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review, Splendour In The Grass 2014, Splendour, In, The, Grass, 2014, cinema, cinema reviews, music, artist



By Charlie David Page
28th July 2014

As the tiredness increases and the inevitable conclusion draws closer, there's still a lot to get through on Day 3 of Splendour in the Grass 2014. We hit the ground running for the final day of this year's festival.

It might seem a little peculiar, but this Norwegian-Bulgarian artist has a surprisingly large following in Australia. So it was no revelation his Splendour show was a popular one, despite its relatively early timeslot.

From the onset, the audience was in a receptive mood. As Mikhael appeared on stage, acoustic guitar in hand to perform 'Susie', the crowd started clapping along almost immediately.

It doesn't hurt that the music he crafts is so damn upbeat and catchy. Accompanied by his band - two more guitars, keyboards and drums - they play with the progression of a steam engine, fuelled by a powerful rhythm.

Mikhael was very thankful for the support Australia has shown. "For the last year, almost every night, I have received a wake-up call from Twitter saying Triple J is playing one of my songs."

Without a doubt, plenty of those alerts would be for 'I Spy'; when the band started up with this tune, the crowd went nuts. People jumped about to the hearty harmonica, and when the chorus came around, people were hoisted up on shoulders. It was amazing to be there to see such a simple indie song produce such joy in the crowd.

The mood was retained when the opening notes of 'Jive Babe' filled the GW McLennan tent. As Mikhael launched off with his loose acoustic strumming, it's easy to see the crowd knows this one too. By the time the band joined in, there were a few fans actually jiving along. This feel-good tune was definitely one of the highlights of the festival.

Boy, do these guys sure know how to get a party started. Following its drawn-out intro, the band kicked off a rocky version of 'I'm With You' that got the crowd up and dancing, hands in the air. They continued with this brilliant level of energy by moving on to 'Itchin' On A Photograph'; together, the tunes were the perfect way to kick-start a show.

"We're called Grouplove, were so fucking happy to be here, thanks for having us," cries out singer Christian Zucconi. As if that wasn’t entirely obvious, with a near-packed Amphitheatre chanting for more from them. It’s no real surprise, either – with their simple-yet-catchy pop-rock tunes, and vibrant on-stage presence; Christian struts about wildly with his guitar, while singer/keyboardist Hannah Hooper also acts as the band’s back-up dancer.

Tunes like ‘Raspberry’, ‘Shark Attack’ and ‘Don’t Say Oh Well’ really put the structural integrity of that stage to the test, the band never holding still for a moment. The latter, an indie-rock-punk cacophony, shows just how well Grouplove are at producing a solid wall of noise.

By the time ‘Tongue Tied’ came around, the crowd were in such a jubilant mood, it was hard to imagine things could get any better for them – yet as soon as the first acoustic notes were played, an ecstatic cheer filled the arena, leading to one of the biggest songs of the set.

Wrapping up the set with ‘Colours’, Hannah bounced around the stage like a ping-pong, and Christian concluded the set with the very rockstar-esque move of smashing his guitar (even if it was just acoustic).

When you think of electronica, you’re mind doesn’t necessarily bring Scotland to mind. Nonetheless, Chvurches are forging an impressive path for themselves. On the other side of the world, they brought together a more than impressive crowd at Splendour in the Grass. Singer Lauren Mayberry was even shocked: “with the lights up, there's quite a lot of you... Did you think you were coming to see someone else?”


They hadn’t; in fact, she herself was probably the main drawcard, and the reason behind the group’s success. Fronting Chvrches for the past four years, Lauren’s beautiful vocals stand apart from the droning electronic beats. She’s a formidable force too; she appears tiny on the expansive stage, but stares down the sprawling crowd and blasts them with her exquisite voice.

Given this is Chvrches’ third Australian tour in the space of a year, there’s something about them that resonates with an Australian audience. Tunes like ‘Lies’ and ‘Recover’ have ensured their album ‘The Bones Of What You Believe’ is a success here, so there’s sure to be another chance soon to see them perform their easily accessible electronica.

I stumbled across Phantogram a few years ago, when a friend recommended them to me. Since then, I've seen them grow in popularity, so it was with great anticipation that I went along to see their first Australian performance. Technically just a duo - Josh Carter and Sarah Barthel – they brought a few other performers along to help with the gig.

Right from the offset, it was clear Phantogram was here to create an atmosphere with their music. From the dark, powerful opening of ‘Nothing But Trouble’ to Sarah’s distinctive vocals, the band presented heavy synth laced with electric guitar, drums and tambourine.

In contrast, when Josh took over the reigns on vocals for ‘Running From The Cops’, his style of performance was much more physical, bounding about the stage, creating noise with anything he could find - his guitar, drums, synths - to build the song.

Sarah took back the microphone for ‘Black Out Days’, stepping out from behind the keyboards to get the crowd’s hands in the air. Meanwhile, Josh and the band constructed an ethereal synth beat coated with hefty drums and electric guitar.

When they pulled out ‘Fall In Love’, it was a dynamic and visceral performance, once which was well, received by the crowd. Sarah attributed the song to Josh "Motherfucking" Carter, who had apparently come up with the beat five years ago.

Nonetheless, my highlight of the set was ‘When I’m Small’; this was the song that introduced me to Phantogram, and the one I’d been waiting for. You could hear the trebled drum beat long before the song began, but once that recognisable guitar kicked in, you could feel the bass sweep through your body. I felt a shiver up my spine as Sarah would sing, “I’d rather die than to be with you.” To me, that’s the pinnacle of watching a live performance: to be able to feel the music - not just the emotion, but the whole atmosphere in its entirety.

Given that I've had the privilege of seeing Foster The People live not once, but twice in the past, there was no doubt this would be a brilliant show. What I wasn't prepared for, however, was the way the band would modify their live performance between albums.

The Amphitheatre was easily the most packed the venue has been this festival, when Foster The People arrived on stage. Wasting no time, they amped up the crowd with 'Awesome' - however, not as we know it. In the same way that the new album 'Supermodel' put a larger focus on real instruments, much of the synth sound of 'Torches' has been substituted for keyboards, guitars and drums. For this tune, the synth has been replaced by keys. This was soon followed by a kick-ass rendition of 'Helena Beat'.

The first taste of the new album came with the song 'Best Friend', where singer Mark Foster ditched his guitar and made for the front of the stage for a very faithful rendition of the song. However, out from behind his instruments, Mark comes into his element - strutting the length and showing off some of his fancy footwork.

'Houdini' again lost its reliance on synth, bringing in keyboard to fill the gaps, courtesy of Mark himself. There's also a new drum solo that the crowd went mad for, acting as a conduit to the end of the tune. On the other hand, 'Pseudologia Fantastica' could practically have been played from the album; clearly a conscious decision to make their new material work better live.

It was still the same old sound when it came time for 'Call It What You Want', as Mark paced the stage like a caged tiger, ready for release. "Show me what you've got, Australia!" he challenges, and the audience obliges. As the song builds towards its cacophonous conclusion, Mark grabs his own drumsticks to help drummer Mark Pontius out.

'Are You What You Want To Be?' brings a cheer from the crowd, with heavy drums complimenting Mark's well-handled tongue-twister lyrics. 'Color The Walls' keeps fans happy too, becoming a real rock hit with its new sound. Things wrap up on a high with 'Pumped Up Kicks'.

Given that it's the first time they've played in Australia since the release of the new album, Foster The People have really revolutionised their sound to come to a middle ground. Not all fans will be happy with the change, but if you can put that small change aside, you're in for an even more boisterous performance.

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