Splendour In The Grass arguably out-Splendoured itself this year; assuming the theme of pop gods from primary school as its headliners. Local talent tended to reign supreme each day until around 5 pm – serving as a reminder, if one was needed, of just how good we’ve got it down under. Here are our top five performances from the festival in chronological order, because to order them in terms of impressiveness would probably hurt:
There was rumour going round the festival late Thursday evening that André 3000 wasn’t going to show up. Maybe the collective mindset of Splendour was that this would be too good to be true; that a timely walk though some of the most monumental hip-hop tracks of the twenty-first century just wasn’t going to happen. Maybe he really wasn’t going to show up, but he did. His neon white wig and white rimmed shades weren’t enough to hide the fact that it was actually him – or a really good impersonator who should be famous in his or her own right. Of course, Big Boi turned up too; the result of them both turning up being one mighty dank hour and forty-five minutes of Southern hip-hop bliss.
It was everything you could hope an Outkast set to be – besides pyrotechnical (for some reason only DZ Deathrays got pyrotechnics). Evocative of so much primary school nostalgia, the duo smashed out all of the hits, as well as most of Speakerboxx/The Love Below. Then there were the outfits. People aren’t supposed to be able to pull off white wigs or big green patchwork coats (Big Boi). But they did. Somehow. Because Outkast can pull off everything. Not only did André Benjamin turn up – but the enthusiasm of the crowd, signified by a big fat flare being let off during ‘Hey Ya’, was matched by the band.
Needless to say it shat all over their performance at Coachella. Years of them not playing here earned us the freshest, cleanest performance we could have asked for.
The one shit thing about this set was that the tent was only three-quarters full. Otherwise, the best word I can put Metronomy’s performance down to is ‘sleek’. All clothed in matching outfits; navy blue tops and pants that looked like Colgate extremities; the British synth-rock outfit played a set where instrumentation (inc. beautiful organs) took the foreground, and variation was rife. Some of their songs delved deep into the land of the synthesizer, others were just really well-written pop songs with the tasteful addition of acoustic guitars. Some were even two-minute groove jams scattered throughout the set for the band’s own enjoyment; with this enjoyment matched by basically everyone given how well these groove jams were played. Also, they have the coolest looking rhythm section ever in history since Devo. I can’t find any negatives here.
“We didn’t realize we were headlining the main stage today – you can all go home after us.” – Frontman Andrew Savage at 3.30pm Sunday.
Simple parts with airtight arrangements; self-deprecating New York musicians with side-fringes making of the fun of the fact that they are self-deprecating New York musicians with side-fringes; one particular song that stayed entirely on the one note. Basically, Parquet Courts were like no other band on the lineup. The four-piece played a set of surf-punk ditties spanning all three of their albums, most of them running their course prior to the three-minute mark. For this fact, they probably take the cake for playing the most songs in one set; and as for their performance, I thank them for reassuring me that somewhere out there, straight-up, top-notch punk rock is in fact still being written.
Guy standing next to me at Courtney Barnett: “I have no idea who Courtney Barnett is. I came here because I don’t like Grouplove and I’m really fucking glad I did.”
I don’t know what happened, but somehow Courtney Barnett’s live show has gone from being good to being an absolute bloody knockout. Between mid-song headbutt wars with her bassist, strumming her telecaster with her feet, and miraculously nailing a guitar solo while swimming amongst a frenzied crowd; the pride and joy of Melbourne’s inner-north and her two-man band delivered a performance that was worlds apart from her live show prior to touring overseas. The set comprised mostly of new songs; the bulk of them as lyrically vivid as those on her EP How To Carve A Carrot Into A Rose – perhaps even more so given that there seemed to be a shift towards the more sexual side of Barnett’s brain. Her final two songs, she claimed, were written that morning. But her final two songs were ‘Avant Gardner’ and ‘History Eraser’. Cheeky.
Don’t let one weak album like Sheezus fool you – Lily Allen is a pop icon for a reason. Playing to a full amphitheatre in a miniature, fuchsia tracksuit; the London megalith seems to have maintained her sass from all those years ago. She played a self-aware set where the new songs mostly took a back seat, instead opting for the classics. She reached back to her earliest singles; impeaching on Ronson territory (‘LDN’, ‘Smile’), as well as tracks from her second album It’s Not Me, It’s You. Really, she could have just walked on stage and performed the last three songs; ‘Fuck You’, ‘The Fear’, and ‘Not Fair’; and most patrons would have left satisfied. But instead she nailed a full set of sassy pop songs (I’ve mentioned her sass twice because I mean it) – officially making us thankful for her return to music.