Splendour in the Grass

Byron Bay

21-23 July 2023

Day 1 –  FRIDAY

The Splendour gods have conjured up the perfect weather forecast for the first day with sunny, warm and dry conditions. They’re pulling out all stops this year to redeem the festival after last year’s disastrous weather events and following a hiatus due to Covid-19. 2023 is bigger and better than ever with a well-planned and organised site that exceeds expectations in all aspects. The transport in and out of the festival runs smoothly and there’s plenty of facilities that caters to everyone’s needs.

Indie-rock alt-rock four-piece Dice hailing from Perth, take to the Amphitheatre with songs from their latest EP including Pieces and Stockholm. They’ve tailored their set to include a lot of fast-paced danceable high-energy fun songs like Double Espresso to give us the caffeine hit we need early in the day for a boogie.

After a stop in at the Forum tent for a quick Kinky History lesson with Esme Louise James for a few laughs, we pop into the colourful Rainbow Bar for a drink and some dance-floor fillers courtesy of Chela on the decks spinning all the best ‘90s dance tunes.

Skeggs are ready to take rock out with their pounding rhythms, throbbing bass lines and slick guitars. It’s a special performance because it marks bassist Toby Cregan’s last performance with the band. We have a rowdy good time with a big send off for him.

MAY-A plays to her biggest crowd to date at the Mix Up tent. She was meant to play last year but that didn’t happen so she’s happy to be here today. This time they bring plenty of new tunes including Sweat You Out My System and a new one that just came out (Lola) and they call for us to be present and live in the moment. MAY-A shows off her huge vocals and tells us to get rowdy with her for some of her biggest hits including her recent winning triple j hottest 100 track she shares with Flume (Say Nothing) which unfortunately gets cut short due to timing.

Huge vibrations radiate through the Mix Up tent with a heavy loaded bass as Sudan Archives serves up some crazy energy with her unique violin talents combined with a hip-hop twist. It’s an incredible sight that’s unlike anything else. She reveals that Irish people are the reason she plays the violin so shares takes a moment to share the first song she ever learnt, and we clap along to the Irish jig before her biggest hit Selfish Soul.

It’s Ruel’s first Splendour set so he’s excited to play the main stage. The stage recreates the outdoor setting from his debut album shoot for 4TH WALL complete with grassy patches, rocks and even a big tree with hanging flowers beside the band. He brings down the metaphorical walls and invites fans into his world with hits like SET YOURSELF ON FIRE, Dazed & Confused and even a fun cover of The Black-Eyed Peas’ hit I Got A Feeling.

Cub Sport have and impressive set up with a two-tiered stage complete with two drum kits and entrancing visuals. They’ve recently released their latest album titled Jesus At The Gay Bar so they play some new songs from it plus a few fan favourites including their impressive triple j Like A Version of Billie Eilish’s When The Party’s Over.

“Who wants to hear a song about being gay? They’re all about being gay,” jokes lead singer Tim Nelson. “It took me a really long time to be proud to be gay,” he continues. They dedicate Party Pill to the whole LGBTQ+ community and asks us to embrace the beauty in our individuality. He and Sam Bolan share a kiss to celebrate their love at the end of the song to finish.

Ocean Alley were added the line up after Lewis Capaldi withdrew due to health reasons so they perform a special cover of Capaldi’s hit Someone You Loved with the help of Meg Mac joining them on stage. Lead singer Baden Donegal also brings out his baby on Confidence for a special heartwarming moment.

J Balvin is the first Latino act to play at Splendour. “Welcome to the familia!” He shouts. The Colombian singer turns up the heat with an impressive stage setup including an inflatable army tank and an entourage of dancers in combat suits moving around him at an energetic pace.

“You don’t have to understand what I’m saying, just feel it because music is a universal language,” says Balvin. He shares a new song not out yet that samples Usher’s Yeah with his own unique flavour. Balvin gives us some Spanish lessons and salsa dancing tips as he zooms through his high-energy set that gets everybody dancing and moving around in no time.

The moment everyone is waiting for arrives as Lizzo makes a grand entrance to make her presence known. She instructs us to take a moment to love on ourselves, to dance, sing, giggle, scream and enjoy the show. She brings the juiciest juice to the amphitheatre with a whole lot of fun, colour and excitement with a non-stop set jam-packed with plenty of stamina, flutes and twerking to whip the crowd into a frenzy as she serves up her biggest hits including Juice, Am I Ready (2 Be Loved) and a cover of her favourite Coldplay song Yellow.

