What we learned at Splendour In The Grass 2018
Another SPLENDOUR IN THE GRASS has come and gone, and now that the dust has settled and is (almost) off and out of our bodies, we look back on the year that was. From three exceptional headliners in LORDE, VAMPIRE WEEKEND and the king, KENDRICK LAMAR, to an overflowing amount of incredible Australian artists coming into their own and performing spectacularly like MALLRAT, WAFIA, AMY SHARK, SKEGSS, DMA‘S, BAKER BOY, GANG OF YOUTHS, ALEX LAHEY, CUB SPORT and so many more, this year will go down as one of the very best.
Of course, every Splendour comes with more than a few lessons every year, so we’ve narrowed down the key takeaways from the festival. From women shining brighter than ever to The Presets taking their place in the Australian music history books, here’s what Purple Sneakers learned at Splendour In The Grass 2018.
IT SEEMS THAT IF YOU BOOK WOMEN TO PLAY YOUR FESTIVAL…PEOPLE WILL…COME AND SEE THEM…?????
A shocking revelation, and one that’s going to need time for us to fully grasp, but despite the constant pandering by the dudes in the comment section of “maybe women should start to make better music” in regards to gender disparities on lineups, turns out the women at Splendour 2018 can pull a fucking crowd. Who would’ve thought?
MALLRAT packed out at the mix-up stage at 4pm with no album out, AMY SHARK – whose debut album just clocked in at #1 – performed to one of the biggest day crowds of the weekend and LORDE absolutely dominated Friday night with her impeccable and memorable headline set. There is literally no excuse for festivals not to book more non-males for their lineups. No excuse.
LORDE’S HEADLINING SET PROVES THERE’S ROOM FOR POP ACTS ON OUR FESTIVAL LINEUPS
Lineup diversity is something this country really struggles with in almost every sense of the term, but, when it comes to a variety of genres, we really drop the ball consistently. Lorde is the festival’s first pop headliner since Lily Allen in 2014, and that little Kiwi legend showed up and gave all those alt kids a fucking pop star performance. Dressed like a long lost Spice Girl, she gave us choreography. She gave us beat drops. Shit, she even gave us a wardrobe malfunction. But, most importantly, she gave us proof that if pop stars are playing your festival, people will come. The Charli XCX’s, Janelle Monae’s and Carly Rae Jepsen’s of the world all have that crossover appeal, so it seems silly that more promoters aren’t taking that sure-to-be trailblazing leap of faith.
KENDRICK LAMAR BEING THE ONLY INTERNATIONAL HIP HOP ACT IS PATHETIC
Yes, Kendrick Lamar was easily the biggest drawcard on the lineup. Yes, it is probably up there for the biggest crowd the Ampitheatre has ever seen. Yes, he gave a, if not the, standout performance of the festival. But why, pray tell, was he then one of two international hip-hop artists on the entire bill? Hip-hop is the biggest genre in the world. While Kendrick Lamar is certainly the biggest hip-hop artist in the world and booking him was undoubtedly a stroke of genius, it seems odd to put all our eggs in his Pulitzer-winning basket. There is a plethora, if not a gluttony, of international rappers – of all genders – making waves here right now, and only managing to book two on a lineup of over 100 acts seems weak. Let’s hope Kendrick has set a standard for years to come.
SPLENDOUR 2018 SAW COVERS GALORE AND WE’RE NOT MAD ABOUT IT
— triple j (@triplej) July 21, 2018
A good cover is a surefire way to get a crowd going. Say your set is in a lull because you’ve just smashed your way through a bunch of album deep cuts that the majority of your audience isn’t familiar with. Throw a cover of a 90’s classic in there and you’ve quickly regained everyone’s attention, and showed off your musicianship in the space of three or so minutes. Let it be known, friends, that Splendour 2018 saw tonnes of covers, and all of them golden. ALEX LAHEY covered Avril Lavigne’s ‘Complicated’, Amy Shark covered Wheatus’ ‘Teenage Dirtbag’, DMA’s performed their iconic version of Cher’s ‘Believe’, Mallrat gave a stunning rendition of Outkast’s ‘Hey Ya’ and even Lorde stepped up to the plate with a 30,000 deep sing-a-long to Powderfinger’s ‘My Happiness.’ It was a festival all about sharing the love, and it was difficult not to feel it every time you heard those familiar notes.
THE PRESETS CONFIRMED THEIR PLACE IN AUSTRALIAN MUSIC HISTORY
When CHROMEO informed the masses they’d no longer be performing at Splendour In The Grass just weeks away from the festival, it left a rather large hole in the line up. The Presets quickly answered the call, and judging from the sheer size of their crowd, you’d be forgiven for thinking they were on the bill the entire time. With a Mix Up Tent absolutely overflowing, The Presets delivered one of the best festival sets we’ve ever seen. Somehow packing in hit after hit after hit, they effortlessly combined their brand new album (just a few weeks old) with their older material to deliver a blistering, high-energy, inspirational hour of dance music greatness. From acid-house reworks of their classics like ‘I Go Hard, I Go Home’ into huge new bangers like ’14U+14ME’, it was heavy from the get go in all the right ways. Julian Hamilton and Kim Moyes positively breezed through their set, making it look easy as they tapped into their over-a-decade’s worth of material, smashing through crowd favourites like ‘Are You The One?’, ‘Youth In Trouble’, ‘This Boy’s In Love’ and of course, the enormous ‘My People’. They had the crowd hanging off every single note, and confirmed the fact that many of us have known all along – The Presets are Australian dance music legends, and they made history on Friday night.
NINA LAS VEGAS IS AT THE FOREFRONT OF AUSTRALIAN DANCE MUSIC
While many producers see trends or fads and follow along in the hopes of brief wins, others opt to do something completely different. Forging your own path is not easy; it takes a long time for people to catch up and you’re often left wondering how loud you can be until someone finally listens. Well, for NINA LAS VEGAS, people are finally starting to listen. Having dropped her latest EP on the first day of Splendour In The Grass on her own label, the excitement was palpable as we approached the Tiny Dancer Stage after experiencing The Presets. Catching the end of Madam X, Nina Las Vegas could’ve stayed side of stage and waited to jump on stage, but instead she grabbed a mic and began geeing the crowd up for the remaining minutes of Madam X. Always the champion for others, Nina‘s love and passion for elevating other artists is so undeniable she was literally doing it before her own set, making sure the crowd gave Madam X everything they had before Nina Las Vegas closed the tent for the night. Once she started playing her own set, it was a masterclass in expert DJing and producing, playing her own forward-thinking, genre-bending sounds mixed in with other tunes like DRAKE and a guest appearance from MISS BLANKS for her song, ‘Good Good D’. Nina‘s interaction with the crowd was high-energy as she didn’t let anyone rest even for a second. We were in her house now, and the fee is dancing until the music stops.
There is something so valuable and special about Nina Las Vegas, who has dedicated her life to music – not just her own, but others as well. From the very start, she has had a deep passion for elevating and championing others, remaining on the pulse and seeing stars before they even see themselves. Her career is one that inspires so many, and I hope that the next time she plays Splendour In The Grass, it’s a headlining set at the Mix Up: she deserves it and you know damn well she’d have it pumping within seconds.
Image via The Music Network