Spilt Milk raises the bar in 2017


A marked improvement on last year

A first year festival always has some teething problems, and the 2016 installation of Spilt Milk was no different. This time round, the festival ran much more smoothly, gates opened on time (rather than at the time the first band was supposed to finish up), and for the most part all the stages ran on time.

It looked bad early, but the weather pulled through

At first, a blisteringly hot day was threatened, with the sun bearing down heavy on Commonwealth Park. A cool change came through in the afternoon, and heavy cloud cover provided much needed relief from the heat. No sunburn, but also not getting rained out? Perfect.

Food was better than 2016

Last year’s Spilt Milk had great food vans, but just not enough. Come dinnertime, most food stalls had lines longer than some band’s sets, and were starting to run out of food. This year saw 16 food stalls, from Cuban food to gourmet donuts and milkshakes, with shorter lines this year.

Two awesome female headliners

After copping criticism for naming one female artist (Vera Blue) out of a line up of 16 in last year’s festival, Spilt Milk proved that they were listening when they booked 2017. It was no tokenistic move on the organisers part, they didn’t just book female acts to open the stages and bolster their diversity numbers. Closing out the two largest stages were heavyweights Lorde and Alison Wonderland.

Both stages were packed out, and with these sets clashing entirely, it was pretty hard to come to a decision who to see.

Dean Lewis + Vance Joy singalong

Canberra’s singing voices were on point, with Dean Lewis and Vance Joy both having huge singalongs. Dean Lewis’ “Lose My Mind” had the whole crowd swooning, proving that he is Australia’s answer to James Blunt (although without the Twitter game).

Vance Joy warmed the crowd up as night set in, and the singalong to his 8x Platinum hit Riptide echoed through the whole park.

Dune Rats brought the thunder

With a sly tribute to passed great Malcolm Young, Dune Rats burst onto stage to AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck” and launched into one of the best sets of the day. Pulling out their Violent Femmes cover Blister in the Sun, plus smashing out a deluge of their own hits, Dune Rats left many surprised as to why they weren’t higher on the bill.

Tash Sultana doesn’t mince words

“I don’t tolerate shit. If you’re a dickhead, fuck off. If you’re homophobic please leave this stage. If you’re racist, fuck off, and if you’re transphobic get the fuck out of here.”

Tash Sultana was pretty clear when she opened her set as to what she expected from her audience, although she strangely followed up her strongly political words with a statement that she wanted tonight to be about music and not politics. A strange juxtaposition there, but go for your life Tash, it’s your rodeo.

Illy during the sunset

Illy took to the Basquiat stage as the sun went down. In the same timeslot as Tash Sultana, Illy had his work cut out for him pulling the crowd numbers, but those who saw him were not disappointed. With an intimate crowd (or at least as intimate as you can get at a festival), sitting on the hill and watching Illy play as the sun set over the Molonglo River was a pretty special moment for everyone present.

Pill testing 180

Spilt Milk was heavily publicized for being the first festival to trial pill testing, however they balked at the last hurdle, pulling the plug on the trial six weeks before the festival. Despite being approved by the ACT government, Spilt Milk organizers pointed to a lack of documentation from the Safe Testing Advisory Serve at Festivals and Events as the reason the trial was canned.  Pill testing is on the cards for the 2018 installment of Spilt Milk.

While the ACT police have decided to take a “harm minimisation strategy” towards the use of drugs at festivals, adorable fluffy narcs were still spotted on site.

No tampons?

Spilt Milk had an extensive list of banned items on their website, including over the counter medications (including hayfever medications, paracetamol and technically ventolin as well), as well as sunscreen, insect repellent and snacks. And – apparently – tampons.

Despite not being listed as being banned (as well as, y’know, having no reason to be banned), some punters reported having to smuggle tampons past security after being told they could not bring them into the festival.

While some pointed out the ridiculousness of banning BYO sunscreen and Aerogard for a festival at the start of summer, Spilt Milk backed up their position stating that free sunscreen (but not Aerogard) was available inside the festival.

As for having to smuggle tampons in inside your bra? It really made us wonder how the bottle of Passion Pop we saw in the festival was smuggled in.

Words and photos by Britt Andrews.

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