Lizzo takes us through a bad bitch meditation with a quick breathing exercise to visualise our higher-self and wraps it up with some quick affirmations before signing a fans bare-butt with a texter marker. She makes us all feel undeniably special and feeling good as hell before her final track About Damn Time.


“This is my first show with red hair, did you guys’ notice?” Meg Mac asks the audience. She’s glowing under the sun with a new look in a long golden skirt. She blows the audience away with her powerhouse vocals as she belts out Grandmas Hands and Low Blows. Mac welcomes special guest Budjera to the stage for a song they co-wrote and released earlier this week called Video Game. The duet combines their powerful soulful sound and emotional charge to create a match made in heaven. Budjera sticks around to singalong with everyone on her final track Roll Up Your Sleeves.

It’s Benee’s first Splendour and she’s fired up with hyperactivity to deliver a super high energy performance to amp-up the crowd in the mid-afternoon with hits Green Honda and Superlonely. Benee flosses, breakdances and jumps around the stage as she test drives a bunch of fun and upbeat new tracks, teasing that there could be a new album on the horizon. Mallrat joins Benee for their latest collaboration Do It Again that serves as the official song of the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023.

Peach PRC emerges in a swarm of pink complete with fairy wings ready to spread a bit of her sweet and sassy pop magic. “I hope the microphone is on ‘cos I have shit to say about some assholes,” she warns and confesses that she loves to publicly drag people. There’s a collective effervescence in the crowd as we share in the moment of energy and harmony together whilst singing at the top of our lungs to fun covers of Wheatus’ Teenage Dirtbag and the nostalgic Hilary Duff track What Dreams Are Made Of from the Lizzie Maguire movie.

Sam Fender lifts us up with his signature anthemic choruses and commanding vocals to make the crowd go wild. The atmosphere is electric and he eggs us on to fire up the mosh pit into a frenzy. From Getting Started to Hypersonic Missiles and a cover of Bruce Springsteen’s Dancing In The Dark, he captivates us with every note and saxophone solo from his band. “We’re gonna go away and make some more albums and we’ll see you next year,” he promises before ending with Seventeen Going Under and the crowd continues to echo the “Oh Oh” singalong long after the song ends to show their immense love for the song.

After being forced to cancel their Australian tour and Splendour appearance last year due to health concerns, American indie-rockers Yeah Yeah Yeahs make their return to our shores for their first tour in 10 years. They’ve got new album ready to serve up including Spitting Off The Edge Of The World and Burning plus their iconic dance floor hits like Heads Will Roll and Zero. Karen O dons a wickedly cool sequinned cape with her initials spread across in big letters that she swirls around the stage and sticks the top of the microphone piece in her mouth for moments at a time.

“Close your eyes and pretend it’s 2003 and take your lover in your arms,” says Karen O as she dedicates Maps to all the lovers in the crowd who fell in love with the band long ago. Giant inflatable balls with eyes are thrown out into the audience to bounce around and confetti cannons go off to celebrate their return. They slow things down for Soft Shock, a song Karen O says she was dreaming of Byron Bay when she wrote it. “It’s not going to be 10 more years before we’re back”, she promises, before throwing her microphone around and smacking it on floor for a big rock star finish.

“We did 2010, 2012, 2016 and now 2023,” says Flume as he begins his special 10-year anniversary set since the release of his debut self-titled album. He starts by taking it back with some material he hasn’t played in a long time and takes us through the highlights of his career so farHe stands beneath a towering arch that rotates into position around the stage as an impressive laser light show projects out onto the audience far and wide.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a Flume show without some special guest features, and for tonight we’re treated to highlights from Kučka on vocals for Escape and Smoke & RetributionMAY-A joins for Say Nothing, Vera Blue performs Never Be Like You with Flume for the first time as well as her beloved collaboration Rushing Back. International pop star Tove Lo serves up their iconic hit Say It and Tkay Maidza steps up for their brand new track Silent Assassin.

Between local guests and deep cuts, Flume’s iconic remixes he’s released of the years including Disclosure’s You & Me, Lorde’s Tennis Court and Hermitude’s HyperParadise, he gets the crowd dancing uncontrollably to his signature experimental electronic dance music full of glitchy effects and industrial beats that pulsate throughout our bodies. For a big finale, Flume moves to the front of the amphitheatre for a special moment as he’s elevated up high above the crowd behind the decks on a hexagonal podium that resembles the original stage that he performed on during his first tour.


