Highlights of a Splendour in the Grass
The equivalent of at least three Christmases.
July 30, 2013
Splendour in the Grass is the equivalent of at least three Christmases; an epic line-up of over 80 acts, a three day holiday, and a jolly good workout getting around the sprawling parkland. It is also an absurd and somewhat confusing convergence of the hippies, the hipsters and the hyped-up ravers. Splendour in the Grass makes for great people watching, and the Police horse and dog entourage do too.
Nestled in the outskirts of surf town and hippy community Byron Bay, Splendour in the Grass music festival entertained 25,000 party-goers over the weekend for four jam-packed days of world-class acts.
Heavy rain on the first night left the sprawling festival parkland a large muddy mess and the demand for overpriced gumboots high. Yet the following three days of sunshine left everyone rosy-cheeked and in good form without the winter wallows.
The festival saw hot-ticketed international acts for 2013 to include The National, Mumford & Sons, Empire Of the Sun, James Blake and Passion Pit play. Take one look at the line-up and you’re overwhelmed just thinking about how to check every act out, let alone get through the mud between stages.
Below is a smattering of the top-notch acts I caught from Splendour in the Grass mixed with a collection of photos showcasing the fun and colour of one of the best winter music festivals in the world.
Donning the beard of a modern-day Philosopher (or full-time hipster), Chet Faker aka Nick Murphy effortlessly wooed the crowds on Saturday afternoon with his soulful, intimate songs. The 23-year old singer-songwriter from Melbourne artfully sculpts his songs to mix deep electronics and sorrowful, heartfelt vocals. Under the spell of the romantic master, you couldn’t help but fall silent to his music. He confessed early on in his to accidently taking a sleeping pill that morning, but appeared more than top of his game throughout the 60 minute set.
Having met the UK garage rock outfit some six years earlier over a bowl of cornflakes in a Bristol hostel, it was awesome to see them again in a far more famed light. As their first venture to Australia, Babyshambles were in fine form and Pete Doherty’s highly-publicised troubles seemed under control throughout the show. Musician, poet, actor (amongst other things) delivered a slick performance keeping up quality banter to his fans. The band rocked out an impressively energetic set, playing fan-favourites, ‘Delivery’ and ‘Beg, Steal or Borrow’ to the keen crowd. Doherty did manage to mumble a little, tip a beer on his head and rip his chain off from around his neck to fling it out into the hype as he walked off.
On Saturday night, the Super Top saw The National close with a melancholic 90-minute set of sheer brilliance, keeping the hungry crowd more than happy. Putting on a larger-than-life show, the Brooklyn-based indie rock band delivered a somewhat exuberant set of general awesomeness. The diverse set included playing old-favourites and songs from their latest album, Trouble Will Find Me. The last two songs saw front man, Matt Berninger jump from the stage to sing and surf through the masses. New Zealanders will be pleased to hear the forthcoming announcement of shows in the country later on this year.
The sisterly trio of California, Haim sure know how to please their fans. Displaying more gusto and grunt than many of the male-dominated acts at the festival, Haim dominated the stage with a set of 80’s pop throwbacks full of vigour. Oozing with confidence and passion, the girls performed all their hits to include, ‘Falling’, ‘Better Off’ and ‘The Wire’. It was clear the band were enjoying the set just as much as the crowd, as they talked to their fans throughout the show expressing how excited they were to be playing at Splendour. Known for their strong drums and booming bass, the audience were left buzzing after a phenomenal yet intense drum jam as they closed off a killer 45-minute set. They are cool chicks, end of story.
TV on the Radio
TV on the Radio got the crowd roaring from the minute the six-piece walked on stage, and they didn’t stop till well after they’d left. The intelligent art-rockers of Brooklyn played an uplifting set on night one of Splendour - easily one of the best acts for the festival. Few bands deliver such genre-hopping music yet master stamping their own identity on their material so surely. Experimental and unique, the set included tracks across all five of their releases to include, ‘Second Song’, ‘Wolf Like Me’ and ‘Repetition’.
Architecture in Helsinki
Melbourne’s vibrant Architecture in Helsinki played against headliners, Mumford & Son’s on the first night. Perhaps a difficult decision for some, it was not so for me. With plenty of punch and pizzazz, the band treated their fans to a three-piece horn section and new tracks, ‘In The Future’ and ‘Before Tomorrow’. On Twitter, people mentioned the band’s cover of Tame Impala, ‘ Feels Like We Only Go Backwards’ as the best cover of the day.
Flume aka Harley Streten absolutely blitzed his show at Splendour. Easily drawing one of the biggest crowds for the festival, he played an exceptional set to well and truly prove he is hot property right now. The 21-year old Sydney-sider DJed to an absolutely jam-packed crowd of die-hard fans in the Mix Up tent making it was difficult to believe the electronic producer was relatively unknown only a year ago. Opening with his newly released remix of Disclosure’s You and Me; his vocals were barely heard over the audience. Streten went on to play all his best-known, synth-heavy tracks including Holdin’ On and Hyperparadise. His fans were even treated to an appearance from Chet Faker, leaving everyone mesmerised by his haunting vocals.
Having waited 3 years to hear this musical genius play makes you go a little stir crazy when you finally do. Englishman, James Blake delivered an exceptional set that some have described as borderline spiritual. He mesmerised the audience with his unique falsetto, natural graces of experimental vocals and song arrangements. Despite technical difficulties, the crowd appeared unwavered and he didn’t let his confidence wane throughout. James Blake is set to play in a couple of days time at Auckland’s Town Hall, and will be one not to miss.
Easily the biggest game-changer for the festival was the announcement that US singer-songwriter, Frank Ocean had cancelled all Australian shows – including Splendour in the Grass – due to a tear in his vocal chord. New Zealand’s rising star, Lorde aka Ella Yelich-O’Connor received a text at midnight on Friday from promoters asking if she’d like to play the biggest show of her life and help fill Frank’s shoes. The 16-year olds first move was to ask her Dad if it was okay for her to go. Beneath her unruly hair and sassy smile, Lorde cheekily asked the 10,000 strong crowd if they were just there to take photos of her. Dressed casually on stage, it was clear that Yelich-O’Connor felt both humbled and in disbelief to be singing to so many people. She delivered unfalteringly, with her hauntingly beautiful vocals suggesting nothing but a strong future ahead.
If I had more time then I’d also mention:
- How much I worship Hermitude.
- Five day festivals make you really appreciate hot showers.
- Unknown Mortal Orchestra are from NZ and they rule.
- How gutted I am that I missed MS MR.
- Robert DeLong.
- How good it was hiring a car and watching people line up for buses.
- The Breakfast Burritos from Dusty’s Cantina.
- The face-painting pixie called Elfie from the Global Village.
- The importance of a good pair of gumboots.
- How everyone should go in 2014.
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