The fantastical, muddy, wonderland of Splendour In The Grass is officially over for another year and no doubt thousands of festival-goers all across the country are wondering what life even is. In fact, they’re probably pondering a whole range of things. What happened to my bank account? Why am I still finding mud in my ear? Why don’t I remember half the acts I saw? Did someone really light a flare in the crowd at Tame Impala or was it a spontaneous combustion caused by the unprecedented levels of froth? These are life’s greatest questions for those going through post-splendour syndrome.
Upon arrival at the festival, punters nervously lined up in the rain to have their bags checked for dugs, alcohol and, you know, flares and things...
One woman working at the gate said to me, “I can’t believe I just found a water sack full of vodka.” Srsly, lady? I’m not going to blow my cover but if a sack of vodka surprises you, I could tell you things that would rattle your mind. One girl exclaimed, “they’re even confiscating vegemite!” in a tone that was next to tears. Dear Lord, not the vegemite...
The festival was in full swing by Thursday afternoon and it wasn’t long before things were getting ultra weird at the Tipi Forest. More than once I overheard people saying that they couldn’t feel their face and I just thought, well at least you’ve come to the right place. A highlight of the night was watching two (allegedly) twin brothers get naked and mud wrestle at Tipi Forest.
On this same night we ran into a guy who was complaining about how he had lost his rolling papers. Sorry to hear that man. His mate was quick to pipe up, saying that he could just smoke out of a can. I suggested this was a bad idea, to which he replied, “no way mate, smoking out of aluminium cans is the way to go.” In the end I just blatantly agreed with him because sometimes people are too stupid to argue with. Enjoy your early on-set dementia.
Thursday night was one hell of a way to start the SITG party and arguably, the real performances came from the bizarre characters that were all ‘someone’s mate.’
Unfortunately I am not a time traveller and was unable to see every show. However, here's a list of the best things we saw at Splendour:
BEST START TO THE DAY:
Catching Tired Lion at The Amphitheatre for a casual midday mosh was the perfect way to start the day. The rising indie rock band from Perth effortlessly pulled in a raging crowd that got extra rowdy for their most popular songs, ‘I Don’t Think You Like Me’ and ‘Suck’. They’re currently touring the country with their latest EP, ‘Figurine’ and seem to be having no trouble with ticket sales. These guys are doing great things.
BEST RHYME SPITTING:
Adelaide’s one and only Tkay Maidza performed a huge set with a real IDGAF attitude. Guy jumps on stage. What does she do? Keeps spitting rhymes like it was the reason she was put on this earth. The crowd didn’t hold back as she played new and old songs, which is a testament to her astounding progress as an artist. Of course her first major track, ‘Brontosaurus’ was a huge hit that included a dinosaur rave party on stage.
BEST ENSEMBLE COSTUME:
English art rock band, Everything Everything showed up in some rather epic matching costumes. This particular crowd had one of the best atmospheres of the whole weekend as everyone joined together to celebrate their love for this band. ‘Violent’ and ‘belligerant’ are probably the last two words I would use to describe the crowd…(looking at you Azealia). Their performance of ‘No Reptiles’ was otherworldly as the crowd screamed with conviction that “it’s alright to feel like a fat child in a pushchair.”
Luckily for the Icelandic indie folk band, Of Monsters and Men, the enormous downpour proved to be quite suitable to their music. Thousands of people gathered in the mud pit previously known as The Amphitheatre to be whisked away by the dreamy folk tunes. Lead singer and guitarist, Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir addressed the crowd a few times in the most angelic foreign voice but unfortunately I’ve got no idea what she said as English isn’t her first language. But man I could listen to her voice all day. Props to the sound and lighting guys, I honestly have no idea how they managed to put on such a huge show with the amount of rain.
