Not wanting to be outdone by older brother Day One (sibling rivalry is alive and well at Splendour), Day Two burst out of the gate with a huge set from WAAX. Let it be said for the record that indie-punk makes for a great alarm clock. One-upping Lorde is a tough challenge, but somehow they managed to top her cover of Powderfinger’s ‘My Happiness’ by bringing out frontman himself Bernard Fanning (true Splendour royalty) for a cover of ‘Don’t Wanna Be Left Out’).
Alex Lahey was next, and festival-ready anthems like ‘I Love You Like a Brother’, ‘Perth Traumatic Stress Disorder’ and ‘I Haven’t Been Taking Care Of Myself’ all got the crowd cheering along with her. Also, big props to Alex and her band for making Avril Lavigne‘s ‘Complicated’ into a legit indie anthem.
C’mon Splendour, let’s get a covers album out into the world!
Although playing an afternoon slot, Superorganism brought the late night vibes with standout hits like ‘Everybody Wants To Be Famous’ and ‘Something For Your M.I.N.D.’ Although the vocal performance was far more chaotic than the studio recording, the band brought a wild energy to even their mellower tracks.
With back-to-back slots from Methyl Ethel and Gang of Youths, the Amphitheatre transformed itself an Australian indie fan’s wildest dreams.
Gang of Youths delivered by far the tightest festival set I’ve ever seen from them, energised by their recent international tour and racing through heavy -hitting tracks from their acclaimed second album Go Father in Lightness like ‘What Can I Do If The Fire Goes Out’ and ‘The Heart is a Muscle’. Frontman Dave Le’aupepe is truly a force to be reckoned with, simultaneously pulling off intensity and intimacy, and connecting with the crowd on a deeply personal level.
As it turns out, the Amphitheatre was still only warming up its indie-cred, and things hit another level with Franz Ferdinand. Although new material from latest album Always Ascending landed well, ‘Take Me Out’ and ‘This Fire’ whipped the crowd into an absolute frenzy.
CHVRCHES were up next, swapping the guitars for synths, and bringing an epic light show to back them up. Although clearly surprised by the coldness of the winter evening, lead singer Lauren Mayberry still brought all of her infectious energy to the set, running around the stage and dancing constantly, ensuring no bodies in the pit would remain still.
In a big testament to the band, new material felt as familiar as old, and the set perfectly balanced tracks from across their three albums. The addition of a live drummer was a great touch and added extra oomph to the band’s presence, particularly in new track highlight ‘Miracle’. Fan favourites ‘The Mother We Share’ and ‘Clearest Blue’ were also big standouts, with the drop in the latter getting a huge cheer.
Vampire Weekend closed out the night with what I can honestly call an all-time great Splendour set. It’s been five long years since the band were last here (and last released new material) so I’m happy to say the winter is over. Figuratively speaking that is, by this point of the evening it was cold as fuck, but this made for a fittingly atmospheric stage set-up, with every breath exhaled visible. “We’re from New York, we like the cold” quipped frontman Ezra Koenig early into the evening.
Although the band unfortunately lost one of their founding members in the hiatus (multi-instrumentalist and producer-extraordinaire Rostam), they made up for it with new touring members who gave the band the biggest sound they’ve ever had. Most songs were given beefy new arrangements, such as an instrumental intro for ‘White Sky’ (which saw Ezra trading notes with their excellent new guitarist), or an extended version of ‘Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa’ which included a thoroughly unexpected cover of ‘Saturday in the Park’.
The band have such iconic quirks and details in their album instrumentation and production, all of which were perfectly recreated live, and had the crowd singing to odd moments like the percussion in ‘Horchata’ and choir-voice keyboard parts in ‘Step’.
It was a truly incredible set from indie rock royalty and no doubt left every punter present excited for whatever the band have in store for us next.