So, gratuitously, this week’s post is my annual review of the Meredith music festival. Historically it’s gone out to friends through email but since they’ve started sending it on to other friends and so on, it’s time to get it on a centralised location. Voila!
Returning to the sup after a self imposed absence from Golden Plains due to pesky wedding commitments, my excitement levels were reaching their usual stratospheric level as we turned in the gate and found our crew in their campsite (thanks for setting up our tent guys!). With time enough to unpack and stroll down we made it to our usual spot with about 5 minutes to go before the opening act Pond. Featuring two members of Tame Impala and with acclaimed 2012 release Beards, Wives, Denim in tow they put on a helluva opening. With great energy and a great sound. They could have comfortably held a later slot but were a great way to get us super revved for the night to come.
Next up were Snakadaktyl, who I was kind of keen to see but didn’t really get me going on the day. We chilled up the back swapping stories and sharing beers with the gang while Earthless and Brous pumped out some psychadelic swamp-jams and some poppy sounds respectively, before rounding up the gang and assembling down on the hill for Grimes.
I’ll comfortably say that I was nervous about Grimes’ performance. Her album is really cool but I was up in the air as to whether she was going to be any good live. Turned out I needn’t have worried because she was excellent. Hitting the stage dressed like some sort of batman-villain complete with painted eyes, she fed off the crowds energy and put on a super fun show. Back up dancers busting some interpretive moves on the side and Grimes dancing around mic in hand behind her keyboard she had the crowd going nuts when she moved into Oblivion (meow meow meow meow meow) early on in the set. Unfortunately for me, the bathroom called about halfway through the set and while trying to escape I discovered that she had pulled an ENORMOUS crowd. Headliners sized and dense way out to the far trees on the Gift Shoppe side. Well Deserved.
Sunnyboys up next and while we stayed up the back, they sounded absolutely fantastic. Great tunes, great energy and a great guitar sound made their set much more than a bland reformation gig. well played. Spritualised was up next and while I wanted to get into it I just couldn’t connect. Went down a couple of times, and caught the epic ‘Ladies and Gentlemen we are Floating In Space’ but it didn’t quite land with me. A mate who is a bigger fan than me thought they were epic though so maybe I needed to spend more time with their catalogue.
Excited and loose by this time we took a large crew down for Tame Impala, who were pretty high on the ‘most anticipated’ list for the weekend. After finding a position we waited, and waited, and waited, and waited. 10-15mins late to get on stage they launched into their first song… and the sound was terrible. Flat, no dynamics and you could barely hear the guitar over the muddy bass. The amazing ‘Endors Toi’ was wasted in this part of the set and we had almost written it off when like a light switch it came good about 4 songs in. The change was incredible. All of a sudden those epic spacey guitar sounds were where they should have been and they sounded like a different band.
From here on, things very quickly hit the ‘outrageously fucking excellent’ part of the spectrum and the crowd appropriately lost their shit. Desire be, desire go was a keeper, but the undoubted highlight was the one-two punch of a jammed out ‘Elephant’ into ‘Feels Like we Only Go Backwards’ – two of the greatest songs released this year no doubt. Finishing off with an extended and face-melting ‘Half Full Glass of Wine’ we slid back up to the spot to reload and come down from a set that put daylight between them and all who were on stage before them. Omar Souleyman was a bit divisive. I thought he was pretty entertaining but a few people were also pretty over it.
Final act for the Friday and my ‘most anticipated for the night’ was Four Tet aka Kieron Hebden aka Electronic Music Genius. Super stoked that he was given a 90 minute set to really bang it out he stepped on stage and took the sup to new dreamy places. Holding a massive crowd and working through a variety of moods, and taking it into the stratosphere several times. I thought he was going to get called back for an encore the crowd was that rabid. Almost a dead heat for highlight of the day, I give it to Four Tet cause of Tame Impala’s sound problems. We walked back to the tent absolutely buzzing on the experience and stayed up for a beer or two. For a while, with the sky starting to colour, I thought I could go through but then common sense got the better of me and I retreated for some fitful sleep.
A whopping 4 hours after going to bed I was up again and at it. Most people pulled up alright except for ‘the funniest’ who had a serious case of First Night Fever which translated into a best on ground performance and a sorry state in the morning. Feeling alright I did the only thing available to me and got straight back on it. The bloody mary mix was out and in full flight, aiding the recovery and quickly washed down with a Dr Tims. Let’s roll.
