Splendour in the Grass: Day 3 Recap

Niamh Elliott-Brennan and Matthew Forbes capture some of the standout moments of the festival’s fulfilling final day.

Photos: Lincoln Gidney

The third day of Splendour in the Grass was bittersweet; the sun was shining, morale was high, and some of the best sets of the festival were yet to come, but now the end was in sight and we weren’t quite ready to say goodbye. It was a day where it felt like, finally, everything was going right. The lines were negligible (at least… for those of us with gold passes) and the skies were clear. The site was, of course, still boggy, but by this point everyone had become accustomed to squelching their way across muddy fields and it didn’t seem to dampen the fun. For the final time, Matt and Niamh are here to share some fond memories of an eventful day at Splendour 2022.

You’ll find us chasing the sun

After a very wet start, the sun came out full force for Day 3, warming our hearts (and drying our boots). The weather ended up being a perfect backdrop for several performers’ musical stylings. The lushly arranged country ballads of Byron local Mylee Grace were dazzling in their own right, but would have been just a tad less endearing if they had been performed at a gloomier or wetter part of the weekend. Luckily, the skies were as bright and heart-warming as Grace’s music, resulting in a particularly dreamy performance. POND’s set was also greatly aided by the mid-afternoon sunshine, which was, as lead singer Nick Albrook put it, “f**king gorgeous”. Their summery psychedelia was all the more irresistible in this setting, and it was hard not to follow in Albrook’s footsteps (or footwork) and dance along.

One of the opening acts of the day was rising hip-hop star Elsy Wameyo, who took to the Ampitheatre stage in the midday sun to deliver an insanely dynamic performance. Wameyo showcased not only her vivid rapping but crystal clear vocals and charismatic stage presence, one minute having the audience screaming their names at her and the next hushing them before a breathtaking performance of ‘Never There’. The highlight of Wameyo’s set was her rendition of ‘Nilotic’, a difficult, powerful song that she executed with such fire and captivating potential it was impossible to take your eyes off her. For everyone who missed her performance – she’s playing pretty much every festival happening this year, so don’t make the same mistake twice. 

Where everybody knows your name

Splendour 2022 taught us many lessons: Kransky is not pronounced “Krasinski”, clothes will get muddy if you’re walking through shin-deep mud, and you don’t always have to be performing a set to be a memorable part of the festival. Indeed, the guest appearances that occur during sets can often be amongst the highlights of the weekend. Julia Stone lit up the stage with her soaring vocals and dark soft rock energy, sending the audience into a frenzy when she (shockingly) brought her brother Angus onstage for a performance of their 2007 gem ‘Soldier’. They were – as always – captivatingly in-sync and complementary. It wasn’t just sibling duos who graced us with their unexpected presence, however. The name ‘Nerve’ would have certainly been ingrained into audiences’ minds after the weekend, as he not only popped out during Triple One’s set on Day 2, but he performed multiple songs with JK-47 on Day 3. After the joyous energy and high intensity he brought to each cameo he made, we wouldn’t be surprised to see him playing his own set next year. 

In the kind of produser system that a Media and Communications professor would be proud of, audience members can also be just as much creators of entertainment as they are receivers of it. Case in point: Meg. While performing ‘Pickles and Onions’ during her set at the Mix Up, Tierra Whack noticed a member of the crowd rapping and singing (and sing-rapping) every word of the song. She then stopped the performance and requested that the fan, whose name was Meg (“like from Family Guy!”, as Tierra pointed out), be brought up on stage. The two then launched right back into the song, with Tierra assuming the role of hypewoman, letting Meg steal the show – and that they did. The crowd broke out into deafening cheers and applause at several points throughout the song, as Meg gave an incredibly spirited performance, even belting out a couple notes at times. “I don’t think I’ve experienced anything like that,” Tierra mused after the song. Meg, if you’re somehow reading this, please let us book you for the next High Rotation.

