Will any of Splendour In The Grass 2021's headliners be even allowed into Australia?
The festival - which kicks off around this time next year - will feature three international headliners: The Strokes, Tyler The Creator and Gorillaz.
It's been a turbulent year for Splendour In The Grass this year. Initially scheduled to celebrate their 20th anniversary two weeks from now, the festival first came under fire for somewhat of an underwhelming trio of headliners, with people on social media - who like to complain about everything, to be frank - complaining that the pairing of The Strokes and Flume are too recycled for the festival's 20th year, and while Tyler The Creator is an exciting and well-needed headliner choice, it comes after festival dates in Australia just six months ago.
Then, COVID-19 happened, and shit hit the fan. Initially, the festival carried the full lineup into October, following the queues of other rescheduled international festivals - like Coachella, for example - and pushing the initial lineup to springtime, moving the complete lineup - headliners and all - to around three months or so later.
Then, as it soon became clear that international travel was a no-go (especially so with a decent portion of the line-up being from the US, who are by far battling coronavirus the worst), the October festival - much like Coachella soon after, yet again - was canned all together, with the festival organisers promising to move as much of the line-up as possible to new dates in July 2021. "With our audience interests front and centre, we must announce the reschedule to 2021 now," Splendour In The Grass organisers Jessica Ducrou and Paul Piticcon announced.
"We intend to rebook as many of the 2020 artists as possible and we have started to work through that process."
The festival was moved to its usual slot of Friday 23 - Sunday 25 July 2021, and now - almost a year out from the line-up's arrival - they've announced their three headliners. The Strokes and Tyler The Creator are keeping steady, pushing their 2020 dates to 2021 - with Splendour In The Grass included within that. Flume, meanwhile, has unfortunately had to cancel his headliner pole position due to scheduling clashes, and has now been replaced by Gorillaz (who really should've been on the lineup initially, and are an incredibly exciting get).
However, at the risk of playing devil's advocate, will any of them be even allowed into Australia? As we've seen with the Victorian - and seemingly, soon New South Wales - outbreaks in the past week, the coronavirus situation is incredibly unpredictable and on-edge, especially with international arrivals coming back home from pandemic hotspots on a constant basis. It's worth saying too, that if we're seeing unpredictable new peaks in Australia - a place admired by basically everyone except New Zealand for stomping out the virus early - what hope do we have in allowing musicians from the US and UK to come over, as they're still grappling with the virus' initial wave?
The fact is no-one exactly knows what the hell is going on. In April, Australia's Tourism Minister - who is probably someone to trust - said it "won't be anytime soon", while Flight Centre (the travel company wrecked by the pandemic and its affects to global travel), have boldly predicted it could be back by August (which is looking incredibly unlikely, at this point). Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said that he expects international travel not for another year: "we are working on international operations not starting in any real size ... until July next year," he said just a few weeks back.
The point is, the global pandemic situation is constantly changing and unpredictable, and if people are already saying international travel is a no-go until around this time next year, is there much hope of a global-spanning Splendour In The Grass lineup with many, many moving parts going on basically everywhere? Who knows - no-one knows a thing - but announcing headliners as it soon becomes clear that the festival's home-state is hitting a new patch of coronavirus cases probably isn't the best idea.
Splendour In The Grass 2021:
Tyler, The Creator
+ more to be announced.
23, 24 & 25 July 2021
North Byron Parklands
Tweed Valley Way, Wooyung
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