"Seemingly endless plants, podiums and instruments made their way from backstage to the front."
Boisterous frontman Alex Kapranos led Franz Ferdinand out in front of a packed Hordern Pavillion to resounding cheers from the mixed-aged audience.
Their large digital backdrop alternated between static and videos of themselves playing. They rolled through several tunes, a delightful mix of new and old. Kapranos took Always Ascending as an opportunity to try out his best Jim Morrison impression, jumping around the stage like a man half his age. Do You Want To rolled into The Dark Of The Matinee, which in turn was followed by No You Girls. The lights dimmed right down, the band choosing to make Walk Away a soft and crooning track.
As the back end of the set begun, Kapranos' antics continued, playing out almost as if he had read them from an 'enigmatic frontmen of the 20th century' textbook. Michael was a little more disco than it appeared on the record and segued perfectly into Ulysses. Take Me Out was the highlight of the set, the entirety of the Hordern singing along and bouncing on the spot. The band were joined on stage by fellow Splendour act Superorganism who contributed gang vocals and dance moves. They wrapped things up by playing This Fire, having the audience all take a seat for a stripped-back chorus.
The hype for MGMT began to build from the moment Franz Ferdinand finished, their minimal set slowly deconstructed and replaced by a considerably more elaborate one. Seemingly endless plants, podiums and instruments made their way from backstage to the front. The band members navigated the maze of props and took their places behind their instruments. The drone of a very low synthesised note cut the tenuous silence and an intense spotlight hit the Hordern's disco ball directly from the middle of the stage. MGMT let the moment last before launching into some of the psychedelic tracks from their new album.
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Kids was an early highlight, the audience erupting with cheers. The visuals projected behind the band were of a digital deer wandering the vast universe, mostly along Saturn's rings, collecting all sorts of floating memorabilia. It was odd but strangely captivating. Following this, the band members walked freely on stage, having candid discussions with each other before the lights dimmed low. The band threw themselves into Little Dark Age, allowing for some strobe lights to slowly illuminate them and a hellish Slenderman that they had inflated on the side of the stage. He became slightly less terrifying as the lights grew brighter and the set rolled on, but the initial shock was quite something.
Both bands were engaging in their own right — this sideshow felt very much like a taste of Splendour, with two very different bands playing back to back, catering to a vast array of music tastes and exhibiting a plethora of musical talent.