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Splashy Fen 2007 Review

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Splashy Fen 2007 Review
Submitted by capdog on Monday, April 16, 2007 - 07:55

This year it was completely off the hook, wild as a thousand drunk Blue Bulls fans at the Currie Cup final, and more trouble than ten metalheads trying to start a mosh pit in a pre-school playground. The video highlights, which flow more like an episode of Jackass than a festival pack, include: "The Naked Pole Race" and "The Party Trick", alongside loads of footage of the musicians and some juicy controversy on stage. Read on for the good times, the wet times, and some raging rants from yours truly!

Disclaimer: If you're looking for nice, balanced reviews of all the bands with equal attention paid to every performer, you've got the wrong idea. I don't go to Splashy as a journalist, I go there to get snot-flying drunk, have a blast with my friends and support the bands I know. So this is all very, very bias; in fact there's no justice whatsoever in this article. Tough!

To kick off, here's a video montage! All those fun things that make Splashy awesome...

As you can see, the weather was shocking. There was no full day of sunshine, and it rained almost every night. Being the genius that I am, I forgot to take shoes. Yes. Shoes. And, as punishment for being so stupid, I didn't buy gumboots from the market, instead forcing myself to take responsibility, and wear socks and slops every night, that predictably got soaking wet in the mud and slime! Well, it wouldn't be Splashy if you're not covered head to toe in dirt.

I heard many people complaining about the ridiculous amount of loutish behaviour this year, and I have to say it's all completely true. I have the evidence right here. Before we get into it, allow me to state upfront that although I find the jockish behaviour in the following videos funny and often hilarious, at the same time I find it reprehensible and shameful! I probably wouldn't allow myself a chuckle if it had affected me in any adverse way. So here it is. Laugh if your conscious allows you.

"the slingshot"

Water balloons, about the size of tennis balls, being fired across the campsite using a three man super-slingshot. Man I'm glad these okes were camping right next to us. If you got hit, bummer. Next time, try carrying an umbrella.

"the naked pole race"

One particularly festive night in the beer tent, two guys decided to show off their drunken cat-like agility by racing to the top of the marquee in their jocks. Cause, like, if you're not naked, it's not a race, is it? The guy at the far side is the victor by a good few meters, but I think it's got something to do with him being barefoot. The first guy's shoes slow him down considerably.

"the beer tent"

The beer tent is where it all started, every afternoon. There was constant singing coming from all the tables, some great numbers like Johnny Cash's “Ring of fire”; to the lamer-than-lame chanting of “olay olay olay OLAY”! Would SOMEONE please write a second verse and chorus to that damn song?!

“The Beer Tent” video culminates in what can only be described as the best 10 seconds of comedy ever created: our friend Dickie B paying tribute to the jocks by crushing three beer cans on his head. Priceless.

Contrast The Water

Great band, very heavy and brilliant at what they do. Excellent stage presence, had the crowd roaring and begging for more! I love the chirp from the lead man in the beginning: “Does anyone here like Korn?” “Shame, I feel sorry for you guys...” Nice one dude, you said it.

The Tubby Wilsons

On the Friday night, the Splashy organisers had a bit of an underwear malfunction; or “panty-wobble” if I may use the colloquial. Apparently, according to the guy who heard it from the other guys he was camping next to, who was told by someone who really knew for sure; TWO PEOPLE DIED! Like, in the mosh pit! SERIOUS! OMG!!! And that's why the organisers had to BAN all moshing for the rest of the festival!

What a load of horseshit, I say. It's amazing how rumours get out of hand, and how sobering the truth can be. The reality is that a chick did get some minor injuries in the vicinity of a mosh pit, and someone else got a bump on the nose; but the vast overreaction by the organisers was completely uncalled for. They banned ALL forms of moshing for the rest of the festival.

I mean, it's a fucking ROCK concert, for fuck sakes; with some of the heaviest and most hardcore bands playing back to back for an entire night. What on earth did they think was going to happen? Did they expect tea and scones with blueberry jam? A bit of polite banter? Square-dancing perhaps?

If you hold a motocross rally and invite a whole bunch of stunt bikers to come perform, you wouldn't call the whole thing off when one guy grazes his knee, now would you? The same goes for mosh pits – if you go anywhere near one, you waive all responsibility for your personal well being! You can't blame anyone but yourself! Tough shit! What's the point of getting the organisers to punish everyone else? Bad vibes. Bad!

So anyway, during The Tubby Wilsons' set, The Beard was up to his usual antics and jumped up onto the speaker, much to the security guard's disgust. He was quickly pulled off to the sound of howling boos and hisses from the crowd, and was told he'd never play at Splashy ever again. Nice one, way to treat your rock stars hey!

