I’ve been playing bass for Jack River, aka Holly Rankin, on and off for the last five years. The band always has a friendly/family atmosphere, but this year even more so with the addition of Holly’s brother Reuben on keys and her seven-month-old, Maggie, in tow.

The week leading up to Splendour in the Grass was large, with three full rehearsal days with guests and crew. I took any break in rehearsal to draw some portraits – one of Annie noodling away on her guitar and another of Reuben diligently taking notes. This is the first time the band has played a few new album tracks from Jack River’s recently released Endless Summer.

Friday came around and band, gear and babies made it to Byron ready for the dream festival slot: sunset on the first night. As the tent began to fill, we knew it was going to be a big one. Highlights for me were Tony Armstrong making a surprise appearance to sing Endless Summer and 19-year-old Morgan (a festivalgoer Holly met on the flight up) jumping onstage to blast the trumpet line in Real Life.

Never miss a moment. Make sure you're subscribed to our newsletter today.


On Saturday we returned to the festival site a little more fragile than the day before and sat in the sun to watch some bands. Splendour offers some of the best people-watching on the planet. I set up on the hill for Benee and sketched a few of the characters. Joy, vapes and seltzers abound.

We remarked all weekend on the sheer luck of sunshine and how that made the festival. Partly for the sun, partly for the punters and in big part for the hard work of people determined not to let the live-music flame in Australia flicker out. Splendour this year felt like a real return to revelry.