's Top Five Splendour Moments

19 April 2012 | 3:45 pm | Staff Writer

Tell us your favourite Splendour moment to be in with a chance of winning a double pass to this year's festival!

Congratulations to Lloyd Prescott, who has won free camping tickets to Splendour In The Grass. Now, will he take his fist-pumping friend with him...?

MOMENT ONE - 2002: Splendour's Real Arrival

While Splendour In The Grass started off in its first year as a quaint one day event featuring festival stalwarts of the time such as Powderfinger, 28 Days, Frenzal Rhomb and Resin Dogs and a few left-of-centre indie favourites like Spearhead, Stephen Malkmus and Squarepusher, the second year saw organisers take the risk and expand it greatly; doubling the size of the bill, expanding it to a two-day event and enlisting a more international-heavy contingent of bands.

At the time, British indie-darlings Gomez were at the height of their powers, particularly in Australia. The band were commanding massive audiences all over the country, but when they hit the main stage at Belongil Fields late on Saturday 20 July, 2002, they were particularly unstoppable; kicking beach balls into the crowd, stirring them into a frenzy and delivering a set packed full of tunes from their three records at the time. Fellow Brits Supergrass were a gleeful end to the festivities while Black Rebel Motorcycle Club dominated, cementing their place in Australians' hearts and Doves turned in a majestic twilight performance that had the main stage in awe.

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It was in 2002 that Splendour staked its claim as a festival event that the Australian public were hungry for. With no competing events in the winter, a full weekend worth of music to be absorbed and one of the most gorgeous locations in the world as its setting, it was pretty obvious that this was quickly turning into something special.

MOMENT TWO - 2010: Richard Ashcroft cracks the shits…

Someone had to play at the same time as the Pixies at Splendour on the Sunday of the 2010 event and poor old Richard Ashcroft drew the short straw on this one, being scheduled to play the GW McLennan tent on the other side of the festival from the reformed Boston alt-rock legends. It probably wasn't all that surprising that the former Verve front man had only a few handfuls of dedicated fans in the crowd eager to make his set the final one they witnessed after this big weekend of incredible music. Ashcroft had other ideas when he saw how the scarce numbers who had shown up for his set, throwing his hand percussion, storming offstage and straight into a car

A press release issued after the tantrum claimed Ashcroft's hissy fit was in fact due to him losing his voice, but revelers in attendance seem to concur they had no trouble hearing him when he spat that he “may as well go and watch the Pixies” rather than play for the fans who showed up. Top work from a top bloke. Word of his behaviour spread pretty quickly and somehow we don't think we'll see the British singer at Splendour again anytime soon.

There's a little bit of video footage below that, unfortunately, cuts out just before he really throws in the towel. Skip straight to the last 30 seconds.

Empire Of The Sun, who were playing the Mix-Up Tent at the time, reportedly turned in a respectable – and, importantly, complete – performance.

MOMENT THREE - 2010 – 2011: The Woodford Years

While Splendour had cemented itself as something of a Byron Bay pilgrimage for many out-of-towners, the Northern Rivers locals have always been quite divided as to whether or not they actually want the festival taking place in their backyard; a massive injection of money into the town also means a weekend where their part of the world is even more overrun with tourists than usual. The local council has also raised a number of issues with regards to Byron Bay as a festival location and, in 2010, Splendour organisers made the massive call to shirk the opposition and relocate the event to Woodfordia, the site of the Woodford Folk Festival in the hinterland of Southeast Queensland's North Coast.

Woodfordia, courtesy of Stephen Booth (

Woodfordia in 2011, courtesy of Stephen Booth

There were a huge number of differences between a Splendour at Belongil Fields (where it returns in 2012) and Woodfordia.

-           The latter is a beautiful site, though lacked some of the pulling power that the Byron location leant to the festival.

-           The natural ampitheatre at Woodfordia may well be one of the best places in the country to watch a band.

