It’s sideshow season! Bear Family picks their ‘must-see’ Splendour sideshows


Last Thursday was hell for a lot of people. That bloody green chair was the bane of many wannabe Splendour-goers’ existences and left some people elated and others heartbroken. The task of getting those precious Splendour tickets has become and artform and unfortunately it’s not always a happy ending for hopeful punters.

But alas, not all is lost. For those trendy cats living in Melbourne and Sydney, there is a smorgasbord of sideshows  to help dry your Splendour tears and bring you the opportunity to catch all your favourite acts (well, most of them-damn you ‘Only Australian show’!)

Here are our picks of the bunch, a detailed guide of how to have your own ‘splendour bender’ without the mud, drink tickets or dodgy tent-neighbours.


At The Drive In



A band like At The Drive In are always going split festival punters down the middle. You’re either a hardcore fan or you’re waiting patiently for The Cure to start so you can impress your cool uncle. If you are one of the former, sometimes a festival slot isn’t the best method of delivery. A band like At The Drive In needs a full room of sweaty, intensely aggravated, hardcore fans to truly get the best of Cedric & Co. With an open air stage you can’t trap all of that hot air and vicious energy which makes at At The Drive In show all the more memorable.

Where can I catch the action?

Friday 22 July – Forum Theatre, Melbourne
Sunday 24 July – Enmore Theatre, Sydney


James Blake


Now I am a little surprised at Jimmy’s choice of venues for these shows. Is James Blake really ready for STADIUM shows? He hasn’t got a ‘Sex on Fire’ or a ‘song from every internet action sports video by Imagine Dragons’ to get a stadium moving! But the size of the venues is evidently a testament to Mr.Blake’s popularity and the anticipation to which his upcoming third album is being met with. I personally like to listen to A Wilhelm Scream in the bath, but I’m keen as a bean to see how it all goes down in the arena.

Where can I catch the action?

Tuesday 26 July – Hordern Pavilion, Sydney
Wednesday 27 July – Margaret Court Arena, Melbourne
Thursday 28 July – Thebarton Theatre, Adelaide
Saturday 30 July – HBF Stadium, Perth

Band of Horses


Band of Horses are obviously pretty chummy with the Splendour top brass, as this is their third appearance at the festival. I remember in 2010 racing down the hill after Florence to catch Band of Horses before RACING back to the top to catch The Strokes, so I can foresee a touch of deja vu with 2016’s scheduling. Coincedence aside, Band of Horses were one of my highlights of 2010, and with an album under their belt since then and a new one on the way, their sideshows are sure to be the highlight of your 2016.

Where can I catch the action?

Sunday 24th July – The Forum Theatre, Melbourne

Jack Garratt 


Jack Garratt was introduced to me recently as a ‘Chet Faker but better’. Having listened thoroughly through Jack’s debut album Phase I can confidently confirm that he is indeed in the Faker mould but infinitely less boring. Where Faker lacks imagination, Garratt surprises you from song to song, keeping you intrigued from track 1. He is one of the hottest talents on earth at the moment so now is your chance to catch him before he replaces James Blake at the stadiums in a few years. This is your big opportunity to set yourself up with a ‘seen him before he was large’ story for your 2018 house party.

Where can I catch the action?

Wednesday 20 July – 170 Russell, Melbourne
Thursday 21 July – Metro Theatre, Sydney

Jake Bugg and Blossoms


Another similar argument for this one as At The Drive In. Jake Bugg is a hard one to pick live, and on a massive Splendour amphitheatre stage his impact might be hampered. Put him in a small room with an atmosphere and a bit of comfort and you are sure to get a performance you’ll be talking about for weeks. The boy’s got talent, you wanna make sure you see him in full flight.

Combine that with a chance to get your #indieamnesty moment in early with Blossoms and you’ve got yourself a top night out!

Where can I catch the action?

Tuesday 26 July – State Theatre, Sydney
Wednesday 27 July – Palais Theatre, Melbourne
Friday 29 July – Metro City, Perth


Alistair is the founder of Bear Family. Alistair resides in Melbourne and can be found wandering the streets searching for bargains and peppermint tea. Come and say Hi, he's nice.

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