We achieved our goal of seeing Four Tet close and making it down for Twerps at 11am. Even caught a bit of the brass band who were on stage due to the heat, which was already oppressive. Thankfully we were there early enough to stake out our spot which has a good run of shade from experience and the morning was very comfortable. Twerps were ok but not too exciting (which was disappointing). They even gave up halfway through one of their best songs after all losing time with each other. We braved the heat for Chet Faker, who was beset with all sorts of sound and equipment problems and looked rattled. Such is his talent that a few of the crew still really enjoyed it but having seen him blow me away before it was an opportunity lost. At full capacity he would have OWNED the morning but alas, such are the thrills and spills of live music. Royal Headache had a red hot go at warming up the crowd (read: singer without a shirt) and did pretty well too. They’ve got some great songs but I felt they lacked the onstage…something…. (dare I say ‘X Factor’?!) to really whip people up into a frenzy.
It was at this stage we got some unexpected news. Seems the howling northerly that had slowly been filling my sinuses with dust had wreaked havoc on our (and everybody else’s) campsite. Going up to inspect the damage we found our tent with snapped poles protruding through a hole in the fly like a nasty broken arm. With rain forecast, things weren’t looking good. By the time we’d packed up and collected all the rubbish (air mattress in the car!) we’d missed Big Jay McNeely, which was a tragedy because by all accounts he was un-freaking-believable. Hiding under our gazebo to escape the shade and ruminate the damage we also managed to miss the Hot Snakes and Rahzel. Which was a bit of a pity cause I can’t remember the last time I missed anyone at Meredith due to hiding up in the campsite. Oh well, it is what it is.
Deciding that the best remedy to a broken tent was to party, hard; we cruised down for some Toot-Toot-Tootin’ fun. Complete with Go go dancers they were some fun light entertainment before Saskwatch and their 8 or so members took the stage to get everyone dancing. A very nice lead in to the rest of the afternoon, everyone was starting to warm up nicely for the ‘Gurge, who were in very fine form after their recent run of Tu Plang/Unit concerts. Playing the ‘mid arvo 90s band’ slot they wasted no time in cracking through the hits including a particularly energetic ‘I wanna be a nudist’ and ‘Track 1’. They never seem to grow tired of slamming it out and they quickly gathered a huge and appreciative crowd. Good work lads.
With the sun starting to set it was time to get position for some Deathpunk from Norwegian crazies Turbonegro. If you’re not familiar, just think of a band that look like the village people meets Poison and you’re about half way there. Their singer is covered in goulish face paint, wearing a leather vest (no shirt) and a massive tiger-face tatt on his stomach. Google ‘Tony Sylvester’ if you want to see more. Opening with the classic ‘All My Friends are Dead’ and full of hilarious one-liners between songs ‘You all look so beautiful, and they say all Australian’s are so ugly. They must have all the best looking ones here tonight and I promise you that I’m going to fuck every single last one of you tonight’ they put on a pretty fun cock-rocky show. Favourite song was the aptly titled ‘dude without a face‘ and best moment was the sing along. “ok, half the crowd sing ‘whoa whoa whoa whoa’ and the other half sing ‘I got an erection’. Surreal stuff and pretty hilarious.
So now, the lead up was over and it was time for the mighty Primal Scream to take the headline slot. Coming on early, it was clear from the moment they set boot on stage that they were there to show everyone else how to play a headline slot. The ageless and elegantly wasted Bobby Gillespie was prowling the stage, bringing memories of Nick Cave from last year, and the band sounded fantastic and LOUD. No problems with sound for this one. Light show in full swing they opened with a song called 2012 (I think) before launching into an absolutely brutal, full tilt ‘Swastika Eyes’. By the time the first lines to ‘Movin on Up’ were sung, the crowd was in absolutely full swing and it was pretty clear this was one for the ages. Just writing about it now is winding me up! moving through material from a heap of albums, with a heavy focus on screamadelica they absolutely owned the sup and everyone in it. Shoot Speed/Kill Light melted the entire crowd, we all sung along to ‘Come Together’ , joined in the church of Bobby Gillespie. Country Girl tore the roof off the place and the final combination of Jailbird into Rocks (played veeeeeery fast and energetic) was enough to send the place into raptures. In disbelief, we wandered back to the crew. I’m calling it as the best headline slot I’ve seen there, taking the title off Eddy Current Suppression Ring. Exhilarating stuff and the sort of show that makes legends (like they needed to!). Words don’t do it justice.
At this stage I decided to turn it in as the afternoon’s hard partying had put me in quite the state and I needed to think about preservation. Those who stayed up reported that the light show was pretty cool and the DJ Flagrant did a great job of playing the tricky post-headline set and keeping everyone moving. Waking up early in the car and feeling like death, we hit the road to go sleep in our beds. Good reports of Fraser A Gorman and Boomgates filtered in but my weekend was owned by Primal Scream – well and truly.
One of the better ones of the last few years (but choosing favourites is like picking between your children). Great work Aunty, see you at Golden Plains!
Oh yeah, and look who wandered through our spot on Friday! (and quite keen to have a chat with us too!)