All the Splendour in the Grass

Why hello there.

It's Splendour time, which means it's time to tug on your gum boots, hike up your cut offs and adjust your flower gala because dust, dancing and stupefyingly good music is afoot.

It was also a chance to get my Bali-spoiled frosted bones out of Melbourne again into sun-drunk QLD and northern NSW, which does its beautiful-one-day-perfect-the-next thing even in the dead set middle of winter.

Allow me to introduce my companions once again.

You remember Gale:

FYI: this post will basically just be a series of Gale being excited about things. 

This is Little Gale a.ka Eliza.
And her partner in crime, Jay. Hi. 

So Splendour's three-day epicness took place in Byron Bay, northern NSW.

Fun fact: as soon as I heard the line up I said I was going to go, forgetting everything and thinking it was a Big Day Out-style roaming festival, realising only several hours later that I had practically committed to either an actual aeroplane or one hell of a road trip. And a lot of money. Oop. 

And a road trip we were actually going to do! It would've taken three solid days of driving. For kids playing not in Australia, that's how long it takes to drive about 2/3 up the country and thus how freakin' big said country is. The main turn off was actually that the cost of petrol would have been more than an actual plane ticket thanks, taxes and OPEC. 

Got a super cheap flight to Brisvegas (Brisbane, don't worry we don't have a city called Brisvegas. Though we do have a Wonglepong and a Cockburn, so I guess the bar for normal-sounding town names is pretty low). Then rented one of these babies to take us the two hours down through the Gold Coast and past the border.

We Christened it Van Damm. 

Inside it was pretty neat - that couch thing pulled out into an imaginative bed, and the part on the ceiling there rolls out to make what one might call a bed if you really stretch your imagination. And didn't suffer any serious claustrophobia.

But it also featured a fully-working tiny kitchen, including running tap, cutlery, plates and stove meaning glorious hot food, putting us at a distinct advantage over being a part of the sea of festival powerless tent-goers (suckers). 

Road trip! 

Changed the GPS voice to Sean the Irish man. Because clearly that's the best way to tell yourself where to go. 

What was I saying about food glorious hot food? Oh yes: excellent breakfasts.

Because you couldn't bring in a skerrek of food or drink into the festival grounds, and anything in there would be and was stupid expensive, our strategy involved having the world's biggest brunch that made us last until about 7pm. 

And we certainly delivered. We stopped by at Tweed Heads on the way down for supplies, including snacks, muesli, yoghurt, fruit and a shitton of alcohol. 

Behold, Breakfast One: veggie, cheese and bacon frittata. Made hunched over on the world's tiniest gas stove top. I am a god amongst men. 

Glamping. (Is that a word? I think it's a word. If not now it's now a word) .

Festival-ho: five bucks got you a Splendour-specific shuttle bus ride to the grounds, about a 10 minute drive.

Let's go. 

Bit of a walk to the ticket gates. 

It's here we got the first look at everyone's festival gear, which is a surprisingly narrowly-defined uniform straight out of a Pinterest board, usually made up of Hunter wellies, tiny shorts, floppy wide-brimmed hats, tie-die, hipster overalls, anything with daisies on it or lots of holes in it. 

All this is fine, but if you allow me to get political for one moment, for the love of everything that is fuck and holy, please 


bindis and

Native American head dresses,

Overall, it's basically a time to dress up in stuff you wouldn't normally wear and unleash your quirkier fashion side and have a heap of fun with it. It's great people watching time. 

Speaking of. 
It was a stunning low-twenties degree day, with a really hot sun that made it feel much more on the summer side of things. The bloke in the guerrilla suit noticed us all sniggering at him and yelled down the line, "Tonight it is I who shall be laughing!" 

He was right. Because once the sun went, it got cold as hell's balls. 

Day One.

This early Friday afternoon was recon: working out what was around, where the three main stages were, and most importantly how long it would take to walk really quickly through thousands of people between one and another. 

