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The rain was gone, the sun was back and Day Three of Splendour In The Grass had arrived with the most promising lineup yet. UK hype-band Jungle arrived on the Mix-Up stage mid-afternoon to provide the perfect antidote for some final-day weariness. Working through the majority of their debut album, they brought a distinct groove that had the crowd grinding rather than jumping. The five-piece band sounded like there were many more people on stage, with tracks like Time and Busy Earnin’ building a wall of sound made of layered vocals and brass synths.
Sam Smith is an artist whose popularity has soared since he was announced for the Splendour lineup. He brought one of the biggest crowds of the weekend into the Mix-Up tent, all ready for a mammoth sing-along. Smith left much of his slow material behind in favour of upbeat tunes like Money On My Mind and his Disclosure collaboration, Together. His voice cut through like no other, particularly on a downbeat rendition of Latch. There was no better spectacle on Day Three than watching thousands of people singing at the top of their lungs to Stay With Me. One punter quipped on the way out, “And that’s how Sam Smith won Splendour.”
Everyone’s legs were burning just that little bit more on the hike up to the amphitheatre, but an energetic Grouplove made it worth it. As the band noted, they played Splendour at midday two years ago and had now graduated to a nightime slot with a capacity crowd. They fed off the energy of an excitable audience, with Tongue Tied and Ways To Go sending many hands into the air.
Immediately after, Glasgow trio Chvrches took to an Australian stage for their third time in a year. Their lights and throbbing bass proved a winning formula, showing off the full capabilities of the outdoor amphitheatre. Frontwoman Lauren Mayberry‘s voice cut through a flurry of sound with Recovery and We Sink coming in crystal clear. It could be argued that the band are too green to deserve a nighttime main stage slot, but a performance of The Mother We Share demonstrated their mass appeal. It sounded euphoric, full-bodied and beautifully melodic.
The last day of a festival is often met with but a drop of energy, but the main stage fired off dynamic act after dynamic act. Foster The People made sure the cold didn’t affect any of the punters, delivering a set both groovy and anthemic. Last time they played Splendour, they were awkward indie kids finding their feet. This time, lead singer Mark Foster looked like a self-assured rockstar.
Foster commanded the stage with force on tracks like Best Friend, while leading a valiant sing-along on Houdini. Throughout, the band added extended intros and outros with thrashing drums and mind-bending synths. They ended on Pumped Up Kicks, which was, as predicted, an instant crowd-pleaser, though there was something unsettling about being a part of a mass sing-along to a track about school shootings.
Drums and guitars were replaced with giant baby bottles for Lily Allen‘s headline set. She last played Splendour in 2007 and is now a distinctly different performer. Peppering her set with giggles and flirtatious jabs at the police, she was a light-hearted joy to watch. She drank and smoked her way through a pop-driven performance, with early hits like Smile and LDN delighting. Cuts from her latest album, Sheezus, were not as well recognised, but dancers dressed as dogs and multi-coloured visuals made them thoroughly entertaining.
Lily may have not been the most obvious choice for a headliner, but she brought her A-game. Everything she did was done to please the crowd. From a cover of Keane’s Somewhere Only We Know, to an angst-filled rendition of Fuck You. Surprisingly, there’s something deeply satisfying about a sea of middle fingers. She closed Splendour In The Grass 2014 with a country hoedown by way of Not Fair. The festival had drawn to a close and while it had been plagued by misfortune, the fun, youthful heart of the festival remained. And that’s all that really matters.
Lily Allen Splendour In The Grass 2014 Setlist
Hard Out Here
Everyone’s At It
As Long as I Got You
Bass Like Home
Who’d Have Known
Somewhere Only We Know
Life for Me
Image: Lily Allen Live At Splendour In The Grass 2014 / Photo: Ashley Mar