Posts Tagged ‘Splendour in the Grass’

Splendour in The Grass Review

SplendourIt’s that time of year again. The weather was predictably ominous, gumboot sales hit an annual high and patrons from all over the country migrated to North Byron Parklands for Australia’s premiere music festival, Splendour In The Grass. If you’ve never been to Splendour, then you’ve probably never been to Woodstock either, but it’s something like what you imagine Woodstock to have been like, except with hipsters everywhere instead of hippies.

Day One / Milk was a bad choice…

Day one was hot. Despite the inevitable forecast of rain, the weather couldn’t have been better, with warm sun and endless blue skies in every direction. The day was opened by two incredible emerging artists, Unearthed winner Airling, whose ethereal sounds seem to be drawn straight from a dreamscape, and Fractures, the electronic-indie mastermind behind Won’t Win, a track that has been getting much airtime of late.

Brisbane’s punk-rock two piece, DZ Deathrays followed in the early afternoon. They played a raucous, pyrotechnics savvy set which inspired some early festival moshing, even by those who had chosen to don full costumes and I’ve got to say, there is something quite special about watching a chicken and gorilla square off in a death circle.

The Preatures were up next at the amphitheatre and its easy to see why these guys have risen so quickly to prominence, with front woman Isabella Manfredi had the crowd enraptured from the moment she stepped out on stage. And from their newer stuff like Better Than It Ever Could Be to their defining track, Is This How You Feel?ThePreatures outdid expectations and cemented themselves as one of the highlights of the first day.

As always, Ball Park Music delivered an incredible showing and managed to do the only thing left to make their set more light-hearted and fun, finished with a cover of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody, enough said.

Spiderbait are a band that have always had an incredible rock bravado and that couldn’t have been demonstrated more perfectly than when vocalist/drummer Mark Maher brought his daughter onstage and proclaimed “She is the future of rock and roll!”. Also, you know, Black Betty…bah bah-nah.

The Presets were added to the lineup after the highly anticipated London Grammar dropped out of festival due to illness. And although many would have been undoubtedly disappointed by the change, their dancing shoes would have surely thanked them because The Presets did not disappoint, delivering heavy, electro-dance sounds that had everyone grooving.

Over at the MIx-Up tent, Childish Gambino was reminding everyone why he is quickly becoming the best thing to happen to rap in a long time. Aside from the obvious showing of 3005 and Sweatpants he reworked a bunch of his songs into a mash-up melody, performed an intense, impromptu freestyle and danced the whole set like a piece of ribbon caught in an updraft, the guy is a lord.

Headlining day one of Splendour was Andre 3000 and Big Boi, together forming legendary hip-hop duo Outkast. After some time apart, their comeback had been met with tepid review, but the guys were quick to extinguish any doubts, playing an amazing hour and forty-five minute set with songs from throughout their 20 year career. The capacity crowd sang along in a deafening chorus to Hey Ya! and I’m Sorry Miss Jackson and danced along like the occult to B.O.B. Without a doubt Outkast are back and they truly are so fresh and so clean (probably).

Day Two / Violent Sticky Island Foals, also Dallas Green.

Local act Tora kicked things off on day two of Splendour and their indie-electronic mix drew a substantial crowd considering the early time slot. They were followed a little later by Sydney favourites Sticky Fingers who quickly got the crowd bouncing and jiving to the catchy, reggae riffs of Gold Snafu and Australia Street. And though their outfits would have been just as at home on a 80’s porn set, their sound most definitely belonged on the main amphitheatre stage.

The GW McLennan tent resounded with the whimsical vocals of Dustin Tebbutt, a solo artist whose been making waves since his single The Breach dropped last year. Although it was a slower set, his soothing melodies were a welcome comedown from the downright debauchery that was Sticky Fingers.

The downtime didn’t last for long though as Brisbane four piece, Violent Soho were next to take the amphitheatre stage, playing their biggest show yet. The rough, distorted riffs of Covered In Chrome and Fur Eyes were exactly what the crowd wanted, erupting in a huge mosh with the first chord and never letting up. They were also the second act to bring a toddler onstage, though these guys took out the “more concerning” descriptor when bassist Luke Henery continued thrashing around the admittedly ear-muffed child.

Future Islands have seen a huge surge in popularity since their single, Seasons (Waiting On You) — or more specifically frontman Samuel Herring’s dancing to Seasons (think Peter-Garrett but less terrible) — was unearthed earlier in the year. They proved to be one of the best acts of day two, delivering an awesome synth-pop set to the adoration of the crowd.

