Welcome back to the slower moving, thumping head, make-up-needs-a-touch-up crowd of Splendour Saturday. There isn’t as much eagerness among the early crowd but they better wake up soon as there is plenty to see today. There are a few inevitable clashes which means the mad dash between stages. Later in the evening the battle is between tortured life observer Courtney Barnett, recently resurrected The Streets and polymath Renaissance man Childish Gambino. Oh Splendour. Why you make us choose!!?? You know you’re at Splendour….when the youngsters are wearing string clothing but it’s going to be 2 degrees come nightfall. On with the show.
A small scattering of listeners in the Mix Up tent to start but they were devotees and the sounds reached out to the Splendour ears and pulled them in to swell the tent. And what a sound. Soulful, building with EDM/pop beats. There’s an EP due in a few months and Thandi shared SUPER bouncy Good Shit from it which really captured the zeitgeist with the chorus, ‘Only want that good shit’. Yes we do Thandi, and you certainly brought it.
The Amphitheatre arced up early to Sydney’s northern suburbs head banging indie rockers Dear Seattle. They confidently blew away any of last night’s remaining dusty cobwebs with their anthemic singalongs ending with requests for a shoey really hammering home the vibe here.
Much of the Dear Seattle crowd stuck around for Newcastle punk rockers Trophy Eyes. Similar ear bleeding beats and decibels were clearly what they were needing. Such energy and commitment only enhanced the sometimes tuneful, melodic and almost gentle moments. The roar was never far away however as they willed the band to greater heights.
Handsome Angus Stone in the GW McKennan tent which was absolutely crammed with swaying vibed out punters.
Catfish and the Bottlemen
A predictably huge Amphitheatre crew for seasoned pros CATB. They are a guaranteed good time performance and didn’t let anyone down this time either. Great singalong tunes with a little mash up blend to get things moving at the beginning. The British (formed in Wales) indie rock artists have been with us over 10 years and know how to bring the party to the people.
Love her or hate her, no one can deny this powerhouse has impacted the Australian music scene like few others. Drilling astutely and unflinchingly into our collective cultural consciousness she unapologetically calls it as she sees it. And despite the seeming ‘Australian-ness’ of her stories, they translate internationally via their universal themes. She belted out her hits, shredding on the guitar, bantered between songs and laid her soul bare as is her wont. Tonight on the GW McLennan stage Courtney was battling the hordes already jostling for Gambino positions and had a thin crowd. I could be wrong of course, but I honestly don’t think she’d care.
Mike Skinner has been working on a movie about a DJ and reforming The Streets happened as a result (or maybe for) this project. Either way we are winners with the Original Pirate Material sounds of early British rap with a clearly accented and proud voice coming to Splendour. Lots of excited chat around the festival with plenty of people making the effort to see him in action.
The punters were in early for their spot in the Amphi with a few crush rescues happening pre-show from the barriers. With other mega star Chance the Rapper a late Splendour withdrawal (officially ‘sick’ but he does have an album coming out next week. Coincidence?), Childish Gambino became even more of the big ticket artist at the festival. Opening with a gospel soul piece, Mr Glover glided out with full beard and all in white, saviour style to his catwalk B stage. He insisted on 2 rules – no phones and to ‘Love me. Love each other.’ The entrepreneur, singer, actor was theatrical and knew how to work the room. He does a trademark falsetto well and this may or may not be related to the regular junk grabbing. He paused to give the crowd a 16 out of 10 rating and descended into quite the deep, existentialist chat, sitting on the catwalk, eyes closed, pregnant pauses and ruminating. Of course he loved us all but a couple of delirious punters got the full eye contact gaze and a directed ‘I love you’ from less than a metre away. Be still their beating heart. All the mega hits were played as well as some new stuff he’s working on (it’s good!). The gospel singers returned to ‘lift me higher’ which was enacted via a scissor lift at the end of the catwalk. WHS officers everywhere held their collective breath. Once safely down, it was sun’s out guns out as the shirt came off and wild eyed gyrations also went down. There were a few people escorted out during the show (some by mates, some by the thin blue line). They are going to be bummed to have missed the man, the myth, the legend that is Childish.
WORDS: Alicia Kent-Rooney
IMAGES: NJA Photography