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Splendour 2016 has officially kicked off for another year. The glitter is out in full force, the sunnies are bigger than ever and there’s more flower crowns than you’ve ever seen in your life. Only one day in and there are already plenty of memorable moments – some good and some bad – that we’ve recapped in a series of awards to either cure your FOMO or make it worse.
Years & Years – Most Improved
Years & Years have made a reputation for themselves as one of the most consistent bands on the festival circuit, but unfortunately last year when they played Splendour disaster struck. Their gear didn’t make it to the festival in time and they were forced to put together a set with other people’s gear at the last minute. It was a valiant move, but one that was far from the full Years & Years experience.
Luckily, this year they brought their full kit and fired through a near-perfect set of pop gems. The dark timeslot suited them perfectly and they had a packed-out Mix Up tent dancing and singing at the top of their lungs. Shine sent shivers through the tent and Desire got the heart racing, but watching a tent full of triple j devotees singing along to a Katy Perry cover was perhaps one of the best scenes of the day. Obviously, King stole the show with a singalong that could’ve been heard from Sydney.
Indian Headdresses – Most ‘How Do You Not Already Get It?’ Outfit
Splendour is a place for weird and wonderful outfits, but it seems the message about Indian headdresses hasn’t made it to some. The message is pretty simple: don’t wear them. They’ve been banned at plenty of festivals around the world – not that it should be, because surely people can be trusted to be culturally sensitive. If for some reason that doesn’t stop you from wearing one, then think of how much unnecessary height it adds to you and how people have to see behind you.
DJ Otzi’s Hey Baby – Most Popular Chant
Unbelievably, 16 years after the release of DJ Otzi’s Hey Baby, it’s still the most chantable song of all time and Splendour-goers took every opportunity to sing it out loud. The Avalanches’ should’ve been the only thing we were hearing for the first time in 16 years but somehow Hey Baby slipped in there. Sadly for Otzi, you rarely get paid royalties for people chanting your song at musical festivals.
Illy – Most Triumphant Performance Of A Song That’s Nearly Number One
This is an incredibly niche award, but it’s a special moment to get an artist playing Splendour with a nearly-number one single. A few years ago Gotye delivered a Splendour moment, playing Somebody I Used To Know just as it was rising to the top. Illy was set to do the same, waking up with a number one single on iTunes, but he was pipped to the post just before his set by Major Lazer and Justin Bieber’s Cold Water. It didn’t matter though, bringing Vera Blue onto stage Papercuts erupted, providing Splendour with one of its first truly triumphant moments.
The Mud – Most Popular Topic Of Conversation
People are still hung up on Splendour In The Mud 2015. There were multiple people overheard at the festival prefacing every sentence with, “If you think this is bad, you should’ve seen what it looked like last year…” For the record, this year the sun is out, the fields look beautiful and there’s barely a gumboot to be seen.
Matt Healy from The 1975 – Most Charismatic Frontman
Possessing the same swagger as Michael Hutchence, The 1975 frontman oozed charisma during the British band’s early evening set. His stage presence is slightly woozy but it’s entirely charming. He tripped over his long-limbed body on tracks like Love Me and strutted the stage like Danny Devito on cuts like She’s American. He was definitely the ladies’ choice for the day as he barely had to utter a word in that deep British accent before a cheer circled around the amphitheatre.
The Avalanches – Most Epic Comeback
Was there ever going to be anyone else to claim this title? From the moment the lineup was announced, The Avalanches have been the biggest news story of Splendour. At that point we were unaware if we’d be hearing new music or not but a few months later we have in our hands their sophomore record Wildflower.
They brought the full live set up to Splendour, complete with a vocalist and a rapper, effortlessly weaving together their classic Since I Left You with the new stuff. The woozy, weirdness of Frankie Sinatra moved effortlessly into the equally weird Frontier Psychiatrist with Gnarls Barkley’s Crazy thrown in as another dimension.
There was something heartwarming about watching an amphitheatre of fans old and new come together and appreciate the Aussie act’s return. It certainly wasn’t the anthemic set that the amphitheatre is used to, but it was a masterful trip through music with disco, hip-hop, soul and electronica melded together better than any other act can. They finished with the dreamy Since I Left You and – for a brief moment – everything felt right with the world.
The Strokes – Most Day One Fan-Pleasing Set
It almost goes against the bratty New York punk scene to play straight into the hands of your fans but The Strokes did exactly that with an incredible greatest hits set.
With Julian Casablancas at his reverb-soaked, charismatic best, they played nine songs from their iconic debut Is This It, getting the crowd particularly raucous with a rumbling, gutsy runthrough of New York City cops. Ridding their set completely of an song from Angles, they chose to focus on the early hits. The scratchy, howling guitars of Reptilia got a great response while Heart In A Cage, the sole drop from First Impressions Of Earth, felt particularly rousing.
Casablancas’ chat was casual and nonchalant but he was genuinely charming throughout the whole thing. It’s great to see a band that still has new music to get excited about after a 15 year career but the greatest Splendour headline sets are packed with nostalgia and feel like a celebration of the whole career rather than simply a snapchat of it. As the crowd danced in unison to Last Night, it was pretty clear this was going to be a headline set to beat.