10 things we learnt at Splendour In The Grass

Splendour In The Grass took place at Yelgun in North Byron Parklands for the first time over the weekend – and it certainly wasn’t short of drama, mystery and memorable sets from Mumford, The National and Of Monsters and Men. Here’s what we learnt. Photos by RICK CLIFFORD.


1. Yelgun is still a work in progress

Splendour’s shift to their permanent 660-acre site at Yelgun meant more space, less bottlenecks, less sound-bleed and a picturesque tree-lined backdrop. But there were still teething problems, including reports of four-hour waits to get into the site and a lack of shuttle busses on day one. “It is our first year at our new home and we feel we laid the best plans,” read an apology from organisers on Facebook. “However they have not been executed to the standard Splendour has always prided itself on.”

(Photo: Splendour In The Grass)

2a. Frank Ocean was gone but not forgotten

Frank Ocean’s 11th-hour tour cancellation was the biggest talking point on day one, and as the weekend wore on there were tributes from Birds of Tokyo, who covered ‘Lost’; Jagwar Ma, who referenced ‘Thinking About You’; Of Monsters and Men, who dedicated their last song to him; and Fidlar’s Brandon Schwartzel, who wore a Frank Ocean tee.

2b. Frank Ocean was missed but adequately “replaced”

Make no mistake, Frank Ocean would’ve been the perfect Splendour curtain-closer, but Of Monsters And Men, Alt-J, The Presets, Passion Pit and teenage Kiwi sensation Lorde, who boarded a flight from Auckland just 24 hours before her set, were more than adequate “replacements”. Lorde drew a huge crowd to the Supertop, proving she has more songs than ‘Royals’ and ‘Tennis Court’ in her locker. At times she seemed overawed by the huge crowd, but it was mostly a triumph and a sign of big things to come.

3. Este from Haim has the best “bassface” since Gene Simmons

4. Pete Doherty made it into the country and people still care

The troubled former Libertine was mobbed side of stage before Babyshambles’ Supertop performance. Dressed in stripes and that familiar captain’s hat, he swung himself about the stage, poured a beer over his head and closed the set with ‘Fuck Forever’ like it was 2005 all over again.

5. The “Mystery Band” wasn’t so mysterious after all

It was Alt-J, guys.

6. You can never underestimate the value of a good cover

Some of the best included Something For Kate absolutely nailing the Florence Welch and Calvin Harris collaboration ‘Sweet Nothing’; Fidlar’s blistering take on the Descendents’ Suburban Home; Dune Rats doing Violent Femmes’ ‘Blister In The Sun’ (in the sun); Jack Bugg’s folky version of Neil Young’s ‘Hey Hey, My My’; Architecture In Helsinki turning Tame Impala’s ‘Feels Like We Only’ into a UB40 b-side; Clairy Browne’s soul-diva take on Salt-n-Pepa’s ‘Whatta Man’; Wavves giving 100% on their Sonic Youth cover, Airbourne playing ACDC’s ‘For Those About To Rock’ for an entire set; and Alt-J’s mash-up of ‘Still D.R.E’ and Kylie’s ‘Slow’.

7. Lana Del Rey’s legacy still looms large

(Photo: Splendour In The Grass)

8. Splendour punters have great rhythm

There were double handclaps, single handclaps, overhead handclaps, synchronised handclaps and even handclaps along to Daughter’s intricate drum patterns. Did we mention that pretty much every band had a floor-tom?

9. The “no moshing, crowdsurfing, or stage-diving” rule doesn’t apply to Wookiees

10. Aussie acts are huge festival drawcards

Flume drew one of the biggest crowds of the festival playing to an absolutely jammed Mix Up and an enormous overflow that watched from a big screen, kinda like the tennis. There were more people watching Melbourne’s Alpine at the Mix Up than there were at Surfer Blood at the Supertop, while the response to The Rubens, Boy & Bear, Cloud Control, Birds Of Tokyo, Empire Of The Sun, Chet Faker, Hermitude and The Jungle Giants proves how strong our local scene is in 2013.