Fun fact: wanting to see like 50 acts at a music festival does not mean you will see 50 acts, it means spending hours pouring over timetables, creative strategic planning, establishing exit strategies, calculating opportunity costs and making a lot of sacrifices. 

And sacrifices were sure as hell made. It's sort of like the musical version of Sophie's Choice. More on that throughout.

The Mix-up tent. It's funny going back and seeing these venues so empty at this stage - needless to say, they never looked like this ever again at any point during the weekend. 

Wandering around:

A very familiar game at the Kopparberg Cider bar. 

The hill to the main Amphitheatre stage.
I'm really angry at this photo; that hill is really bloody high and steep. And you can't tell at all. Seriously, I took this because it was one of those reach-the-top-and-turn-majestically-to-appreciate-the-view-while-gasping-for-air-like-a-dog-in-heat kind of hills. 

I guess this is the Grass in which you...Splendourate.

Both hills there have toilets and bars at the top. Nice work, Splendour gods. I believe that's called "knowing your target group". 

Evoking the spirit of Gale, who had never been to a festival and despite acknowledging that it's probably not her scene, spent the weekend educating herself about music she didn't know in a very open-minded, excellent kind of way - I have decided to take you through Splendour's line up as we get to them, and sharing links to songs so everyone can be musically edumacated.

May you find your new favourite band.

Onya, Gale. 

Testing out the Amphitheatre with a little bit of Darlia.

Climbed the other side of the hill. Wait holy shit are those snow-capped mountains in the far background?? SEE, WE ARE HIGH. 

Down and out int he world again, found a tent place which seemed to hold busker-type acts. 

This couple is from Melbourne, and took forever to start playing, to the point where we almost left, but holy shit was it good we stayed. 

The kind of music with the kind of energy that inspired spontaneous dancing.

That's what quickly became my favourite thing about this place: everything here is for and about music, full of music-oriented things and the kind of people who love music, who sway uncontrollably and dance spontaneously to any kind of music that makes them damn well feel like it. Music is everywhere; bugger the three main stages, there were dozens of spots where someone was always making a drum out of a box or plucking at a guitar, from the teepee village that was always thrumming with house to the rows of shops always blasting out their own thing. The entire place was always alive, vibrant and music. 

Shit gets real: Amphitheatre time again, for the stuff I came here for.

Splendour fashun. 

Here we go!

We called him 'Gay Safari Man'. 

Bringing 70s back.

Facial hair ahoy.

Gotta get up and dance - is this how you feel? 

The bloke who does the little bit of vocals in that song seemed really ridiculously attractive (probably just his voice really), so remind me to look into that. 

Next up was our first half/half clash runner, starting with these gentlemen.

The lead guitarist was a people watcher. While the others stared off into space or concentrated on their instrument, he spent a lot of time arrogantly glaring and chewing gum at the audience and I got the distinct feeling I was being judged and calculated #thingsyounoticeinthefrontrow


The first thought I had as they swaggered on stage (beyond hahahaha they look like miniature Beatles) was holy bloody shit how old are they??!!


Considering my history with being baffled at celebrities who look 25 but are actually 55 and my inexplicable attraction to famous people who are born in 1972, I was having a mini crisis. A quick look at their band profile ("You may notice how young they look.." NO SHIT) finally uncovered that two of them are 17, the other two 15, and are some kind of Irish high school phenomenon. Phew.

And phenomenal they are - their music is tight, layered, intricate, bloody brilliant and they play it with the kind of nonchalant expert knowledge of their craft normally seen in people treble their age. 

I am a talentless sack of snot.

Moving along. 

To the amphitheatre once again!

 Caught the last half of Ball Park Music, a bouncy Weezer-esque fun pop band that takes itself ridiculously not seriously.

