Splendour in the Grass endures first-day washout
The opening day of Byron Bay’s Splendour in the Grass festival was cancelled after being hit by adverse weather.
All performances on the main stages were cancelled, including sets by Gorillaz, The Avalanches, Kacey Musgraves, DMA’s, Yungblud and Jungle, amid what has been described as the worst weather in the Australian event’s 20-year history.
The remaining two days (23-24 July) of the 50,000-cap festival in North Byron Parklands, headlined by The Strokes and Tyler, the Creator alongside acts such as Glass Animals, Liam Gallagher and Jack Harlow, are currently set to proceed as planned.
“In the interest of patron safety and in consultation with all relevant emergency services, we have decided to err on the side of caution and cancel performances on the main stages today only – Amphitheatre, Mix Up, GW McLennan and Park(lands) Stages,” says a social media post by promoters.
“All of our destination spaces (Global Village, Tipi Forest, Forum, Comedy and Science tents etc.) will remain open today for patrons who are already onsite as well as those at our satellite campground at Byron Events Farm… Day patrons are asked not to attend to the festival today while we work on repairs.”
Ticketing firm Moshtix will be contacting ticket-holders directly with refund information in the coming weeks.
Splendour in the Grass co-founder Jessica Ducrou tells the Sydney Morning Herald the decision was vital to ensure the grounds could be repaired in time for Saturday’s and Sunday’s events.
“This is definitely the worst weather that we’ve experienced at Splendour in its 20-year history,” she says. “As quickly as the mud arrives, we are doing repair works during the event and after the event to try and keep the show operating.”
As a result of the conditions, thousands of festival-goers were forced to wait up to eight hours to get into the site on Thursday night (21 July), leading the main campsite to be closed to new arrivals, with those still queueing the next morning redirected to an off-site camping ground, 13km away. The Guardian reports that free bus shuttles were provided to help people get around the sites.
The festival, which is being held for the first time since 2019, was hit by controversy before it even began after ticket-holders received an email from ticketing company Moshtix, informing them that all festival-goers under the age of 18 now have to “be accompanied by a responsible adult at all times whilst at the event and campgrounds”.
Previously, only those under the age of 16 were required to be accompanied by an adult.
Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.
Splendour in the Grass hit by alcohol rule change
A late change to Splendour in the Grass‘ alcohol licence threatens to cast a cloud over the festival’s first edition since 2019.
The 50,000-cap Australian event returns to North Byron Parklands from 22-24 July with headliners Gorillaz, The Strokes and Tyler, the Creator.
But just weeks before the event, controversy has erupted after ticket-holders received an email from ticketing company Moshtix, informing them that all festival-goers under the age of 18 now have to “be accompanied by a responsible adult at all times whilst at the event and campgrounds”.
“This is not Splendour’s decision,” stresses the festival in a social media post. “These new rules have been imposed on us by NSW Police. We were only informed of this [the night before] and we are very unhappy about these major changes being forced on the festival at such a late stage.”
Those who fail to comply with the ruling risk “considerable fines” of between AUD$2,000-$5,500. Previously, only those under the age of 16 were required to be accompanied by an adult.
“We’ve never had any issues with our underage audience, intoxication or any kind of breach”
“We understand the impact it will have on many of our patrons,” adds the statement. “We also don’t want you to walk away with a fine. So we want you all to be aware that police will be present at the event, roaming through out the crowd checking that underage minors are with a responsible adult.
“The only place you can purchase tickets for accompanying responsible adults is via the Splendour resale facility, where all monies go to the previous ticket holder.”
The Sydney Morning Herald reports that the rule change has led to hundreds of tickets being off-loaded by under-18s for the festival’s landmark 20th edition.
Festival co-promoter Jessica Ducrou describes the changes as “heavy-handed, and unnecessary based on historic performance”.
“We’ve been all ages since we started and we’ve never had any issues with our underage audience, intoxication or any kind of breach,” she tells the newspaper.
“We have to follow the direction… But it’s really important the event is all ages. Our under-18 audience is very important to us, we cater for them.”
