Splendour in the Grass: Day 1 Recap

Image: Tobi Lotus (Twitter)

Niamh Elliott-Brennan and Matthew Forbes provide a run-down on an eventful day at North Byron Parklands, which was marked by major cancellations and perilous weather.

For the first time since 2019, thousands have flocked into the North Byron Parklands for the renowned Splendour in the Grass music festival. The event officially kicked off today, despite there being some light entertainment from yesterday afternoon onwards, but it was not the triumphant return that anyone would have hoped for. 

Despite a series of mishaps leading up to Day 1, the most noteworthy event of the day was the cancellation of performances on the festival’s main stages, due to safety concerns brought on by the wet weather and the treacherous conditions it caused. This meant that attendees missed out on seeing huge international acts like Gorillaz, Kacey Musgraves and Wet Leg, as well as Aussie faves such as The Avalanches, DMA’s and Ruel. It was a devastating blow to patrons, organisers and artists alike, especially considering the full cancellation of the festival in 2020 and 2021 due to COVID. 

This was far from the only takeaway from the day, however. Niamh and Matt, SURG’s Splendour correspondents, made it back alive with some insider info on Friday’s proceedings. 

We need a little controversy 

Before it had even begun, this year’s Splendour was marred with controversy. At the start of last week, the festival announced that attendees under the age of 18 would have to be accompanied by an adult. Naturally, this caused quite the uproar from ticket-holders, who no longer had the opportunity to resell their tickets and would have to scramble to find an adult who could accompany them. 

As it turns out, this would be a relatively minor crisis compared to what transpired over the last 30-ish hours. Upon arrival at North Byron Parklands (where the festival is being held) yesterday afternoon, patrons wishing to camp on-site were met with seemingly endless queues due to the weather, with some waiting all through the night into this morning to be ushered into their camping spot. Many criticised the festival organisers’ lack of communication regarding these circumstances, as they had already been waiting in their cars for hours when the following post was finally made on the festival’s Facebook page:

The festival announced this morning that campers and vehicles alike would no longer be accepted at the parklands, as a result of flooding in the campsite, and would be redirected to Byron Events Farm. From there, it was about an hour-long wait just to get a shuttle to the festival’s muddy, muddy grounds. Of course, by the time many made it there, news of the cancellation of the day’s major performances had already broken, causing many to trudge around in the mud with nothing to do but eat, drink, or see some of the live comedy and talks being held in some smaller tents. 

I see you staring, what you wearing?

It wasn’t just the weather on Day One of Splendour that resembled another infamously wet and muddy festival. At times, walking through the crowd felt like being sent back in time 50 years: bell bottom jeans, psychedelic paisley and flower prints, crochet crop tops and wide lapelled suits were everywhere. To add to the effect, mud was frequently splattered across the ends of people’s clothes, and – more often than you would think – smudged across their faces. 

Don’t be surprised if you catch gumboots coming into fashion next season, as they are the one item of clothing almost every festival-goer had on them today (almost). Watching as the few unlucky ones in regular boots (and one incredibly unfortunate man in low-top converse) sunk shin-deep into the mud was simultaneously pitiable and comic. Schadenfreude, if you will. 

Some fashionable trailblazers who deserve an honourable mention include: a man wearing a full weed-themed suit; two girls dressed in skintight kaleidoscopic catsuits; one person affectionately dubbed “Minion-backpack man”; and the MANY people dressed head to toe in bright yellow ensembles. On a day where the sky was grey and dull, these potential cult members (there were seriously so many) were like little rays of sunshine for the rest of us. 

Mmmm, whatcha say?

Travelling through a festival by yourself doesn’t sound like the best time – it certainly wasn’t today – but it does have its perks. In particular, you’re in a better position to hear small bites of conversations, each one telling a story more amusing than the last. Here were some of our favourite quotes from today:

“If we were a little more sorted, we could jump on the back of that.” – Someone bemoaning their group’s inability to literally jump onto the back of a clearly full transport vehicle, which was shuttling patrons to the festival entrance

“At least we look good!” – An individual making their way towards the festival, well after live music had been cancelled, who was absolutely correct about their apparel

“I really wanted to see Maxo Kream.” – A disappointed festival-goer who, as you can tell, did not get to see Maxo Kream

“I literally have Gorillaz art tattooed on my body.” – Another disappointed festival-goer who we can only hope has tickets to Gorillaz’s sideshow next week

“Are you guys from Brisbane?” – A curious attendee who posed this question to just about everyone they passed on their way to the festival 

“How much did we have to drink?” – A clearly sloshed teenager waiting in line for coffee at 11am. Whether it was the coffee or the weather, they would have sobered up quickly.

“I brought the 15-year-old because he can look after himself whilst we get f**king p*ssed.” – Someone’s very excited mother who was relishing in the momentary freedom from parenthood with her friends 

“I’m just going to sit here and play 1300 and pretend I’m watching them perform because otherwise I might scream.” – Verbatim quote from our very own correspondent who had waited for months to see her favourite collective perform…

Unfortunately, these two vivacious correspondents (alongside many other day patrons) had to leave by mid-afternoon, as we were issued a severe weather warning ahead of even more destructive wind and rain. We’re currently crossing all our fingers and toes that tomorrow can go ahead as planned, or, at the very least, that we don’t have to deal with the same conditions as today. Otherwise, if anyone has tickets to the Jack Harlow show in Sydney, hit us up.

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