No shit, the almighty man of funk, Mark Ronson wins this category. The rain held up for about one whole minute during ‘Daffodils’ which was a godsend because us rookies without life proof phone cases were able to grab some shots. The show had an all-star lineup of cameos as was expected. Special guests included Daniel Merriweather, Ella Thomson, Keyone Starr, Kirin J Callinan (wearing a blue tux that oozed swag), Andrew Wyatt, and of course, Kevin (our lord and saviour) Parker. The overall performance praised the overwhelming amount of musical talent on stage. Ronson included an unexpected tribute to one of the greatest voices of all time, the late Amy Winehouse. He played Winehouse’s original vocals from ‘Valerie’ and asked the crowd to “sing up to the sky.” It was moving to say the least.
The Brisbane boys from Dune Rats played what was possibly their best live show to date. Front man Danny Beusa was impressed with the turn out, saying “thanks for coming out early you c**ts” before throwing a homemade gatorade bong into the crowd. The infamous bong made several appearances as it was shared throughout the crowd. The stage was appropriately decked out with two wacky, waving, inflatable, arm-flailing tubemans. It was no surprised that everyone got extra rowdy for their classic stoner anthems, 'Dalai Lama Big Banana Marijuana' and 'Red Light, Green Light.' The performance wouldn’t have been complete without their mate (who’s name I don’t know) getting inside a zorb ball and surfing the crowd. To finish off the show, the same dude ran a few nudie laps on stage.
MOST SOULFUL PERFORMANCE:
Australia’s rising soul pop queen, Meg Mac belted out a powerful set at the G.W. McLennan Stage. In the distance the golden afternoon sun began to set and glisten through the misty haze that shrouded Tipi Forest. It was a magical accompaniment to her show. Punters cheered ecstatically when she announced that Triple J was tuning into the show live and then proceeded to treat everyone to a premiere of her new song ‘Never Be.’ She’ll be visiting Adelaide’s UniBar on September 24th and tickets will surely sell fast.
MOST PSYCHEDELIC PERFORMANCE:
Perth band Pond played their psychedelic tunes to a crowd that was entirely on psychedelic drugs (probably). It was all rather fitting. One guy in the crowd even claimed that he felt as though he was literally in outer space for the entire performance. Their set was perfection as each song flowed into the next to create an hour long surreal trance. Frontman and former Tame Impala member, Nick Allbrook was characteristically bizarre as ever, informing the crowd, “I just feel like a milk bottle.” Me too man, me too. He also offered advice for people saying, “if this gets too much for you, just look behind you, smile softly, and look at that glowing pink unicorn and everything will be okay.”
BEST BAND TO BE AT INSTEAD OF AZEALIA BANKS:
Some chick called Azealia Banks was lucky enough to be given a stage at SITG but apparently this was a “f**king waste of [her] time” and you know what? That’s okay, because Australia was surprised that she even showed up for once. For those of you who missed the California surf rock vibes of Best Coast I just hope to God that your excuse is better than ‘oh I went and saw Azealia Banks instead…’ The charming lead vocalist, Bethany Cosentino tore through their set like it was the most natural thing she’d ever done. The crowd swayed along to the chilled out summery vibes and jumped around for their more popular songs, ‘Heaven Sent’ and ‘Boyfriend.’
BIGGEST CROWD PULLER:
All hail Florence Welch. The Amphitheatre was absolutely chockers for this unmissable headliner. Dressed in a flowing white outfit, she took on the persona of an angel floating about the stage. The crowd was in awe and no one seemed to be able to take their eyes off her. Halfway through the show I thought to myself, how could anyone have the stamina to sing with that kind of power AND fly around the stage like that?! After Glastonbury earlier this year and now Splendour, Florence + The Machine has become one of the world’s best musical performers, if not the very best. With three giant albums under their belt, the band had the pleasure of creating a set list comprised of hit after hit. It’s hard to even choose which song had the best crowd response because everyone was in a perpetual state of wonderment.