The entire festival area… is akin to one giant open air-pub. The risks for minors mingling unsupervised in this environment are obvious”
The Independent Liquor & Gaming Authority (ILGA) has spoken out in defence of the move, which it says is supported by NSW Police.
“The entire festival area is licensed; it is akin to one giant open-air pub,” it says. “The risks for minors mingling unsupervised in this environment are obvious.
“Under 18s are still allowed to go, but they need to be supervised by someone responsible – just as they would in a pub or other entertainment venue that sells alcohol.”
ILGA cites the Music Festivals Act 2019, which was brought in to make festivals safer following the drug-related deaths of seven young festival-goers between 2017 and 2019. Splendour’s 2020 and 2021 editions were cancelled due to the pandemic.
“The community demanded the NSW government act to address the crisis, and the laws were introduced after extensive consultation with groups including the festivals industry, NSW Police and NSW Health,” says the authority. “This year’s Splendour in the Grass will be the first since the Act began and now requires a plan on how health and safety risks will be managed.
“The condition to require minors to be accompanied by a responsible adult is not a last-minute change – it is an obligation under the law and was agreed to at a meeting with the festival organisers, NSW Police, Liquor & Gaming NSW and ILGA on 16 June.”
Live Nation-owned Secret Sounds unveils new event
The Live Nation-owned company has teamed up with Adelaide-based promoters Five Four Entertainment and Groove to deliver a concert series featuring more than 20 shows which kicks off in the late December summer season.
Timmy Trumpet, Lime Cordiale, Hot Dub Time Machine, The Jungle Giants, The Veronicas, Ocean Alley, Human Nature, Bernard Fanning, Mallrat, Spiderbait, Hayden James, Ball Park Music, Dune Rats will perform at Bonython Park/Tulya Wodli between 30 December and 30 January.
Each concert will feature party pods, which have been described as ‘an island oasis for a group of 4 or 6 people’ that is ‘decked out with its own esky of pre-ordered drinks and tasty snacks’. The event has been approved by South Australia health officials.
Each concert will feature party pods, which have been described as ‘an island oasis for a group of 4 or 6 people’
The announcement follows the news that Secret Sounds recently received AU$1.5 million from the federal government’s RISE fund to develop a new festival in 2021 ‘that would keep audiences connected while also reaching new audiences across Australia and overseas’.
Live Nation bought a majority stake in the New South Wales-based company in 2016, acquiring a 51% stake in Splendour in the Grass and Falls, as well as its touring, sponsorship, PR, artist management and agency divisions.
The 2020 Splendour festival was called off in June and will instead now go ahead next year with headliners, Gorillaz.
Meanwhile, though the December/January Falls Festival events were set to move forward with an all-Australian line-up, they were also called off in August.
Australia prepares for live music comeback
The Australian recording industry association (Aria) has teamed up with the New South Wales (NSW) government to put on 1,000 Covid-safe shows across the region, as Australia announces a furthering easing of coronavirus restrictions.
Artists including Tones and I, the Presets, Thelma Plum, Jimmy Barnes, the Veronicas and Tash Sultana are performing as part of the Great Southern Nights series in November.
“This celebration of outstanding Australian artists and incredible live music venues across NSW gives us all something to look forward to, from eventgoers to industry,” comments the minister for jobs, investment, tourism and western Sydney Stuart Ayres.
“With the NSW Government’s 24-hour economy strategy set to reinvigorate Sydney’s nightlife, Great Southern Nights will be a big step forward for our state’s live music and hospitality community that has been hit hard in recent times.”
The government has invited venues in Sydney and regional NSW to nominate themselves to host the shows, which will be put on in accordance with appropriate physical distancing and capacity requirements.
In NSW, a current 50-person capacity limit on music venues, theatres and pubs will be scrapped from 1 July, replaced instead by a one-person-per-four-square-metres rule. Outdoor venues with space for 40,000 people will be permitted to operate at up to 25% capacity, giving the go ahead for events of 10,000. All events must be seated and venues with a capacity of over 40,000 must remain closed.
