Splendour in the Grass 2019

Childish Gambino takes over Byron Bay for the biggest Aussie party of the year.

Things got off to a strong start on day one when UK punk rock duo SLAVES answered doubters of their unique style with raw aggressive energy... whipping up the quickly growing crowd into a raucous chorus of “Fuck The Hi-Hat.”

Andrew Stockdale seemed unusually humbled as WOLFMOTHER thrashed out killer riffs to a packed Amphitheatre of next generation festival punters…

A definite highlight of Friday was American singer-songwriter K.FLAY in the Mixup Tent.

She energetically dished out her multi-genre music to an ecstatic crowd.

Cutting an iconic silouette, MEG MAC put smiles on everyone's faces as they danced and sang along in the newly positioned McClennan tent...

As the temperature dropped, FOALS kept the Amphitheater crowd warm on a gaudy stage setup reminiscent of Scarface.

They delivered a blistering set of old and new bangers with Yannis oozing steam into the crispy night air.

Then came the massive closer...

They may have been just silhouettes in the haze but TAME IMPALA unleashed an infectious fog of psych-riffery that had the packed-in Amphitheatre crowd in a  trance.  Kevin Parker and the boys have had a massive year internationally but this return to home soil felt very special indeed.

If there had been a roof - they'd have torn it off.

Day two was pure sun-drenched, classic Splendour goodness.

In the Amphitheatre, DEAR SEATTLE and TROPHY EYES started the day off with a heavy dose of guitar rock to an eager crowd - hungry to sweat out last night's sins.  No punches were pulled and it was exactly what we needed.   This is too good - I don't think I can leave main stage.

Things took a turn for the delightfully weird as POND sent us spiraling with signature unpredictable rhythms - Nick Allbrook captivating the crowd with his enigmatic alien charisma.

As night fell, WOLF ALICE and OCEAN ALLEY serenaded us with soulful lyrics and blistering guitar playing.

Then there was CHILDISH GAMBINO.

This was the most cannot-look-away performance of the weekend.  Donald took over, skillfully building a powerful, real connection with the crowd, urging us to put away the phones and exist in this moment together.  And for the most part - the phones went down...  and it was a moment.  He stalked, staggered and shimmied the runway, his writhing snake-hips and wild eyes punctuating the lyrical fire and huge beats that sent bass heavy shockwaves out into the night.  Huge.

The adrenaline flowed over into the Tipi Forrest and went deep, deep into the night.

With the legs starting to feel it on Day 3, SLOWLY SLOWLY continued the tradition of rocking out hard early.

Their rip-snorting cover of Bon Iver's Skinny Love was a genuine main stage moment.

PHONY PPL from Brooklyn, New York was a fantastic discovery - Fired up to be here in Australia - they burst on stage and never let up - drawing the crowd into the McClennan tent with their funky alt-R&B sounds.

Perth’s PSYCHEDELIC PORN CRUMPETS kept the tent banging with their tight, twisting kaleidoscope of sound.  This band is undeniable.

THE TESKY BROTHERS took it back a notch with some sultry soul and blues - a perfect afternoon soundtrack as dusk rolled in.

ZIGGY ALBERTS brought out his delightful surf melodies to an adoring, capacity crowd for one massive singalong.

There was a moment of disappointment for the loss of CHANCE THE RAPPER...   but it didn't last long.

THE HILLTOP HOODS opened the show with a cheeky video montage of the last minute call up, before exploding onto the stage.

It was immediately apparent they were the perfect replacements.  They didn't hold anything back, dropping Nosebleed Section early on in the set - setting the tone that this would be a non-stop party.

With a slew of killer guests, including Montaigne, Ruel, Illy and Adrian Eagle - they delivered a memorable, charged performance to a grateful and bouncing amphitheater crowd.

I had thought I wasn't going to last the day - until this exhilarating injection of energy, and there was no choice but surrender to dem tunes.

Splendour took some huge strides this year - with an upgrade to infastructure, layout and traffic co-ordination - not to mention demonstrating the ability to scramble and improvise a spectacular climax despite a late headline cancellation.

All in all, it was a fantastic edition of the undisputed champion of the Australian festival calendar.

Bring on the 20th Anniversary next year!!

Words by Damian Stacey.

Photos by Josh Groom.

Check out the full gallery below...

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