Don’t stop the party

With DJ’s filling in the gaps between full-length performances, the Mix Up tent was a non-stop dancefest throughout the weekend – but especially so on Sunday. The party’s arguable peak was during the mid-afternoon sets from Northeast Party House and Genesis Owusu. The former act was as fun to watch as you’d expect given their name, as well as their highly danceable music that often contains a ferocious punk flair. Like The Jungle Giants the day before, the band took a hands-on approach to audience interaction, bringing out giant inflatable balls filled with confetti towards the end of their performance, and firing a t-shirt cannon at one point. They may have unintentionally dropped a diss track on some of the audience as well, as their new song ‘Cranky Boy’, which they debuted during at the festival, contained lyrics that lambasted toxic masculinity (looking around the crowd, it may have fallen on a few deaf ears). Apart from when their sound sadly cut out right before the drop of ‘Lose Control’, their set was nothing but wall-to-wall bangers.

After a brief DJ set from Triple J’s Shantan Wantan Ichiban, Genesis Owusu took the stage. To say he made quite the entrance would be an understatement, as he glided into view on top of a group of back-up dancers who were hidden by a large cloak. From the very first words of ‘The Other Black Dog’, he had the entire audience hooked – like a fisherman, one might say. Owusu brought an untameable, almost alien energy to his performance, dripping with charm (and sweat) as he ran through a fantastic set from ‘Good Times’ to ‘Backseat’ and ‘Drown’ and at one point performed whilst being held aloft in a Christ-like position for a good minute. Towards the end of the set, Owusu had the crowd weeping as he performed ‘A Song About Fishing’ – the very same crowd who had just been dancing in a muddy frenzy – proving himself to be one of the absolutely unmissable acts of the festival. A special shoutout goes to the incredibly talented back-up dancers – or Goons, as Owusu has affectionately dubbed them – who, in spite of being dressed in skintight red suits and draped with black ropes, fully encompassed the wild energy of the set, even howling during some of the songs. 

All that we could do with this emotion

Just because the grand majority of people attending Splendour are there to party (and are also probably under the influence of something) doesn’t mean there isn’t any room for artists to get serious, even just for a moment. Early on in his set, Rapper JK-47 asked the crowd to put their phone lights up to honour the “people we’ve lost”, as he and his DJ paid tribute to friends and family that had passed. He later invited the audience to join him in some musical therapy, introducing a song by saying “Let’s do some healing right now”. In one of the most moving performances of the day, JK-47 performed his cover of ‘Changes’ by Tupac and had everyone in the audience singing in harmony. He prefaced the song with an elaboration on the opening refrain, which he sung in the language of the Indigenous peoples of the Bundjalung nation: “The sun is setting on us, and we’ve got to go back to the fire – back to our roots, to care for our country”. 

Like a ray of sunshine, Sycco took the Mix-Up Stage by storm in her first ever Splendour appearance, pulling off her set impeccably and even ripping out a guitar solo. The live band amplified Sycco’s already trippy psychedelic pop, giving her a deeper, more powerful sound, perfectly suiting the almost rave-like energy of the crowd. Her set was filled with emotional interludes and exclamations, as she (and more than a few members of the audience) shed tears as she reminisced on how far she’d come in the past few years. Overall, the energy of the set was turbulent and fun, as Sycco proved with stunning live vocals and an endearingly chaotic stage presence that she had earnt her place on the main stage.

Even children get older

In our Day 2 recap, we mentioned a kind of generational gap that was evident during a few sets. Whilst the same could be said for some moments throughout Day 3, there generally seemed to be more unity between age groups. Grinspoon’s set, for example, was received with much enthusiasm by the crowd at the Amphitheatre. It was a somewhat surprising feat for a band who haven’t released an album in 10 years, and hit the peak of their popularity well before then. But the intensity with which the band performed had the audience completely captivated, with Pat Davern and Joe Hansen swinging their guitars around wildly, and Phil Jamieson letting out some ferocious growls. To top it off, ‘Chemical Heart’ received the singalong it deserved for its 20th anniversary, cementing it as a classic within the Australian rock songbook. 

