Written by Erik Skoog
Photos from Splendour in the Grass
How good does it feel to finally pick up the keys to your new flat?
In a press statement released early on March 13th, Secret Sounds announced that their Splendour in the Grass and Falls Festival events had just secured a permanent residency at the North Byron Parklands, along with a $42 million development upgrade.
Splendour in the Grass has been a beloved part of the Australian festival circuit since 2001, filling in a much needed slot during the slow winter music months. The festival is highly revered for bringing in massive names, such as Kanye, Mumford and Sons, Lorde, and Porter Robinson to list a very select few – never failing to check off big boxes across a wide variety of genres. Falls Festival has experienced similar success across other parts of Australia, with Byron Bay being it’s newest location. You may have seen the video featuring it’s laundromat with the hidden club circulating the internet recently.
Uncertainty for their future came through concerns from local residents surrounding the impact a 30,000 person festival has on the environment, noise, traffic, and wastewater management – all completely valid issues to discuss. A government stamp, especially one from New South Wales, seems to indicate both festival organizers and attendees have demonstrated appropriate conduct and respect for the protocol, location, and residents living in surrounding the area. Despite the approval coming with the very stern phrasing requiring “strict conditions of consent” on behalf of the organizers, the overall tone seems optimistic.
This announcement is a very long time coming – nearly a decade – and the implications should be taken seriously. This is echoed in an additional statement released by the New South Wales government, which goes over some of the more official aspects of the decision. Not only will Splendour in the Grass and Falls Festival be able to incrementally increase their capacity in the future, but other smaller events would also be permitted to surface. This is all accompanied by proposed infrastructure upgrades, including roads and conference buildings. The release also touches on the benefits for local business, employment, and tourism – the government officially acknowledging the benefits and maturity of two massively popular music festivals. This is a big deal.
In no way is this lost on Secret Sounds founder and festival Co-Producer Jessica Ducrou; including a very gracious and sincere thank you note in Wednesday’s press statement. She expressed gratitude to the Department of Planning and Environment, the North Byron Parklands team, the Festival’s own organizers, the local community that supports the event occurring in their own backyard, and of course, the dedicated and passionate attendees.
While offering genuine thanks to some by name, Ducrou also issued harsh criticisms towards other officials and lawmakers, chastising the government’s lack of transparency and unwillingness to discuss the issues in person, instead sending aides to a meeting meant to discuss safety and harm reduction. As noted in our Rainbow Serpent and Secret Garden reviews, the fate of many live music events and festivals is in a state of uneasy limbo, thanks to aggressive police presence, exorbitant fees, and government oversight haunting the experience. She closes with a call to make your voice heard in the upcoming state election on March 23rd. Secret Sounds is a strong presence in the #VoteMusic campaign, with many artists and festival promoters rallying to end heavy regulations and vote out the lawmakers behind them.
At this time, the lineup and festival details are still on the horizon – but this bit of good news is enough to keep us buzzing until it gets here.