Splendour in 24 Hours: Badass or Stupid?

When Splendour media accreditation opened up a few months ago, I enthusiastically put my name down. But as the weekend in Byron drew closer, going for the whole festival began to look impossible. I had commitments I couldn’t break, no accommodation and no way up there. I almost (but not quite) wrote it off as too hard and being perpetually lazy, did nothing about it (I apologise to those who missed out on tickets – I should have tried harder out of respect for you). Then mid-last week, an idea began to niggle its way into my brain. Though I had commitments during the weekend, my Sunday was completely free… What’s more, payday was rolling in on Thursday. The niggle turned into a crazy plan to attend Splendour for a single day. Tug-of-war between sensible me and FOMO me began. One minute I was about to book flights, the next I was imagining what my mother would say if I told her I was flying to a music festival for just one day. It was like that episode of Gossip Girl when Serena is deciding whether to go to college or not except I was more annoying. Then on Friday afternoon, I just stopped thinking, asked my (awesome) boss if I could come in late on Monday, and commenced booking. Yesterday I went to Splendour in the Grass for the first time. Still haven’t told my mum.

6:20am: My alarm wakes me and my sister also rings to make sure I get up. My backpack for the day is ready.

6:35: My taxi to Southern Cross arrives and I head to the Skybus.

7:15am: I arrive at the airport and check in. I’m early and haven’t had breakfast, so stop by Boost Juice. Two guys who also look like they’re heading to Splendour are already there. I order my smoothie and step to the side, when a bearded man orders a Wild Berry Bang. A tag on his bag reads ‘FJM’, and when he gives his name in a deep American accent I confirm to myself it’s John Tillman aka Father John Misty. He talks to the other guys waiting (who I later realise are in his band) about how if he had to listen to the dance music blaring from Boost’s speakers this early in the morning he would be “making a lot of juice, so [he] didn’t kill [him]self” and would probably put his hand in the blender.

7:30am: After composing myself, I check out the newsagent for something to read. While browsing, FJM wanders in and also checks out the magazines. He steals a Rolling Stone, I hide my jaw-drop behind my own.

7:40am: While waiting in the departure lounge, there are quite a few acts from the today’s lineup there. I attempt to hide my giddiness and withhold any emoticon-like faces I might be making.

11:50am: Post-plane and bus from the Gold Coast, I rock up at my friend Sarah’s accommodation. She and her friends B and Lulu kindly enough are letting me crash on their floor tonight. “Just in time for a cider”, Lulu smiles. They regale me with stories of the last two days of Splendour – Lana Del Rey was shit and Jack White was amazing. It begins to set in what I’ve done. I decide not to look at my bank statement for the next week and a half.

12:20pm: We head to the Beach Hotel for Bloody Marys (my first ever) and it’s easy to see why Splendour needed to return to Byron. Also very glad not to be camping considering how close the festival is to the town.

1:40pm: We arrive at the gates and I collect my sparkly wristband. Sarah points out all the people in animal onesies and headdresses. We share head shakes as we pass stalls selling both.

1:55pm: We get to the Mix Up Stage for Electric Guest, where the crowd’s dancing can definitely be described as ‘boogieing’. Just as we join in they play ‘This Head I Hold’ and the boogieing becomes more vigorous.

2:45pm: B has a potential rendezvous with a young man at the Strongbow bar. We pretend to be ‘on a boat’ (the bar has a freaking boat in it!) and bask in the sun, Zulu Winter‘s soundtrack drifting from the Mix Up Stage.

3:15pm: FJM starts sound-checking his own equipment and treats the crowd to what he calls “unnecessary pre-show banter”.

3:30pm: FJM performs, dancing wildly and generally being captivating. It’s an Oscar-winning performance – like how you know an actor was excellent in their role when you forget about the actor who’s playing them, FJM’s performance is so spellbinding we forgot we’re at a festival. Thank God he got out from behind the drums of Fleet Foxes.

4:45pm: Leaving just as San Cisco begins, it’s time for the Hunting Lodge and some disco dancing. (ps. can the Hunting Lodge be at every festival from now on, pls?)

6:30pm: Not really wanting to see anyone else until Azealia Banks, we go for a bit of a wander. There’s a mini mall with shops for Romance Was Born and Sass & Bide etc. We’re a bit confused as to why there are high-end fashion stalls at a music festival. Fashion emergencies, perhaps?

7pm: We visit the scaffolding constructed Smirnoff tent-cum-nightclub. For anyone who’s missing Summadayze or Stereosonic, this place’ll make you feel right at home.

7:45pm: Nina Las Vegas is revving the crowd up for Azealia and the tent is swelling to capacity. It seems everyone at Splendour is here to see her.

8pm: Azealia lands on stage and the tent is roaring. This lady is the real deal, do believe the hype. The moment she launches into ‘212’, it’s exactly like the kind of ‘Splendour moment’ pandemonium you hear recounted each year. This is the take-home story. Unfortunately, she has to finish her set after only half an hour due to problems with equipment.

8:30pm: With an hour ’til Smashing Pumpkins we get some frozen margaritas at the Mexican tent. Some people have not left this tent for the entire festival.

9:45pm: Being a Pumpkins fan, I was looking forward to their set despite the fact they were only okay the last time I saw them. My mind is semi-blown as they play ‘Zero’, ‘Bullet With Butterfly Wings’ and ‘Today’ back to back, straightaway. The Oceania songs don’t suck either.

11pm: As I line up to buy some final tickets for the bar, a girl hands me a snap lock bag full of the green gold. “Have a good festival!” She says as she heads toward the gate with her boyfriend. Total babe.

12am: We see if there is anything happening in the Tipi Forest but everything is shutting down like a sleepy town on a Sunday.

12:45am: Back in the motel and getting ready for bed. I set up my blanket on the ground and set my alarm for 6:20am.

6:40am: After a pretty terrible sleep and whispered goodbyes to the girls still in bed, it’s back on the bus to the airport.

9:20am: The full plane with screaming babies and all finally takes off and I’m winging my way back to Melbourne’s eight degrees.

1:30pm: I’m sitting in the office typing this up, mud still on my boots. The question on everyone’s lips when they see me: was it worth it? When I don’t think about the cash I burned through in the last three days, I think it’s a yes. My biggest regret? Not getting a retro ‘70s photo at the Puberty Blues promo tent. Next time I’ll be more organised. Excuse me while I now crawl under my desk.

Originally published 30 July 2012 on Everguide.com.au

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