Then, towards the end of their set, the crowd was obviously having a bit too much of a good time and the stage manager wanted the band to stop playing and get off. The Tubbys, in true punk fashion, were having NONE of that shit, and even after the sound engineers completely cut their sound, they damn well finished the end of their song, with You-Surf singing out into thin air! I love it! What a brilliant performance!

The whole thing still pisses me off though. But what makes me happy, is this video of the Tubbys, with all the above mentioned action, beginning with them getting told off by security. Don't you just love the way You-Surf and The Beard banter between themselves? It's classic! At the end of the video, Dave comes on and says “I'm the last one in the world to be a party pooper, but...”

Now, I'm just going to put my cock on a block here and say this: if it was Fokofpolisiekar on that stage during that timeslot (like last year – a set that would've cost about R80 000), I guarantee you that the managers would NEVER have cut the sound and kicked Francois off the stage because the crowd was getting boistrous in the mosh pit. Never. It's blatant disrespect towards the underground bands, plain and simple.

To further prove that point, there's the issue of swearing. All the bands were made to sign a contract in blood that they wouldn't utter a single profanity on stage, and one band was even disqualified from the free stage competition for swearing. It was almost comical watching the lesser known bands tip-toe around the issue and say things like “I hope you're having a f-ing good time!”, to a crowd of people who, as a guess, consisted of 99.9% over-18's who probably swear at their own mothers on a regular basis.

Then, Lark comes on - the big, expensive headlining act who flew in straight from Oppikoppi just to play the last night, and what's the first thing they say?

“I hope you're all having a FUCKING good time Splashy!”
“I wanna see you guys FUCKING rock out tonight!”

Unbelievable! And were there security guards rushing up armed with bars of soap to wash out Inge's mouth? Were there thousands of screaming kids all covering their ears crying? Hell no! Because there were no kids, and Inge can do what she wants cause she's more famous than the poor Durban bands! Of course. HYPOCRITES.

Friday night was downhill after Tubbys played. The Kiff, a popular Durban band, only managed to squeeze out two or three songs before they were unceremoniously given the boot! Because the crowd was apparently moshing too hard. What ever happened to good times and rock 'n roll?!

Habit To

What can I say. These guys are INSANE! I love them! Their best performance to date, the crowd was ultra responsive and overall the show was brilliant. Afterwards their merch was sold out, so congrats to them and hopefully the momentum will keep building with their long overdue full album launch which is coming up soon.

L.A. Cobra

Hair, glamour and shrill singing is what L.A. Cobra is all about! This is one of those bands that divide opinion sharply, in one camp you have those who see them at face value and find it all too irritating, over-the-top and absurd to be taken seriously; whereas on the other side of the wall are those that either truly appreciate their music, or just love them for doing what they do so damn well! They've got the stage presence to pull the entire act off without so much as battering an eyelid, and for that, they have my vote!

For the rest of Splashy the running joke was to immitate the high pitch squeal that the lead man used to accent the last word of his sentence... “What's up guys how are you doing?”! Often this was accompanied with a back-on-back air guitar solo to further enhance the joke!

Ahem. You had to be there.

“the megaphone”

Fuck this dude, seriously. Well, I guess he was funny in a dull kinda way, but I got so sick of hearing him walking around with his megaphone telling people “Your mother's a whore, over.” What kind. In the video, some other dudes give him a hard time. Ha.

The City Bowl Mizers

Speechless, spellbound, shocked, amazed, thrilled... what else? All of the above. In that order. That's how it was watching the debut show of the Mizers since they got back from their London adventure, and my, HOW they have improved! The new songs are awesome, the stage presence is phenomenal and they can do no wrong! My oh my, was I impressed. Well done boys, 5 gold stars. I love it.

"the party trick"

If people want to hurt each other, they'll find a way, regardless of whether moshing is banned or not. Here's the proof. We walked out the beer tent one night only to be stopped by two guys who were like “Hey, check our party trick, it's awesome!”.

Not wanting to miss out on some action, we indulged the lads with a minute of our time. The one guy stood dead still with his arm out in the timeless “clothesline” position, and the other dude ran at breakneck speed and clotheslined himself! Up into the air, and STRAIGHT onto his back in the mud! After much cheering and high-fiving between them and belly-laughing by us, “The Party Trick” was born!

It only took another two clotheslines before a considerable crowd of about 100 people had formed, all egging them on with fist pumping and chants of “WOO WOO WOO!!”! As it turned out, they had saved the best for last... the “double simultaneous clothesline”. The video is a bit grainy, but here it is, please enjoy this proof of Darwin's theory: natural selection will eliminate the dumb ones, somehow:

What to do?

