River Bonesby Russell Grant / Images by Bjorn Krietsch / 16.04.2012
Splashy Fen is always the same, no matter how the organisers try and change it: Spur, then no Spur, cold showers, hot showers, broken showers, family campsites, tent hotel, no tent hotel, and this year a giant slide, no beers in the beer tent (true story), and a dance valley. There’s always something. After the first day, however, once news has gotten around about the changes and the necessary adjustment strategies have been made, things continue as they have for the past 20 odd years: people get drunk and high, then it gets dark and bands play and people watch the bands, and when they’re done with that they get even drunker back at their campsites or in the marquees, and some pass out while others talk shit well into the morning around languishing campfires, and then we do it all over again. And someone always dies, or gets badly injured, or comes close to being badly injured.
I can’t speak for any other South African festivals, but in my 7 years of attending this one, some poor soul always ends up face down in a shallow pool of mud, or has an unfortuitous slip on a rocky outcrop, or goes for a late night swim in the river on the back of a day’s worth of drinking and narcotics. This year the rumours are it happened again, but these are just rumours. The injuries I know more about. A lesson to all the ladies out there: Ramping a BMX is not for you if you’re intoxicated and aren’t particularly good at BMXing. Same goes for the guys, really. Also, always maintain a watchful eye for airborne marquees on bloodthirsty warpaths.
I suppose what makes Splashy Fen then is not the facilities or amenities, but the set-in-stone certainty that come Easter you can get as apocalyptically shitfaced as you like for 4 or 5 days and forget just about every nagging worry left back home. People aren’t even there for the bands (much to the chagrin of a few Splashy purists). They’re just kind of… there (the bands that is). If there’re good ones, people will watch, if they’re kak people will watch anyway for a laugh. I won’t mention the kak ones here, but there certainly were some greats this year. The stand out for me has to be Lark.
Inge Beckmann’s gargantuan range and raw energy could summon 10 000 boners, judging by reactions after the show. Tidal Wave’s original music for original people got the expected smiles, and The Great Apes showed up a pretty lacklustre Shadow Club. I missed a few bands that I wanted to see due to a late arrival. The City Bowl Mizers told me they had a kak show, but those who watched said they were great. The truth lies somewhere in the middle I suppose. So I guess this year’s Splashy was the same as most Splashys, and thank the goddamn Easter Bunny for that.
*All images © Bjorn Kietsch.