On the outset of their opening slot, Vacations are out of their element. They’re a long way from their native Newcastle, and sonically are even further removed from the sound of tonight’s headliner. Their inclusion on such a bill is a genuine curiousity, to the point where you’re pondering if perhaps the bookers mistook them for a different band. Nevertheless, Vacations persist – and the evening is all the better for it. Having dropped their debut LP Changes back in April, the band have fine-tuned their particular off-shoot of warm, fancy-free jangle pop over the last couple of years. Fitting given their coastal heritage, the band rides a wave similar to that of bands such as Yves Klein Blue and Last Dinosaurs before them. “Moving Out” and “Relax” are all Johnny Marr chord shapes and wistful charm, boasting hooks that other bands will work for an entire career to develop. Yes, Vacations are considerably different to the main act – but rather than serve as detrimental, it’s complementary. This slot could have easily gone to some goatee-bristling meat-and-potatoes ‘rawk’ band, so at least there’s something a little more substantial here. Vacations dare to be different – and who dares wins.
When Marmozets did their first Splendour back in 2015, they were feisty up-and-comers hot on the heels of their debut album. In the three years following, the (mostly) family band have notched up hundreds of gigs and circumnavigated the globe to play them. They return tonight just as energetic but also twice as confident, having promptly carved their niche of big-swinging rock with a post-hardcore tinge and leather-jacket cool. They come charging out of the gates with “Play,” which feels like QOTSA’s “Millionaire” as if it were written as a pop song. Soon after, vocalist Becca Macintyre launches herself headfirst into the throes of the moshpit to set things off during “Move, Shake, Hide.” Even through guitar troubles on stage-left during “Is It Horrible,” the band persevere and power through. It certainly helps that each member is getting out just as much as they’re putting in. Drummer Josh Macintyre can barely be contained behind the kit, standing on top of his bass drum and screaming for the crowd to sing louder. Meanwhile, bassist Will Bottomley throws himself into every song, adding in some throat-tearing screams for good measure.
As a collective unit, they’re firing off on all cylinders – even in more restrained moments like “Run with the Rhythm” and “Captivate You,” the builds ride on tension and release. It makes for a thoroughly-entertaining live prospect, which is cemented with the final one-two punch of “Why Do You Hate Me?” and “Major System Error.” Although one of their bigger songs (“Born Young and Free”) is curiously absent, it says a lot that this serves as the sole drawback from what’s otherwise a remarkably-impressive set. Their return on the next album cycle is already hotly anticipated.