by Cormack O'Connor in New Music on Friday 2 August 2013

Splendour in the Grass 2013 was something of a homecoming; the first time the festival had been held at the new location of Byron Bay Parklands. Of course, with this change came a few major teething problems (none of which directly affected me) but the music made up for it all.

Day One
After a muddy two kilometer trek from the front gate of the Parklands, I finally arrived at the festival entrance; excitement buzzing. That was until I got to the front of the line of the wrist-banding tent. It was packed out and there were a lot of angry punters who had been sent back from the gate with “invalid” scans of the new RFID chipped wristbands.

I also found myself a victim to the cruel new system as the computers froze and a very stressed lady tried to sort out everyone’s issues – causing me to miss all but two songs of Brisbane noise makers Dune Rats. I was impressed by how the team handled the overall situation though (apologizing profusely to myself and others). I kept calm and waited – what else could I do?

One inside though, my day was absolutely killer. Catching the tail end of Dune Rats, Californian rockers Deap Vally were soon onstage. Knowing only a few songs, it’s safe to say I’m a huge fan after catching their live set – man can Julie Edwards rock the fuck out of a drum kit!

The absolute highlight of my afternoon however was Robert DeLong. His live setup was quite interesting, and incorporated everything from drums to game console controllers. Bursting into tracks such as ‘Where We’re Going’ and ‘Happy’, DeLong had the crowd absolutely hanging on his every movement; and thoroughly dazed by the time they left the tent. Damn that set was loud!

Clairy Browne & The Bangin’ Rackettes played some soul and jazz with massive diva vibes, before Darwin Deez reminded me of my 2011 Groovin’ The Moo experience. This experience was followed by Yolanda Be Cool’s dazzling DJ set and a weekend standout set from Flight Facilities. It’s safe to say I think I’m in love with George Maple…

The rest of the evening saw musical gods TV On The Radio, the Klaxons and home favourites Architecture In Helsinki wowing crowds. All in all a perfect first day.

Day Two
Beginning the day with the discovery of Twinsy could have not been more perfect. Their brassy grooves had me shaking my tired to body to life and was exactly what I needed to get pumped for the rest of the day.

Vance Joy, performed to a packed out GW McLennan tent in the late morning, before Jagwar Ma got things moving in the Mix Up Tent. The psychedelic, electronic sound these guys produce is nothing short of rave-tastic, and damn, nobody can rep a polo shirt like Gabriel Winterfield.

Chet Faker lacked stage presence but gave a tight performance musically, while Whitley played to an extremely small, yet devoted crowd in the late afternoon.

As the night moved in, Cold War Kids blew the roof off the Super Top; and really hurt my chest. Not to worry though; it led to the making of many friends who decided the crowd was a little too much for them and that I was the perfect climbing pole. At least they tried to offer me vodka for my trouble…

Fat Freddy’s Drop got some dubby beats banging out across the Parklands, before Alison Wonderland stole my heart and my mind. Presenting an insane mix of tracks which included M.I.A.’s ‘Paper Planes’ and Pharoahe Monch’s ‘Simon Says’, Alison had me bouncing along with my new, vodka loving friends.

The National presented a flawless set to round out the night – highlights including “Fake Empire” and “Graceless”.

Day Three
Day three started with PVT whose set was so tight I found myself wondering why I hadn’t seen them before.

Moving over to the Super Top, indie kids The Jungle Giants and LA rockers Surfer Blood provided me with some much needed poppy bounce, but it was FIDLAR who stole the show. Their heavier sound and punk attitude was welcomed by many crowd members who got a pretty fun circle pit started. There was lots of drink’s being thrown around in the air as you can imagine.

A welcome late addition to the lineup, Lorde, presented some well thought out beats and lyrical work in the early evening. Being only her eighth ever live performance as Lorde and at just 16 years old, I was blown away as were the other 10,000 people who packed into the Super Top to check her out.

As the night moved way to quickly, James Blake slowed things down a little. His unique sound and angelic voice rang out over a silent and stunned crowd, and when technical difficulties presented themselves, we saw Blake at his best; a man, a voice and a piano. Truly magical.

I ended my Splendour 2013 experience with a trap laden DJ set by What So Not before farewelling to the sounds of Australian dance legends The Presets. Oh yes, it was totally worth the eight hour drive home to start monday morning like a normal human being – wearing sunglasses and smashing a coffee as always.