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March 8, 2010 | by  | in Music | [ssba]



If there was one major gripe I could have with Splore then it could only be the tacky marketing; it was those horrid posters that have been around town for the last few months that looked like advertisements for a new mobile network. This is a terrible shame, because Splore should be marketed far and wide as one of our most vibrant festivals on offer—not as the Telecom Christmas picnic.

For a festival of such strong character, Splore was amazingly inclusive in how it managed to cater for both the rootsy hippie and the trendy hipster, or the family of five and alongside the most ruthless pill poppers. This is far removed from the one-dimensional extremity of something like Phat or the vibeless nature of the Big Day Out. Many have described it as being a larger version of Canaan Downs for all the effort that has been put into both the decorative and interactive art displays or instruments scattered around the site. To my mind it was these extra details which made the beautiful beach setting just seem that much more fantastic: the copious amount of coloured lights at night often left one feeling like they were wandering through the woods in Avatar, and I saw many a curious creature giggling at the robot in the woods that played the Beastie Boys on repeat, or finding great satisfaction in lazily clobbering the marimba.

It should be noted that this year marked a certain departure from the previous festivals due to the increased number of international acts on the line up, most obviously Lupe Fiasco and Basement Jaxx. Strangely, Lupe seemed a tad out of place in my eyes. Although he certainly fit with the alt hip-hop audience that Splore traditionally thrives on, he never really seemed like he was playing to his surroundings—he simply played his songs and left. His own performance seemed acceptable, but his sound engineers were very sloppy and his guitarist kept prancing around in a Slipknot t-shirt like he’d made it to the second round of Rockquest. On the other hand, the Jaxx were perfectly suited to headlining a rave on the beach—a welcome change from only seeing dance acts of their stature in the Boiler Room. It didn’t take long to remember that these guys have a back catalogue of great dance singles, arguably only exceeded by Daft Punk. Although it was just a DJ set, the duo was supported by two identical sugar momma house divas that kept the crowd shaking their shit for the whole two hours, and it hardly felt like I was missing anything from the Jaxx experience.

The surprise for many at the festival was Dub FX, a British couple who made their live show from looping their beat-boxing through simple effects pedals, yet somehow they managed to make this simple trick sound totally enormous in the Splore setting. Although I have doubts as to whether their music sounds as good on record, they still managed to get the crowd going ape-shit for a Ghostbusters theme sing-along—always a good thing in my book. Another highlight for many was catching the Gaslamp Killer—an affiliate of Flying Lotus, one of the most manic performers I have ever seen on the decks and one hell of a fun DJ because of his willingness to play whateverthefuck—wonky hip hop, dubstep, Radiohead, Dr Dre or Black Sabbath.

For the most part, the rest of the acts seemed to fit into the setting at a mostly functional level, which is by no means an insult: D-Bridge, Nick and 10 Sui were all top-notch acts to catch on the DJ stage during the night. Likewise, the scores of New Zealand acts were always well placed in the schedule to suit their styles; Sola Rosa unsurprisingly sounded particularly good with their sunset slot.

Splore seems to have gracefully expanded this year without losing its charm, and while it doesn’t seem possible to significantly increase the ticket numbers due to the small size of the site, it would seem as though the festival is set to keep grabbing better acts. In two years’ time, who knows? Maybe we’ll see a reunited Tribe or Black Star, the Roots or maybe Flying Lotus? Whatever happens, I think we can trust the Splore organisers to keep working their magic in delivering what is probably the best festival on offer in the country and a great way to blow out before the summer ends.


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