The recovery from a weekend in the sup, begins with the pulling of a single tent peg
I’m pretty sure that’s how the proverb goes, no? And this recovery has been quite the journey. After illness in the camping party caused a rapid evacuation (or should that be several rapid evacuations) in the pre-dawn light on Monday morning, nature continued to test me for several days to come. On Tuesday I felt the familiar pre-illness tingle, on Wednesday I started a prodigious intake of vitamins and Codral, by Thursday the late nights at the sup and medication had me showing the textbook signs of a high-functioning ice addict (sniffly, sweaty, dilated pupils!) and by Saturday I entered fully blown pseudoephedrine psychosis (who said that?!) and started to wonder if the medication was the problem or the solution. But let’s go back to the glorious source of the situation…
You’d think that after 12 trips to the sup we’d have the routine down by now, but we’re still learning. Mrs LTLT and I set off without bedding, a feat which was trumped by some friends who showed up with the emperor’s new tent. Luckily one of the other crew had a spare (?!) and a crisis was averted. We shook off the 35+ degree heat to head down to our spot a few minutes before Money For Rope took the stage and put on a clinic. Calls such as ‘best opening band ever’ were being thrown around willy-nilly and for good reason; the local boys worked hard and killed it. Opossum were next up and went by without too many a raised eyebrow before Psarandonis took the stage to play some indescribable, but quite mood-setting and entertaining (warning: lazy cliche approaching) World Music. I’m sorry, but I don’t really have the words to describe it any better.
Coming into this GP after a particularly chaotic month (or 3) in my personal life, standing on the hill, can in hand, surrounded by friends in the beating sun was particularly cathartic; and to be awash in great music an added bonus. Heading down the front as the sun slipped behind a cloud, Wild Nothing were nothing short of excellent with their dream-pop, real estate-esque vibes. Definitely buying that record soon. No Zu started to move things up a notch with a little bit of tropicalia kooky dance-pop. Hard to pin down but a nice match for the time of day.
Sometime around now the housekeeping music was decided, somewhat of a hot topic for one of our group, several hours before a convincing best on ground performance. Unhappy with the emphasis that the MCs put on some songs over others she…well… a picture tells a thousand words.
It was the Tallest Man on Earth who really took things away though. Appearing on stage with just a guitar and wearing a singlet, he brought some magic to his set and stole the crowd from the first note. Absolutely beautiful, and the sound was crisp and loud all the way back on the hill. I was mid conversation, half way through a song I’d never heard before, when the emotion of the music took me over and I was rendered speechless with emotion welling up like a geyser. It was that kind of set.
The volatile Chan Marshall aka Cat Power took the stage next and proceeded to bore the pants off most of our crew. She opened with ‘The Greatest’, a fantastic song that was stripped of its power with a long, introspective intro; and played ‘cherokee’ early, but then went quite navel gazy until the end. Singing with a multi-vocal part backing track didn’t help my opinions of the set and it felt like she was on stage for about 3 hours.
Dinosaur Jr brought the guitars out next and made a lot of people pretty happy but never quite clicked with me – I started to think I was in a funky mood until the previously unknown ‘Client Liaison’ took the stage and shook the place to its foundations.
This set was defined by its chutzpah. Lead singer with a perm, wearing a white MJ style blazer and truly living the 80s dream. The keyboardist/sampler guy was surrounded by office furniture (think: Visa sign and water cooler) and they truly owned the stage like they were born to be on it. There was a mid set costume change into a spangly necklace, spray-on pants, and a helluva lotta party going on. Sensational stuff.
Purity Ring came out nice and loud (the sound was fantastic all weekend) and accompanied with a great light show where the ‘beats’ guy was triggering all sorts of pads and sounds using drumsticks, and a set of lanterns onstage would change colours accordingly. The singer was a bit gothic Kate Bush and the whole package was excellent.
Artist of the minute Flume took the stage next with a massive late-night crowd. I’ve been critical of his stage show in the past and whilst he still needs to do some work on it, he put on a great performance on the night – particularly in the second half of the set where things seemed to get a big looser, a little less pre-programmed perhaps. He played a new song that shook the place to it’s foundations and finished with his excellent ‘Hyperparadise’ remix. Plenty more to come from this exciting artist. Catching a bit of Post Percy before calling it a night we declared it a solid start and tried to get a little bit of sleep before the inevitable sweatbox morning as the sun hit the tent.
