What Splendour in the Grass was really like

The crowd during Kendrick Lamar's set, photography by Desiree De Bruin

Splendour in the Grass is over for another year, the tents have been packed away, however the glitter will remain for a long time to come. Punters sold out the festival within minutes, the lineup was without a doubt the biggest the North Byron Parklands has ever accommodated. With huge international artists such as Kendrick Lamar, Lorde and The Vampire Weekend, as well as Australian heavyweights Hilltop Hoods, Gang of Youths and PNAU, Byron Bay, known as a hippie and chilled town, may never have been so energetic and loud. 

There is more than meets the eye at Splendour in the Grass. The event is often associated with illegal substance users and long-haired surfer boys. There is always that person who attempts to jump the fence to gain acceptance from their peers. It is also known that ‘famous’ social media influencers will be in attendance, rocking their best camouflage ensembles so they are not seen by the thousands of ‘common’ folk. However, for the masses who don’t go to get high or take instagram photos in outfits they were paid to wear, the staggering lineup of incredible live musicians is reason enough to be there. 

The confetti above the crowd during Lorde’s performance, photography by Desiree De Bruin

Splendour in the Grass has been running for decades. Originally held at a much smaller venue, the festival has now grown to hold up to 30,000 people at the North Byron Parklands. There are plans to grow the festival site to be able to hold up to 50,000 patrons. However, the queues for the buses already take hours to conquer. The toilet lines are also unimaginably long and definitely not worth the wait due to the terrible state of the porta-loos. The men have it a lot easier in these situations as they can simply ‘go’ wherever they like; for females I’d suggest investing in a ‘she-wee,’ a hand held device that allows females to urinate whilst standing up.

“How’s the camping? Can you shower?” Lorde asked during her performance, making the packed out amphitheatre feel intimate. Green Light was the closing song of the first night of the festival and it couldn’t have been more fitting. The amphitheatre lit up in green lights and confetti flew out across the audience. The dazzling set with sequinned sheets hanging from the ceiling and effortless vocals of Lorde created an ecstatic energy among the crowd. Every person sang all the words to her songs. The cheers from the crowd were almost deafening. Her presence on stage was as strong as her vocals. This is why Lorde is one of the most successful artists on the planet. 

Lorde Performing at Splendour in the Grass 2018. Photograph: Desiree De Bruin

Angus and Julia Stone were another highlight. The brother and sister duo had the audience mesmerised with their sultry vocals, especially during Big Jet Plane. DMA’s packed out the amphitheatre and did their ‘Like A Version’ rendition of Cher’s Believe. You could feel the love at Cub Sport’s set, their connection to their audience is of a higher wave length, possibly due to frontman Tim Nelson’s high range vocals. Dean Lewis packed out the GW McLennan tent and played to the biggest crowd of his career to date. With heartbreaking lyrics like “we watch as our young hearts fade into the flood”, Lewis has obviously experienced a tough heartbreak and I’m sure the girl responsible would regret it now.

Kendrick Lamar was intense. It was the last night of the festival – everyone stopped caring by this point and it showed with patrons pushing and shoving to get close to the headline act. He rapped all his hits with ease and went a cappella for HUMBLE, allowing the crowd to take the spotlight. Each soul sang every line to the song in unison. Classics such as Money Trees, Alright and King Kunta threw the audience up in the air, quite literally, half the crowd were on someone’s shoulders. The ground felt like it was shaking, people were jumping up and down like their lives depended on it. 

There were far too many stellar acts to go through them all. One thing is certain, millennial pop has been embraced by Splendour in the Grass goers. The Australian acts undoubtedly pulled crowds as big as the international headliners. As Lorde herself said, Splendour in the Grass is one of the best festivals in the world and artists love going there to play. 



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