After the high spirit opening day of Splendour In The Grass’, its second had a lot to live up to. Of course, this was no problem with a line-up that would be the envy of most other festivals in Australia.
While a minority of the crowd skulked through the gates, looking a bit rougher around the edges, Saturday started without a hitch in the lead up to Childish Gambino’s headlining set.
Unlike the chill opening atmosphere of the Friday, the day now opened with a bit of bite with rock the dominating the vibe early.
Chance the Rapper’s unfortunate cancellation to sickness marred the day for much of the crowd, but it was quickly forgotten, never slowing the reverent anticipation for Childish Gambino’s closing performance. Gambino’s name was on everyone’s lips as the spectre of the installed catwalk floated over the main stage performances.
After the opening set of the day from Fergus James, it was Aussie rock outfits, Dear Seattle and Trophy Eyes who took control of the airwaves as the heavier sounds came with a festival purpose; to build mosh pits.
The early crowds were energetic and rowdy, something that slipped away from them and was replaced with a soothing chill as the day progressed.
Yet, many acts such as Kwame, Channel Tres, Pond and Ruby Fields over in the G W Mclennan tent were able to capitalise on this early momentum drawing large crowds and putting out some spectacular performances on the smaller stages.
Ocean Alley, the eventual winners of this year’s ‘Triple J Hottest 100’ with “Confidence” mellowed the mood back out after Wolf Alice’s mega set with a full house there to see them bop through a set filled with soothing highlights. “Yellow Mellow”, the ‘Like A Version’ classic, “Baby Come Back” and “Confidence” built a relaxed mood that settled over the festival grounds but the mood skyrocket to fever pitch level quickly as Catfish & The Bottlemen came to burn off the last of the rock energy simmering in the crowd’s hearts.
Their performance was a good old fashioned style rock show; no extras just all the the headbanging, guitar solos and yelling one would expect from it. It was a worthy contender for one of the best sets of the festival so far as the foursome burst through “Cocoon”, “Seven”, “Twice” and “Fluctuate” celebrating their long recording history as well as the release of their 2019 album, The Balance.
Dope Lemon and Courtney Barnett kept the mood humble as Catfish raged on the main stage, the G W Mclennan stage becoming a hotbed of Aussie support. Dope Lemon brought the celebration of their new album Smooth Big Cat, as lead vocalist Angus Stone keeping it sexy throughout the set.
Barnett came with her honest sense of songwriting and old-rock prowess, the live performance engulfing a massive crowd pulled away from the main stage. Off the back of some stellar form and the 2019 release of “Everybody Here Hates You” her set was a bubble of honesty and support as 2018’s Tell Me How You Really Feel made heavy influence on the set.
If Tame Impala’s opening day performance was meant to open the mind, then Childish Gambino’s was put on to nourish the spirit as his soul/R&B combinations brought the weight of the entire festival down on the Amphitheatre stage. After the issues of him breaking his foot earlier in the year and having to unfortunately cancel his Australia dates, seeing him dancing around on the main stage was refreshing.
Stoking the hearts of his fans Gambino used his platform to evoke a sense of hope and expectation for the future trying to inspire the current generation of young people attending his performance. His vocal acuity was something to behold, his celestial tones sweeping through tracks “Feels Like Summer” “V.3005” and “This Is America” over the course of his 75 minute set.
The closing act was as much about the performance as it was the music, Gambino constantly glided down the catwalk accompanied by dance troupes, gospel choirs and his band perched atop the lit up stage set design. Gambino’s famous 2016 track “Redbone” finished his set and the festivities at Splendour’s main stage, dedicating the rendition to all the fans who travelled to see him, the expectations of the day were fulfilled in that moment, his unbelievable performance coming to a close.