Splendour In The Grass is a special festival. From the moment you first file into the now-sacred North Byron Parklands, you can feel an energy in the air. It sounds cheesy, but its true.
Since its beginning in 2001, Splendour has become the centrepoint of the Aussie music fan’s year. Since the 2018 lineup dropped back in April we all waited in painful anticipation for this past weekend, and now its been and gone.
And oh what a time it was.
Well ladies and gentlemen, another instalment of Splendour In The Grass has wrapped, and it was easily one of the best yet. Here’s what went down.
Once adjusting to the morning, and having myself a lovely lukewarm shower, I ventured into the festival grounds to see Nashville garage-rock trio Bully.
Fronted by the always energetic Alicia Bognano, the band belted out 45 minutes of blistering guitars and wailing vocals. It was almost impossible to look away from.
Half-an-hour following the conclusion of Bully’s set, Stella Donnelly would take to the same stage, filling the huge tent with her huge voice.
Shortly before recording began for her Live At The Wireless performance, Donnelly launched into a new track titled Pauline, affectionately written about Pauline Hanson.
Of course, the song was performed before recording began because Donnelly believed she’d be sued if it was heard on national radio. She wasn’t wrong.
As the sun fell on the festival’s first day, DMA’s would take to the amphitheatre, performing for the first time their 2016 Like A Version of Cher’s Believe.
With easily the largest crowd of the festival so far, the Sydney lads absolutely tore the stage apart.
Then came 8:30pm. Normally a time-slot reserved for crowd-pleasing musical acts – something everyone can dance to, and perhaps chew their bottom lips off to.
But no, not this night. At 8:30pm, the G.W McLennan stage would host the vitriolic energy of Henry Rollins.
Standing in a crowd of young Black Flag fans and fifty-year-old former punks, Rollins spoke non-stop for an hour straight – no notes – about Trump, fear of the unknown, and Australia’s responsibility in shaping the world’s future.
After fielding a group of pro-Trump hecklers with a simple “shh,” Rollins exited the stage to a round of cheers from an adoring crowd.
As day one began to wrap up, headliner Lorde graced the amphitheatre with her signature dance moves, and shimmering pop music.
Despite a brief wardrobe malfunction, Lorde’s set was near flawless. As she danced around the stage, not a single eye in that crowd wasn’t fixated on her.
Following a hypothermia-inducing night, the sun rose for day two, and we were back at it once more.
The Babe Rainbow would get things going with their laid-back vibes; perfect for those of us recovering from the night previous.
Again on night two, another career defining performance was had as the sun set, with Gang of Youths absolutely stealing the show.
In undeniably the best set of the weekend, the five-piece soared through a collection of songs both from their most recent album Go Farther In Lightness and its predecessor The Positions, before concluding with a triumphant rendition of Say Yes To Life.
Later in the night, as the crowd were still shaking goosebumps from GOY’s set, New York indie-rock outfit Vampire Weekend would flaunt their air-tight live show.
Ezra Koenig’s charming, preppy vocals were the perfect way to cap off the second night.
Then, day three. The big one.
As the day kicked off in the Smirnoff tent, a duo of unbelievably talented DJ’s took to the booth to lay down a set of solid gold hits. Of course, I’m talking about ya boys… Happy Mag DJ’s.
We were then immediately overshadowed by the phenomenal Aela Kae, as she had the entire area grooving to her pristine selection of tunes.
Back over at the GW Mclennan stage, Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever were hypnotising their audience with their deeply infectious guitar and vocal melodies.
Later in the night, mere moments before Kendrick would finally be performing, The Avalanches layed down arguably the best DJ set of the weekend (after Happy Mag DJ’s of course), weaving together a selection of 60’s and 70’s soul and funk.
Then, it was time…
As the crowd waited anxiously for the arrival of Kendrick Lamar, the amphitheatre filled.
By the time Kendrick finally stormed the stage, the enormous outdoor area was filled nearly to capacity. \
Kendrick belted through a refined set of tracks from his past three albums, leaning more heavily toward material from his most recent DAMN.
As the words Pulitzer Kenny were sprawled across the scree, Kung-Fu Kenny flew around the stage, proving exactly why he was the festival’s headliner.
Then as I found myself wrapped in five jumpers under my sleeping bag, surely contracted some sort of cold-weather related illness, I knew it was all worth it.
Now, let’s all wait in miserable anticipation for next year. It can’t come soon enough.