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Live Review: Splendour In The Grass 2019 - Day One

#TheMusicAtSITG

Pic by Peter Dovgan

Pic by Peter Dovgan

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It’s the most wonderful time of year: Splendour In The Grass, baby! The Music braved the long shower lines and three-day hangover to bring you all the action from the ground. 

We laced up the docs and poured a breakfast beer. Hot fashion tip: it’s the year of the yeehaw so embrace the cowboy hat. Make sure you borrow a pair of your dad’s chunky sneakers and maybe chuck on a pair of flares. Don’t buy a “festival shirt” and do we really need another group of bros wearing Where’s Wally costumes? Come on friends, we’re better than that. 

After taking a chance and moving to Byron to busk, Tones & I has been the breakout Australian artist of the year. Opening the amphitheatre is an exciting opportunity to set the mood for the festival.

Red keyboards, red jacket, red Ghostbusters hat on a red background and a loud wail brought the young solo artist to the stage. Colourblind, with its bongos, relentless beat and shimmering keys got the early crowd enthused, funnelling down into the bowl to get a closer look. "I know you all like to pre-drink, but you said, ‘Fuck it, let's go early!’ Thank you so much!” Tones & I said.

A cover of Nick Murphy's Drop The Game gave us a chance to hear her vocal acrobatics and why she's been getting international attention. 

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Even with just three singles under her belt (which wrapped up the set), Tones & I had the crowd singing, clapping and generally feeling good about their decision to get down early on a Friday. "Last year I said, ‘I'm gonna play here one day.’ And now I'm fucking here!" She has certainly arrived. 




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Tones & I. Pic by Peter Dovgan


If you weren’t at Tones & I’s opening set, chances are you were headed to the Mix Up tent for Lastlings’ Splendour debut. Despite the midday sun, the brother-sister duo managed to light up the tent with blue strobes, creating the vibey atmosphere their music deserves. Their set treated the crowd to old favourites like You as well as recent hits like I’ve Got You. By the time their last song was through, the tent was well and truly packed. #siblinggoalz




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Lastlings. Pic by Clare Hawley


The story of Tyne-James Organ is a pretty crazy one to think about. Going from bedroom covers to one of the tightest packed audiences of the day at GW McLennan tent. Yet this is the reality we live in, and it's pretty goddamn justified. The Organ team (let's run with that name) are tried and true showmen, reeling you in with a soft gorgeous vocal melody before opening up the dance floor with those sweet jangly guitars. For the few punters nursing a day one hangover, this was the perfect cure. A sunshine melody extravaganza with guitar licks akin to Avo on toast. 



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Tyne-James Organ. Pic by Peter Dovgan

A flood of people spill out of the Ampitheatre following Tones & I but they really should have stuck around because Andrew Swayze is a rockstar. Stepping out in a leather vest, a casual, “Ahm good day, cunts,” welcomed A Swayze & The Ghosts to the stage. It was a short but ripper set from the Tasmanian outfit, with quips from the frontman like, “We’re the best band in the country so you’re lucky you’re here,” and, “This next song is really long but it’s fantastic.” Classic. We get a preview of their next single - a scathing social media blast and try our best to give back the reciprocation Swayze crooned for.



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A Swayze & The Ghosts. Pic by Clare Hawley

The mix up tent housed possibly the friendliest crowd known to man for LA outfit The Midnight’s set. As they waited for the boys to take the stage, punters made friends and entertained themselves by forming a Mexican wave circle. When they did take the stage, the Midnight kept the happy vibes rolling, filling the tent with their feel-good, sun-soaked electronic pop sound. The crowd collectively lost their minds to the sweet sweet sound of the sexy saxophone that punctuated many of their songs. Despite being a long way from LA, we think it’s safe to say the boys felt right at home. 



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The Midnight. Pic by Clare Hawley

There’s a lot of hype in the crowd before this boy band from the garden of England take to the stage following some killer sets when they were in the country for Download. And you know what? Fucking believe it because Slaves are worth it. Streams of sweat fly off stand-up drummer Isaac Holman and guitarist Laurie Vincent contorts his tattooed flesh, bending over backwards for his craft. Chugging water carton after water carton, Holman charmed the heck out of us with tales of how no one else wanted to be in their band and orchestrated a mass scream singalong to Fuck The Hi-Hat. Super satisfying. Don’t sleep on Slaves. 



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Slaves. Pic by Peter Dovgan

The GW McLennan tent hosted Hatchie, playing her biggest show since dropping debut album Keepsake, and she delivered a lush masterclass to all those in attendance, bringing a more sophisticated set with less shoegaze shred and more emphasis on bass and vocals. 



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Hatchie. Pic by Peter Dovgan

With the temperature heating up, Kaiit took to the Mix Up stage to deliver her ultra-smooth and extremely dancy grooves.

"What beautiful lands we are on!" - Kaiit's mum's Acknowledgement of Country was a perfect introduction to a dreamy vibe that took us into Duffman. Drop in some No Scrubs and the love was at fever pitch. 

