Although massive headliners are always the key draw of festivals (The Strokes?! The Avalanches?!), the discovery of smaller, unknown local bands always proves equally enjoyable and memorable. We’re talking about those tiny bands on small stages who you would’ve never heard in other circumstances, yet they instantly reel you in at a festival and make a lifetime fan. Plus, if the artist does go on to break it big, you have infinite bragging rights. To take some of the randomness out of your stumbling, we’ve tracked down six upcoming bands/artists who you absolutely have to catch at this year’s Splendour in the Grass festival. Thank us in a few years time when you’re claiming indie cred…
One of the hardest things about being a small band at a big festival has to be the awkward moshpit that you’re playing to. Rather than serenading a crowd of headbanging lunatics, you end up performing to a small crowd of curious punters, most likely with their arms folded across their chest and fucking around on their phones. Luckily, High Tension don’t fall victim to this awkwardness, and anyone foolish enough to send texts mid-set will end up dropping their phone in the mud. Their aggressive hard-rock and punk infused sets are always bursting with energy from start to finish, and lead singer Karina Utomo is known to frequently get amongst the crowd. Give your neck muscles a serious workout at the Amphitheater at 12:50 on Friday.
Want to feel insecure about your own musical talents? Go see Harts! No seriously, the Melbourne maestro can extract gold from any instrument he sets his sights on; be it guitar, drums, bass, keys or his own vocals. Whilst we’re still not entirely sure what his Splendour set will consist of (as the size of his backing band can vary from zero to many) there’s no doubt we’ll be treated to some some serious guitar shredding. Throw on your dancing shoes and head to the Amphitheater at 12:50 on Saturday. Or get prepped with our backstage chat with Harts here.
Sampa The Great
Admittedly, Sampa could be getting too big to include on this list, but we’re including her anyway to make sure you don’t miss the set! This year has been absolutely massive for the African-born and Sydney-based rapper, having seen her support the likes of Kendrick Lamar, Thundercat and Hiatus Kaiyote. With her perfect blend of syncopated beats and spoken-word/rapid fire verses, she truly knows how to get a crowd going. Catch her on the Mix Up Stage at 12:15 on Friday.
After leading the incredibly experimental Naked on the Vague, Lucy Phelan, aka Lucy Cliche has taken her solo songwriting prowess in an entirely different direction, releasing an eclectic blend of industrial, techno and electronic tracks. Experience her genre-hopping skills for yourself on the Tiny Dancer Stage at 9:00 on Friday.
Okay, like Sampa you may have heard of Montaigne, but you still have to catch her set! With new single ‘Because I Love You’ getting lots of airplay, and debut album Glorious Heights dropping next month, this may well be the last chance you get to see her in a small, intimate setting. Whilst her voice sounds incredible on recording, it takes on an extraordinary power in a live setting. Combine this with inventive stage visuals and a crazy energetic onstage persona and you’ve got one killer set. See for yourself at the GW McLennan Tent at 12:30 on Saturday.
Punk can be a tricky genre to add an original twist to, and modern punk bands seem to always be compared to their well-known forefathers. I can’t count how many times I’ve been told a local punk band sounds like “a 21st century Ramones” or “modern day Black Flag“. Luckily, Gold Class don’t fall into this trap, and seem to be forging their own unique brand of energetic and 80s-esque post-punk. Plus, as we highlighted in one of our earlier reviews of the band, singer Adam Curley isn’t your typical punk frontman and exhibits a “reserved, somewhat self-conscious energy” that feels like more genuine expression than most other amateur bands. They’re playing the GW McLennan Tent at 12:30 on Sunday.