MGMT play Splendour in the Grass 2018.
MGMT play Splendour in the Grass 2018. Marc Stapelberg

5 things that need to improve at Splendour

OH Splendour in the Grass, we love it, we get through it like we get through Christmas, it can be a bit of a struggle sometimes, but the year would not be complete without it.

As any business coaching would say, there are no complaints, only opportunities for improvement, so here it goes, some totally unsolicited but free advice to Splendour organisers.

Let's first say that Splendour in the Grass is a very well run event, a world-class example of how things are done in that industry. We really mean that.

But a couple of tweaks here and there would make it an even better festival.

So, here we go:

1. Ban smoking: It's 2018 and if I was able to quit cold turkey after 20 years of smoking a pack a day, it's fair enough that we could all enjoy of a smoke-free festival. I don't have an opinion on vaping, so we can decide back on that one later, but for now, can we just get the fellows from Splendour in the craft to get some diamantes glued to nicotine patches for give-aways?

2. Name the parking lanes already!: You get there on daylight, sober and fresh, and 12 hours later, after a 3km walk from the gate to the parking area, and in the middle of the night, all the cars look the same and even after I took the precaution of counting the lanes and taking a photo of my location, I still managed to get lost for five minutes.

Again, can we tap into the creativity of the crafters and get some signs done please?

We could even run a competition via Triple J's Ben and Liam program to name them...

The sky is the limit.

3. Charge for water: No, I am not advocating for charging people $5 for a litre of water, and I am all for allowing people to use reusable containers, but when you put a label on anything that contains the word 'free' people use it and abuse it.

Bright young minds saw the 'free water' tanks and decided to let the free water run, well, freely. So the water was wasted, the area became muddy and after three days, the place was stinky.

Charge $1 for accessing water and you'll see nobody wastes what is not free.

4. How much was I charged?: It was great to have access to tap-and-go facilities around the festival, but it became increasingly obvious that punters had to trust the person operating the debit machine was charging the actual amount they quoted. The lack of screens displaying the amount charged was compounded to the fact some vendors were unable to produce a receipt. On the other hand, some vendors were able to email or text receipts instead of printing them, which was very good.

5. Teens near the tunnel begging for wristbands: After a long day or work (or play, whichever) the last thing punters want is to be hassled by kids. Under the tunnel, which is well lit but still enclosed and sometimes lonely, I was asked if I had a single-day pass to give away for free by three young teens on my way out of the festival on Saturday. They became too persistent and slightly aggressive after I declined their request.

Despite being younger, shorter and not intimidating, they only stopped demanding the wristband from me because I told them I needed it for work and because they could see people coming up behind me.


Sampa the Great play Splendour in the Grass 2018.
Sampa the Great play Splendour in the Grass 2018. Marc Stapelberg

But since not everything is negative, here are three things I really loved of this year's festival:

1. The shuttle from the parking area: What a difference having the option of waiting for a shuttle or walking from the parking area to the event gates. Well done. It made a massive difference to many punters. I walked as this yearly ritual of walking to and from the festival is all the cardio I do for the year.

2. Australian music: A big portion of the line up was made of young artists, many female, who are really just getting their foot on the door and this festival really put their names out there. For Byron Bay's Skegss and Seaside to newcomers G Flip and even someone like Sampa The Great, who has played at the festival twice before, this year's festival was a great way to discover great Australian talent.

3. The food was glorious: For someone who is always suspicious of food not cooked in front of my eyes, the idea of eating at a music festival is never enticing, but Splendour always brings out great vendors. This year, highlights were the Bao Brothers from Newcastle (bao is a Taiwanese dish, like an Asian taco, and their tofu bao with ginger was second to none), the affogatos from Byron's Baylato (coffee with ice cream is the best pick-me-up) and Pipi Cucu Empanadas offered cheese and ham empanadas (South American pasties), the best end of the day snack to enjoy on the way back to the car park.


Splendour in the Grass 2018
Splendour in the Grass 2018 Marc Stapelberg

See you next year.