-           Your calves certainly knew you were at Splendour during 2010 and 11, the hills on the new site slowing down many a reveler as they hopped from stage to stage.

Though the biggest difference between the Woodford and Byron Bay locations was in the people who lived in the towns themselves; there was little doubt you'd cop a glare from a local as you wandered down Jonson St on Splendour Saturday soaking up the seaside atmosphere, but the people of Woodford welcome the festival's attendees with open arms, some even erecting signs welcoming Splendour visitors to their part of the world and encouraging them to spend up big in their modest stores.

If the organisers get their way – and we hope they do – Splendour In The Grass will be a Byron Bay festival forevermore, utilising the North Byron Parklands at Yelgun as its permanent site. But if that doesn't work out, we hope they're not shy to make the move back to Queensland.


One of the musical highlights of Splendour In The Grass 2004 was seeing Mudhoney's Mark Arm front DKT/MC5 – the most recent incarnation of legendary Detroit proto-punk group MC5 featuring Michael Davis, Wayne Kramer and Dennis Thompson with special guests including Arm, Radio Birdman's Deniz Tek, Tex Perkins and the subject of today's magic moment.

Evan Dando 2003 Press ShotOne of the absolute lowlights was seeing Evan Dando of The Lemonheads out the front of that same legendary rock'n'roll band. It was pretty obvious early on that the masterful singer and songwriter was not in his finest form; his singing was ordinary, he looked pretty shaky and the body language the rest of the band seemed to be directing his way wasn't all that positive. While Arm, Tek and the rest of the band ensured this was a pretty special set, it was certainly soured by Dando's rather ordinary antics.

But it was the ensuing 24 hours that really made Dando stand out to Splendour revelers. You couldn't go far without seeing that undeniable floppy mop of hair stumbling all across Belongil Fields, looking somewhat akin to a lost puppy searching for its owner in a crowd of adoring children not sure whether to play with him or leave him be.

Anecdotal evidence has suggested a number of things happened to Mr Dando that weekend. Some say he fell asleep in a pot plant, some suggest he was booted out of the backstage area, some people tell a tale of Dando joining them at their campsite, pleading with them to drive him to the nearby town of Nimbin, while others claim to have witnessed him wandering the grounds with an acoustic guitar, serenading lucky punters. It wasn't Evan Dando's finest moment, but it was one of Splendour In The Grass' most memorable and legendary.


The excitement has hit fever pitch, the Splendour line up for 2012 has been announced and, true to form, it's fucking awesome. While we're sure you are all very happy to hear about such and such playing all those rock songs you love so much, we know that in your heart of hearts you're really just pumped about getting to see the fifth and final of our favourite Splendour moments. You should be, it's a doozy.

Okay, it's not actually a moment as such, but a series of moments from throughout the festival's history. You may have thought you would never get a chance to see bands like MC5, Finn Brothers, Brian Wilson, Devo, Hoodoo Gurus, Sonic Youth, Happy Mondays, The Specials, Pixies, Pulp or Jane's Addiction play ever. You probably almost certainly thought that you'd never get to see them while standing in a field in Northern NSW or in the hinterland of Queensland's Sunshine Coast.

Splendour In The Grass made that happen.

Some performances may have been better than others, but all-in-all the heritage acts who have graced the Splendour stages in recent years have been of supreme quality, they've clearly been vetted at previous festivals to ensure that audiences over here only get the best. There are few better feelings than standing around with your best buddies and singing along to some of the songs that have soundtracked certain stages of your life and there's no doubt that this year you'll get a chance to do that again with the likes of Smashing Pumpkins, Afghan Whigs, Mudhoney, hell, even Spiderbait will be bringing back some memories.

Here's hoping the heritage acts continue to roll out along with the fresh talent Splendour bring each year.

We have two tickets to Splendour In The Grass 2012 to give away, including camping, to the best comment made on this story before tickets go on sale! Travel not included.

So, what is your favourite moment in Splendour history?