Welcome to Splendour in the Grass 2019. The day dawned bright and gin clear in northern NSW and excitement was high for Day 1 of the sensible winter music festival at North Byron Parklands. Final preparations were still underway as we powered through the kilometres to get in. Straight up, great to see Sid Hooker from Science on the Go (Griffith Uni) invited along to up the collective brain power of the festival goers. There was also a huge range of craft options and installation art for days. Something for everyone at this all ages gig. Also great to see so much compostable material being used over plastic. You know it’s Splendour when…..the barista is making rollies while simultaneously taking your order.
And now, on with the show!
A great crowd was already in place for this midday set in the Mix Up tent. While Tones and I might have topped out the buzz for biggest crowd ever for an opening set, these Gold Coast siblings gave us a polished dance groove of synth pop/electronica. After signing with RUFUS DU SOL’S record label they have an album due later in the year. Definitely ones to watch.
A. Swayze and the Ghosts
Lots of buzz in the crowds for this artist. Heard one guy ask his mate though, ‘You gonna see A.Swayze or the Ghosts?’ Bless. Slightly old school style rockers which quickly heated up to moments of screamo. There was plenty of thrashy sweat in the crowd even for that early hour. This lot have toured solidly since their album release in 2017 and it’s easy to see why.
Kaiit (pron Ka-eet)
What a great find! After a lengthy and heartfelt acknowledgement to country and reference to her PNG cultural heritage, this soul hip hop indie funk diva came out and owned the stage. This current Melbourne resident brought her orange eyebrows and intensity to the Splendour crowd and they lapped it up. Her work has been likened to a long phone chat with a mate and what a sounding board she would make.
A packed amphitheatre stage on a toasty winter afternoon saw Andrew Stockdale and the band with smiles and sunglasses raising the temperature even further. The clapping, waving mosh morphed into a frenzy of frothing singalongs pretty quickly and the Sydney hard rockers played up to every bit of it.
A growing crowd in the Mix Up welcomed K.Flay, starting a little late, with much enthusiasm. She is a powerhouse on stage reminiscent of pocket rocket Bishop Briggs, moving constantly around her domain, punching the air and moving with yoga-style fluidity. Such passion and emotion in her storied lyrics as if she was willing her positivity and empowerment message to every single listener.
The Mix Up was almost at capacity for this Sarf London native, grime rapper wunderkind. Santan Dave is from Streatham and he wears his pain, challenge, story, hope, humility and redemption on his sleeve. Spitting his story and earning accolades along the way, this is a young man with places to go and plenty to share.
On the huge amphitheatre stage just after sunset this artist bass-ed his way out to a HUGE and adoring crowd. So confident and with a catalogue we all know and love it feels like his soulful, sexy vibes are part of our DNA now. He played with a few beats and tunes as he warmed up and finally gave the crowd what they came for opening with mega hit Better Together. He also brought out a variety of artists such as Running Touch which of course the punters loved, stretching and experimenting with his work.
Another massive crowd for the NZ bred sibling artists. At the pointy end of the night (#takecareofyamates) there was a huge light show that really required a photosensitivity warning and Georgia’s honeyed voice to spur us all on. They had an emo start but powered up so the punters could really enjoy the warm embrace of the mosh.
Top of the photographers ‘must see/shoot’ list for SITG, this 3 piece from Oxfordshire are part way through a 2 stage release of their companion albums ‘Everything not saved will be lost’. Although it sounds like an imminent IT shutdown warning, it is actually a thoughtful and thought provoking set of tunes – bangers and atmospheric pieces alike. In the late night, freezing amphitheatre (the stage resplendent with tropical palm trees) it was well received by the huddled masses eager for something to take their minds off their chilly bits. The excitement was at fever pitch when Yannis took himself down to the photographers pit for an extended guitar solo/meet and greet with the front row fans. Followed by a couple of quieter numbers to give the crowd their breath back they wound it up again for the final few with shredding guitars and flying tempos. These guys are energetic, hugely talented and endlessly entertaining.
WORDS: Alicia Kent-Rooney
IMAGES: NJA Photography