They finished their set with a a fab rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody (I know this is obvious but I never fully appreciated how it's simply the perfect song). Cameras around the stage pick up people in the audience to show on the screens (irritatingly, usually pretty girls on people's shoulders) but this one camera got in the face of this sweaty bloke in the middle of the mosh pit screaming dramatically, 'LET HIM GO!' etc. and it was amazing. 

So this thing is apparently called the Sky's an art installation............we think.


Who knows.

It's terrifying, and it will be seen later on.

Food and drink at Splendour was much more sophisticated, though just as expensive, as expected. Bars were usually branded - the Smirnoff tent, Moët et Chandon room etc. This was the Bundaberg bar where a new-found top drink is rum with a brewed passionfruit mixer. 

Right next door was the GW McLennan tent where the beautiful Icelandic Ásgeir was playing. 

He released his first album in Icelandic (which I cannot find anywhere by the way, so if anyone knows where that's a thing let me know), and was translated by American singer/songwriter John Grant and re-released in English. It's pretty clear the poppet doesn't speak a word of English or isn't at all confident in it, as he had his head down the entire time he was playing obviously reading the words, and would only mutter a muffled 'thank you' between each song. 

We ran to see the whole set of The Presets, a pretty damn good cover for London Grammar in sick absentia. They're a little outdated, but I feel a good handful of their tunes are verging on forever-relevant classics for our generation.

We quickly became very, very squashed right up the front.

Angus and Julia Stone time. One of the highlights. Complete with husky vocals, an ethereal cover of "The One That I Want" and despite not playing my favourite song ever in existence, they were supremely wonderful.

She is beautiful and doesn't sound like that when she speaks. He is ridiculously shy, and only mumbled half-formed sentences into his mike. 

They have beautiful chemistry together; she encouraged him and kissed his forehead a lot and it was adorable. 

Oh look, it was then time to run to the Amphitheatre to witness the sight of thirty thousand people shake it like a polaroid picture

That music video is f**king weird I've never seen it before (I don't do music videos, I'm like the antithesis of the MTV generation). 

The reason I'm really light on the pictures in this post (no really, this is light) is because a) it's really damn hard to take good photos of bands, especially if you're far away and don't want to waste your time trying to get a good shot and b) there is no way the atmosphere can translate in any meaningful way, so what's the point.

Day Two. 

Beer for breakfast. 

Moar festival fashun at the underpass where we wait for the bus (I've owned those shoes for five days they now look like I've owned them for five years). 

Not a nice day that middle day two - clouds trapped in all the mugginess and so made it feel we actually were in the near-tropics. Ugggh. 

It's good to wash down a beer breakfast with some Sky Ferreira. 

Served with an extra side of surprising goth. 

Usually the Splendour gods overlap acts by at least 15 minutes or so, so you can catch the first or last bits of one if you're quick enough, but Sky and these next guys were inexplicably right on top each other and it was pretty bad. 

"Chocolate" goes up there with "Pumped Up Kicks" on the list entitled "Songs that Sound Upbeat and Happy But Are Actually About Awful Things". 
I've heard the 1975 being called 'boy band with instruments' - which I guess has merit. They completely dominate a certain distinct-sounding chord and own the hell of it. It's a great sound but it kinda means I thought the start of every song was Chocolate, which has been my wake up jam for months, despite the aforementioned terrible themes.

Embracing the rock lifestyle. 

At the next main stage I heard one of my favourite songs, Ry X's Berlin......

.....while I was sitting on the toilet. 


The charming port-a-loos were lined up right alongside the performance tent and I could hear every exquisite note perfectly but.....yeah. It was the best toilet serenade of my life. 

Never before have I exclaimed "oh shit!" in such an accurate fashion. 

These guys were absolutely amazing entertainers on stage, and finally hearing that song live was definitely a major weekend highlight. 

I particularly appreciated their twisting the objectively sexist lyrics on their head and taking their own tops off!

Hell yeah. 

Went across one tent to see this exceptionally lovely lady.

