Splendour in the Grass ’23: Day 3 Diary
Image credits: Bruce Baker
Solomiya’s Splendour experience comes to an end
Dear Splendour Diary,
My energy and brain cells are waning. Splendour definitely dragged on; especially as a camper onsite, you couldn’t escape it. Finally getting into a routine of thawing myself in the morning and the fact that tranquil bird noises were replaced with aggressive techno remixes, I was ready to down a Monster and get on with my day. It’s quite an overwhelming experience, living and breathing music as your whole day turns into waiting and watching your favourite artists. Food and comfort became secondary.
And that is why I spent the whole morning playing UNO and recharging my social-music battery instead of aimlessly walking like a zombie amongst other zombies. UNO was swiftly followed by snap, and then by unbridled mania. As my friends are massive fans of the band 100 Gecs, in preparation for their performance at 10pm (mind you it was 10am), we covered each other in doodles of neon geckos (or very loosely based lizards). I think the end result was over 200 geckos over 7 people, many of which did not even survive past lunch time.
Personally, I did enjoy the festival experience. It was immersive and the grounds were full of a variety of food, clothing and decor stalls which encapsulated the spirit of Splendour. Expensive. I’m joking! (Not really). But the options of vintage and boho-chic, along with crystal cleansing and witch healings really made sure you knew you were in Byron Bay. Furthermore, the grounds included so many bars, each with their niche style of club music and atmosphere which made choosing an experience so much more individual. For instance, the Byron Bay Brewery bungalow had DJs Chunky N’ Carter as their closing set: classic Ivy tunes and remixes BUT my ragtail group of rapscallions decided to turn it into a heavy metal mosh experience. This included obliterating each other in a quasi-mosh pit, dance moves such as the microwave, and another set of rowing which half the club decided to join in for. Hey, if it doesn’t work, jump on each other until it’s yet another mosh pit.
I think my main piece of advice for future festival goers is: pack smart and don’t care. At the beginning I was so insecure, heck I didn’t even know half the bands I ended up going to see! But that didn’t stop me from having the time of my life, meeting and befriending so many cool new people and being introduced to new music and artists.
Transient morning mood:
It wasn’t really morning, more like the big gap between 2-4:30pm in which I had no idea who I was or where I was. Connected in a human chain to my friend’s pant straps, we became a three-person menace and caught two other people in our web. In this pant centipede we moved through the stages of the festival, catching glimpses of Royal Otis and Balming Tiger. For a group performing at the main amphitheatre stage, Balming Tiger had absolutely no crowd. Their thumping bass and alternative K-pop sound proved too heavy for the lazy Sunday arvo vibe, but the small crowd that huddled at the barrier (most likely waiting for later acts) seemed to be enjoying themselves, or was simply in awe of the passion behind the group’s constant walking across the stage. Their step count must be through the roof! Royal Otis drew more of a crowd. As one of my fellow festival-goers remembers, they “got wine drunk for it, a good decision”. Their songs definitely fit the mood of a last day slumber, very girlypop with the light indie strumming and casual vocals.
$7 for a bottle of water please!
Ratty with the Dune Rats:
This was an absolutely rambunctious time: a bunch of blow up toys, a guy in a ‘Too Tough Terry’ mascot costume, and a slew of big surprise guests. Still in the human chain, we had a three-man mosh pit and were joined by a very confused middle-aged gentleman who became tangled in our web. The crowd poured in and the energy was high, soundtracked by songs such as ‘Dalai Lama, Big Banana, Marijuana’ and ‘Scott Green’. Their set had the whole vibe of a garage band that made it big, which is exactly what Dune Rats is. With a majestic rainbow spawning over the stage, Dune Rats invited Ruby Fields, the Brewster brother from the Angels (Rick), Kelly Jansch (of Totty) and Jackson Van Issum (of Beddy Rays) to perform the classic Aussie rock song, ‘Am I Ever Going to See Your Face Again’ (The Angels – 1977). The slew of Australian idols proved too much for the crowd to handle, with one festival-goer chucking his shoe on stage and the rest of us cheering for a shoey. In classic Dune Rat fashion, they delivered. I hope lead singer Danny Beus got some mouthwash afterwards, because I doubt any drink chugged from a sweaty, dusty Converse would taste good.
