Splendour in the Grass – Day 3
Well, our bodies are sore, not only from the contorting Euclidian geometry we worked ourselves into on the dance floor, but from navigating the Navy SEAL testing ground that the Amphitheatre becomes by the end of a Splendour. But no amount of pain could get in the way of the mammoth three days that us, and the 37,000 other Splenglanders have had this week. As we look for our suburb’s dirtiest feed, or sit with our mouths agape on flights to wherever home may be, let’s reflect on the day three that was.
You may disagree, and you’d have very, very good grounds to do so, but for our money, the Amphitheatre was the place to be for most of the best third-day action, and Sydney band Middle Kids were a true testament to that possie. They didn’t bring in a crowd as big as they deserved with their mammoth set, and this was probably due to their clash with the equally as explosive Mallrat, on the other side of the Parklands, but for those who showed, it was one to remember.
Middle Kids’ tracks, which always manage to strike a perfect balance between melodic and angsty, were done beautiful justice live by Hannah, Tim and Harry, and the crowd gave them the love that they deserved for their effort. Unfortunately, Paul Dempsey was nowhere to be seen when Edge of Town came to pass.
Acting as the opposing bookend to the Presets’ day one set, Nicky Littlemore and his crew put on an equally intense performance. Their post-sunset list flowed from hit to hit with connecting dance sinew like an MDMA-inspired Monty Python DJ sketch, but with more colour and craze. Flashes of so many classic PNAU tracks popped up along the journey, but the big name pieces like Chameleon, Embrace, Baby, and Go Bang were given ample breathing and dancing room among the sound swell.
Kira Divine, whose distinctive vocal lines permeate PNAU’s latest album ‘Changa’, was an ever-present omnipotent dancing titan on the screen behind the band, and at times, the psychedelic paints and designs sent a few minds around the corner in the mosh. For most though, it was a great excuse to just move that little more.
MGMT opened with Time to Pretend from 2008’s seminal album ‘Oracular Spectacular’, which, in this author’s opinion, is putting your best foot forward, but it quickly became clear that there was a strong emphasis on the Connecticut outfit’s newest album ‘Little Dark Age’ in the overall set. I’ve constantly heard that this newest release is a great slow-burner, but the crowd didn’t seem to translate the passion in their reception.
That being said, the title track and its follow-up single Me and Michael went down a treat, and when older hits rung out in the end of the set, the crowd were able to forget and forgive like they were Jay-Z and Beyonce.
There’s been some rumblings on the internet about how prolific these Liverpudlians have been on Aussie festival line ups this year, and this set seemed to be aimed directly at the those critics. Blazing through a setlist that combined the best of all four of their studio albums, there’s no doubt that the indie-pop trio should be taking the bill for so many upcoming gatherings.
Whether punters were just filing in early for Kendrick or there just for some melodic, layered harmonies, the Amphi was already packed to the brim for the whole set, and with the amount of jumping and twisting on show, I think there might have been a big call for an extended marsupial set. We know of at least one former Wombats hater who was one over by the energetic sing-along-for-every-song live set.
For the first time since perhaps Tame Impala’s 2015 set, Splendour had a headliner that was big enough to bring in the crowds all by himself. Kendrick was by far the biggest name on the list, and following the success of ‘DAMN.’, his Pulitzer win and, most importantly, his Hottest 100 gong, this was never going to be a small set. Close to 99.99% of the bodies at the North Byron Parklands would have been packing out the hillside, even though Lamar himself was over 15 minutes late to the stage.
He kicked off his performance with DNA from the all-conquering ‘DAMN.’, and things only got bigger from there. Within 7 songs, we’d heard King Kunta, Big Shot, a cover of ScHoolboy Q’s Collard Greens and Swimming Pools (Drank). The back-end of the set didn’t disappoint either with m.A.A.D City, Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe and Alright heralding the arrival of not one, but two performances of HUMBLE, where the crowd took the lead on the first, letting Kung-Fu Kenny appreciate his masterpiece. When Lamar came in on the second version, he showed us all how it was really done from his big stage. The design was minimalist, with a live drummer, a guy on the decks, and Lamar himself strutting around the open area. Bold, harsh colours set the tone, and all screens were filled with Lamar’s face at all times, because this show didn’t need any extra touches.
Very quick shoutout to Eves Karydas, Crooked Colours, The Avalanches and Girl Talk who all kept the Mix Up tent’s ground nice and firm throughout the final day of Splendour.
Lessons learned from 2018:
- Always check out the food situation: For the first year ever, Splendour seemed to be dedicated to getting good food, and a lot of it, all over the festival. A personal shout out to the Parma burger at the Italian stand over by Mix-up stage. You’re the true MVP.
- The drink lines were better, the prices were not. If I’m getting less than one standard, let’s keep those prices sub $8.
- One final piece of wisdom: Do yourself a favour, and read through the community posts on the Splendour in the Grass – 2018 Facebook event. Pure. Gold.
Photos by Ruby Boland