Day 2 of Splendour In The Grass brought with it sunshine (finally!), eager punters and hours upon hours of #tunez. If you missed out on our recaps of the first day and night of the festival, you can catch up here and here.
Circa Waves opened their set with the title track from their much-praised debut LP, Young Chasers. After a long, sodden night where many a campsite was flooded and caked with mud, the sunny tune was just the thing to kick start the day and get everyone back in the spirit of things. In keeping with the summery vibes that the Liverpool band is known for, the sun finally decided to show itself, mercifully drying and warming the crowd. Frontman Kieran Shudall was jovial and familiar with his audience (“Can I just tune my guitar in peace?!” he joked at one point), but for the most part the band didn’t do too much moving around. That’s not to say it wasn’t still a catchy as hell set. In the words of Shudall himself, “F*ckin A!”
One walk over the dreaded hill later, Art of Sleeping opened with Empty Hands – with the thronging bass and in-your-face drums instantly waking up anyone who still had a little sleep in their eyes (heh). Following on from the rollicking, danceable rock of Circa Waves, the set was so intense that it wouldn’t have been out of place at a later timeslot. Voodoo in a live setting was somehow tighter and more enthralling that the recorded version – and that’s saying something. We’ve got a feeling that the next time we see Art of Sleeping at a festival, they’ll have climbed up the bill exponentially, because they damn well deserve to.
Potty mouth punk rockers Dune Rats destroyed the main stage while “no moshing no crowd surfing” signs were barley visible through a sea of…well, moshing and crowd surfing! While a kid beside me repeatedly yelled “F*ckin’ siiiick!!!” over and over he was no match for the slurred vocals of frontman Danny Beusa belting out ‘You’ll always bring me down’ , lyrics to their highly rotated tune Fuck It. Walls of guitars and bellowing chants had a 2pm crowd letting lose with one eager dancer diving into the mud pit while 100’s cheered him on. Festival antics continued as the boys let off two inflated tube men and through beach balls that quickly turned to mud balls bouncing through the crowd. The highlight though, was what the Dunies called “a rat in a ball”, which happened to be a mate of theirs inside a giant ball that they let lose on top of the crowd while he was tossed around. Further chanting followed with songs like Dalai Lama, Big Banana, Marijuana and Red Light Green Light, the Dune Rats set the bar high for the rest of saturdays festivities!
“This is the most people we have ever been in front of by like, thousands… F*ck me!” exclaimed The Smith Street Band‘s Wil Wagner as the band took to the Amphitheatre stage. Of course, it wouldn’t be true to form if the band didn’t make a passionate political statement, and they did, by way of a “Real Australians Say Welcome” banner providing the backdrop for their set. A playfully violent mosh circle broke out as soon as the guitar dropped in during opener Something I Can Hold In My Hands, which, true to the track-listing on Throw Me In The River, was followed immediately by Surrender. Every punter seemed to know the songs inside out, never missing a beat or an opportunity to shake their arms and point at the band in solidarity. Honestly, it’s starting to feel a lot like Smithies have one of the highest hits-to-songs ratios out there – we couldn’t see a single mouth not screaming “Got ciggies!” back at Wil Wagner. And it wasn’t just us regular old punters who’ve totally and completely jumped on board the Smith Street train: Anty from The Bennies seized an opportunity during a brief break between songs to run up to Wagner’s mic and scream “I LOVE THE SMITH STREET BAND!”.
Soulful RnB pop filled the GW McLennan tent, as did fans as they spilled well beyond the outskirts of the tent for Meg Mac’s first Splendour. I would have been surprised by the overwhelming turn out for the Aussie girl’s set but 20 minutes prior to the show on the other side of the festival her name was on everyones lips, so it was a pretty good indication, the 2014 unearthed winner had definitly been unearthed! Songs Every Lie, and Known Better were among favourites, as well as her cover of Bill Wither’s Grandma’s Hands. Pretty keys and booming drums had fans swaying as they ‘ooo’ed back the chorus of Roll Up Your Sleeves.
Frontwoman Patience Hodgson of The Grates was the last of her band to take to the stage, and when she did it was with all the ceremony one would expect from Brisbane’s own punk rock royalty. She wore a giant streamer/ribbon/tinsel laden rainbow coloured jacket (“This is my swag,” she told us, “this is how I go camping!”) and instantly took utter control of the crowd, who obeyed her every instruction with gusto (“On the count of three, everybody scream!”). Rolling around the stage and kicking the air with her silver glittery boots, Hodgson kept things blissfully weird and wonderful as she affectionately blew the crowd kisses. There was never a dull moment with The Grates’ hectic rock as the soundtrack for the slow descent of the sun over the North Byron Parklands – the bodies just never seemed to stop moving. There were plenty of other songs from their most recent record, Dream Team, but it was Science Is Golden that really brought the house down.
Stay tuned for more on tonights festivities with performances from Purity Ring, Azealia Banks, Best Coast, Florence and the Machine and more.
Words by Liz Ansley and James Wills
Image credit: James Wills (header), Splendour in the Grass (all other images)