Splendour in the Grass 2022 was a festival we’ll never forget.

By now I’m sure you’ve all seen enough POV videos of gumboots trudging through mud to last a lifetime. You’ve probably also seen a myriad of headlines describing “chaos”, “disappointment” and whatever evil schemes the NSW Police Force came up with this year to ruin as many live music fans’ experiences as possible.

What was it actually like on the ground, though? Was it good? Was it bad? Was it “meh”?

It was all three, baby. I was there on that sloppy, sloppy ground, and am here now to give you a full report on the highs and the lows of Australian music’s most talked-about weekend.

It was a challenging but rewarding Splendour and I’m glad that I went. To see a festival of this scale – international acts and all – back on Australian shores was a real treat.

I don’t envy the Secret Sounds team at all, to put on Splendour in these circumstances was a herculean task, but all things considered they should be commended for pulling off what they did. Between pandemics and floods the Australian festival scene has never been more deserving of our patience and support.

But enough waffle, let’s get into the good, the bad, and the “meh” of Splendour in the Grass 2022.

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The Good (Great, Actually)

Aussie artists making up for lost time

The hunger for Splendour’s return was apparent not just with punters, but local artists as well. Acts like Alice Ivy, JK-47, Sycco and Ruby Fields were clearly ecstatic to be performing in the North Byron Parklands despite the crap weather, and that enthusiasm translated into fantastic performances.

Getting International Acts Back

While Australian music is great, there’s only so many times you can see the same handful of indie rock bands before things get stale. As esteemed writer Geordie Gray put it “It’s hard to drum up excitement over every ‘stacked,’ ‘massive,’ and ‘huge’, lineup, filled with the same acts we’ve seen three-four times over since 2016.”

That’s why it was so genuinely exciting to see international heavyweights like The Strokes, Tyler, the Creator, Holly Humberstone, JPEGMAFIA, and more hit the North Byron Parklands stages.

Variety is the spice of life, and this year’s lineup was spicy, baby!

Byron Bay Brewery Bar’s Sets

While I’m normally more of a Young Henrys man myself, Byron Bay Brewery hosted some fantastic intimate gigs at their bar near the Mix-Up Tent, with The Buoys, Eliza and the Delusionals and a DJ set from Y.O.G.A. (a side project from Peking Duk’s Reuben Styles) being particular highlights.

While we missed out on seeing The Buoys’ main set on Friday due to the entire day’s gigs being called off (something I’ll touch on later in “the bad” section), we did thankfully get to see a smaller set from the Sydney rockers the following day, and it was phenomenal.

If you haven’t seen The Buoys live yet, do it. Their live performances are the perfect combination of talent, heart and fun, with a fully-committed brand of rock and roll complete with hair flicks, knee drops, and above head guitar solos.

The stage at the Byron Bay Brewery Bar may have been tiny, but The Buoys brought a performance worthy of a stadium, and I pray to the gods of the Australian music industry that we get to see an amphitheatre set from them one day soon.

Rounding out Saturday night at the brewery bar was an energetic and immensely fun DJ set from Y.O.G.A. with guest vocals from the wonderful Murphi Field.

Eliza and the Delusionals put on another great show at the small brewery bar stage the following day, bringing out special guests CLEWS to recreate their fantastic Phoebe Bridgers cover from Like a Version.

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Suffice to say whoever organised the lineup for Byron Bay Brewery Bar deserves a raise, their little stage punched well above its weight in terms of talent and fun.

Genesis Owusu

The best set of the weekend. Genesis Owusu at the Mix-Up Tent raised the bar for Australian festival performances, it was unbelievable. Never have I seen such talent, creativity, energy, and artistry packed into a non-headlining festival set.

My only complaint was that organisers put Owusu in the Mix-Up Tent, because his performance was worthy of the main stage.

Genesis Owusu cemented himself as an unmissable act this past weekend. I can’t give higher praise.

The bad

The mud

These shoes were tan coloured at the start of the weekend

By now you’ve all seen the footage so I’ll be brief here; yeah, the mud sucked. Getting from stage to stage became exponentially harder, climbing the amphitheatre hill became an extreme sport, and hipsters’ Doc Martins were stretched to their literal breaking points. My $30 Kmart timbs survived the event unscathed, though. Shout out to Kmart (not sponsored).



Picture the scene, it’s day one of Splendour and you’re ready. You file into the festival site, exhausted from hours spent trying to get into campsites. The conditions are already terrible, but at least you’re finally going to see some great live music, right? WRONG.

I was standing in a packed crowd at Park(lands) Stage waiting for The Buoys to appear when Splendour released a statement that all Friday gigs were called off. The despair and disappointment was palpable.

Having a day of a music festival called off is always a tragedy – especially when the likes of Wet Leg and Gorillaz are due to play – but having a day of a music festival called off when you’ve already made the effort to get to the festival site? That’s just mud in the wound. Not good.

Getting home after a headliner

Back in the day kids used to jump the fence to get into Splendour in the Grass, this year they had to jump the fence to get out (in a timely manner, that is).

The combination of campers being diverted off-site to satellite campgrounds and staff shortages at bus companies meant getting out of the festival and into a warm bed was about as difficult as defecting from North Korea.

Many attendees had to wait up to six hours in absurdly crowded conditions and nowhere to sit except in mud.

It was a shitty situation, and not one that anyone can be blamed for. I genuinely believe that the festival organisers did everything they could to get punters home safely and quickly, they were just faced with a perfect storm of bad circumstances and had to do the best they could on the fly.

Still, it was bad, so bad in fact that I skipped Tyler, the Creator’s closing set on Sunday just to avoid the post-headliner queues and get out of the festival in reasonable time. Being forced to choose between skipping a headliner or waiting in muddy lines for hours isn’t something you want at a festival.

The “meh”

Jack Harlow

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Despite the terrible mobile reception this past weekend Jack Harlow still managed to phone it in.

triple j charitably described Harlow’s set as “less about rap and more about mood”, I’d describe it as lazy. Harlow got up on a largely empty stage and strolled around, rapping along to his backing tracks when he felt like it. The “vibe” I got was very much “I’m Jack Harlow, you’re welcome”.

When hip hop contemporaries like JK-47, JPEGMAFIA, and Genesis Owusu clearly put immense amounts of effort and passion into their Mix-Up Tent performances it was disappointing to see a main stage act disrespect the audience by so clearly half-arseing their set.

The verdict

Splendour 2022 was definitely flawed, but even a muddy, 66% complete Splendour that takes hours to get out of is still a great time overall.

I’m glad Splendour came back for 2022, and I hope Splendour returns for many years to come. I just hope that next time it’s sunny and we get to see The Buoys and Genesis Owusu on bigger stages.

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