Gig Reviews

The Good, the Bad and the Muddy: Key Moments From Splendour in the Grass 2022

Three years and one virtual festival later, Splendour in the Grass returned to its North Byron Parklands home. Splendour’s in-person return signalled a crucial turning point for the live music industry after the ruinous effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Australian audiences could finally witness many of the dominant forces in popular music, as well as revelling in some special sets from local artists who have worked hard to get a spot on the Splendour main stage. And while the festival was not without some serious logistical mishaps and misjudgements, Splendour In The Grass 2022 delivered plenty of memorable moments.

Splendour in the Grass 2022: The Good

Violent Soho

Violent Soho | Credit: Claudia Ciapocha

A Victory For Violent Soho

In light of Violent Soho’s recent hiatus announcement, seeing them in the Amphitheatre on Saturday evening became a must. For many fans, Violent Soho represent a uniquely euphoric branch of Australian rock music. Over the past decade, the Mansfield group have solidified themselves as one of the country’s best live acts.

Perhaps spurred on by the events of the night before, the energy from the band and crowd felt more urgent than ever. For Violent Soho, this would be their last festival performance for the foreseeable future. For everyone else, it was an opportunity to purge all the fatigue and frustration brought about by Splendour’s shambolic false-start.

The set was a career retrospective marked by the manifest passion that’s always been a core component of the Violent Soho experience. Luke Boerdam’s vocals were laced with spitfire attitude; either side of Boerdam, the riffs of guitarist James Tidswell and bass player Luke Henery punched through with force; overseeing it all from the kit, Mikey Richards anchored each arrangement in rhythmic precision.

As the set reached its conclusion and arrived at the ‘Covered In Chrome’ moment we all knew was coming, the 30,000-strong crowd yelled “HELL FUCK YEAH” at such a volume that it reverberated through the chilly night air seemingly until morning.

Australian Music Proved a Natural Headliner

The absence of international touring acts in recent years has seen domestic artists step up and demonstrate their capacity to command huge stages. G Flip put on a triumphant Sunday afternoon performance in the Amphitheatre, with their arm in a cast and all. Tasman Keith debuted his new artistic era on the Mix Up Stage on Saturday, and Genesis Owusu launched a new era of his own, playing alongside a full live band and his goons.

Northeast Party House and The Jungle Giants reminded audiences why they’re two of Australia’s uppermost party bands. Grinspoon’s presence on the final night wrapped the Amphitheatre up in a blanket of nostalgia that many were craving.

We were also given special insight into some next gen icons, such as triple j Unearthed competition winner, Elsy Wameyo, who opened the Amphitheatre on Sunday afternoon. Releasing one of the most impactful hip hop EPs this year in Nilotic, Wameyo’s stage presence and warmth made her set an easy highlight of the whole festival.

Elsy Wameyo

Elsy Wameyo | Credit: Dave Kan

A Long Overdue Reception For the International Guests

Glass Animals’ Amphitheatre set on Saturday night was euphoric. Seeing the Hottest 100 winners finally get to perform ‘Heat Waves’ in an atmosphere like this provided an emotional moment for the performers and crowd alike. Elsewhere on the lineup, Jack Harlow provided the soundtrack horny festival goers were looking for; Duke Dumont lit the Amphitheatre up with a massive set of dance music; and Liam Gallagher proved to be every bit the iconic personality he is, with a self-aware and engaging Sunday evening set.

Tyler, The Creator’s Sunday headline set was easily one of the most anticipated, and he lived up to the hype. Even at the end of a chaotic muddy weekend, Tyler remained dedicated to creating a unique world around Call Me If You Get Lost, and did so without alienating newcomers or day-ones.

Splendour in the Grass 2022: The Bad

 

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A Friday Nightmare

The opening day and night of Splendour In The Grass promised sets from Baker Boy, Kacey Musgraves, The Avalanches and Yungblud, along with headliners the Gorillaz. But after intense rainfall turned the North Byron Parklands into a large mud bath, causing major delays to production and preventing campers from accessing the site, it was announced that for the first time in its history, Splendour was cancelling performances on its four main stages.

Although other Splendour stages, like The World Stage, Tipi Forest and Splendour Forum, remained open to those who’d successfully set-up camp, it meant that the rest of the Friday lineup was stuck in and around Byron Bay with nowhere to go. For artists like Musgraves, who was in Australia for a Splendour-exclusive performance, this meant a long, long trip, with nothing waiting for them at the end. For Splendour debutantes like The Buoys, the cancellation stripped them of what would have been a pinch-me career moment.

But contingency plans were soon developed, resulting in a host of first in, best dressed gigs from the likes of Baker Boy, Wet Leg, Yungblud, Confidence Man and more in venues around Byron, Coolangatta and Kingscliff. If you could get into a venue, Friday night had its silver lining.

For campers though, it was the beginning of a dirty and uncomfortable weekend in the Parklands as well as the makeshift campsite at the nearby Byron Events Farm.

Bus Service Chaos

If Thursday and Friday evenings weren’t bad enough, Splendour In The Grass ran into a significant bus-shaped problem on Saturday evening. Thousands of punters found themselves stranded on site until the early hours of Sunday morning due to a lack of buses.

The organisational blunder soured the atmosphere at the end of what had been a great comeback evening. The festival released a statement on Sunday morning blaming the incident on an unexpected bus shortage, and promised they were working on rectifying the situation for the final night.

But it felt like the damage had been done. The attendance was lower on Sunday than it was on Saturday; a popular conversation topic was how early to leave the festival so as to not get stranded again. To their credit, the festival organised for extra buses to transport punters back to their accomodation on Sunday night, a process that, even close to midnight, felt smoother from the get go.

Splendour organisers have since announced they’re offering full refunds for Friday night bus ticket holders, as well as full refunds for Friday GA and VIP ticket holders. They’re also offering proportionate refunds for GA event tickets and VIP Village ticket holders.

Further Reading

Splendour In The Grass Announces Complete 2022 Lineup

Splendour In The Grass Organisers Address Lengthy Transport Wait Times

Day One of Splendour In The Grass Has Been Cancelled

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