$9.5 for the wasted beer. $50 for the one shoe lost in the crowd as Danny blindly threw it back.
Disco with Tove Lo:
Once again, it’s the girls who put on an absolute show. Tove Lo was a high-energy discotheque of a set, playing all her classics. She really embodied the complex nature of femininity, her songs varying from sexy and sultry, to woeful and mourning. We got a rehash of her song with Flume, ‘Say it’, which admittedly sounded a lot cleaner during Flume’s set. Memorable mentions also include ‘Disco Tits’ which featured a pair of ms paint mommy milkers flashing behind her. Tove Lo was a treasure trove of energy which peaked during ‘Habits (Stay High)’, as she thanked the song for skyrocketing her career. The slew of her well-known songs turned the Amphitheatre into a karaoke stage, with the audience screaming and dancing along.
$100 because “I’m fully charged, nipples are hard. Ready to go” 😉
Idols or Idles:
All the way from Bristol, punk band the Idles had the crowd really considering leaving the Commonwealth. After parting the Red Sea and then reuniting it in a battle cry of “fuck the King!”, Idles kicked and screamed. I kicked and screamed in an attempt to stay alive in yet another mosh pit. It was every man for themselves as I was squeezed in between thrashing enjoyers. As violently excited as everyone was, as soon as someone fell over, helpful hands were seen picking them up and asking if they were ok (Editor’s note: I love the punk ethos). One band member (I cannot for the life of me remember if it was the lead guitarist or bassist) also made a pitiful attempt of crowd surfing, and being dropped like a baby by the confused crowd, he made a heroic recovery and swam the Splendour channel.
It was as violent on stage as in the crowd, with the lead singer spitting massive dookies in between choruses of “I’m scum”. They were carefree with sharp and digging drums, screeching guitars, and low warbling bass; like a march against the system. Even in between songs, the punk spirit reigned in a rabid spitfire of quick quips.
$98,367 because the monarchy makes a lot of tourist cash, but we’d be fine without them.
Hilltop Hoods and the dads club:
Admittedly I did not stay long for Hilltop Hoods, but I did learn that the pair of rappers were doting dads. Cute. They played their classics and I’m sure the nosebleed section went wild as it was a full Amphitheatre event.
$500 a week for child support while they were at Splendour.
How many Gecs now?:
If I thought the Idles set was a mosh extravaganza, the crowd that formed for American hyperpop-electronic-rock duo 100 Gecs was on another level. With no one knowing what deodorant was, the fumes in the pit were mania-inducing. With matching cloaks and wizard hat in toe, 100 Gecs opened with ‘Dumbest Girl Alive’. Except that was me, because I had no idea what was coming. It was a mad frenzy of frog-jumping and frolicking, possibly one of the nicest mosh pits where I still bruised my ribs. Unfortunately, the mixing was way off and the backtracks drowned vocalist Laura Les. She tried making up for it with some crowd work in between sets, but it was totally lost. Even the crowd went silent in hopes of hearing her. It fell on deaf ears – except for other-half Dylan Brady’s iCarly-esque soundboard. The sound was quirky with earworms such as ‘Mememe’ and unreleased hit ‘What’s That Smell’.
At least $10,000 for every gec.
Mumford and who?:
I sincerely apologise to my readers, but I didn’t see Mumford and Sons. I hope they tuned their banjos accordingly, I don’t know I’ve never listened to them. (Editor’s note: *Cries because I love them and I’ve never gotten to see them* Solomiya, you should absolutely listen to them. See my pre-Splendour review here).
$2 so the Amish can witness modern money.
Other highlights for my tax report:
1. Our three-person mosh at Dune Rats being filmed – I hope it gets on TV!
2. The slight sprinkles of rain which started off as a bad omen, but became a blessing during the heat of Idles’ set. No worries, there was no mud.
3. 2/7 people in my entourage purchasing the hippie patchwork ponchos; interesting style choice for 2023.
4. The random cow sighting as we spent half an hour in line to leave the campground, and then instantly turned the wrong way.
5. New Italy, a small Italian themed museum and cafe on the drive back home. I definitely urge future festival-goers to make the pilgrimage.
6. Normal flushing toilets.
7. Coming home.
And that’s a wrap on SURG’s Splendour coverage for 2023! See you next year!