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Review: Splendour In The Grass [Queer Focus]

Words By Bre Smith

Every year, thousands of punters flock to Byron Bay for glorious weather, enviable atmosphere and oh, a little festival called Splendour In The Grass. This year saw some of the biggest names in the music take over the North Byron Parklands, as well as some of the best up-and-comers that Australia, and the world has to offer. Whether you made the trek for the music, the vibes or to just dip yourself in (biodegradable) glitter for a week, there truly is nothing like Splendour In The Grass.

For the past couple of years, we’ve been blessed with glorious weather at the Parklands, and 2018 was no exception; just be thankful that you didn’t have to deal with your mud covered mate at 2am after he slid down the amphitheatre to Vampire Weekends ‘A-Punk’. With such a diverse cross-section of society, all bundled into one place, it’s hard not to just sit down for a moment and take everything (and everyone) in.

While there were the obvious choices for must see bands this year (looking at you Kendrick), SITG’s diverse lineup provided the opportunity to sample some of the best in the biz; from the mellow musings of Angus and Julia Stone to the dynamic as ever Westhebarton, there truly was something for everyone this year. If we’re talking festival favourites though, I might have a little more to say.

Brisbane group Cub Sport were an absolute stand out from SITG this year. Their latest album, BATS, really demonstrated an incredible maturity in their sound and as artists. Opening their set with an ethereal rendition of ‘O, Lord’, Tim Nelson captivated the audience from the very first note. With a set that was both subdued, and refined, Cub Sport have again shown us that pop music doesn’t have to be erratic and repetitive; there really is something magical about a smooth, meaningful pop song that just seems to just hit you right in the feels.

Photo By Jess Gleeson

On the other end of the Splendour scale we have Amyl and the Sniffers, a raucous mess that you just can’t look away from. If you’re looking for a charismatic front woman, then look no further than Amy Taylor; strutting across the stage like she owned the place, because well…she did for that entire set. Backed by scuzzy guitars and a pounding rhythm, Amyl and the Sniffers really put the punk in pub punk. If you were able to pull yourself out of bed for a midday act, then I hope you caught AATS, because these guys are destined for great things.

Photo By Justin Ma

Triple J favourite, Alex Lahey, was out in fine form this year at SITG. With two albums under her belt and another on the way, it’s easy to see why so many people made the trek over that enormous hill to the ampitheatre to catch her set. While her vocals seemed to drown in guitar riffs at the beginning, Lahey’s set really ramped up when she launched into (her strongest track) ‘Lotto In Reverse’. There’s something so relatable about Lahey’s music that you can’t help but connect with it; I can’t be the only one questioning whether ‘Ivy League’ was in fact inspired by their own life?

Photo By Jess Gleeson

Relatively new to the scene, G Flip took Splendour by storm, packing out the G.W. McLennan Stage by 12:30pm. It was her unique blend of pop, indie-rock and just a touch of electronica that really blew me away. Filled with a bittersweet energy, ‘About You’, elicited a huge reaction from the crowd; You couldn’t have wiped the smile off of Georgia Flipo’s face if you’d tried. Don’t miss your chance to catch one of Australia’s premiere up-and-comers on her Australia Tour this September.

Photo By Miranda Stokkel

If you haven’t seen Alex The Astronaut live yet, then you are definitely missing out. With a delicate and warming demeanour, I’m almost certain that there has never been a more wholesome set performed at SITG. Despite looking incredibly nervous, Alex delivered a astounding rendition of her single, ‘Not Worth Hiding’, which resulted in an enormous applause from the crowd. Through tears (from both Alex and Jen Boyce), she thanked the crowd for being so supportive of her music; I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t welling up a little myself.

Photo By Aimee Catt

Notable mentions definitely have to go out to Soccer Mommy, Bully, Vampire Weekend and Baker Boy who delivered some of the best performances of the festival. Don’t listen to what anyone says when they boast about the ‘insane’ Hilltop Hoods set; nothing will ever compare seeing Ezra Koenig burst into ‘Cousins’.

In other news, I’m not sure I’ll ever truly recover from how great Stella Donnelly’s set was. With a poignant song directed at Pauline Hanson (bless her awful, bigoted soul) and a collection of self-empowering anthems, Donnelly’s music struck a chord with the audience, pulling one of the biggest midday crowd’s I’ve ever seen.

Photo By Jess Gleeson

While there was far too many amazing moments of Splendour In The Grass to recount, there was one particular occasion that really stuck with me. When Westhebarton said that, ‘Boys will not be fucking boys. Hold everyone accountable’, yeah, I really felt that.

Feature Image by Jess Gleeson.