Even though I found the management decisions this year to be completely ridiculous and very petty; I do understand the dilemma Splashy faces and the reasons for them throwing such a hissy fit. It's all about history and context:

Eighteen years ago, a bunch of middle-aged hippies grabbed their acoustic guitars and gathered around a fire in the berg, to mellow out and enjoy what would become the first Splashy Fen. It was all about the live music.

This year, 2 000 matrics arrived at Splashy straight from school break-up day, ready to get slamming drunk and cause as much mischief as possible. It's still all about the music – but instead of the live acts, it's more about the house tunes pumping from their car boots.

Can you see where there might be problems?

This disconnect in what the festival was, and has now become; manifests itself in a palpable tension between Splashy Fen and it's customers. And anyone who's done Business Management 101 will be able to tell you that the last group of people you want to piss off simultaneously, is all of your clients.

If Splashy had their way, the festival would be a peaceful, well behaved family affair, with mellow folk music and relaxed vibes all around. But is it possible to achieve this now? Is it not already too late for that? Shouldn't Splashy just admit that in eighteen years, things are bound to change?

I maintain that there's room for Splashy and a festival like Southern Cross or White Mountain, to co-exist in the same year and draw completely different audiences.

Because seriously, Splashy is a businessman's dream. It's an absolute institution in KZN. People everywhere love the brand, plastering the stickers all over their cars with pride, talking about it months in advance, printing “Splashy 07” on overalls to wear to the festival, designing and building flags and campsite accessories, all in the name of being part of the fun.

The organisers should indulge the fact that the target audience has changed, and drop the whole “family festival” marketing drive. There are now thousands of rich twenty-somethings who are all more than happy to spend their month's salary in 3 days at Splashy. Is that not enough? Let the bullys have White Mountain or Southern Cross.

Instead of kicking bands off stage, they should hire better security (hopefully more professional than the monkeys at this year's event), who are better trained at crowd control. That way, those few people that ruin it for the real music lovers can be dealt with separately.

I just... I can't bear to see a good festival go to waste, know what I mean? I love Splashy, and I really hope they embrace the younger generation of music lovers and local performers in a more constructive manner in future.

There are 339 days left until Splashy 2008, let's hope it all comes together for a bumper event next year!

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Subject:  Splashy points of view
capdog's picture
Author:  capdog
Date:  16 April, 2007 - 09:20

Just out of interest, here's another review by someone who obviously sits in the opposite camp. I quote from their review:

In fact there were way too many of these lowest common denominator bands on the roster, perhaps Splashy needs to go back to a three stage setup, so all the boring Durban punk-rock and metal bands and their loyal drunk teenage fans can have a stage all of their own.


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Subject:  Festivals = mayhem. Everyone knows that.
Author:  hedmekanik
Date:  16 April, 2007 - 10:11

When you stage a gig like Splashy you KNOW the shit is going to hit the fan, whether it's injuries from moshing, runaway fires, naked pole races or 'The Party Trick'. That's why they have that long and boring Indemnity Notice put up in a visible spot at the entrance, and probably printed in the programme too. 'You wanna hurt yourself? Go ahead, just don't think you can sue us' or perhaps 'Go ahead and do what you smaak but we've done all we can to cover our asses - don't say we didn't warn and don't come crying' is what that basically says.
So, in my humble opinion, to try to restrict people - especially tanked up and super-amped lighties who are looking to bust out in a blaze of gory glory - from throwing their name in the bin and indulging in self-destructive behaviour is...a little short sighted. Festivals = mayhem. Everyone knows that, and correct me if I'm wrong, but that's why they're so appealing. It's an occasion to vent, to get loose on legal (and the other, if you're a really crafty festy weasel) intoxicants and to behave like a prize-winning muppet, at risk to reputation and life and limb. The prevalence of alcohol as the intoxicant of choice is an issue - the abuse of it at festivals is tantamount to sanctioned irresponsibility and makes no sense when regarded in comparison to cannabis which will make you dangerous only to the nearest tub of chocolate chip ice cream.
Anyway - for organisers to allow people to get utterly twisted outta shape and then try to contain them strikes me as hypocritical and an overreaction. Same goes for the 'jumping on top of the speaker' story - yes, there has to be reasonably safe behaviour onstage, but to prevent what amounts to a legitimate part of a performance? And what's all this about 'no swearing'? Jislaaik. Say what, motherfucker?
Bravo to Lark's Inge, then, for giving that idea the finger.
Sorry for the Puritans, but you can't put a lid on the effervescence of da yout. That's what middle age is for.

