It’s the festival everyone wants a ticket to. Our answer to Glastonbury and Coachella… Splendour In The Grass!
Since I was a teenager I always wanted to go to Splendour and now I’ve been, I need to go every year.
For its 18th anniversary, international headliners Kendrick Lamar, Lorde and the Wombats joined an impressive line-up of Australian artists including Gang Of Youths, Amy Shark, Dean Lewis and many more.
Taking place over three days, I found it was impossible to see every artist I wanted to see amongst an amazing line-up of talent. It was hard to feel disappointed by this, however, as the vibes were great wherever you were.
Whether it be the charm of Byron Bay or the prestige of scoring a ticket, I found myself making friends with people so easily and hanging out with them (along with my friend Tyler) which made the whole experience so memorable.
In staying true to our brand of supporting Australian pop music, I’ve chosen to focus this review on the Aussies which, as Keith Urban, Russell Crowe and Crowded House will tell you, includes our much loved Kiwi… Lorde.
Captivating, funny and genuine – Lorde possessed an ability to make us feel like she was our friend as well as an absolute superstar. Whilst a plethora of high power hits kept the 75 minute set pumping – I found the slower tracks from her 2017 album Melodrama to be particularly memorable.
Before singing the tear-inducing ‘Liability’, Lorde explained that at times she is complicated, an overreacter, emotional and worries that all the people she loves will leave her. This personable nature – along with a hilarious wardrobe malfunction earlier in the set – made her extremely likeable.
She closed out the set with the still-fresh ‘Royals’, a much-loved cover of Powderfinger’s ‘My Happiness’ and a confetti-blazen ‘Green Light’ – a winning headlining set at the ripe age of 21.
Other great moments from Friday included Khalid’s high energy set featuring recent gems from his debut album ‘American Teen’, being treated to the sweet sounds of ridiculously good looking brother-sister duo Angus & Julia Stone (who invoke nostalgia with ‘Snow’ and ‘Chateau’) and being surprised by the hauntingly beautiful DMAs who impressed with their extremely popular cover of Cher’s ‘Believe’ and 2014 breakout song ‘Delete’.
We were blessed with sunny weather on Saturday afternoon where Amy Shark was much ‘adored’. Playing to the giant amphitheatre dressed in a funky gold blazer, Amy proudly revealed that her debut album ‘Love Monster’ had just hit No.1!
Sweet and humble, she had us all in good spirits with ‘Weekends’, ‘Drive You Mad’ and ‘I Said Hi’, which she calls her “F U” song. A cover of ‘Teenage Dirtbag’ turned out to be my favourite of the set before blow up sharks replaced confetti for her breakout hit ‘Adore’. I highly encourage anyone thinking about it to see her national tour in the next month!
I loved getting to chant “why’d you have to go and cut your hair? Why’d you cut your hair?” during Methyl Ethel’s set for their single ‘Ubu’ although I must say I was not particularly keen on their other tracks.
I have a lot of love for the Hilltop Hoods who reminded us of the hits from their 15 year span including ‘Nosebleed Section’, ‘I Love It’, ‘Cosby Sweater’, ‘1955’ and my favourite ‘Wont Let You Down’.
Scottish band Chrvches had the coveted primetime international headliner slot, I found them super talented and fun but at an early set time of 6.15pm I felt the night well and truly belonged to Gang of Youths.
Oozing ridiculous sex appeal, frontman David Le’aupepe commanded the audience through a catalogue of hits from their 2015 album ‘Positions’ and 2017 ARIA Album of the Year ‘Go Farther In Lightness’.
It was hard to concentrate while watching the ‘Game Of Thrones’ Jon Snow lookalike flex his guns during ‘The Heart Is A Muscle’ or pose and strut in my favourite ‘Let Me Down Easy’. The band are known for speaking out about mental issues and suicide, and gave a heartfelt message before delivering their tracks ‘Magnolia’ and the ever positive ‘Say Yes To Life’. I was so impressed by their set that I found myself buying tickets through Gumtree to their tour in November which was sold out for all six Sydney shows! #cantwait
There was sadness for me coming into Sunday… such an incredible celebration of music was about to end! The artist on everyone’s lips (Kendrick Lamar) proved to be worth the hype. Background visuals for ‘Kung Fu Kenny’ were randomly hilarious but it can’t be denied that he is a star. I felt lucky to be able to witness his global hits such as ‘DNA’, ‘King Kunta’, ‘Alright’ and ‘Humble’.
English band The Wombats can do no wrong by me as they went from hit to hit to hit in their hour-long set. A part of me is still jumping around chanting ‘WE’RE SO HAPPY, YEAH WE’RE SO HAPPY’ when they performed ‘Lets Dance To Joy Division’.
MGMT impressed with their iconic hits ‘Kids’, ‘Time To Pretend’ and ‘Electric Feel’ whilst Aussie act PNAU proved themselves to be worthy festival headliners with a powerful and fun set that included ‘Wild Strawberries’, ‘Go Bang’, ‘Baby’ and ‘Chameleon’.
Perhaps a little biased, my favourite for Sunday, however, was my mate and auspOp interviewee Dean Lewis.
Even though I have been a fan of Dean’s music for quite some time, this was my first time seeing him live. Out of every other set I saw at Splendour, this was the one where everyone was so drawn in by the music that there was no chatter or people walking out as a sign of respect. Dean’s voice was so crisp and raw – sounding even better than recorded – and he took the opportunity to showcase many new songs from his upcoming album set for later this year.
What I found so surprising was that they were all instantly catchy (perfect for radio!), diverse in nature (rock to ballad to pop) and all worthy of being singles.
Every track from his 2017 ‘Same Kind Of Different’ EP last year was incredibly well received, with many moments where the crowd was louder than him during the choruses. Dean brought out Triple J favourite Mallrat to perform her song ‘Better’ as well as Scottish singer-songwriter Lewis Capaldi who performed an epic cover of Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Dancing In The Dark’.
I was filled with so much pride seeing Dean close out the set with international breakthrough ‘Waves’ and the current ARIA No.2 single ‘Be Alright’, which he’d released only three weeks prior to the show. Killed it mate!
If I had to pick a top three, I guess it would be Lorde, Gang Of Youths and Dean Lewis.
But this could easily be interchanged with the wonderful sets by The Wombats, Amy Shark and Kendrick.
There were many artists who I wished I could’ve seen but just didnt have the time to.
I heard Vampire Weekend were great, that The Presets were fun and that Miguel did well.
I am loving new artist G Flip and wished I had seen her or Brissy band Jungle Giants.
Most of all, however, I was gutted I didn’t get to see the always hyper Dune Rats after their impressive set at Falls Festival. But as I said before, it’s hard to be disappointed when the vibes were so great (and there was no way I was missing Lorde!).
It was truly such an honour just to be there at Splendour this year and I can’t wait to see who will be headlining next year!