Photography by Josh Groom
Words by Jacob Burkett, Mark Royters & Peter Stevens
The last day of a festival is always a tester, and I mean for both bands and punters. You’ll have to put on a hell of a show to impress burnt out patrons who are running on zero sleep and a diet of burgers and Messina, but Splendour’s day three line-up had the cartel to deliver, and luckily for us they did.
There is no intention for this to be an overly lazy ‘compare them to the classics’ review, but if you enjoy the works of Primal Scream, The Happy Mondays and LCD Soundsystem AND take the opinions of Noel Gallagher seriously, then Jagwar Ma is your band. The set was a mix of their amazing debut album Howlin’ as well as promising sounding new material. Total Acid House/Baggy throwback vibes with extended jams, catching ears from a distance and drawing them towards the Mix Up tent, as the crowd gradually grew to a spaced out love-in.
Mark Lanegan Band
Whisky, cigarettes, cheap trucker speed, Mark Lanegan’s voice. His submerged and gravelly tones are a thing of strange beauty, that has wowed listeners through his amazing range of musical projects – from The Screaming Trees, his solo work, Queens of The Stone Age, collaborations with Isobel Campbell and of course the most recent incarnation of The Mark Lanegan Band, a strange but welcome addition to the weekend’s lineup. Despite the GW McLennan tent being less than half full, Lanegan and his gang busted out a set that came across like some sort of demented bar band, appearing in a film at that exact moment the detective ends up in a seedy backwater roadhouse, inquiring the whereabouts of a missing person, and asking all the wrong people. More acts like this please Splendour.
She may not have everyone on her side, but who does. Regardless, the CB3 came out to fans who screamed and sang along to every lyric from opening track ‘Dead Fox’. Evidently, there’s no in-between when it comes to the Melbournian, it’s either a love or hate reaction amongst music fans, and though the amphitheatre wasn’t full to the brim, the people who came to marvel at Barnett adore her. Touring her debut album non-stop since its release in early 2015, the three piece cruised through every song with ease, often mixing up fills and solos from the studio recordings to keep us on our toes. Slow soother ‘Depreston’ evoked a mass sing-along, while ‘An Illustration of Loneliness’ triggered sombre sways that faded with the soothing outro. A rousing rendition of ‘Pedestrian At Best’ followed a flurry of slower tracks to zap back life into tiring day three punters who were eternally grateful. Barnett herself was thankful often citing the size of the crowd, or raising “this is really special” to her audience. Finishing with a bang, Courtney through her guitar to the floor and let the distortion hover through amphitheatre until the lights were out. A memorable, catchy-as-hell set indeed.
It’s still hard to believe Jake Bugg is 22. With the swagger of the Gallagher’s, a voice with the presence of Johnny Cash, and some very underrated guitar skills, there’s not much the Nottingham local can’t do. Opening song ‘Two Fingers’ straight away got everyone on side to flip off any bad mantra that had hit them over their Splendour weekend, and for that moment all was good again. Kicking off at 10:15pm on a side stage on the final day was also going to test the crowd (not to mention he clashed with both Sigur Ros and Flume) but I was happy to see a horde of young fans had arrived. The frontman’s on-point strumming and plucking make every track a foot-tapper, and with choruses to boot, it was a show with more energy than I’m sure plenty imagined.
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James Blake’s impressive main stage set was unfortunately hampered by an intense case of pre-Flume fuckery. Whilst massive hits like ‘Retrograde’ and ‘The Wilhelm Scream’ (both of which sounded fantastic) have truly given the English musician the right to play the amphitheatre, it was a shame to see him scheduled just before the Triple J King of ‘Bangers’. Only the biggest songs evoked a response from the assembled crowd behind the front row elite, most of which who were growing impatient to dance and making it known. Given the circumstances, Blake still did his best, perfectly translating his chilled beats and instrumentations and unique voice into a live setting. The set was mostly comprised of new material from latest album The Colour in Anything but it all sounded as impressive as the record. It was just a shame to see such potential wasted on unappreciative ears.
Everyone stood around the tent to watch Sigur Rós with their arms folded across their chest, barely moving and staring up at the stage. Many even closed their eyes. This isn’t a bad thing. In fact, it made for the best possible crowd for the Icelandic post-rock outfit. All the frenzied dancing, beer spilling and greening out was left to the Flume fans over at the main stage, with Sigur Ros fans instead choosing to stand back in awe, and let the band’s ethereal soundscapes wash over them. Even the most stable minds go tumbling down an existential rabbithole when confronted with the band. All three members are masters of their musicians be it bass, drums and keyboard or vocals and bowed guitar and were accentuated by an excellent sound mix which brought all the layers together beautifully.
@sigurros “I went into this tent expecting to hear some music and came out with a husband”
— boredtears (@boredtearsidb) July 24, 2016
For a band often associated with soft, melodic and reflective music, lead singer and guitarist Jónsi Birgissonhas an incredible stage presence, pouring his heart and soul into his incredible falsetto highs (one note he held until literally having to gasp for air) and attacking his guitar with a bow for each song’s epic crescendo. With an impressive set from start to finish which pulled tracks from all across their discography it’s hard to pick a highlight, but ‘Festival’ perfectly encapsulated the band’s ability to start with the gentlest of sounds and end with an intense cacophony of sounds, complete with an immersive lightshow. It was, in this reviewer’s eyes and ears, the best set of the festival and the perfect end to a Sunday night.
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