The Adelaide outsider rock group, Bad//Dreems began their midday set at The Amphitheatre playing to an empty crowd. But don’t cry just yet. There was at least a hundred people who were being held back by security at the top of the hill. Apparently they hadn’t finished cleaning or some shit. Bad//Dreems fans weren’t having a bar of it and as soon as we heard our favourite band begin to play to no one we quickly realised that we could pull off a mutiny. So we said ‘fuck this’ and ran down the hill much to the dismay of the security guy. Once down in the crowd we were flooded by extra security who eventually forced the crowd to the edge of the main fence. The Bad//Dreems boys only had a 30 minute set and after being held back for half of it, we thought another mutiny was in order. A few fans got together and did the math. “There’s over 100 of us and there’s only 5 security guys.” So in we went. Many were hesitant but there was at least a solid minute where a couple dozen fans ran around the mosh area being chased by security in a fashion that called for the Benny Hill theme music. Frontman Ben Marwe made a joke saying, “I guess we’ve got to keep the pitch clean for the A grade.” With about 10 minutes left of the show, security were finally good blokes and let everyone make a dash to the front row so that we could passionately belt out classics, ‘Cuffed & Collared’ and ‘Dumb Ideas.’
BEST SET OPENER:
English rock duo, Royal Blood began their Sunday evening set at The Amphitheatre by blasting Pharoahe Monch’s ‘Simon Says’ to a crowd that went absolutely ballistic. It was like nothing I’d ever seen before. And I’m pretty sure anyone within a 500m radius did indeed “get the fuck up.” For the next hour the crowd raged as one giant mosh, head-banging their brains out to favourites like ‘Little Monster’, ‘Come On Over’ and finishing the set off with ‘Out Of The Black’. They couldn’t have picked a better band to open for Tame Impala.
BEST DJ SET/MOST DEVASTATING CLASH:
Alison Wonderland laid down the best DJ set I’ve ever seen. Big call, I know. After Splendour she’s basically crowned herself as the reigning Queen of EDM and everyone should be bowing down to this young Adidas-clad Aussie lady. Since she began producing her own music just a couple of years ago she’s managed to create her own unique brand of rave style music. Her debut album ‘Run’ was released earlier this year and it soared through the charts along with her international acclaim. It won’t be long before she’s headlining major festivals. Way to be, Alison. Unfortunately halfway through Miss Wonderland’s set at the Mix Up tent, Tame Impala began performing at the Amphitheatre. Tears were nearly shed as we made our way out of the crowd and embarked on a treacherous muddy journey in order to witness what was possibly the most anticipated show of the festival.
MOST LIFE-CHANGING PERFORMANCE:
I made up this category just for Tame Impala. They’ve only been around for a few years but they’re already being considered as one of the greatest rock bands of all time. This is no wonder. With everyone frothing over their brand new album, 'Currents', they rounded up a crowd that rivalled the main headliners. Their sweet, sweet psych sounds sedated the audience in a way that made the entire show completely surreal. A psychedelic haze fell over the crowd as they began to play their 9-track set kicking off with, ‘Let It Happen’. Apparently Mark Ronson was somewhere in the crowd and tbh I'm a little bummed that I didn't run into him. The highlight of the show was their performance of ‘Feels Like We Only Go Backwards’ -it was around this time that a flare went off in the crowd. As it was the second last song, everyone was well and truly under the spell of Kevin Parker who is quite possibly a mythical creature from outer-space posing as a human for some reason that is beyond the comprehension of us mere mortals. Everyone snapped out of their trance immediately when he announced that they would play one last song. The crowd was truly distraught at the idea of the show ending. Tame Impala ended their set with a breathtaking extended version of ‘Apocalypse Dreams.’
In the words of Mark Ronson, “Splendour in the Grass is one of the best music festivals in the world” and anything Mark Ronson says should be taken as gospel.
So on a scale of 1 to 'I can't feel my face', how was your Splendour?