Day Two: Raking, Raving And 'Rithmetic Rocking

29 July 2012 | 7:23 am | Mitch Knox

Day Two - What is my cup of tea though, is angular, technical math rock.

As we emerged from our tent this morning into the unobstructed sun for Day Two of Splendour, we couldn't help but say a silent prayer that it would stay clear and warm, the shadow of yesterday's sudden downpour still hanging over our heads. It turns out we worried for nought, though, as - despite the still ultra muddy ground - this day was indeed blessed by whatever sky god was watching over the festival.

Crowds were scant early on, the main action taking place at the end of volunteers' rakes as they spread woodchips as best as they could in a sadly vain effort to provide some ground with the added bonus of traction. But soon enough the hordes poured in, the wood got trampled, and the grounds were once again reduced to a never-ending stretch of alternatingly thick and slimy mud, like some demented iteration of the world's filthiest slip n' slide.

Over at the Mix-Up Tent, Adelaide's Wolf & Cub were an energetic and engaging start to festivities. Their audience - which started out smaller than they deserve - quickly ballooned, and their dirty rock backed by double drum kits made it easy to get into the spirit of things right off the bat. Walking past the Supertop, it was obvious that people had turned out in droves for Gold Coast punkers Bleeding Knees Club, and although they're not really my cup of tea, and haven't been since they went by the name MxPx (apply cold water to that burn before it blisters), they sure do know how to pull a crowd, so fair play to them.

What is my cup of tea, though, is angular, technical math rock (because I am a wanky music snob, you see), and The Cast Of Cheers delivered that in spades. They were simply sensational, their use of loop pedals executed with frightening precision, and their general showmanship utterly top class. Arguably they were my day's peak, which is kind of sad given their relatively early place on the bill, but the buzz they left me with kept me smiling all day.

Local lads made good, Last Dinosaurs, put in an admirable showing with their brand of jangly indie pop and kept the good vibes coming, much to the delight of all within earshot. Shihad were their typical rock-god selves, but even they couldn't top the delicious, delicious langos (Hungarian bread, awwww yeah) that I went with for lunch because fuck vegetables, man.

The next highlight came in the form of the electronic tones of Seekae, replete with pulsating lights and vocal-less mystique. Honestly, the instrumental bands have been killing it at this festival. I'm not sure what it is, but every band I've seen that hasn't had a vocalist has been phenomenal - which is not to say that the vocalists have been underperforming or anything, as Ladyhawke's Pip Brown exemplifies. Again, not something I'd listen to off my own accord, but super impressive nonetheless.

I headed over to the Tipi Forest for a curious glance, only to find myself surrounded by a whole lot of ravers losing their shit in the middle of the enclosure. Fair enough, but only brave souls would linger in that environment, all crazy costumes and dancefloor beats in the middle of the great outdoors.

Back to the Supertop for Miike Snow, I felt a sense of slightly begrudging respect, since although they peddle pure pop - and it IS pure pop - they do it really, really well, and they had the packed tent and responsive crowd to prove it. It seemed like the guy in charge of the smoke machine was a little too into his job, though.

Another pass of the grounds and word reached my ears that gumboots were now going for the utterly ludicrous price of $70 from an unnamed vendor on-site.

Sadly, my mood only continued to tank with the temperature from there. Bloc Party, for all their hype, for all their promise, were hugely underwhelming. Some people disagreed with my assessment pretty openly and adamantly, but honestly, when your crowd is consistently more audible, and more on-key, than your vocalist, something is just not right with the world. Maybe it's the tiredness, maybe it's the relative sobriety in the face of so many drunks, but it just felt like kind of a weak finish for what should have been a festival highlight. I'm sure more people will pipe up to tell me how wrong I am, and how electric and unforgettable it was, and that's fine. I'm just calling it like I saw it: sober.

If this festival were a trilogy, I hope they mixed up parts two and three, because the middle chapter is usually the strongest, and I just didn't come away from today feeling like that could possibly be the case. Still, tomorrow's another day, there's a whole slew of interesting and wonderful things to see, and hopefully Splendour 2012 will be able to go out with a bang and not a whimper. Positive thoughts, people. Positive thoughts. There is much promise, after all: more excellent sights, sounds and, of course, the possibility of more langos. Hell yeah. 'Night everybody!

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