"You all look fly as fuck", announced the Melburnian. If the slow burn of 2000 n Somethin had the crowd melting in her palm, Miss Shiney had her making our hips shimmy. This is an artist that is just scratching the surface of where she could end up.

Atop the cool vibe and warm harmonies are powerful words and important messages that - even through the haze of the first afternoon of Splendour - will surely hit home to many. 



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Kaiit. Pic by Clare Hawley

The sun was starting to turn a cold eye on punters as Sam Fender hit the stage. But his relaxed blend of acoustic twang and jangly guitar kept us in a state of mind at least five degrees hotter. With band members swapping between piano-led melodies and the jangle you find in a Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever song, it seemed as though our car windows were well and truly down. However, when the piano decided to take main stage three songs in, the set was forever changed. While Fender’s band comfortably subscribe to the swaying indie chic well known at Splendour, his pianist entered a new state of being once the piano took over the song. Full-blown headbanging made even more impressive by the decision to do so with a bowl cut. 



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Sam Fender. Pic by Peter Dovgan

Wolfmother proved the power of rock’n’roll and a killer riff, filling the amphitheatre as we threw back to the 2000s with tracks like Woman and White Unicorn. Joker & The Thief was huge as to be expected as frontman Andrew Stockdale shredded in a denim vest, taking the bouncing mass into another dimension. 



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Wolfmother. Pic by Clare Hawley

A 15-minute delay to the set seemed to dull the enthusiasm of the well-endowed Mix Up tent as K Flay took to the stage, but it didn't take long for the Illinois native to get the crowd going, with Giver kicking off the set. Her sound, distinctly heavier live compared to her recordings, simply, pumps. Sister and Make Me Fade, with their booming beats, had the crowd pumping.



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K Flay. Pic by Peter Dovgan

It was getting to that point in the day where temperatures were dropping, light was fading and inhibitions were being lost. Arguably the perfect time slot for the talented Thelma Plum. The full house at GW McLennan seemed to agree, chanting Plum’s name until she appeared on stage a minute early. Though clearly overwhelmed by the enthusiastic support, she wasted no time jumping straight into a flawless set, opening with certified banger Not Angry Anymore. Plum had the full support of the crowd, receiving raucous applause song after song. Towards the end of the set, Plum she exclaimed, “This has been the best show of my entire life.” And that pretty much said it all.



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Thelma Plum. Pic by Clare Hawley

Zac Carper came onto the stage in a hi-vis work shirt - appropriate because FIDLAR fucking worked. We applauded Carper’s insistence on not doing a shoey: “It ain’t gonna happen, fellas.” Hell yeah. Cheap Beer (not that cheap, festival prices are rough) was a flying ace along with No Waves



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FIDLAR. Pic by Peter Dovgan

Opening with a heckle of a joke about a car radio and moving into the blunder of why white dog shit doesn't seem to exist anymore, it was a tough slog for the comedians on day one. However, as Splendour favourite Jess Perkins wowed the crowd midway through, the chuckles started to take over. Without a doubt, the king of the comedy on night one was David Quirk.

Odette played to a PACKED GW McLennan tent. Take It To The Heart saw her taking to the front of the stage, showing off more and more confidence, while a cover of Fleetwood Mac's Rhiannon gave Odette the chance to show off her bass skills before the performance of new song You're Not Going Anywhere. It's an upbeat track that points towards a rocked-up direction for her next release.



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Odette. Pic by Peter Dovgan

"It ain't easy being wheezy", declared Odette after she took a few breaths on a puffer, reflecting the energy she was putting in. Her take on Gang Of Youths' Magnolia had the crowd singing word for word, followed by final number, A Place That I Don't Know, rounding out a Splendour set that not only Odette will surely remember, but also her devoted fans.

The football chants echoing from the Mix Up tent could be heard across the festival - fans of Dave warming up their vocal cords with the hope of one-upping Alex from Glastonbury. We didn’t need to recreate it guys, chill. Some dude called Nick got his chance though, and we’re already annoyed by the amount of times he’ll be relaying the story and we don’t even know him. There’s a lot of hip hop at Splendour this year and Dave’s London flavour and cheeky bars were a perfect fit. Whole lotta love and gratitude. 



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Dave. Pic by Clare Hawley

The steadily swelling crowd at the amphitheatre pulsed with anticipation for Hayden James to take the stage. The badass stage setup promised a party and the crowd were impatient for it to begin. They didn’t have to wait long however, the lights cut out right on 6:00pm, switching to a single spotlight illuminating James on stage. The already rowdy crowd upped the anti has he fed them banger after banger. Running Touch joined him on stage for an epic rendition of Better Together. Running Touch brought a certain chaotic energy to the set that further egged the crowd on. With emotions running high, multiple almost fights had broken out throughout the mosh. Despite a stellar performance from James and co, the volatile crowd made enjoying the set somewhat difficult. 



