21 July, North Byron Parklands
Yet another year has passed and once again the annual pilgrimage to North Byron Parklands has come to be. Gum boots are packed, glitter is slathered on and festival goers from across the nation descend upon the hinterlands for what has proven time and again to be three days of raucous shenanigans with some music on the side.
Fresh-faced and full of enough enthusiasm to (hopefully) stretch out over the coming days, we fronted Friday head on, catching Winston Surfshirt early in the afternoon. Standouts from their set included Sly, Ali D and most notably Be About You – a song that has arguably garnered them the largest amount of praise after debuting on triple j a few months ago. An honourable mention goes out their cover of Kendrick Lamar’s Humble, which, when paired with their unique brass-dub vibe, made for an unforgettable cover.
We stopped over at the Mix Up stage in time to catch Vera Blue effectively smash everyone’s hearts into tiny, glitter-sized pieces with tracks from her debut album Perennial, before continuing on for Kingswood at the Amphitheatre stage – an experience that in itself made the ticket price wholly worthwhile.
The Melbourne four-piece seem to have come into their own with their latest album After Hours, Close To Dawn – ditching their older, grittier sound for one of an entirely more mature nature. Nothing seems more Australian than listening to these four while surrounded by tall gum trees with a cold (albeit weak) can of beer in your hands.
After a brief intermission that saw us catch a slice of festival veterans Cosmo’s Midnight, we were front and centre for Big Scary who mixed older tunes Twin Rivers and Luck Now with tracks from 2016’s Animal LP. It was easily one of the most anticipated acts of the day that surely did little else but leave the entire audience in awe.
Born from the streets of Melbourne’s busking scene, the explosive Tash Sultana tugged at the heartstrings of all those who played witness to her fiery vocals and masterful multi-instrumental skill. Barefoot and entirely in control of the set, Sultana moved effortlessly about the stage as if physically drawn by the music, looping and jamming in perfect harmony. Her off-script tangents and interactions with the audience only did more to bolster her presence. It is hard to believe that only a few years ago, a woman with so much talent was a little-known name in the industry.
It’s only day one, but Peking Duk have already won the prize for most cameos. After being intro’d by Dale Kerrigan from The Castle, “How’s the serenity here at Splendour?” Adam Hyde and Reuben Styles summoned Dan Sultan, Ben Woolner (SAFIA), Aluna George, Vera Blue and Nicole Millar, just to name a few. Cue the CO2 cannons!
With the afternoon winding to close, the night ahead promised a renewed burst of energy and more musical goods to come. We also figured out that it was going to be really.fucking. cold. Hmmmggggg. Punters in shorts shivered in huddled groups, cold beverages lost their appeal entirely and standing smack-bang in the middle of the mosh became a pretty comfortable place to be. After basking in the ambience of the well-toured and widely adored Vance Joy the remainder of the evening was spent revelling at the brilliance of international acts Father John Misty and pop-rock sister trio HAIM before being entirely entranced by the ever-brilliant closing act The XX.
Now to wash, rinse, repeat.
But seriously guys, layer up today!
Image courtesy of SITG. Photo Credit: Aimee Catt