Unlike Julia Stone, she actually sounds like that when she speaks as well.

She was so sweet, said she was having the time of her life up there. D'aww. 

We then ran to the 360 concert. 

The amphitheatre stage is on the right there - the crowd is pretty amazing.

Holla 360.

Macklemore haircut. 

I don't really care much for 360 himself, or Australian hip hop in general as it tends to just be a series of comparatively ridiculous-sounding White Boy Problems but I was waiting for THIS


She features on a couple of his songs and this must've been the biggest crowd she'd ever performed in front of and it was just really exciting okay.

After, we took another trek to the other side of the grounds to the Mix Up tent to see what was happening.

Turns out what was happening was the most freaking amazing act called Hot Tub Time Machine which I thought was some random rock band but is actually this sold-out-across-Europe DJ who remixes classics from the 50s to now and there are balloons falling and streamers and dancing and even though I saw Gossling and 360 I was so damn angry.

I made many sacrifices this weekend, but this was my one actual, grievous error.

I needed champagne to calm down. 

We sat at at able where the people before left a bit in the bottle AND another half a glass so woo party to me! 

The Splendour gods do not skimp on festival bars.

A little Jezabels helped as well. 

Even though it rained and I got wet. 

Worth it because the lead singer was so excited and emotional she could barely sing (that's what she said; it was a lie, she was still fantastic). It made me think that because there were no supermassive headliners at this year's Splendour (a few years ago they had Coldplay and Kanye West type thing), many of these well-known but not huge bands were playing to their biggest audiences and I dunno but shit like that just makes me super happy.

But still needed a good deal more from the Möet et Chandon bar set atop the Amphitheatre hill. 

Rüfüs time.

I don't know what it is about Rüfüs music but that tent was hella packed, and there was a hella lot of drugs going around us. 

And some monkey business. 

Better view, I suppose. 

Wheeeee drug addled people are funny. Don't do drugs, kids. 

In any case, we left just in time for Riptide.

Excellent timing, self. Good work. 

One of my favourite things ever is being a part of a crowd that screams every word of an artist's song at them, and the look on their face as we do it.

That's not the face I mean, don't worry. 

Jay kindly accompanied me to fulfil my adoptive Canadian duties in seeing national treasure City and Colour.  

It's the kind of stuff that renders thirty thousand people hypnotised and speechless. 

He is so infinitely worth my time. 

Day Three.

The breakfast of champions. 

Eliza's bacon and cheese pancakes with fried eggs. Needs a bacon strip for a smiley face!

Sunday was beautiful again.

As we don't usually have to go in til 1 or 3pm, this is how we spent a large chunk of our days.

Bus problems.

People in dingy old vans would drive past and offer us a lift to the festival for the price of a bus ticket.

Some were okay, others I labelled 'rapemobiles'.

Gale is convinced it's an excellent business model and is considering driving up to do the same next year.

Not getting in the rapemobiles, but the wait was surely long. 

There was some good old bus singing from some already-drunk members of the festival family.

It was one of those back and forth rhyming ditties you echo back to the one person who starts it. Something along the lines of 'hey babaroobah', plus Splendour themed, which ended up with our elderly bus driver giggling to himself because 'Grass' rhymes with some not-so-flattering words.

As displayed by the vandals who decided to take certain letters out of the Hollywood sign-esque welcome art at the bus bays:
It was inevitable, really.

The electric-indie Kiwi version of Angus and Julia Stone started our Sunday.

Break time. 

Hot and dusty or muggy and muddy are your only two festival options. 

And by break time, I mainly mean vodka time.

The vodka was in preparation for our most strategic move yet. 

Sunflowers and daisies were a thing. 

I got photobombed. 

We headed over to the Mix Up tent to wait through several acts.

One of them was brilliant newcomer poms Jungle, who you really need to keep an eye on. 

If only for their interesting on-stage callisthenics. 

