo, Dappled Cities, The Middle East, Lost Valentinos, Decoder Ring, MGMT and so on and so on.

Powderfinger surprised everyone with a cameo appearance between sets to ask the crowd to sing them some backing vocals for their upcoming album, and Flaming Lips covered up the fact that they can’t sing with the most spectacular special effects show of the festival – lead singer (Wayne Coyne) rolled across the crowd inside a giant bubble, got a piggyback from a gorilla and released hundreds of giant balloons into the crowd, but that’s art.

As is the modern festival trend, Splendour ’09 was impeccably run, environmentally responsible and very cruisy –- but I’ll never understand chanting Tibetan monks spinning out kids on disco biscuits.

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