“This celebration of outstanding Australian artists and incredible live music venues across NSW gives us all something to look forward to, from eventgoers to industry”
Festivals and club nights are not expected to return in the region until August, depending on the public health situation.
Organisers of Byron Bay’s Splendour in the Grass festival last week called off the 2020 edition, which had previously been rescheduled from July to October. Tickets for the 2021 festival, which will take place from 23 to 25 July, are available here.
The new follows an announcement from Australia’s prime minister Scott Morrison last week that the four-square-metre rule, rather than capacity limits, was to apply to venues as the country moves into stage three of its reopening plan next month.
Under the regulations, any seated, ticketed events of under 40,000 people is to be allowed to take place, given there is the adequate amount of space. Nightclubs and large-capacity stadiums will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.
The different regions in Australia are approaching the reopening of live music events at varying paces. Large venues in Western Australia were this month able to host up to 300 people in multiple, divided spaces, whereas venues in the state of Victoria will only begin to welcome 50 guests from next week.
Industry body Live Performance Australia has proposed a AU$345 million (€209m) recovery package for the country’s live business, which typically generates $2.2 billion (€1.2bn) each year.
SITG sells record 50k tickets for 20th anniversary
Australia’s Splendour in the Grass festival celebrated its largest ever ticket sale today (27 February), with fans clearing out all 50,000 tickets under an hour.
The festival has sold four times as many tickets for its 20th edition than it did for its inaugural event in 2001. This year’s festival is the biggest ever, marking a 7,500 capacity increase from last year.
The Strokes, Flume and Tyler the Creator are heading up the festival from 24 to 26 July, which will also feature performances from Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Midnight Oil, Denzel Curry and more.
“The response to our 20th edition of Splendour in The Grass has been phenomenal,” says event producer Jessica Ducrou. “We know many people are doing it tough in our local communities at the moment and we’re grateful for the opportunity to bring people together in Byron through the uniting power of music.”
New South Wales is one of the regions most affected by the Australian bushfires, which have been raging through the country since September.
“We never would have thought when we produced our first edition of Splendour back in 2001 that it would resonate and mean so much to so many people 20 years later”
“We never would have thought when we produced our first edition of Splendour back in 2001 that it would resonate and mean so much to so many people 20 years later.”
Harley Evans, managing director of Splendour’s ticketing partner Moshtix, comments: “It’s been Moshtix’s great privilege to be involved in this wonderful event for so many years and the incredible demand for the 20th edition is a testament to the efforts of Jess, Paul, and their amazing team, and the love that the public has for Splendour.
“In difficult times, it will be wonderful to see 50,000 people come together in July to celebrate music and life.”
Moshtix, formerly the biggest independent ticketing service in Australia, was acquired by Ticketmaster in February last year.
Fans can sign up to the resale waiting list here.
Strip searches at SITG may be “unjustifiable”
A public inquiry into police conduct at last year’s Splendour in the Grass festival in Australia has found that 143 strip searches were carried out over the three-day event, including on seven minors.
According to the inquiry, illegal items were found on 12 of the 143 who were strip searched.
The New South Wales Law Enforcement Conduct Commission (LECC) opened the four-day inquiry to investigate the potentially unlawful strip search of a 16-year-old girl at the 2018 festival.
Police regulations in NSW state that a parent, guardian or support person must be present whenever an individual under the age of 18 is strip searched.
The inquiry found that the girl was one of six minors to be strip searched at the festival without a parent, guardian, or other supervising adult present.
It was also revealed that staff including shopkeepers and bar workers were also strip searched at the event. None were found with illegal items.
According to the inquiry, illegal items were found on 12 of the 143 who were strip-searched
Under NSW law, police can only carry out field strip searches if the “urgency and seriousness of the situation requires it”.
When questioned at the inquiry, a senior constable who performed 19 such searches at Splendour in the Grass said they could not “think of any” circumstance which would necessitate a strip search at a music festival.
Splendour in the Grass promoter Secret Sounds tells IQ that the team is “learning of these searches along with the general public”. The promoter is unable to comment further as the inquiry is ongoing.