“I have the worst jet lag of my life and my brain feels like melted cheese,” says Del Water Gap as he opens the GW McLennan tent for the final day of the festival. Nevertheless, he expresses the joy he’s having on this first tour of Australia.

“I was going to become an accountant, but the universe brought me back to music during the pandemic when I released my album,” he shares, before diving into a new song called All We Ever Do Is Talk about being in a relationship and being obsessed with each other. It’s a fun indie-rock track that’s catchy, relatable and has us tapping our feet along in an instant. He admits Avril Lavigne inspired him to buy a skateboard when he was 12 years old before sharing a cover of her nostalgic hit Complicated. Del Water Gap quickly capturing attention and only just getting started with a new album coming out in September. This show marks the end of his first album cycle and he ends the crazy few years here at this festival with us.

Lastlings have a brand-new album called Perfect World out and are excited to share some their new material with us including the title track, Noise and Holding Me Like Water. “Who’s hungover?” Amy Dowdle asks the crowd as they reply with enthusiastic shouts. We dance it off with them and keep the party going.

It’s getting cold and a bit rainy, so we continue dancing with Vallis Alps under the Mix Up tent to keep warm and dry. They start with a few new songs they’re released after a long hiatus including Set It Off, Set It Right and a remixed version of On The Eve Of The Rush. Their latest song You & I is one they note is a prevalent track about them almost quitting being a band. Their fans are very pleased they didn’t so show their love and support through applause and singalongs in anticipation of their new album coming out very soon.

After a light shower, the sun comes out and a double rainbow emerges in the sky over the festival for a magical touch. Noah Cyrus fills the GW McLennan tent to the brim as the sun sets. “I’ve been screamed at in such beautiful Australian accents all week so please sing along,” she encourages as she shares her incredible vocal performance on tracks including Liar and Lonely. Her twangy country-pop style could win over any music fan showing beautiful light and shade in her raw and passionate delivery.

Swedish pop sensation Tove Lo gives us an hour of power over at the main stage with a thrilling spectacle that gets us shaking our booty along with her like a high-intensity cardio workout. “It’s important to me that you feel really sexy, even if it’s the last day of the festival and you’re dirty, I don’t care,” she says, before diving right into her dance hit 2 Die 4. The amphitheatre quickly becomes a red-light disco with dance floor fillers including Disco Tits her latest banger I Like You. We hold up our phone torches for an intimate moment will her beautiful cover of Robyn’s hit Dancing On My Own and brings the mood right back up again with a the track that changed her life Habits (Stay High).

Young Franco unleashes an incredible set over at the Mix Up stage with a few surprises including a guest drag performance and singer Maribelle joins him for their collaboration Girls Don’t Cry. Feeling inspired being at the festival, he even plays a song he made today that ensure the crowd dances along to.

With a few notable artist clashes across the main stages there’s just enough time to catch some of Pnau’s electrifying set that’s one big dance party on the stage featuring Kira Divine and Sumner. Nick Littlemore instructs us to put our phones down and enjoy the music and be present in the moment as they power through their hits including Solid Gold, Wild Strawberries and Changes.

We dash over the main stage to make it just in time for Mumford and Sons, ready to bring the festival to a close. “We did not come here to fuck around and we leave in morning so we’re gonna fucking go for it,” says Marcus Mumford as they launch into some of their biggest hits right off the bat including Little Lion Man and The Cave.

“This place means a lot to us and we came here to have a good time,” he exclaims as they continues their set which is an Australian exclusive festival performance. “Australia was the first place outside of the UK to embrace our band since that moment we had with triple J which was something we’re very grateful for, so it’s your fault we’re here,” he jokes.

Since they were last here, they’ve released a new album Delta and so they share a of the newer songs that Aussie fans haven’t yet heard live yet including Guiding Light and Delta with the perfect amount of build-up in all the right moments full of surging passion and emotion that’s enough to bring the crowd to tears. Mumford moves to the drums and continues singing for Lover Of The Light whilst the band mixes things up with banjos and a brass section.

“You’ve done really well, you’ve made it to Sunday night. We haven’t been here in a while and I think we’re going to have to come back sooner than later,” he comments. The band gathers around one microphone for a quiet acapella version of Timshel before an encore of I Will Wait that fills our hearts and tops up our music cups for another splendid year.

Words by Michael Prebeg



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