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Last weekend around 50,000 well-dressed humans of all ages descended upon the North Byron Parklands for one of Australia’s largest music festivals, Splendour in the Grass. The three day festival included artwork, food and clothing vendors, and of course, an array of musical acts from around the world. Back home, I hadn’t really been to any big festivals except our very own Kaaboo, because I’ve always opted out in order to save money for a big travel adventure dream, which I am currently living. I’ve been extra careful with my budgeting since I’ve been in Australia though, so I had a bit of spare change set aside for Splendour this whole time! The festival has a camping option, but living in Byron, it made much more sense to stay at home and take the shuttle bus to the parklands daily.
On Friday, my friends and I entered the festival in the afternoon, just in time to see Baker Boy, an Indigenous Australian rapper who has lyrics that include both English and his tribe’s language! Some other highlights on Friday were EDM artist Touch Sensitive, and surf punk band Dune Rats. Kiwi pop sensation Lorde was the headliner for the evening, but I’m not exactly a night owl, and wanted to get an early start the next day, so I decided to skip it and head home, avoiding the enormous bus line that would form as soon as she finished her performance.
While a music festival is not a fashion show, I do love any excuse to dress up and express myself, so I took Splendour in the Grass as an opportunity to go all out. Most cute “festival” clothing lines come with a hefty price tag however, so I just did my thrifty thing instead, and got creative. On Friday, I wore a mechanic’s coveralls / boiler suit that I got in a thrift store near Crescent Head, which was only four dollarydoos. With this base, I created a full ‘Rosie the Riveter’ style look, complete with a name patch that said “Stevie,” and a bandana wrapped around my hair. On Saturday, I busted out the yellow leisure suit that I got in New Zealand, and on Sunday, I wore some flared out corduroy overalls with my mom’s rad vintage jacket from the 1980’s that is covered in sequined moons and stars. To my surprise, some girl offered me $1000 for the jacket, but I turned her down, because of course, it’s priceless!
Saturday in the Amphitheater, crowds packed in to see Methyl Ethyl’s set. Later that evening for Vampire Weekend, the venue was more than twice this full!
Saturday was the day with the most artists that I wanted to see, overlapping at different stages, so I was running around all day long... My phone data says I traveled over 10 miles! The majority of the musicians at Splendour are Australian, and many of them are artists that I’ve been listening to for years. Not all of them have reached global fame yet, so it was awesome to see some of my favorite bands in the flesh! Funnily enough, I had actually seen Saturday’s headliner, Vampire Weekend, at UCSD, nearly nine years ago at an FM 94.9 concert. When I saw the New York-based band last, they only had a couple albums out, and there were only a few hundred people in attendance. It was such a trip to see them on the other side of the world, playing on a huge stage for tens of thousands of people, and boy have they stepped up their game.
My pre-teen dreams came true when Franz Ferdinand opened up with their smash hit, Do You Want To.
The final day of Splendour in the Grass was a bit of relaxed day for me, with the only a few must-see bands on my list. I took the day to really enjoy all the festival had to offer, including a cool crafting tent that had fun DIY projects going on all weekend! I bedazzled a pair of sunglasses, but sadly, I lost them somewhere along the way. The entire weekend was just a whirlwind of fun and dancing, and I ran into friends from all over Australia who I haven’t seen in ages - some of which I’d only met in the US and Asia! I loved every act I saw over the span of the festival, but if I had to pick a highlight, I’d probably go with Scottish rockers Franz Ferdinand. I’ve been listening to them for about 15 years, and have always wanted to see them live. They did not disappoint with their electrifying set on Saturday evening, and I managed to squeeze my way nearly to the front of the pit to get the full experience. Their level of professionalism shined, with nonstop energy and engagement with the audience, making their performance unforgettable.
This message outside the craft tent resonated strongly with me, with a variety of meanings.
I’ve been wanting to go to an Australian music festival for as long as I can remember, so attending Splendour was a milestone for me! I’ll always be much more of a small-venue girl, but if I ever had the chance to go again, I would do it in a heartbeat.