The New South Wales festival celebrated record ticket sales for its 2019 event, which took place from 19 to 21 July at its site in North Byron Bay Parklands with performances from Tame Impala, Childish Gambino and the Lumineers.
Splendour in the Grass and fellow Secret Sounds-promoted festival Falls are part of a coalition of events threatening to leave NSW, after the government reintroduced “unworkable” festival legislation.
Tinder for festivals goes down under
Location-based mobile Tinder is bringing its “Festival Mode” feature to Australia, announcing a partnership with Live Nation-promoted Splendour in the Grass festival
Festival Mode, a collaboration between Tinder and live music giants Live Nation and AEG, allows users to match with fellow festivalgoers before setting foot on the festival site.
Festival Mode debuted at UK festival All Points East and Hangout in the United States earlier this month.
“Splendour is a rite of passage for young Australians, making it the perfect playground to launch Festival Mode,” says Tinder Australia country manager Kristen Hardeman.
“With this feature, we are redefining the festival experience by enabling our users to make new connections before even stepping through the turnstiles and pitching their tents.
“Splendour is a rite of passage for young Australians, making it the perfect playground to launch Festival Mode
“We’re pumped to be partnering with Splendour in the Grass and are excited to see how Tinder’s new feature helps people find their crowd this winter,” adds Hardeman.
Attendees of Splendour in the Grass, which this year sold out a record 42,500 tickets, will be able to add the official festival badge to their profile, allowing them to view and match with other Tinder users who are attending. The function can be switched on and off as the user pleases.
The feature will begin rolling out in Australia on 21 June.
Other participating festivals include British Summer Time Hyde Park, Love Box and Parklife in the UK, and Bonnaroo, Governors’ Ball and Electric Daisy Carnival in the United States.
Biggest sell-out ever for Splendour in the Grass
The 19th edition of Australia’s Splendour in the Grass Music and Arts Festival today celebrated its largest on sale to date, selling out a record 42,500 tickets in six hours through ticketing partner Moshtix.
Splendour, promoted by Live Nation-owned Secret Sounds, sold 7,500 more tickets than last year, after announcing an increased capacity for its permanent site in North Byron Bay Parklands, New South Wales. The festival also introduced an installment payment option for this year’s event.
Parklands, home to fellow Secret Sounds-run festival Falls, applied for permission to become a permanent 50,000-capacity festival venue in January, receiving approval in March. The site is now the permanent home for Splendour and Falls.
“We’re stoked to announce that we’ve sold a record amount of tickets this year after months of planning and hard work by our wonderful team,” say event producers Jessica Ducrou and Paul Piticco.
“We’re so grateful to see the continued passion and loyalty for Splendour in the Grass. We’re looking forward to sharing our forever home at the North Byron Parklands with more fans than ever before in 2019.”
The line-up for this year’s festival includes headline acts Chance the Rapper, Tame Impala and Childish Gambino, who are joined by Foals, Catfish and the Bottlemen, James Blake and the Lumineers.
“We’re so grateful to see the continued passion and loyalty for Splendour in the Grass”
Ducrou and Piticco also thank Splendour’s long-time ticketing partner Moshtix for “delivering a seamless on sale”.
“The continuity they [Moshtix] offer our fans makes things easier for everyone involved,” comment the event producers, urging those who missed out on tickets to utilise the Moshtix resale facility.
“For many years now, the [resale] platform has allowed us to minimise the potential for scalping and ensure that our true fans are treated fairly and given the best opportunity to secure tickets,” add Ducrou and Piticco.
Moshtix managing director Harley Evans says the company is “proud” to be able to provide an authorised mechanism for ticket resale that “does the right thing by the fans.”
“This is Moshtix’s 10th year working on Splendour in the Grass,” says Evans. “It’s been a great privilege working with Jess, Paul and their amazing team knowing they always put the fans’ interests at the forefront of everything they do.”
The International Ticketing Yearbook 2018 lists Moshtix as one of several significant independent ticketing companies operating in Australia. Ticketmaster acquired the ticketing provider in February 2019.
Fans that missed out on Splendour in the Grass tickets can sign up to the resale waiting list here.
