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In Numbers: Splendour In The Grass 2011

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When you look at acts on the 2011 line-up who have played Splendour over the last 10 years and start adding up their appearances you get the following breakdown of acts that have played at least once prior to 2011.

2011 Bands 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002
The Living End 1 1 1 1
Cut Copy 1 1 1 1
The Grates 1 1 1
The Vines 1 1 1
Bluejuice 1 1 1
Pnau 1 1
The Panics 1 1
The Herd 1 1
The Middle East 1
Coldplay 1
Bliss N Eso 1
Mogwai 1
DJ Shadow 1
Kaiser Chiefs 1
Eskimo Joe 1
Children Collide 1
Architecture In Helsinki 1
Friendly Fires 1
Jebediah 1
Gomez 1
Gotye 1
Cloud Control 1
Muscles 1
Leader Cheetah 1
Oh Mercy 1
Dananananaykroyd 1
Jinja Safari 1
Boy & Bear 1
TOTALS 6 8 7 6 4 4 3 2 3

Of the 77 acts playing, 28 have played at previous Splendours.

The Living End (these days a Dew Process act) lead the way, making their fifth Splendour appearance in 10 years. That the band is also the highest billed Australian act on the line-up also goes a long way to explain why the festival hasn’t sold out yet. On top of that, The Vines are making their fourth appearance in six years and Bluejuice (another Dew Process band) probably deserve some sort of prize for 2011 being their fourth appearance in a row.

The running joke about Splendour line-ups (and true of a lot of the other major Australia festivals) is that the bill runs on a two-year rotation and this would seem to be proved again, with eight of the acts on the bill having played in 2009. Six of the bands on the bill are making a swift return to Woodfordia, having also played at last year’s festival.  When you look at the previous two years, 13 of the acts on this year’s bill, almost 17 per cent, played in 2009 and/or 2010.

It’s not just that it’s the same Australian bands at Splendour again, it’s that it’s just the same bands; there’s so many of the same bands that have played at other Australian festivals or toured in the last year or so.

Warpaint were here in February for Laneway, as were Friendly Fires for Good Vibrations. Kele was here for Parklife in September, Jane’s Addiction for Soundwave earlier in the year, Regina Spektor toured last April, Mars Volta and Devendra Banhardt were here for last year’s Big Day Out and Wild Beasts for last year’s Laneway. There’s nothing wrong with getting to see bands regularly but it means there’s little ‘Wow’ factor about one of the most expensive music festivals in Australia. Kanye? Yes. Coldplay? Yes (despite all the haters, if you’ve ever seen them play live you have to admit they do it really well). Pulp? Yes.  And that’s about it.  Sure there are a few other bands worth checking out but not $523.60 worth.

The reason Splendour hasn’t sold out instantaneously, as it normally does, is that the line-up doesn’t justify the price and there just isn’t enough quality for it to be a three-day festival. It’s not offering good value for money.

For what Splendour is costing this year, you could have gone to Big Day Out, Laneway, Good Vibrations (taking advantage of their two-for-one fire sale), still had enough money to get to a few smaller festivals, say two nights of Big Sound and the amazing looking Flavours Of Skuzz one-dayer at The Jubilee in July and still had some money left over for drinks and merch.

There’s still plenty of time for Splendour to sell out, but so far it looks like the punters are voting with their wallets. It will be very interesting if it doesn’t though, and you can’t help wondering whether the organisers would be forced to have a Good Vibrations-style two-for-one fire sale in the days leading up to the festival to shift tickets and then try and make some money back on drinks and merchandise. But maybe festival punters have wised up and realised that if they do vote with their wallets they can force festival organisers to resort to drastic measures to sell tickets, and pick up tickets for what they consider is a much more reasonable price.

Either way, 2011 seems to be turning into the year that the festival bubble has finally burst in Australia.

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