The rain that had been threatening the festival all day finally arrived in the early evening, greeting The Jezabels on the amphitheatre stage. Thankfully the vibe remained bone-dry and the crowd danced along enthusiastically to The Jezabels powerful vocals in Easy To Love and the effortless musical progressions of Dark Storm and A Little Piece.

With huge sound, Foals followed up on the main stage, having stepped in to replace the originally billed Two Door Cinema Club. The precipitation wained as the British indie-rock outfit hammered out a set which offered everything from the slower tracks like Blue Blood with it’s defined orchestral beauty, to their more up beat songs in TwoSteps Twice and My Number, both of which caused that indie style of mosh-dancing to permeate the crowd.  Although the omission of Two Door was disappointing, especially at such late notice, Foals’ was easily one of the best performances of the festival and could hardly be seen as a downfall. It’s like reaching into a box of Paddle Pops (rainbow flavoured) and pulling out a Bubble-O-Bill — objectively better, even though both are delicious live acts.

Day two saw Dallas Green as City and Color headline, delivering a powerful and heartfelt performance well into the night. Tracks like Weightless and Sleeping Sickness showcased the Canadian singer’s strong vocals while songs like The Grand Optimist, written for his father, were especially moving. Anyone even vaguely familiar with City andColor would know Green has one of the most hauntingly beautiful voices around and his showing at Splendour only reaffirmed that reputation.

Day Three / And the horse I rode in on.

Day three of Splendour dawned, bringing with it a euphoric wooziness that only a three day festival can provide. The Creases took the stage early on in the day and rocked their single, Static Lines, before New York’s Skaters played a bunch of their Strokes-inspired garage-rock sounds — there must be something special in those New York City garages right?

Melbourne’s rock outfit Kingswood were next to play the amphitheatre, where they dropped their latest single I Can Feel That You Don’t Love Me as well as their breakthrough track Ohio, the set ending abruptly with guitarist Alex Laska jumping through the drum kit.

At the Mix-Up stage it was the UK’s modern soul collective Jungle who had the crowd moving to the beat of their punchy dance numbers into the afternoon. Their recent hits Time and Busy Earnin’ were easily the highlights of the set but all their tunes were definitely dance-worthy.

The fun continued over at the amphitheatre in indie-rock form with California’s Grouplove putting on a stellar performance which culminated in the destruction of a pastel-pink acoustic guitar. A huge crowd had flocked in to see everything from their breakout track, Colours, to the ever-popular Tongue Tied, and danced along frantically the whole time.

Scottish electronic trio Cvrches may not be able to spell but my they certainly can put on a live performance. With catchy electronic riffs running deep throughout, impressive, resounding vocals and a tessellating visual backdrop, tunes like Recover, Lies and the more tempered The Mother We Share all captivated the crowd. Centred amongst a minimalistic stage setup, front woman Lauren Mayberry delivered a vocal performance that really seemed at home in the large outdoor amphitheatre.

Experimental indie-rockers Wild Beasts played to a disappointingly small crowd on the GW McLennan stage later that evening, especially given the group’s incredible talent. It did create a distinctly intimate feel, however, the likes of which is usual absent from festival acts. Boasting some of the best harmonised melodies in the business,Wild Beasts played a solid set, showcasing their full musical range and from the intense, layered vocals in All The King’s Men to the gradually building mystique of Hooting and Howling they had the crowd swooning.

With an endearing shyness, singer/songwriter Ben Howard stepped onto the GW McLennan stage, greeted by the deafening applause of an adoring crowd. The low humming of the Foster The People set could be heard in the distance as Howard began, his eerie voice quickly drowning out everything except the careful echo of the crowd as they sang along with every song. Black Flies and a longer, more experimental live version of The Wolves being the highlights of a truly memorable set.

The days were hot, the nights cold and the lines long but this year’s Splendour In The Grass really was a thing of musical dreams.

Reliving Splendour – Vance Joy and Lorde Highlights

Here are two of our favourite Splendour In The Grass Moments, from two of our favourite sets. Vance Joy and Lorde.


Q & As with Alison Wonderland


Australian DJ Alison Wonderland  is armed with killer vibe and open mind, and lets it all out when she hits the decks, playing all over the world in Ibiza, London, and locally at Splendour In The Grass. As she gears up for what is sure to be a stellar set at Parklife 2012, we caught up with her briefly to find out a little more about the five-foot-one blonde girl who tears up the dancefloor with her turntables. Here is what she had to say…

How did you come up with your stage name? Its clever, was it spur of the moment, or did you perform under other names before you finally found the one that worked?