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Hayden James. Pic by Clare Hawley

7pm on the first night and the audience, trying to rug up from the cold, packed tight into the Mix Up tent to check out the downbeat beach vibes of Winston Surfshirt

Winston's arrival on stage via the shoulders of a strong lad with his lit-up mic stand was a bit of fun and the live trumpet and trombone were a highlight in a set that felt like a good soundtrack to eating one of the many food options nearby, so chilled it was. 

Songs like Same Same merged into Christine Aguilera's Genie In A Bottle seamlessly. For punters looking to pace themselves for the weekend ahead, this set was certainly going to help slow things down. Also, that burger was pretty good.



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Winston Surfshirt. Pic by Clare Hawley

Santigold is cooler than you. We’re sorry you had to hear it from us but it’s true. Decked out in gold, the set from the Philadelphian was a hip-grinding delight as everyone dropped it low to crowd faves LES Artistes and Creator. The flood of fans onto the stage was a wholesome moment and we look forward to partying with Santi White for many years to come.   



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Santigold. Pic by Peter Dovgan

As the packed out crowd at GW McLennan waited for soulful vocalist Meg Mac to take the stage they entertained themselves with a Pub Choir-esque rendition of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody. A necessary exercise in warming up the vocal chords for a set made up of Mac’s most singable anthems. She took the stage, a vision in white, surveyed the full crowd confidently and got to work. She opened the set with recent hit Something Tells Me but treated the crowd to old bangers like Grandma’s Hand as well. She worked pure magic with her backup singer, creating harmonies that coaxed goosebumps from every arm in the tent. A natural born entertainer, Mac was clearly in her element and successfully delivered exactly the set the crowd was waiting for. 



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Meg Mac. Pic by Peter Dovgan

The Nott sibling duo of Broods, no strangers to the festival circuit, doubled in size for their set with the inclusion of drums and additional keys and a whole lot of visuals for their big Mix Up tent appearance.

Sucker, with its serious booming bass, started it all off and straight away it was obvious that Georgia, and the band, were on fire. Impressive lights and a very suave presence have elevated the Kiwi group to a fringe headline act. Georgia’s dancing continued to get more and more fierce as the set went through To Belong, L.A.F. (still an absolute banger) and Free. The vocal from Georgia feels warm, almost hushed and if we hadn’t of known better, pre-recorded – it is that good.

The set had a short lull during a small acoustic interlude, but with Bridges and Hospitalized to come, there was always going to be a big finish. It felt that the love affair Australia has with Broods is only growing with each massive performance.



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Broods. Pic by Clare Hawley

Australia and Foals have a long history. It’s a healthy relationship. So probably not the first time seeing them for many in the crowd but when they’re that good live, you know it won’t be the last. Songs from the new album slotted nicely in the mix alongside cuts from Total Life Forever and that killer debut Antidotes. Loud and in charge, frontman Yannis Philippakis gave the love he was receiving straight back before we attempted to make up a dance to Two Steps, Twice. It really feels like there should be one. Send suggestions our way. 



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Foals. Pic by Clare Hawley

Few bands can command as much presence in sound as phenomenal four piece Warpaint. We felt like we were witnessing a movie score from an orchestra at points. We were blown away completely. Sadly, the tent was almost empty compared to other acts on day one. With headliner time inbound as Warpaint soldiered on, the herd was thinned dramatically.



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Warpaint. Pic by Clare Hawley

Russ’ set got off to a bad start as he kept the small crowd at Mix Up waiting, eventually taking the stage five minutes late. When he did appear, he shot out like a rocket and ploughed straight into his first song, urging the crowd to put their “middle fingers high”. The small crowd obliged whilst screaming “Fuck it, I’ll do it myself” back at him. 

“It’s been a minute!”, declared Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker. It was the first time the band have played in Australia for some time after gallivanting around some of the biggest festivals in the world including Glastonbury and Coachella.

The Amphitheatre was well and truly filled as the strains of Let It Happen rang out around the site. Situated on an elevated platform on an incline, we couldn’t see much more than the silhouettes of the group most of the time, but fortunately Parker was in a chatty mood: “There’s nowhere else in the world I’d rather be right now!”

The band took their time, given the extended 75-minute set. Some songs just became massive jam-fests and it’s not a bad thing when you’re winding out day one and contemplating two more days. The Moment particularly felt like an extended version, but then you have Nangs which is like two minutes and that’s it. 



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Tame Impala. Pic by Peter Dovgan

Many may have been disappointed to not have received a new album before the Splendour set, none more-so than the band themselves. Every song feels like a classic at this point with Currents being released almost exactly four years ago. The two new teaser songs, Patience and Borderline, nestled nicely in between the others but then there was Elephant and finally the lasers came out to play!

The set sporadically interspersed confetti cannons with lasers and an impressive lighting display as the crowd, slow-moving to New Person, Same Old Mistakes, wound out the first day of Splendour in style. “You all look beautiful!” announced Parker as the house lights were turned on mid-set - and he has a point. The Amphitheatre has never looked so good, even after a packed opening day, in which one of our country’s biggest bands gave us a lesson in how a Friday should end.