Splendour In The Grass ’23: Day 1 Diary

Image credits: Matt Jelonek of Getty Images

SURG correspondent, Solomiya Sywak, takes you through the Day 1 highlights

Dear Splendour Diary,

Forget ‘Splendour in the Mud’, 2023’s festival lineup was sun, more sun and the coldest nights I have experienced in my life so far. The annual pilgrimage to ‘Splendour in the Grass’ proved noteworthy, with thousands making the drive to Byron Bay parklands to celebrate Australian music and get on the piss. 

However, last year’s rain proved difficult to dry off, as SITG co-producer Jessica Ducrou says sales dropped from 50,000 tickets to 35,000. “I think it is a reflection of the current economy…it is very much a reflection on the budget,” she said. While true, the almost $500 for three days made it hard for everyone to fork out for Lizzo. The festival proved to have low expectations from 2022’s mud-palooza. 

As a camper, the site was pretty slick. Mazes of campervans and tents, compostable toilets that filled up way too fast and showers that gave 20 second bursts of cold water…now I call that 5-star living.

They did conduct random car searches, and whilst we had no booze to be seized (though many campers around us definitely tried it), our search did reveal a stash of porn magazines in the car we borrowed for the drive from my mate’s dad. Now that’s an awkward dinner table conversation.

Who knew that getting into the festival could be so easy yet so hard? No one checked our camping passes, but getting the wristband for inside proved difficult. While waiting to get my ID double-triple-checked, I chatted with a volunteer, “yeah it’s chill, they look after us. But there’s heaps of issues.” His words and not mine – it took me almost 20 minutes (!) to get in because of the lack of communication between organisers and volunteers.

While the festival officially started on Friday, Thursday night proved to set the tone. With variety circus acts, drag shows and a range of DJs and jazz, it allowed campers to explore the many shops and attractions even in the pitch black. If last year was wet, this year was freezing, with questions such as “is that vape smoke or is it just that cold” being asked.

While the nights were cold, the days were hot – with a record 22 degrees on friday! Out came the boob tubes and bikini tops as festival goers soaked up the rays.

A festival goer soaks up the sun. Image credits: Matt Jelonek of Getty Images

Splendour Receipts:

The media tent and all of it’s powerless glory:

While not open for anyone else but us cool kids, the opening of the ‘gold bar’ and thus the media lounge was set back an hour and still had no power to charge my phone. In order to get in, I was led on a wild goose chase until I reported to one of the publicity ringleaders who explained my rights and limitations (basically no backstage for me). However, I did get to have a chat with a pair of photographers over a stick of gum about getting into the business of working for big name musicians: “It’s a bit overwhelming when you really like the artist, you just have to put it aside and not be creepy”. Big tip: get a portfolio and apply everywhere!

$0 but my sanity is priceless.


With a set at 1:15pm, how much energy can you really have? About 50%. The crowd was mid but the music was an interesting mix of rap and reggae, which by the end of his set was quite repetitive. Unlike the rest of the crowd, one nameless individual was already absolutely smashed and hit the most aggressive joint which was quickly followed by the most NPC dance. You either love Goldfang or get through the roof high, and I was dead sober. 

I’d pay $10 if I knew who he actually was.

The London Look:

The Rimmel stage included free makeovers and Barbie-pink nail polish. Although I haven’t seen the film, my hot pink nails have. There was also a solitary and empty DJ booth with a crowd of girlypops beckoning like sirens to dance. They probably weren’t talking to me.

I owe them $20 for all the nail polish I stole. [A note from the editor: Solomiya did not actually steal anything!]

Claire Rozinkranz (or the SKEGSS migration):

I had never heard of Claire, and neither did any of the boyfriends who were mercilessly dragged to her set. She had a refreshing and energetic stage presence for 3pm, dancing carelessly like in a romcom, and her music had the same charm. This one guy next to me saluted every other man raw dogging overalls, and there were so many! Unfortunately for Claire, the last half hour of her set, which included new, unreleased music, was interrupted by a mass migration to SKEGSS. This included me.

I feel like I owe the poor girl $30…least I could do.


An amazing last set from bassist Terry! Not a dry eye in the packed amphitheatre, but that could have just been all the dust flying from the shuffling dance moves. SKEGSS gave it their all, bringing a much more confident sound than their recordings as they played a wide variety of old and new songs. I also had the pleasure of making my first batch of Splendour friends, who offered me a shot of hot vodka from their yoghurt pouch. 

$50 for the SKEGSS shirt that I bought, worth it!

070 Shake shaking up the amphitheatre:

I’ve never heard of 070 Shake, but apparently she has a few hits with Kanye. This made the Christian overtones of her inter-song-chit-chats more understandable as she declared “the only person above you is God”. Mate everyone is above me. I’m 5’3’’. Basic trap beats were layered with 070 Shake’s dreamy, raspy vocals, which admittedly made understanding the lyrics a little hard. During one of the choruses the whole crowd sang “I wanna get high” but poor little old me was yelling “I wanna get hard”. 

-$15, I need to get hearing aids.

Ocean Alley and the most confident baby:

I quickly found out that if you want a good view you have to get to the main amphitheatre really early. Like the-day-before early. I was lucky enough to score a good view, maybe 7683km away from the stage. Ocean Alley seemed to fall back on more of their old repertoire, as I actually knew the songs, and also brought out a lot more piano than their recordings. For their first Splendour appearance since 2018, they were “in a nostalgic mood” and had the crispest guitar solo to play out ‘Yellow Mellow’. Yet the crowd was not mellow when the lead singer brought out his own baby for ‘Confidence’. 

$300 for child support.

Queen Elizabeth the Third, or simply just Lizzo:

An absolute highlight of the night, Lizzo commanded the stage and Byron Bay with her bangers. Her stage presence was amazing as she led ‘bad bitch meditation’, later asking “did that make you feel good? The molly made me feel good”. Of course she brought out the flute, and my AMEB grade 8 flute skills melted in awe as she juggled a light baroque trio while twerking in a pink balaclava. Lizzo also signed a fan’s ass cheek, and we all found out they have a mole in the same place!

$1500 to see Lizzo and her band The Lesbians again with front row seats babyyyyy.

Other highlights for my tax report:

1. I think I saw Tony from The Project singing with Jack River. Hottie sighting confirmed.

2. Tits and jigs out for Sudan Archives. Amazing Irish dancing from the crowd.

3. Ruel commanding the crowd of rabid girlies like some pop snake charmer. Amazing set design and a keen drum solo to hide his costume change. I may have swooned over his perfectly tousled mullet.

4. “Trials and tribulations” in the most bogan accent with air horn sound effects.

5. In my yurt eating a nutella and peanut butter sandwich while Amazing Grace on the recorder zooms by.

6. Overheard “yeah they use it because it’s the only brand you can heat up with a spoon” “what?”. I still think about the lack of context.

7. Random DJ set in the teepee forest included a massive cup stack and mesmerising lights.

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