The 2016 Splendour in the Grass lineup has just come out, and it is phenomenal. The Cure! The Strokes! James Blake! THE FUCKING AVALANCHES!
The best in upcoming and big name local and international acts from all points on the musical spectrum will be heading to Byron Bay this July, for what is undoubtedly the best lineup we’ve seen in years. Except for one teeny tiny thing.
There is not one single solitary non-Australian hip-hop name on the bill. Not one.
The token act related to hip-hop is Odd Future-offshoot The Internet, but just because they’re Odd Future doesn’t mean they’re rappers. They’re not, they’re R&B/soul.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s a small selection of Australian hip-hop, which is really great – punters will get to enjoy Sampa The Great, Illy, Remi and Urthboy. But Splendour in the Grass has been notoriously hip-hop free for most of its existence, and these days it’s just unfair.
2014 gave us hope that Splendour were heading in a more open direction, as it featured a MAMMOTH triple threat of Outkast, Danny Brown and Childish Gambino. Yet last year featured none except for the single, solitary token rapper Earl Sweatshirt, while 2013 had Frank Ocean, who cancelled last minute, 2012 had absolutely none and 2011 was headlined by Kanye West, again the only rapper on the bill.
It’s not as if there’s no rappers around the world who are on the festival circuit: even Glastonbury, who booked snore-fests Muse and Coldplay to headline, announced Vince Staples, Skepta, Little Simz and Stormzy. Coachella’s got A$AP Rocky, Anderson .Paak, Death Grips, Run The Jewels, Rae Sremmurd, Skepta and more. Obviously I’m aware that the festival lineups don’t necessarily overlap like that, nor that Splendour is anywhere near as big or profitable as those two, but my point is that there’s a lot of fucking variety to choose from.
So why is this? The only real reason appears to be that most other hip-hop artists were snapped up by smaller festivals or came out on their own tours. Rae Sremmurd, Joey Bada$$ and Childish Gambino played at Listen Out, Skepta was here over the New Years festivals, Vince Staples and Goldlink came out for Laneway, A$AP Rocky, Action Bronson and Little Simz recently ran their own tours, Danny Brown is playing at Groovin The Moo and Kendrick Lamar just rocked Bluesfest.
But since when has that ever been an excuse? Alt-J toured here about twelve times over the last three years across at least two festivals. The 1975 have toured at least three times recently, and indeed, the closest thing we have to US hip-hop on the bill, The Internet, were here just two months ago for Laneway and a headline tour. A number of the acts on the Splendour lineup performed at its sister festival Falls across New Years too.
Furthermore, it’s hard to argue that the Splendour crowd wouldn’t dig hip-hop. Consider the Splendour crowd being almost 100% aligned with average triple j listener (not a criticism, by the way): Kendrick Lamar came second on the Hottest 100, while the current top songs on triple j rotation include Kanye West, Vic Mensa, Drake, Freddie Gibbs, Kendrick, Urthboy, Macklemore, A$AP Ferg, The Weeknd, Little Simz, Sampa the Great, Anderson .Paak, Dylan Joel, A.B Original, L-Fresh the Lion, Remi, Koi Child, Drapht, and that sick Baauer track featuring grime artist Novelist and rapper Leikeli47.
Come on, Splendour. Stop hating on hip-hop.
The full Splendour in the Grass 2016 lineup is as follows:
The Strokes (only Aus show)
The Avalanches (only Aus show)
At The Drive-In
Sigur Ros (only Aus show)
Boy & Bear
Duke Dumont (DJ set)
James Vincent McMorrow (only Aus show)
What So Not
Years And Years
Gang Of Youths
Peter, Bjorn & John
Band Of Horses
Ball Park Music
Tegan & Sara
City Calm Down
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard
The Jungle Giants
Nothing But Thieves
Robert Forster (10 Years On)
Melbourne Ska Orchestra
Fat White Family
L D R U
In Loving Memory of Szymon
Sampa The Great
The Wild Feathers
Just A Gent
The Meeting Tree
Purple Sneaker Djs
Splendour in the Grass takes place from Friday 22 to Sunday 24 July
North Byron Parklands – 126 Tweed Valley Way, Wooyung