Parklands bids to retain Falls and Splendour
North Byron Parklands – the 650-acre greenfield site which has since 2013 been home to one of Australia’s leading music festivals, Secret Sounds’ Splendour in the Grass – is hoping to be granted permission for a permanent 50,000-cap. festival venue, despite opposition from some councillors and local residents.
Parklands, which is also home to the Byron Bay leg of Falls Festival, submitted its A$42 million (US$33.4m) proposal before Christmas, which, if approved, would allow the site to host Splendour and Falls permanently, along with limited one-day concerts and smaller cultural and community events for up to 20 further days.
The application follows the end of a five-year trial period, which started in 2012, that required a series of trial events to be monitored and reviewed to test the site’s suitability.
“We feel we have done an outstanding job in managing our environmental impact, which has been reflected through a range of improvements covering traffic, noise and community amenity during the trial,” comments Parklands general manager Mat Morris. “We now hope to be able to operate on a permanent basis so that we can invest in improvements to the site which will further enhance this world-class cultural venue.”
However, the tender process has been criticised by local authorities, which lack jurisdiction over the site, as anti-democratic, with responsibility for approving the proposal falling to New South Wales (NSW)’s Department of Planning and Environment.
“Hundreds of jobs and more than $100 million in economic benefits would leave the region”
“Because the NSW government is currently the consent authority for events held on the North Byron Parklands site, Byron Shire Council has limited input to what occurs aside from compliance issues, including traffic management and noise to minimise disruption to residents,” a Byron Shire Council spokeswoman tells the Sydney Morning Herald.
The paper also quotes Byron Shire mayor Simon Richardson as saying he “strenuously oppose[s] the circumvention of local government decision-making”.
Local resident Denise Nessel adds that the festivals further stress the infrastructure of an area “already overrun by tourists”. “Many of us who live near the site are not pleased with the ever-larger numbers of festival goers who use our roads, camp on our streets and beaches and swarm into nearby towns in great numbers, and we are not looking forward to twice as many festival days, as are proposed, and still more in future,” she says.
If the proposal is rejected, Morris suggests Falls and Splendour will be forced to relocate from NSW, north to neighbouring Queensland. “Hundreds of jobs and more than $100 million in economic benefits will leave a region with high youth unemployment and a range of businesses dependant on these events,” he says.
Secret Sounds has since December 2016 been majority owned by Live Nation, with Splendour and Falls becoming its first Australian festivals.
Live Nation buys first Australian festivals
In addition to adding Splendour in the Grass and Falls to its growing festival business, the acquisition of a 51% stake in Secret Sounds also includes the New South Wales-based company’s touring, sponsorship, PR, artist management and agency divisions.
The live entertainment giant, whose Australian/New Zealand arm is headquartered in Melbourne, most recently added to its portfolio of 80+ festivals with the acquisition of Sweden Rock just under two weeks ago.
“Splendour in the Grass and Falls are the two most iconic festivals in Australia,” says Live Nation president and CEO Michael Rapino. Jess [Ducrou] and Paul [Piticco] have created events that attract the biggest artists in the world but still feel uniquely Australian. We look forward to partnering with them to find new ways to grow our live event footprint across Australia.”
“We started Secret Sounds with the sole mission of introducing Australians to the best artists, events and music possible, and Live Nation is the perfect partner to help us take this goal to the next level”
Co-CEOs Ducrou and Piticco add: “We started Secret Sounds with the sole mission of introducing Australians to the best artists, events and music possible, and Live Nation is the perfect partner to help us take this goal to the next level. With their support we can continue to curate the line-ups that fans love while also experimenting with new exciting ways for fans to experience live music.”
Around 33,000 people attended Splendour in the Grass 2016 in Byron Bay, which was headlined by The Strokes, The Cure and Flume.
Falls, a multi-city event with festivals in Lorne, Victoria; Marion Bay, Tasmania; Byron Bay in New South Wales; and Fremantle in Western Austria, attracts more than 60,000 festivalgoers per day. Recent headliners include Disclosure, Arctic Monkeys, Kings of Leon, Childish Gambino and London Grammar.