There are some things in life that are certain. Death, taxes and the annual trek made by punters from all over Australia to attend Splendour in the Grass being worth every single cent. Looks like I’m eating 2 minute noodles for dinner for the rest of the year – shit.
Accompanied by 5 of my closest friend’s/music lovers/ the only people in Melbourne that could actually score tickets (this year’s festivities sold out in under 10 minutes) the trek began on yet another cold and wintery day. Our budget airline flight with a company that is usually always delayed was surprisingly on time, which set the tone for the entire weekend. Nothing could go wrong.
A quick stop to pick up camping supplies, booze and a horrible amount of tuna cans, and that was Day One done. Hot tip for anyone attending Splendour in the Grass in the future, the town of Pottsville is waaaaaaaay closer to the actual festival grounds than Byron Bay, so stay there if you want a quicker drive to the festival in the morning. Thank me later.
Thursday night was mostly DJ’s, and there was some quality boogie-vibes in the Tipi Forrest. Special mention must go to Baker Boy who was the winner of the Triple J Unearthed National Indigenous Music Awards Competition and played a massive Thursday night set which had the whole crowd singing along on the Mix Up Stage to hits ‘Mr La Di Da Di’ and ‘Marryuna’
The festival was officially opened on Friday morning by Alice Ivy. A cool-blend of sample-based music, catchy guitar hooks and smooth vocals, her set was a punter favourite. Clearly very excited to be there, she tells the crowd at the conclusion of her breakout track ‘Chasing Stars’, “Oh my f**cking god Splendour this is amazing.” A great moment in her set was when she got everyone to crouch down and then jump up when the beat dropped. Cliché yes, but always fun. Her glitchy and atmospheric electronic tunes were stuck in my head all day. Overall, a great start.
DMA’s is always a favourite, and their Friday night set was no different. Many have drawn comparisons between DMA’s and Oasis, but this Splendour set felt like a real breakaway from their pigeon-holed past. The DMA’s boys floated across the stage in a dreamy haze of acoustic guitar-filled rock-ballads. For the first time since their ‘Like a Version’ the boys played their cover of Cher’s ‘Believe’. Vocals from Thomas O’Dell send shivers down my spine. In a truly beautiful moment, the people next to me cried and an ecstatic smile is swept across O’ Dells face. Life is perfect.
Angus and Julia Stone were sadly underwhelming. Having been a long fan of their work, it was sad to see issues with the audio in their show. Throughout the entirety of their set the level of vocals were patchy at best and even though they were chilled out at the best of times, their set lacked stage presence. A real shame.
Closing the Amphitheatre on Friday night was Lorde. Having debuted her career at the 2013 Splendour in the Grass to replace Frank Ocean, being a headliner in 2018 was clearly a special moment for her. Nothing could stop this pop queen, not even a wardrobe malfunction which saw her sparkly crop top come undone, only to be saved by her jacket. Splendour is known for special one off moments and Lorde was no exception. She remarks to the crowd that her next piece is something, “We have never done before and we will never do it again.” Being one of her “favourite songs of all time” she asks the crowd to “sing this f**cking song with us” and proceeds to belt out an acoustic cover of ‘My Happiness’ by Powderfinger. Life is EVEN MORE perfect.
G Flip. Learn this name. Write it on your hand, your fridge or your child as she is going to be huuuuuuge. Drummer-turned-solo-pop-artist Georgia Flipo was a standout performer of Splendour. This girl has stage presence, is a remarkable musician and overall I just want to be her best friend. Sorry not sorry. Moving from drums/vocals to effortlessly shredding on the guitar and then back again whilst always having the biggest grin on her face, Flipo had every one in the audience grinning like idiots. Remarking how truly thankful she was for the massive crowd turn out and even pausing for a second to fight back tears is a moment I will remember for years to come.
Headline act Gang of Youths were as amazing as expected. Lead singer Dave Le’aupepe was sporting a new short haircut, but by god he is still so damn sexy. Channelling Michael Hutchene, Le’aupepe had every man and woman begging for more as he led Gang of Youths through hit-after-hit proving why they are one of Australia’s hottest bands at the moment. The beautiful accompaniment of strings to ‘Magnolia’ and ‘Say Yes To Life’ were truly something special. This Splendour performance kicked off what is sure to be an amazing Australian tour for the boys.
Synth pop lords Crooked Colours killed it. You know when you see a band for the first time and then go and buy tickets to their next available show? Yeah, Crooked Colours I’m looking at you. Philip Slabber’s soft suave vocals feel like a match made in heaven when combined with the synth and bass lines of hits like ‘Flow’. Joined onstage by rapper Ivan Ooze for ‘I Hope You Get It’ was a crowd favourite. Their 5:15 time slot at the Mix Up Stage set time felt a little too early for their vibe but nonetheless they really amped everyone up for the huge night ahead.
Other honourable mentions must go to festival favourites The Wombats and Vampire Weekend for their always very solid live sets. International rapper Khalid who drew one of the biggest crowds of the whole festival and Scottish tea-loving electro-pop outfit CHVRCHES were also stellar.
Headlining Sunday night was Kendrick Lamar. Coming off the back of the esteemed Pulitzer Prize for music, the audience was treated only minutes into the set to an AV tribute reading “PULITZER KENNY” which was neither indulgent nor boasting but simply commanding. Whispers among the crowd exclaiming “I only bought tickets to Splendour to see Kendrick” could be brushed off as immature but with a flawless performance one can see why Kung Fu Kenny is so DAMN popular. Lamar’s set was genuinely immense and his promise to “return again someday” is something that is truly exciting. A great performer and a refreshing addition to the usually rock and pop-filled bill.
And so, Splendour in the Grass comes to an end with the 2018 edition seeing a wide range of amazing artists, fantastic food and top quality event organisation, proving that once again Splendour is a world-class event to be reckoned with. The hangovers will fade as the week goes on but the memories won’t. Thanks Splendour. See you next year.