Five things we learnt at Splendour In The Grass 2017

As we get right into the thick of winter for another year, it ritually follows that Splendour In The Grass occurs smack bang in the middle of this. In true winter fashion, this was definitely one of the colder instalments of the festival, but that didn’t deter anyone at all.

Taking place over three (and a half) days, this instalment of SITG definitely felt quite different to the other years in the heightened sense of scale. This is possibly the biggest lineup SITG has ever hosted, and it definitely felt that way being there.

It truly was a year with something for everyone, with a stacked lineup delivering sounds from hip hop, (from the likes of Schoolboy Q, Stormzy, Allday and even Mallrat) to pop, (ranging from Confidence Man to The XX to Two Door Cinema Club), rock (Royal Blood, Queens Of The Stone Age, Dune Rats), hyper pop (Lewis Cancut), bass (RL Grime), the list literally goes on. Chances are, if there’s a sound you’re vibing, there was something for you on the lineup.

In true Purple Sneakers fashion, we headed along to the festival to check out some of our fave up and comers, as well as some of our favourite more established acts. We came away from this experience having learned a lot, so to summarise, here are five things we learned at Splendour In The Grass 2017.

Confidence Man knew exactly how to steal the show
Brisbane supergroup Confidence Man are out to prove something to the world, there’s really no doubt about that.
With two massive singles under their belt, a trip to Glastonbury, a tour around Europe and now a massive slot at Splendour In The Grass’ Mix Up stage as well as live coverage of their set on Triple J, there’s really no slowing down for this group.
Made up of members from Brissy bands The Belligerents, The Jungle Giants and Moses Gun Collective, the sound Confidence Man emits is definitely something you would not pick based on the sounds of these groups – but that’s the real beauty of it.

Their Splendour In The Grass show was all about commitment to the cause. From beginning to end, it was pure energy. Dancing, bodies flying everywhere, a constant riling up of the crowd and a fear of silence really defined this set as something truly fresh, original and OTT – something I think we rarely see in Australian music.

The rise of Haim has resulted in something historical
I think it’s a bit of an understatement to say that rock as a genre is a boys club, and that’s definitely something that’s been apparent for quite a while now. That’s why it’s important that a group like Haim is redefining the genre in such a way that it’s actually beginning to navigate the contemporary female narrative in a positive and exciting way.
Using their songs to explore love, loss, anger, hope and everything in between, the nature of their songs broach pop territory, but that’s why it works.

Their live show at SITG proved all of this in a swift 60 minutes. Playing songs from their first record ‘Days Are Gone’ and their new record ‘Something To Tell You’, it was very hard not to feel empowered watching Este’s persistent bass-faces, Danielle’s absolutely face-melting guitar solos and Alana’s inviting banter.

The three sisters have created something meaningful not only for themselves, but for women everywhere too. And by encompassing and generating ideas that navigate the complex contemporary female identity, this show really gave a new sense of belonging and hope that I haven’t felt at a rock gig in a very long time.

Harvey Sutherland & Bermuda gave the performance of a lifetime
Being somewhat quiet achievers this year, it’s been a non-stop success train for Harvey Sutherland & Bermuda for the first half of 2017 with an EP and national tour already under their belt, and if their Splendour set was anything at all to go by, they’re just getting started.

Truly electrifying, the four men dressed head to toe in white were hellbent on giving the swelling Tiny Dancer stage a show to remember for their set here. Having cut their teeth earlier this year with a massive national tour, as well as a couple of choice support slots at Cut Copy‘s comeback shows earlier in the week to really get their juices flowing, what was being tipped as a jam set by predicting punters turned into an all out rave, akin to a wild house party.

Delivering charisma and charm, Harvey Sutherland & Bermuda set the tent alight and revelled in the energy and love thrown right back at them from start to finish. With jams such as ‘Priestess’ delivering those special “festival moments,” the foursome turned their laidback-experimental-jazz-electro-infusions into euphoric floor fillers that had people walking by racing in to be a part of the action. It was a special moment, and one of those unassuming Splendour sets that blow you away.

The love for electronic music grows ever-stronger
Despite bringing out the big guns like LCD SoundsystemThe XX and Queens Of The Stone Age, it was the Mix-Up tent that was consistently pumping over the weekend. Whether it was Stormzy bringing the biggest crowd of the weekend together on Sunday, or RL Grime‘s blistering closing set on the Friday night, this tent was consistently packed out from the early acts all the way through to the very last song of the night.

Not to say that the other stages weren’t full – this is 40-odd thousand punters we’re talking about – but it has to be said that the overall love of dance music, and Australian dance music at that, was the winner of the weekend. Between the Tiny Dancer stage and its lineup of exceptional up-and-comers like Willaris. KMookhiAlice Ivy and more through to its legends like Late Nite Tuff GuyCC:DISCO!Harvey Sutherland and ONEMAN, and the Mix-Up right next door with its big name acts, the northern side of the festival was always crawling with festival go-ers ready to dance.

As with every year, the crowd seemingly gets younger, but it has to be said that over recent years, electronic music has had a bigger and bigger place in Australia’s biggest festival, and the way these two stages were swarming with people from midday to midnight every single day, it’s not stopping any time soon.

Doing something good for your brain is a great way to start the day
Saturday brought with it clear skies, a frosty morning, and an impending hangover thanks to beers, bad air mattresses and 0° degree nights, but it also delivered a bit of respite in the form of a panel at The Forum. Criminally undersold, The Forum is a somewhat hub for open-minded thinkers who are up for a bit of thought-provoking before another day of partying. This year, a panel by SBS VICELAND‘s The Feed was on the cards, and I’m so grateful I went along.

Hosted by Marc Fennell and Laura Murphy-Oates (Ngiyampaa Weilwan woman), the panel titled ‘Young and Black’ aimed to discuss what life really like if you’re young and black in 2017. This year marks 50 years since the 1967 Referendum, and included special guests Cleverman and Wentworth Hunter Page-Lochard (Mununjali and Nunuka man), Indigenous Liberal candidate Geoffrey Winters (Gamillaroi man), Alice Springs councillor and musician Jacinta Nampijinpa Price (Warlpiri/Celtic woman) and international guest, activist and host of new Viceland show, Rise, Sarain Carson Fox (Canadian/ Anishinaabe woman).

Discussing everything from politics to dating, racism, culture, shame and everything else in between, this panel was by young people, for young people, and delivered a healthy debate and discussion on not only what young, Indigenous Australians are going through, but how the rest of Australia can act as allies. It highlighted the importance of allyship done right, suggestions of how to move forward, devastating true stories and real conversation between opposing viewpoints on how to navigate these complex issues. Unfortunately, the turnout was scarce, but I believe those present, myself included, really gained a lot of insight and knowledge on just how important this issue is, how to not be complacent and how to act as better allies. Hopefully these kind of panels will be more widely broadcasted and advertised to people attending in the future.

Intro, point one and point two by Caitlin Medcalf
Point three, four and five by Emma Jones

Image: Music Feeds





No idea where she’ll be in 10 years, but as long as she has a good record and a glass of white wine, she’ll be sweet.