AU ABROAD

Festival Review: Splendour in the Grass (Day Two) Ft. City and Colour + Foals + Future Islands (26.04.14)

Weather kept smiling upon us as we navigated North Byron Parklands for the second official day of Splendour In The Grass, with the expected rain lasting all but a few minutes, aside from the occasional, insignificant drizzle. As such, the bulk of the crowd remained at the open-air Ampitheatre for the final moments of the day, with a fantastic closing line-up of The Jezabels, Foals, and City and Colour, who each came close to stealing the show from Friday headliners OutKast. Very close, in Foals' case.

Backtracking a bit, the Ampitheatre was opened by the calming electronic sounds of Byron locals Tora and the gutsy rock of Circa Waves; two bands which played as a nice contrast to each other and took full advantage of their slots, undoubtedly picking up a truckload of new fans while each act looked to be giving it all they've got.

The strength of the Ampitheatre line-up was further displayed with the tightest performance to date that I've seen from Brisbane rockers Violent Soho, giving us their infectious sense of energy and pounding it with stadium-sized breakdowns, balanced with an artful sense for melody. Luke Henery had his infant son on stage with him, who wore massive headphones and stood gazing open-mouthed into the sea of bodies slamming into each other for tracks like the chaotic "Dope Calypso" and the perfect "Fur Eyes". The latter proving to be perfect for a festival setting, with a breakdown that sent everyone into hysterics and a hook that's worthy of Oasis-level sing-a-longs.


Patricia Piccinini's Skywhale

Elsewhere on the Mix-Up Stage Mas Ysa opened with an excellent display of talent, heaving synths onto mesmerising vocals and furthering the M83 comparisons. Following, Fishing DJs, Wave Racer, and Basenji swelled the tent with a seamless wall of electronic drops, bouncy bass-driven productions, and more than enough rhythm to get the early birds stuck into a nice groove.

Despite the two more popular stages of the weekend so far, it was the GW McLennan tent that owned much of the glory for the early-to-late afternoon. Acts like Little May, Ry X, and Gossling performed; the latter easily showcasing the fact that she has some serious star power behind those funky vocals. Add this to the surprising stage-highlight performance by the quirky Future Islands, giving us synth-pop and then letting slivers of metal-level intensity shine through at seemingly random parts in the set; vocalist Samuel T Herring is the kind of frontman you would want as a case study for stage presence, navigating the fast-paced indie-pop as if he was a Dr Jekyll trying, unsuccessfully, to keep his Hyde from crashing the party and really riling us up.


Young Franco backstage at the Red Bull Music Academy


Black Vanilla backstage at the Red Bull Music Academy

Young Franco yet again opened the Red Bull Music Academy with a three-hour set, soundtracking the perfect hang-out area with a great range of crowd pleasers before live act Black Vanilla took to the stage. The unique style this trio has is still difficult to wrap your head around; the liquid dancing, R&B-dipped, bass-heavy sound, and virulent refrains has a hypnotic effect, placing these guys as one of the most captivating acts of the day and ensuring the crowd was massive by the end of their relatively short set.

Past the Twilight Film Festival in The Forum and back to the Ampitheatre was the idea most seemed to have, with a mass influx towards the stage before The Jezabels arrived. You need but check the #splendourinthegrass hashtag to see how many people were losing their minds to big songs like "The End" and "Endless Summer" while Hayley Mary twirled around on stage, pouring every ounce of energy into her performance.

Festival saviours Foals not only stepped up to the plate in replacing Two Door Cinema Club on short notice, they owned the entire day with a ridiculously high-energy set furthering their reputation as one of the best live acts in the world (an award they won at last year's Q Awards).

Masters at the steady build up, each musician on stage worked to bring us a flow of effervescent dance-rock and eventually build it into spasmodic breakdowns of thumping rock & roll; stirring up chaos and sucking us into a vacuum of noise rock before loosening their grip, seguing into the next jam to allow us to catch our breathes, if only for a moment. Frontman Yannis Phillipakis is a wild card; often betraying his studious proficiency with bursts of playfulness, looking vacant and dead pan at one moment, then flying into the crowd the next. The big white 'No Moshing, No Stage Diving' on the stage was largely ignored by both band and fans.

Playing out the Ampitheatre was the heavenly voice of Dallas Green as City and Colour, who modestly took place centre-stage with a bright white cowboy hat and jumped straight into "Thirst" and "As Much As I Ever Could", both setting the relatively relaxed pace of the night, begging us to relax on the surrounding hills and just take it all in, watching a masterful musician at work while his band help uplift Green's dreamy vocals.

The Jeff Buckley influence is not at all hard to hear, more so when you the band makes a temporary exist and Dallas is left with just him, his guitar, and a harmonica. Thoughtful love songs and compelling, vivid stories fluttered out from the stage and to massage love into each and every one of us with highlights like "Coming Home", "Body In A Box", and a surprising cover of "Try" by Pink (Yes, the pop star).

Dallas Green would occasionally stop and smile to thank us for being here and throw out a little back story every now and then, grounding songs like "The Grand Optimist", which was preceded with a lovely message to his dad, for who this song was written. The encore closer of "The Girl" capped off the set, lulling us with smooth acoustic soul and then 'Waking up the people the folk who just fell asleep', with an up-beat country rock ending.

Once again, those that didn't want to yet head back to their camp mainly flocked to the Red Bull Music Academy, which was closed out by the reliable Africa Hitech who brought their bouncy, complex drum and bass to keep us on the dancefloor well past midnight.

Check out all of our Splendour In The Grass coverage HERE

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