Splendour in the Grass: Time to evolve or perish

Why does hipster-magnet festival Splendour in the Grass not bite the bullet and give Australian pop icons Tina Arena and The Veronicas their own slots, rather than just using them as special guests?

Over the weekend, chart-topping siblings Lisa and Jess Origliasso - Aka The Veronicas - got on stage with Triple J hero Allday, who rapped a verse over their 2007 anthem Untouched.

Triple J shared video of the collaboration, which saw the audience losing their minds (as witnessed via the Instagram feeds of legions of influencers who've embraced the event as Byron Bay's answer to Coachella).

On another Splendour stage, Matt Corby got Tina Arena on stage to perform a mellow version of her classic Chains. Another crowd favourite.

Tina Arena made her first Splendour cameo two years ago with Client Liaison, and again in 2019 with Matt Corby. Picture: Patrick Stevenson
Tina Arena made her first Splendour cameo two years ago with Client Liaison, and again in 2019 with Matt Corby. Picture: Patrick Stevenson

Two years ago, Arena was given the Splendour pop-up treatment as the special guest of Melbourne retro-electro duo Client Liaison, who sang her 1994 hit Sorrento Moon with her.

(Client Liaison have also got Daryl Braithwaite and John Farnham on stage to sing their biggest hits with them at other events).

If Tina Arena is good enough to sing her classics at Splendour for two years now, and The Veronicas ignite a crowd, the question has to be asked: why not take a risk and book them to play their own sets rather than as a pop-up novelty to get viral attention?

Heritage acts have become a bit of a dirty word in local festivals, with acts like New Order and Johnny Marr finding themselves the right act in front of the wrong audience over the last decade. But when Falls Festival tried Daryl Braithwaite two years ago they were rewarded with kids who weren't born when his iconic hit 'The Horses' was No. 1, still shouting along word-for-word with the Australian rock legend.

On the other side of the world, Australian darling Kylie Minogue took out Glastonbury's legend slot this year, and brought the house down.

Also on the line-up were Miley Cyrus, Janet Jackson and Sheryl Crow.

Here, however, Miley Cyrus only gets a run on Triple J when Mark Ronson's name is attached. Same goes for Beyonce when Jack White is on the track. Even artists they champion, such as Dean Lewis, are considered "ultra commercial".

Internationally, festivals are adapting to the world of streaming, where people have broader taste in music and genres have become less important than a song being 'good' or 'bad'. Even the parameters for what constitutes such a thing has broadened dramatically.

They prove that there's room for everyone - from the ultra hip and of the moment acts like Allday or Client Liaison, and the iconic pop stars like Tina Arena and The Veronicas.

Plus it's not like we couldn't do with more local female acts getting prominent slots at festivals.

Cameron Adams is a national music writer for News Corp.



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