AU ABROAD

Splendour in the Grass Festival Review: Sunday (26.07.15)


Blur shot by Andrew Wade

The Sunday Splendour Struggle was always going to be a tough one to get through, and as if it wasn't already enough wading through the thick and squishy, alcohol obviously got the best of many who forced themselves to show out early. No one was left wanting in terms of hangover food, with Splendour once again absolutely nailing festival eats, but the physical effects of an epic Saturday clearly took the spring away from our collective steps. Despite the slow moving and slightly zombie-esque crowd of the morning, Sunday did manage to stand out as the festival's best (an honour that usually goes to Day 2) and it was mainly due to that highly anticipated triple-hit of Royal Blood, Tame Impala, and headliners Blur from 7:30pm.

Our day began with the full bodied sounds of The Delta Riggs, who delivered their dymamic blues-rock to a large audience who were noticeably feeling the balance of delicacy and urgency throughout the set, instantly making us regret not showing up as soon as they started. Simon McConnell beat a breathless drum solo which would have been the highlight of the set if the band didn't smash a surprise cover of "Hey Jo" by Jimmy Hendrix.

It was worth using at least some time to explore and appreciate all the effort Splendour and their sponsors have put into the fashion element this year. With the Very Small Mall of last year completely absent, we still had our fix of boutique stall-shopping with rows and rows of niche designers bringing out some of their best, and most appealing pieces. Though one of the best concepts came from megabrand Levi's who had their Levi's Tailor Shop set up, drawing in many creative souls who could trawl through briefcases of vintage patches and have the on-site tailor sew either a pair of jeans or a denim jacket the way each customer wanted.

In terms of the numerous alcohol-branded stages, Captain Morgan made a welcome and hopefully consistent push into Splendour with a large pirate-ship that housed a small disco-lit dance floor. Rum and commercial hip hop/R&B was on the menu here as far as I saw, and it proved to be a hit later after the main stages had closed.

Though the Tipi Forest was more accessible this year, it was surrounded by the worst conditions at the festival, second only to the immediate area outside of the Mix Up Stage, with flooding and deep, thick mud making it look more like Tipi Swamp. Those who did go were treated to the usual reckless abandon that the space always inspires.

After a bit of exploring it was back to Ampitheatre to watch Last Dinosaurs who sent the crowd wild with "Zoom" and even wilder with a cover of Stardust's "Music Sounds Better with You", appealing to the Daft Punk fanatic in us all.

A change in style saw us over at the GW McLennan tent enjoying the honkey tonk of C.W Stoneking along with one of the friendliest crowds all weekend. The spirited, spicy blues was full of character, coming him Stoneking's consistent catalog which sustains him as one of the most reliable artists of his kind in Australia.

The Tiny Dancer stage was at it's best all weekend, opened up by infectiously enthusiastic producer Akouo who seemed just as excited as us once we all realised just how fun his varied beats are at a festival. GL - whose Emma Thompson joined Mark Ronson on Friday - definitely left us wanting to see more of the project, with glistening electro-pop that had an old school 80's aesthetic with deep, layered beats and Thompson's high flying falsetto. I wouldn't be surprised to see GL on more festival line ups when summer comes around. Though it was UV Boi who drew the biggest crowd, drawing people in with sharp, slapping basslines and his unique sound which has seen the demand for his music soar over the past year.

In between session at Tiny Dancer I ducked into the nearby Red Bull Music Academy to watch Shaolin Afronauts blend fashion and exciting brass-driven music for an big moment that defined the left-field sounds that RBMA has become known for roping in. From larger-than-life horns molded into addictive rhythms to eye-catching costumes that shone as bright as the more free-spirited dancers in the crowd, this was an easy highlight from an South Australian band that's only going to get bigger as the year rolls on.

As as good as the Afronauts were though, amongst the day's best performances so far, not much could outshine what was being thrown down by the bizarre and infinitely mesmerising Total Giovanni, a band festival promoters all over Australia need in their lives. It's impossible not to move and groove to their sunset disco-funk which is layered with much more seriousness than their eye-popping, gyrating dance moves. The performance may be confusing to some, but once they start with those deeply involving rhythms, resistance is futile.

On my way to Ampitheatre with pretty much the entire festival I caught the ending of Megan Washington at the GW McLennan tent, purple strobes rendering her a mere silhouette from a distance while she sang through a brilliant rendition of, of all songs, "Another Night" by Real Mccoy, a playful pop moment which stayed faithful to the original disco classic.

Royal Blood powered through their sharp, punchy rock and roll, which peaked with a riff cover of Black Sabbath's "Iron Man" - which Marmozets also covered on Friday - worked into "Out of the Black". Their early 2015 sets at Laneway obviously struck a major chord with fans, earning them a near-full main stage while they completely justified their high billing on the festival. Future headliners? They just very well may be.


Tame Impala

Of course, one of the biggest moments of the three days was always going to be Tame Impala and their big welcome back to Splendour in the form of a full Ampitheatre hanging on every world-dominating riff. Whether you think they are overrated or not, it's hard to deny the adrenaline rush of the slick "Elephant", which they debuted live at Splendour three years ago, or the therapeutic psych-brilliance of "Feels Like We Only Go Backwards". Their new material also fit in perfectly with the set, bringing in more of a contemporary influence with synth-leaning dance-rock adapted to their unique, era-spanning style. The band's mastery at pulling in different sounds and working them in their way will never let the band drop below the high standard they are held to nowadays, and although it did feel like we went a step backwards from the pure, raw energy that Royal Blood brought, Tame Impala still hit several home runs with this set and proved that they deserve all the hype.

Blur surprised me. Not that I expected them to be bad, but there is always that gut-feeling that a band you have waited so long to see live is never going to live up to your expectations. I tried expecting nothing, but that seems impossible from a band of their stature and repute. They were in top form and exceeded expectation. If Albarn was telling it true, we have Byron Bay's famous Organic Doughnuts to thank for how much energy the front man gave us, running around stage and punching at the air to capture the weight of the impeccable instrumentals the band added to mostly every song they performed.

Classics "Beetlebum", "Tender", and "Song 2" were either paced differently or misshapen from their familiar studio versions but none of that mattered when Damon's crystal clear vocals rang out through the Ampitheatre, every bit as commanding as we could have asked for. Dave Rowntree's furious drumming was rich and deep, often working in harmony with the Damon's bouncy misdemeanor during the most crucial extensions of tracks like the aforementioned "Beetlebum" and the beautiful, high-flying set closer of "The Universal".

The deeper tones of Graham Coxon on "Coffee & TV" made for an early highlight in the set, reigning until that mindless hit of "Song 2" came in, which stood along with "Parklife" and "The Universal" as the crowning moments of not only Blur's set, but the entire weekend. Yes, it was most definitely worth the wait.

Blur Set List

Go Out
There’s No Other Way
Lonesome Street
Coffee & TV
Out of Time
Beetlebum
Trimm Trabb
Tender
Trouble in the Message Centre
Parklife
Ong Ong
Song 2
To the End
This Is a Low

Encore:
Stereotypes
Girls & Boys
The Universal

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THURSDAY
FRIDAY
SATURDAY

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All images by Andrew Wade to the AU review. For full Day 3 photo gallery click HERE