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Splendour in the Grass Review - Saturday July 30th

Day 2 of Splendour is off to an early start, with an obligatory breakfast stop at the Rotary Tent near the festival entrance. Already beginning to feel sore in the joints, we briefly see Perth's 2010 answer to Passion Pit, Tim & Jean at the Mix Up and Scottish rabble-rousers Dananananaykroyd who orchestrate a trademark “wall-of-hugs” (one of us manages to avoid getting groped by a sweaty dudebro) – at the Amphi.

Getting inside the GW to have a peek at Triple J faves The Jezabels amounts to mission: impossible – the tent is absolutely packed. Boosted by the non-ceasing adulation, the indie-poppers run through a tight set, finishing on a high with latest single Endless Summer. Pixie-like vocalist Hayley Mary sings like a bird and to many onlookers, delivers the “eye candy”. If the Splendour reception is anything to go by, the Sydneysiders are destined for even bigger things.


The afternoon's other big attraction are Foster The People – aka the combo behind the mega-catchy Pumped Up Kicks and Helena Beat. Easily the standouts of a slick, polished pop set, those two numbers are met with a decibel-pushing singalong by the chock-full Mix Up, yet something about this year's “LA version of Passion Pit” feels a touch... calculated in an almost “revenge-of-the-nerds” way.

The spirit of Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazlewood hangs in the air at the half-full Grant McLennan tent where Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan stop us in our tracks by their mesmerising voices. Doubtless piqued by Architecture In Helsinki bleeding through from the Mix Up, the duo still turn in one of Saturday's outstanding performances, peaking with the smouldering Come On Over (Turn Me On).

I stretch my sore legs and back atop a grassy knoll at the Amphitheatre, where US psychedelic titans The Mars Volta preview their forthcoming album (NB it promises to be their finest effort since 2003's groundbreaking Deloused In The Comatorium). Omar Rodriguez-Lopez’s guitar sounds positively sempiternal and Cedric Bixler-Zavala – who finds time to utter a number of surreal statements between songs – provides a rather radical sight by putting on a horsehead mask and continuing to vocalise.

Longtime purveyors of conscious downtempo/worldbeat, Thievery Corporation use a sprawling live combo and an array of guest singers to replicate their bass-heavy cuts – which tonight sound absolutely amazing through the Mix Up PA. Sitar-drenched calling card Lebanese Blonde features early, but the golden moment arrives in the shape of hackle-raising Amerimacka. Oh, what a beautiful life.

Seeing – and hearing –  Regina Spektor at GW is unfortunately not an option, as the space is packed like crushed sardines in a tin box (to paraphrase a Radiohead song) and the quiet mix means the US songstress' voice and piano are barely audible at the back, so we head up the hill early.

The mass exodus after The Living End – who gamely filled in when Perry Farrell and co pulled a no-show at SITG 2009 – means Jane's Addiction play to a hardly-enormous gathering, but that discrepancy doesn't stop them from pumping out some of the best classic rock to come out of the late '80s/early '90s.

Saturday's headline slot is off to a roaring start as the curtain drops and a pair scantily-clad burlesque performers simultaneously dangle from the top of the stage, suspended by harnesses attached to their back piercings. What follows is 75 minutes of sheer rock & roll brilliance, with the bulk of the set – Ted, Just Admit It, Been Caught Stealing, Three Days, Ocean Size, Up The Beach, The Mountain Song, Stop! (confetti explosion!) – taken from JA's two seminal records, 1988's Nothing's Shocking and 1990's Ritual De Lo Habitual.

Still in possession of a remarkable voice, the 52 year-old Perry Farrell pulls off the otherwise ridiculous black duffel coat/velvet pants/boat shoes combo (which he reckons to have nicked) with ease while the vest-clad Dave Navarro shreds up a storm. The only non-original member present tonight, Chris Chaney ably fills the gap left by Eric Avery – who quit the band in 2010 after the Soundwave tour. Lapping up the admiration from the largely 30-plus audience, the quartet encore with signature tune Jane Says and take a collective bow to loud applause.

No matter how physically tired we are, Jane's performance is akin to an instant energy jolt and we manage to stay up until some ungodly hour. Tonight's sleep is made easier by the less-chilly air, but our under-rested bodies hate us the next morning.

Stay tuned for our review of Day 3!

Denis Semchenko - AAA Backstage

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