A little less awesome was waiting through dance act Golden Features which is funny because he covers his face features with a gold mask hahaha geddit. 

Time to get squishy. 

Normally the end of an act and the changeover is the perfect time to shove in close to the one after.

Problem is, everyone else seemed to have had the same idea, down to the getting in position two acts beforehand.

For this lovely gentleman. 

It was funny because he was booked months and months ago, and in the interim had released his smash album and become really famous. But he was still in the back tent venue, when he could've easily been a headline act. 

This was his first ever performance in Australia, and one of my personal highlights of the entire weekend was his expression of complete and utter bewilderment that people had actually come out to see him. 

He'd say things like, "Um well you might not know this song, but..." and then the look on his face as we screamed every word back at him was wondrous and I won't forget it for a while. 

Gale was a little excited. 

Sea of people high on Sam Smith. 

Twilight rush.

Guys the sunflowers are a bit much.
When I was taking the above pic I heard behind me, "Aww... we thought you were taking a selfie and we were gonna bomb it..."


I still don't understand what it is okay quit asking difficult questions. 

Grouplove at the Amphitheatre.

Sustenance from a great Gold Cost-only burger bar. Any place that gleefully shoves wagyu beef, bacon, garlic mushrooms and brie in a brioche bun is a place I want to be. 

It's the last night at Splendour. 

Prepare your loins. 

Crowd to the amphitheatre. 

Chvrches. (do you understand how difficult it is to type that out). 

Scottish awesomeness. 

We used the end-of-Chvrches rush to secure an amazing position for the last three acts of Splendour 2014. 


Right on the fence behind the mosh pit. 

Oh hey look it's Australian hip hop royalty

These guys were incredible live, and worked so well together. 

Also DAN SULTAN came out surprisingly and amazingly and ugggh amazing. 

I've said amazing too many times. 

Turns out the entertainment wasn't just on stage! 

After the human mincer that was the exit gate after the Presets set, security hammered down and guarded the entry points to the mosh pit really closely. This was good, but unfortunately they did the opposite extreme; the pit was barely a third full and the point black refused to let anyone else in. 

In our prime now more-or-less front row position, we became the point from which people would  launch themselves over the fence and try to blend into the crowd before they were caught.

Luckily for us (and not for them), the anti-fun police were strict, and attempts usually ended in spectacular tackles that exploded in bursts of dust and the bowling over of unsuspecting revelers already in the pit.

Their spaces were promptly smugly filled by those behind us. 

The winners in this scenario.

Ugh, these guys were so exciting.

You could say I got...pumped up. 

And lastly, Splendour....

She did a really beautiful cover of 'Somewhere Only We Know' and it may be a shock but she can actually sing really well.

Allow me to confirm a thing: you haven't seen much until you've seen 30k people of all age, genders, races and creeds screaming along to a ditty about premature ejaculation.

Thank you and good night. 

Until next year, Spleandour.


  1. Hi, great post on SITG! I'm going for the first time ever this year and I loved reading about what to expect. One thing I was really shocked to read was that the Amphitheatre's moshpit wasn't completely full! That's crazy to me, why was it segregated and why weren't people allowed in? There's a few acts that will be playing on this stage and I'd be extremely upset if I wasn't allowed to be closer to the stage or let in the area if there were room. Anyway, great post it's made me very excited!

    1. Hullo! Thank you! What happened is that they started off with having the moshpit open - anyone could go in and out. BUT during The Presets, things got a bit squashed, a bit tramply and a bit suffocaty, which was no good. Following that I definitely support them doing something about it but they went way too far - barely allowed a third or a quarter of the moshpit to be filled - just a big gap between the people at the very front and behind the first barrier. This year I'd bet they won't make the same mistake and will put those restrictions on from the beginning. The only thing you can do is really plan everything out and make sure you're there an act or so out from who you REALLY want to see. Hope you have super fun!