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Subject:  Anal Boy Again
DeanRichards's picture
Author:  DeanRichards
Date:  16 April, 2007 - 12:23

I agree, up to a point. But at the same time, even Splashy goers don't have the right to start infringing on other people's enjoyment of the festival. There is a distinct difference between a 6 foot, 115kg dude moshing at Burn and the same guy going wild next to a 12yr-old girl at Splashy. Sure, self-destruct by all means... but don't take other ppl with you.

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Subject:  12 year olds should be accompanied.
Author:  hedmekanik
Date:  16 April, 2007 - 12:36

When you're 12 you don't know diddly squat, and a music festy environment is not the kinda place kids should be cruising around solo. Especially near any drunk, moshing giants. Surely?

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Subject:  Sure
DeanRichards's picture
Author:  DeanRichards
Date:  16 April, 2007 - 12:54

As far as I'm aware, though, there isn't any age restriction for the main tent, and besides, "Bad Parenting" is no excuse to take out small children, be they hypothetical or not. :-) Having said that, it was probably a bad example. My main beef is with people who don't give a damn if they screw up the festival for others as long as they're enjoying themselves. For example, why have the water-balloon cannon in the first place, if not to target people?

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Subject:  Fully. Too bloody right.
Author:  hedmekanik
Date:  16 April, 2007 - 13:03

Bloody wopsacs, that thing should be put to good use firing shots of Jagermeister into mah belly!
But you're right - some o's have just got no clue, and as far as they're concerned any gig is an excuse to behave like Hagar The Horrible's aggro brother, which is just...weak, really. Then again, it's quite satisfying to see imbeciles damaging themselves in pursuit of Darwin Awards...I think they call that Schadenfreude in German...

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Subject:  Not that bad
xcpointx's picture
Author:  xcpointx
Date:  16 April, 2007 - 15:10

I had a great time at Splashy, and this included setting up tent at midnight on Thursday in the rain!!

One reason I almost DIDNT go to Splashy this year, was the apparent lack of 'HARD' bands. On the confirmed line-up I spotted only 2 - GoGoBronco and Contrast the Water. Not bad I guess for what is essentially a family folk festival.

Scared of being bored for 4 days, I volunteered to work behind the scenes on the Grant Erskine stage. I think this area was possibly more refined and I was shielded from the antics this review speaks of!

The shenanigans this review speak of is nothing compared to that experienced at Woodstock. Splashy is honestly like heaven compared to the debauchery that goes down up north. Good times tho, you just need a strong head.

Swearing: Its never sounded cool when a band swears onstage. Almost sounds 'cheap'. If I had kids I wouldnt them to watch a band swearing in and between songs.

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Subject:  Splashy
Author:  jogger
Date:  17 April, 2007 - 17:50

Hey capdog!

The videos are cool.Such hard work to film,edit and get the footage
on the web.Hope the readers appreciate all your hard work.There are some of the first days activities on the kuluma site.A link will be fucking cool dude !!

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Subject:  Howzit jogger, thanks, yeah
capdog's picture
Author:  capdog
Date:  17 April, 2007 - 19:21

Howzit jogger, thanks, yeah it's definitely a mission to go through all the raw footage, that's for sure the worst part!


There's a link!

p.s. please post comments under the relevant article, this is the second one I've had to move and it's a schlep! Ta. ;)

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Subject:  Using the videos
capdog's picture
Author:  capdog
Date:  21 April, 2007 - 07:45

A couple of bands have asked me to send them these videos for their websites, just want to let everyone know that you're more than welcome to just embed them!

Click once on the video, or go to www.youtube.com/durbanscouts and choose the video you want, then look to the right and there will be a bit of code that you can copy and paste into your MySpace page or website.

It's all yours!

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Subject:  Kief
Author:  coda (not verified)
Date:  23 April, 2007 - 13:00

Thanks for the vids and insightful review!

I flew up from Cape Town for my 2nd Splashy and had a great time. The organization did seem a little worse off than in 2003 - for instance when we arrived at the gate after 7pm on Friday I was expecting a welcome pack, or a map/programme at LEAST; and there were too few toilets - but the rest was what I was expecting: awesome bands, great vibe, good food. Hopefully they can resolve those issues you mention and continue the Splashy tradition. Looking forward to 2008!

Check out some of my photos.

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Subject:  Great pics! Damn, how
capdog's picture
Author:  capdog
Date:  23 April, 2007 - 14:15

Great pics! Damn, how amazing is Angela from "Japan And I"?! I'm in love.

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