10 MUSINGS // Splendour in the Grass 2016 – North Byron Parklands

There’s a reason Splendour in the Grass is such a glowing beacon in the musical calendar year of Australia.

Splendour in the Grass sure know how to put on a show so good that it makes me want to go back again and again.

Splendour in the Grass

Let’s break it down.

Hitting it early
Is worth it. With a badass Thursday night line up of Ariane, Baro, Charles Murdoch, Buoy, Fortunes, UV Boi, Touch Sensitive and Wave Racer across the Tiny Dancer Stager. We had to contend with plenty of other keen beaners who simply couldn’t wait to get their hands on some early drinks though. It’s been awhile since Wave Racer has been up and about, and while his music is always fun to dance to, his set was slightly lacklustre, in stark contrast to his glittering music.

The audio also didn’t seem to be working to full effect, eliciting “TURN IT UP” chanting from the crowd. This was thankfully a problem isolated to the first night, likely due to noise restrictions.

Splendour in the Grass

The standout homegrown talent
Alex Lahey won the triple j Unearthed competition to open the main Amphitheatre stage for Splendour in the Grass this year. She looked completely at ease and played a rockingly respectable set, winning hearts everywhere with her laidback music and relatable chats. Sampa the Great‘s back up singers deserve another shout out. King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard drew a huge day crowd, only rivalled by DMA’s who were, of course, in their element, playing to an unprecedented enormous crowd – even for them. On the other side of the spectrum, Courtney Barnett‘s 6.15pm Sunday slot surprisingly did not attract such a large number. It’s hard to remember as a fan that her music can be quite divisive.

Maybe stick to the recordings for this one
It’s not my pleasure to say that Spank Rock rapping for The Avalanches was reading lyrics off his phone when they performed ‘Frankie Sinatra’. The Avalanches should take a leaf out of Alison Wonderland‘s book and leave a camera focused on the turntables for the crowd to see their sweet live technique on the screens, rather than put together a rather confusing and diluted show on stage. Maybe they just aren’t really meant to be a live act. I will say this, I couldn’t wait to get home and properly pick apart the recorded album after seeing them. Their sampling is magical.

Leon Bridges

Smooth Sailin’
Those Leon Bridges dance moves. Look up “smooth” in the dictionary and you will most certainly find his face. His set was a communal affair, with strangers in the crowd singing at each other in delight, bonding over the otherworldliness that is Leon Bridges.

A few one-word reviews
If Leon Bridges was smooth, The Strokes were limp. Harts was solid. Snakehips was (fucking) banging. And Crystal Fighters could be summed up as Eurovision.

Festivals, huh?
Limp certainly hits the nail on the head for The Strokes but if we were to deep-dive…they are a New York band that probably think they’re too good for us. They are known to not enjoy playing festivals, with lead singer Julian Casablancas at one point making a very poor attempt at small talk and only coming up with, “So, festivals, huh?” Regardless, they have such a well-worn catalogue of music, known to every man and their music-loving dog. They were the “cool” band to like for so many years that it’s hard not to get a bit excited when you hear a song played live that’s been unconditionally blasted at every 16th, 18th and 21st birthday party you’ve ever been to.

The community spirit
I said it last year and I’ll say it again, all the extra activities that Splendour in the Grass put up are what make it so special. While there are already so many clashing musical acts to see, it is definitely worth checking out all the rest that the festival offers. It was interesting but also unsurprising to see the very biased audience at the Q&A forum. Let’s just say Sarah Hanson-Young and Andrew Lemming had very different Splendour experiences.

However, it would be great if things could stay open later. Going to bed at 2am shouldn’t be the only option at a festival.

I love a headliner that doesn’t disappoint: Part I
While that sentence seems a bit counterintuitive, anything that is overhyped is going to suffer the risk of having farther to fall. So while The Strokes did not deliver, the next two nights’ headliners The Cure and Flume did.

The Cure! This is an act that legitimises the use of “awesome”. There was a mutual feeling of respect between them and the crowd. It felt like they actually wanted to be there, the atmosphere was dignified and people were really listening to the music. It may have helped that the crowd was slightly older, with the clashing options at the time being What So Not, Santigold, Matt Corby and L D R U. I crave a banging DJ set as much as the next tank-topped guy, but I’ll catch What So Not at every dance music festival for the next three years. The Cure, however, is not so readily available.


I love a headliner that doesn’t disappoint: Part II
Man oh man, it’s been awhile since I’ve seen Flume live and it made me excited all over again for his headline shows towards the end of this year. He brought out a slew of guests to perform including Remi, Baro, Jess Kent, Kučka and Ngaiire. The career significance of this festival-closing set for him shone through, with his first ever festival appearance being the opening act for a small Splendour tent just a few years ago. A varied mix of old and new music made up the last hour of music at Splendour, ultimately finishing up on his delectable remix of ‘You & Me’ by Disclosure.

Mud, you may be synonymous with Splendour in the Grass, but we did not miss you
Isn’t it great to walk and camp on dry land? I took no chances and brought two pairs of gumboots with me after experiencing the scarring sludge that was last year, but the weather gods did shine upon us for the weekend, and it was beautiful each and every day. Even lining up for four hours on the last day to get out of the campsite and missing flights home was worth it – at least we got to do it in the sun.

If live music, friends and shining weather in the middle of winter isn’t just like heaven for you, I don’t know what is.

Exclusively hand-picked just for you, by Jane.  


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