My stage name was really spur of the moment – I needed a DJ name for a poster, I like puns and the name just popped into my head, I guess you can say I left it up to fate…

Was being a DJ your first foray into music, or did you try other forms? Were you in any cheesy bands, at school or otherwise?

Weirdly enough the plan was for me to become a classical cellist, I went to school at the Conservatorium High School in Sydney then studied music in Germany after year 12. When I came back to Sydney I picked up the bass and joined a couple of Indie bands in Sydney – then I discovered DJing. It was never a planned thing but I think I like it better that way, as I know I was definitely DJing because I loved it!

Following on, where did you get your first real break into the DJ scene?

Well my first break was A residency at the Sosueme parties in Sydney, then I just started getting booked at other venues – but I really do owe it all to Sosueme – it’s where I challenged myself and learnt to genre juggle.

Since then, you have performed at a number of cool venues, Ibiza at Pacha, MoS in London, Splendour in the Grass, what is your favourite venue and why?

I can’t pick just one! I love every gig I play :)

What do you look for in a track when you’re thinking of remixing it? Do you a have a particular way you select the songs?

I generally try not to listen to the original track too much when I do a remix – I love the challenge of taking a vocal and re-working a song with no pre-conceived thoughts. Its my favorite way to remix for sure

You’ve recently remixed 360 in ‘Boys Like You’, any plans to remix some other Aussie artists in the future?

Actually I am remixing another Aussie artist as we speak – am super excited about this one…

You have also recently released your debut mix album ‘Welcome to Wonderland’, what is your favourite track off the album?

Ooooh that’s a tough one! You can’t make me choose.

You’re playing at Parklife, (other than yourself) who are you most excited to see at Parklife and why?

Definately Robyn and The Presets. I have been a massive fangirl of these artists since forever!

 In this modern era, every man and his dog seems to have a go spinning the decks, any advice to those aspiring DJs?

Use your brain and think outside the square.

Alison Wonderland is playing Parklife 2012, visit for tickets and info.  


Kingswood – Medusa


Kingswood have already caught peoples attention with their first single ‘Yeah, Go Die’, and their follow up ‘Medusa‘ is just as good from this heavy rock n’ roll outfit.

‘Medusa’ is more of the ‘Fuck You’ heavy rock style that Kingswood are quickly becoming synonymous with. In their own words Kingswood describe ‘Medusa’ as “a penetrating, seductive earthquake of aural delight”, and its a pretty creative but accurate description. Their tunes are hard hitting, loud, and pure rampant rock. We love it, and its no wonder they won Triple Js competition to play Splendour, as they are clearly one of the more exciting rock outfits in the country.

We also can’t wait to catch the guys playing The Landsdowne in Broadway on Friday in support of Damn Terran and Money for Rope. I hear they put on quite the show, so be sure to get their if you can.

Money For Rope – Misery Lane


If you loved ‘Ten Times‘ by the Melbourne based rock outfit Money for Rope, then you will love their new tune ‘Misery Lane‘.

Whilst ‘Ten Times’ was short, fast and sweet, ‘Misery Lane’ is a longer more low-fi track with a more complete rounded sound. With two drum kits, two guitars and a bass the track bombards you from all angles, but comes together nicely to give off an organised rhythmic swagger. The track has this fantastic marching beat, and the deep vocals to match. Its a real winner and one that we can’t get enough of. Bring us more (perhaps an album full) and make it fast!


Money For Rope – No Messing About


Melbourne 6-piece Money for Rope have already done an east coast tour, played splendour in the grass, and won the right to play the 2012 push over festival, but the lads are just getting started with the impending release of their debut full length album.

The first single off the album is called ‘Ten Times’ and it doesn’t mess around in getting to the chanting chorus. In brief, it is short, fast and epic. Yet somehow it is incredibly catchy, and the joyous refrains “ten times hot as the sun” seem to form the crux of that. The drumming is loud and smashing, and so it should be, there are two drummers and the waning guitars help to break up each chorus. Whilst the song may be a little simple lyrically it is still a great listen and makes for a great head thumping sing along driving tune.

With their full length album just receiving the finishing touches it is likely we will be hearing more from Money for Rope in the next couple of months. Until then download ‘Ten Times’ from their unearthed page to get ready and shout along with each chorus…



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