Words by Dani Hansen and James Tait.
With this year’s Splendour In The Grass happening in just a few days time, our excitement and anticipation levels are in overdrive. You may not have had the chance to peruse the timetables for each day and plan out who you’re going to see. We personally think you should be able to catch every single act on the Splendour bill, but that would be impossible without a time machine and a great deal of patience. Instead, our own recommendations are:
Gang Of Youths
Sydney quintet Gang Of Youths are responsible for some of the most emotional and evocative rock and roll to come out of this country. A huge wall of sound, probing and introspective lyrics, huge soaring choruses and, most of all, raw energy. Frontman David Le’aupepe is as captivating a performer as you’ll ever find and his vocal range is enough to induce goosebumps.
There will be plenty of raised fists and hearts on sleeves as they rip through a ferocious Saturday afternoon set at the amphitheatre.
City Calm Down
Melbourne quartet City Calm Down had a breakout year in 2015 with the release of their album In A Restless House to rave reviews off the back of singles like Rabbit Run and Son. Giant synths buoying songs full of twists and turns and clever pop melodies that grab you and take flight, they’re a part of the new wave of Australian rock but City Calm Down are a band who play with the aplomb of a group well beyond their years and their live set will keep you mesmerised from start to finish.
Catch City Calm Down dishing out the chills like candy to many a weary head on Sunday at the amphitheatre.
Heading out to Australia for the very first time are Mancunian energy fiends Spring King. Having just released their debut album Tell Me If You Like To and blowing up in a big way after singles like City, Detroit and Rectifier took off. Harnessing the sound of the swinging 60s, yanking it into the 21st century and infusing it with so much raw energy and aggression, the mosh for Spring King on Saturday in the GW McLennan tent promises to be just ludicrous. There’s also something special and awe-inspiring about a drumming frontman and Tarek Musa’s ability to sing while his limbs are flailing almost impossibly everywhere will drop jaws.
Check out our interview with Tarek from Spring King.
Sydney four-piece The Preatures are another frenetic and infectiously energetic live experience. Frontwoman Isabella Manfredi is rock and roll to her absolute core, able to alternate between the lightness of Stevie Nicks and the swagger of Joan Jett on a whim. The Preatures’ sound harkens back to a golden era for rock and they’re four of the best young musicians in the country to boot.
Good luck trying to watch their Sunday night set at GW McLennan and without dancing uncontrollably.
There may be few moshpits larger and more frantic in the history of Splendour than the one that will greet Mansfield heroes Violent Soho for their set this year. Having released one of the hottest records of 2016 with the devastating WACO, the Soho boys somehow survived a national tour with Dune Rats and DZ Deathrays and are here to leave a crater in their wake. Seriously, The Avalanches may not have a stage to play on after Violent Soho get done.
Look out for the return of the fabled gumboot bong as Violent Soho cause carnage on Friday night at the amphitheatre. Read our interview with guitarist James.
Simply legendary. We saw guitarist Albert Hammond Jr. hit up Mountain Sounds Festival in February flying solo (what a set), and with the release of the band’s comeback EP Future Present Past in May, rumours were flying that we might just see The Strokes come to Splendour.
The same rumour seems to go around every year and we’ve been left disappointed, but now it’s actually, really, truly happening and you finally have your chance to see a piece of New York indie rock history in the flesh. Don’t mess this up, guys.
Our forever-21-year-old-electronic-savant Harley Streten, the man otherwise known as Flume, has made it through his self-described “dickhead phase” and emerged… a genius (what we already knew tbh). Released in May, Skin is the highly-anticipated and very solid follow-up to his self-titled debut. After a four year hiatus, Harley recently announced a massive world tour to unveil his new live show, which we already received a taste of earlier this year at Laneway.
Let me tell you, folks, I was shooting at Laneway and never have I seen a photo pit so packed in my life, staying and watching the entire set just mesmerised. Compared to the last live performance from three years ago, his live show and on-stage presence have considerably evolved to be simply incredible and the beats are second-to-none. Also, a highly collaborative album means a high chance of special live guests, as we saw at Laneway with Kai, KUČKA and Vince Staples all joining Flume on stage. Best buckle-the-hell up.
King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard
Melbourne garage rockers King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard are no stranger to hard yakka. Over the span of their four year career, they’ve released a ridiculous eight studio albums, with another four projects supposedly set for release next year alone. Nonagon Infinity, released earlier in April, is a much heavier answer to 2015’s all-acoustic Paper Mâché Dream Balloon, with frontman Stu Mackenzie maintaining it’s “not really metal but… inspired by stuff like that.”
Where these guys seriously impress though (that is beyond their insane artistry), is seeing them in their sweaty, bent-over, hair-flying, psychedelic glory onstage. If Mac DeMarco crowdsurfing during their Falls set in Marion Bay earlier this year isn’t any indication of what to expect, I honestly don’t know what is.
Fat White Family
“The most rebellious act is to revel in your own misery and patheticism,” chimes Lias Saoudi, frontman of this raucous five-piece from Brixton. The band had barely released their first album before they were swaddled and hailed on high by the likes of NME, Rolling Stone, even Letterman.
Anti-establishment, anti-gentrification, anti-Arctic Monkeys, they’re overly portrayed as some kind of Sex Pistols-esque train wreck whose implosion is imminent but, honestly, who doesn’t appreciate a bit of sobering vulgarity? Their reputation as a brilliant live band is to be seen in their constant crowdsurfing or stripped naked guitar playing or the general ramshackle and extremeness of any given performance of theirs. If you want a band that’s not there to run through the motions, Fat White Family are what you’re looking for.
Fresh meat from the I Oh You family who have been working with some amazing acts of late (DMA’s, Violent Soho, MOSSY, City Calm Down etc.), Green Buzzard are a five-piece Sydney garage outfit who, I swear, get better every time I see them.
I caught their second ever gig supporting Palma Violets and The Vaccines on their Splendour sideshow last year, so for them to be playing at the festival this year is a huge step up. Live, they’re a wall of utterly satisfying fuzz, smoking speakers and all. Their newly released EP Eazy, Queezy, Squeezy is a lo-fi delight, reminiscent of the whole 90’s Britpop thing, as well as Dinosaur Jr, Weezer, Sebadoh etc. Worth the watch and worth the listen.
Check out our interview with Green Buzzard.
Image: Your Friends House