There comes a time in every music lovers life, where they must pop their Splendour In The Grass cherry. And this year, the pleasure was all mine.
The revered festival is widely known for its beautiful location, its stellar musical line-ups, and its awe-inspiring set-up and creative offerings.
With the likes of Kendrick Lamar, Lorde and Vampire Weekend headlining this year’s event, I knew I was in for a treat. And I thought I’d come prepared – but believe me when I tell you, nothing can quite prepare you for the life-changing experience that is Splendour In The Grass.
Stepping foot onto the festival site can only be compared to entering another dimension. Reality becomes suspended, and suddenly, it feels as though anything might be possible. You are in blissful splendour!
You’re first going to want to grasp your bearings of course, before you quite literally get lost in the splendour you’re in. You will have heard how large the grounds are, but again, nothing will quite prepare you for just how large they actually are. You’re going to need a map, and you’re going to seriously re-consider your footwear options at this point. Even your trusty docs might not suffice in this terrain…
Sore feet aside, and festival layout now noted, it’s time to jump headfirst into the music and weave your way through the large-scale playground that has taken over the North Byron Parklands.
With over 100 acts across several stages, spanning over a three day period, my Splendour adventure was brimming with variety and highlights. Here are my personal top three from each day:
#3 – DZ Deathrays
Hailing from Brisbane, Queensland, Australian dance-punk duo DZ Deathrays led punters into the Amphitheatre on Friday afternoon, for what was an extremely high-energy set. Playing hit tracks such as Fresh Out of Sync, and Gina Works at Hearts, audience members were pleasantly surprised as The Wiggles’ Murray Cook joined them on stage, to cover AC/DC’s Highway to Hell.
Another unexpected, yet absolutely incredible collaboration to go down in Splendour history!
#2 – Safia
As the sun set on the first night of the festival, the party was just getting started, and Australian electronica, indie pop outfit Safia, knew exactly how to escalate the vibes. After spending much of the last year touring and playing festival slots, the Canberra trio delivered a stellar groove-heavy set, which saw punters in the midst of the first confetti drop of the festival.
#1 – The Presets
“I’m here with all of my people.” Seriously, nearing towards the end of the first night of the festival, I just felt like I was partying with 35,000 of my closest friends. The notion of ‘festival family’ was in full swing, and there couldn’t have been a more anthemic tune to represent the experience than The Presets 2008 hit, ‘My People.’
Punters were grooving in complete unison, while the Australian electronic duo brought with them a party all of their own.
Notable mention to: Jack River, DMA’s, Angus & Julia Stone, Khalid, Dune Rats & Friends, and Lorde.
#3 – Alex Lahey
Kicking off day two, a little worse for wear, the groovy tunes of Alex Lahey were exactly what was needed to give punters the hope necessary to march forward. The set was a true celebration of all things B-Grade University and I Love You Like A Brother, before the Australian singer-songwriter moves onto her next musical venture.
Throwing in a fun cover of Avril Lavigne’s ‘Complicated’, Lahey brought with her a contagious kick-ass attitude, that brought audience members to their feet once again.
#2 – Chvrches
Scottish synth-pop trio, Chvrches, delivered what was an incredibly charming set come Saturday night. Having leaped towards the top of festival bills since forming in 2011, the trio are no strangers to playing large-scale festival slots, having performed at the likes of Glastonbury, Coachella and Lollapalooza.
Front woman Lauren Mayberry maintained an impressive level of banter, with what was a sea of thousands, while the collective provided audiences with a truly mystical musical experience.
#1 – Vampire Weekend
Audiences somewhat dwindled for Saturday nights closing act, Vampire Weekend, perhaps simply due to the fact that the band have not released any new material in some time. But honest fans were delighted, as the American indie rock band took to the stage for the first time in years and delivered an all-star set, featuring highly-esteemed tracks such as A-Punk, Oxford Comma, and Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa.
Settling back into their beloved stage presence quite naturally, Vampire Weekend brought with them an abundance of happiness and good vibes, as well as one hell of a dance party.
Notable mention to: Amy Shark, Methyl Ethel, Gang Of Youths, Ocean Alley, and Franz Ferdinand.
#3 – Albert Hammond Jnr
American guitarist and singer-songwriter Albert Hammond Jr. delivered an absolutely standout set come the final afternoon of the festival. Famous for his role in well-known rock band, The Strokes, it was incredible to experience this artist in his own element.
#2 – PNAU
Australian dance music trio, PNAU, led punters into what very quickly became a brimming Amphitheatre for the last few sets of the festival. With audience members beginning to lack in energy from what was an incredibly large three days, the collective managed to bring a new-found energy to the stage, with the likes of hit tracks Go Bang, Chameleon, and Wild Strawberries.
With an upbeat stage presence, and incredible performance in whole, it is no question as to how the group maintain their reputation as one of Australia’s best festival acts.
#1 – The Wombats
Despite their countless visits and festival slots, Australian audiences can never seem to see too much of The Wombats. And with a live act so strong, and countless tunes to be sung, or in this case, screamed along to, it’s no wonder why! The English rock band ensured everyone forgot about their broken feet, and had the whole amphitheater jumping like absolute loons.
They took us all the way to Tokyo, they Danced with us to Joy Division, and they sure as heck brought a Lemon to a Knife Fight.
Notable mention to: Skegss, Middle Kids, Crooked Colours, MGMT, and Kendrick Lamar.
All in all, Splendour in The Grass 2018 was an absolute game-changer of a festival. It was an experience that will stay with me forever.
Written by Helena Metzke
Main Image by Jess Gleeson