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Could The Middle East Be Splendour’s “Mystery Oz Act”

The 2019 Splendour in the Grass lineup was announced this morning and nestled between Matt Corby and Warpaint is “Mystery Oz Act”. There is a range of acts that can be considered to fill this position. At AAA Backstage, we’ve done some digging and investigative journalism which has led up to believe The Middle East could be making a comeback for the festival.

Not since 2013 have Splendour given us a “Mystery Band” on the bill poster—that year ended up bringing Alt-J, so the surprise wasn’t worth the anticipation. No matter the managerial, legality or embargo deals that were in place to keep Alt-J from being announced on the initial bill, it actually was in Splendour’s favour to keep it hidden. Speculative articles—like the one you’re reading—plastered the Internet and social media was in a flurry of mystery.

Much the same with this year’s lineup, “Mystery Oz Act” could point to a lot of things. It could be a supergroup, it could be Midnight Oil—who’ve just announced two regional shows. Or, in vein of the Alt-J announcement, it could just be Ocean Alley so triple j could double down on their Hottest 100 victory lap. After all, it did seem odd that the band weren’t already announced on the bill—it’s been a somewhat frequent tradition to have the previous year’s Hottest 100 victor slip onto the bill.

RELATED: Get a day-by-day rundown of the Splendour in the Grass 2019 lineup HERE.

Splendour in the Grass isn’t shy to surprise, guest appearances. Tina Arena’s call up during Client Liaison’s set was one of the history books. Furthermore, Spiderbait, at the very first Falls Festival in Byron Bay, brought out pro surfer Stephanie Gillmore so she could show off her guitar-slaying skills.

So, why The Middle East? Firstly, the band announced first-hand at their 2011 Splendour in the Grass appearance that it was to be their last show ever. The performance was bittersweet for fans as the group had just released their highly acclaim debut album, ‘I Want That You Are Always Happy’. Since that infamous day in 2011, The Middle East parted way but continued to play music respectively.

Jordan Ireland formed Jordan Ireland with Purple Orchestra and he also performed under the moniker Stolen Violin. More recently, he and Sydney artist Exhibitionist released a subtle rework of her stunning single, Vicious Love. Skeleton Jack also made a name for themselves—briefly. The group featured Rohin Jones , Javed Sterritt and Mark Myers. Needless to say, most members continued to make music under different pseudonyms and collaborating with other artists. Triple j Unearthed pieced most of the acts together, which included bands such as The Forest, The Starry Field and more.

RELATED: Get amongst our comprehensive galley from last year’s Splendour in the Grass HERE.

Why the sudden interest in The Middle East? Because the group have announced two exclusive return shows for Sydney’s Vivid Live. As part of Spunk Record’s 20th Anniversary, the reunited The Middle East have promised to play, “their most enchanting songs plus new and unreleased music.” Although these performances are labelled as “one-off,” it doesn’t mean the band have reignited interest in playing other shows or even recording more music together.

If it is The Middle East, why keep it a mystery? Well, there’s most likely strict contractual agreements and embargoes in play from Vivid Live and Spunk Records. They want to ensure as many tickets are sold for their two shows. Keeping The Middle East listed exclusively would drive interest sky high. Therefore, if they announce The Middle East as the “Mystery Oz Act” before the Spunk Records show, it would plummet the interest and lose the exclusivity factor which is most likely driving ticket sales.

Capitalising and doubling down on the reunion could mean big things for the Townsville group. They’ve updated their social media as well to spur even more panic in the fanbase. Whether The Middle East are the “Mystery Oz Act” or not, we’re just relieved they’re back in our lives.

Written by Jake Wilton