The first full day of Splendour In The Grass seemed like it was going to be a ridiculous affair from the outset: the weather was being an elusive character, hinting at a perfect festival day, yet it only took a few sludgy steps into the cesspool of brown gloop to realise the day was going to get weird.
It all kicked off with Baptism Of Uzi, Melbourne’s fresh junior psych geniuses. Impressing everybody with their cover of Baby Please Don’t Go, their stunning contribution to the 2012 Nuggets compilation, they played down a 3-minute interlude of instrument fiddling after the opening track to follow up with some impressive guitar ramblings, amply setting the mood for a those chasing a traditional ’70s freak-out.
Robert Delong brought his fluoro-decorated self to the Mix Up Stage, and just about everyone in the crowd transformed their casual festival-going selves into a bunch of loose-minded chimps over that drop in Global Concepts. His live take on EDM was an interesting one to observe, showcasing some live sampling and instrumentation, though his signature knack for banging on electric drum pads like a crazy was irritating after a while. He just didn’t seem to fit the vibe for Splendour, whether it was the painfully simple lyrics or his journey through drum ‘n’ bass.
The G W McLennan Tent then played host to one of the most anticipated bands on our radar, Unknown Mortal Orchestra. The three laid-back psych rockers blew everyone away with the strongest tracks from their most recent record II, including So Good At Being In Trouble, From The Sun and No Need For A Leader. The band extended almost every song with ripping instrumental sections, none more impressive than the fuzzed-out guitar solo in Ffunny Ffriends, which was a blurry mess of fast-moving fingers.
One act guaranteed to put on a show is the king of steez, Mr Darwin Deez. Anyone who saw the group off the back of their debut release knew about their choreographed mid-song dance antics (which rule, by the way). Even those old fans were surprised, as Darwin Deez proved that their new material can hold itself in step with the old bangers. Songs like Bad Day and Radar Detector were equally as well received as Free (The Editorial Me).
As day turned to night, the big dance acts came out and brought all guns blazing. The Flight Facilities live show pulled all the stops, bringing out multiple female vocalists including the stunning Elizabeth Rose for her recent single, and Owl Eyes featured on the group’s gorgeous Hottest 100 crooner Clair De Lune. Yolanda Be Cool followed up, bringing out Gurrumul late in the set for a highly memorable live version of their recent remix collaboration.
Joined by Matt from Van She on drums, Klaxons closed out Mix Up with some of their biggest chargers, opening their set with Atlantis To Interzone. They absolutely ripped the stage apart, delivering some of the most outrageous synth work and chunky bass riffs to plague dance music since Prodigy rearranged people’s brains back in the day. A crowd pleasing affair, tearing through classics like Golden Skans and even an off-key intro to It’s Not Over Yet thoroughly impressed.
Half of Splendour turned out to see Mumford & Sons close the Supertop. There were at least 15,000 people present, flooding out the back of the tent and down the paths, all of them standing in intimate embrace and swooning over the band’s romanticism. Standing at the back of the tent, it was easy to marvel at the scale of their show. The band has played to crowds of 100,000 so they were no strangers to the spectacle.
Mumford always play with such effervescent energy, swapping instruments and bouncing around with enthusiasm. The light show was incredible, initiating fairy lights lined down the entire length of the Supertop’s roof. It looked like the end of a school dance by the end with just about everyone paired up, cuddling and being overly affectionate. It was a great set. I can’t really tell you which songs they played, but jeez they had a crack.