Liam Gallagher’s set at the Amphitheatre, on the other hand, was more ill-fated, given that headliner Tyler, the Creator was the following act. The bulk of the audience that had amassed directly in front of the stage were surely there to get a good spot for Tyler, rather than rock out to some classic britpop. But even if older onlookers would have gotten more out of Liam’s solo material and the Oasis songs that were littered throughout the early part of the set (which, if we’re being honest with ourselves, are fairly indistinguishable from one another), just about everyone was won over by his one-two punch of a closer: ‘Wonderwall’ followed by ‘Champagne Supernova’.

Even the younger crowd had a chance to get nostalgic during The Soul Movers’ set, which featured Murray Cook of Red Wiggle fame on guitar playing the funkiest, grooviest tunes alongside vocalist Lizzie Mack. Whilst it was clear a lot of the younger people had migrated to the set to see their childhood hero, they were won over in no time by the sheer good vibes emanating from the entire set.

Who dat boy?

After a slightly tumultuous weekend, all we needed was for the festival to go out on a good note. Thankfully, it did just that – and then some – with Tyler, the Creator’s headlining performance on Sunday night. Before he even entered the stage, the quality of the set was assured by the immaculate set design, which featured a giant staircase covered in plant life as its centrepiece. An animated backdrop shifted between various scenic settings from song to song, set in an idyllic alpine valley that in turns was snowcovered, lit upon by the rising sun, and set ablaze. Tyler’s quiet entrance was thwarted by the tens of thousands of screams the moment his obscure silhouette appeared at the base of the staircase, and his real entrance to ‘CORSO’ was met with even more frenzy. The ensuing performance illustrated that without a doubt, Tyler, the Creator is an entertainer in a league of his own: his stage presence was roguish and commanding, his every moment synchronised with the music and stage production yet looking nothing but candid. The audience was enraptured, particularly during the infamous ‘NEW MAGIC WAND’ mosh which saw the stage in flames and people hanging off his every word (unfortunately, some ignored his warnings to stow away their phones, and spent the early morning hours searching for them in the mud). All in all, we left very grateful that the calls to ban Tyler from the country several years ago never came to fruition, as we may have missed out on witnessing such a spectacular show.

Mmmm, whatcha say? (Part 3)

And finally, what would a SURG Splendour recap be without a list of some wonderful quotes we took from the day?

It was a thirst trap.” – Someone in the line for a bus from Byron Events Farm who was not too keen on Jack Harlow’s set the night before.

“I’m almost on my period and I can’t believe I’m here, oh my god, this is why I don’t wear makeup.” – Sycco, as she endearingly reflected on her musical journey over the past few years. Her eyeshadow was blue. 

Rock pigs assemble! Oink oink!” – Amyl and the Sniffers frontwoman Amy Taylor, after noticing members of the crowd venturing into a largely-avoided pool of mud in the GW McLennan tent. 

You think you’re cool?” – Tierra Whack to the group of VIP’s to the side of the stage during her set, who took some extra encouragement to turn on their phone lights like the rest of the crowd.

I don’t know where the fuck I am right now.” – Tyler, the Creator, who apparently did not know whether he was in Byron, Brisbane, or the Gold Coast (Yelgun wasn’t even an option). 

You wanna hang out?” – Parquet Courts bassist Sean Yeaton to the crowd. We’ll take you up on that offer at some point, Sean, we promise. 

You know, he was banned from the country by Margaret Thatcher!” – One Tyler fan who didn’t seem aware that we are in 2022, not 1982. 

And now, because It feels like a crime to only include one quote from the king of shit-talk himself, here are several quotes from Liam Gallagher’s set.

Shit speakers on the f**king stage man.” – Liam referring to the shit speakers on the f**king stage, man. 

This one’s called Wonderwall, it’ll wake you up.” – Liam introducing Oasis’ signature song while talking to a seemingly sleepy-looking individual in the audience. 

I apologise if it’s been painful.” – Liam’s last words before launching into the set’s closer, ‘Champagne Supernova’, during which he placed a tambourine on his head.

And with that, we’ve wrapped up our coverage of the first Splendour in the Grass in three years. We hope you enjoyed our recaps, and that you feel sufficiently caught up on the events of a momentous weekend! 

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