After sliding out of my tent and giving the campsite a good view of my underwear I heard a bit of ‘Bushwalking’ while walking to get ice, coming to terms with the sins of Saturday, and contemplating the horrific amount of direct sunlight between then and the end of the day. As Hunter S Thomson would say, I had the fear. Powerade followed by Ice Coffee followed by Bloody Mary followed by Beers seemed to turn things around although we missed seeing Dick Diver while rectifying ourselves. Mulatu Astake with the Black Jesus Experience was a sensational start to the day, African jazz rhythms with Mulatu owning the stage on his xylophone. Well played Aunty, Well played.
No one knew anything about ‘Chris Russell’s Chicken Walk’ and with a name like that our expectations were suitably, and as it turned out unreasonably, low. They provided the second ridiculous highlight set of the weekend. A two piece, playing swampy groovy stompy blues-tinged tunes – they knocked everyone over and really brought the crowd in, even in the sun. One of the gang likened their power to that of the Mess Hall, probably the highest compliment you can give a two piece, and it was totally fitting. Astoundingly good.
‘Stay away from Downtown’ was the theme-song for out campsite all weekend and so we welcomed Redd Kross with open arms. In response they welcomed the sup with ear-bleeding guitars and energy. Putting out an energetic and raucous set to make it 3 from 3 for the start of the day. And it was soon to be 4 from 4. Chaz Bundwick, better known as Toro Y Moi, came, played and conquered the mid afternoon sun and sent dust rising from the ground as all who heard were forced to dance – and dance hard. His sound is great and unique – with unmistakable groove and ‘sonic the hedgehog’ keyboard interludes. Love it.
I was super excited about winding back the clock for The Mark of Cain. An out-and-out nostalgia set for me, they played at the first festival I ever went to and hold a place dear in my heart. Truth be told, they were somewhat out of place on the lineup and this was reflected in the small crowd that they drew. Age hath not wearied them and they are still as angry as ever, which begs the question – what continues to rile the Mark of Cain? A mate joked that as parents they would probably give their kids extremely ‘clear. and. direct. feedback.’ – which is a great way to describe their set. I still went weak at the knees when they played ‘The Contender’. What. A. Tune.
I’ve always wanted to be blown away by a Jon Spencer set and whilst this one was probably the best I’ve seen, and good festival fodder, he never really took me to the next level. The Melbourne Ska Orchestra settled into their late-arvo-dance-on-the-hill timeslot quite easily. As settled as you can be with about 30 people on stage and everyone wearing suits… ‘A Message to You Rudy’ and ‘Lygon St Meltdown’ had everyone shaking away in the afternoon light. Good simple pleasures. Keb Darge took over the DJ booth with little fanfare, playing some fun rockabilly tunes that were occasionally punctuated with his thick accented ‘Luv this tune’ commentary, but really we were all just counting down the clock until the docking of the mothership.
Settling into our position and waiting as the band were a bit late (as Keb kept reminding us as he played on) all of a sudden the rockabilly stopped and the stage lights went up to a hard funk groove. Cheering, some serious guitars wailing as the oh-so-tight band started the stomp. Tonnes of people on stage, the freaks had landed. Funk was on the stage, and he is not of your world. It took a good 5-10 minutes for George to take the mike, dressed in a black suit and white hat… he approached… started singing…and it was… terrible. Like comically terrible. With screeching semi-in-tune backing vocallists and george’s tuneless shouting pushed way up in the mix, it was like all of your loosest mates (who’d been partying continuously for about 40 years) singing karaoke over one of the worlds tightest bands. The looks of horror from the crowd around us were priceless. I broke into hysterical laughter. A mate who’d seen him before (but wasn’t at GP) had described the show to me in advance as a ‘circus’, but this wasn’t the type of circus I was expecting. I tried to persevere, I really did, and I lasted about 25 minutes before I removed myself back up the hill. It was equal parts funny and depressing – kind of like when Brian Wilson closed Splendour in 06 and whilst it sounded amazing, the reality of how fried he was took away from the beautiful songs.
Anyway, the night was far from over and I was only just kicking into overdrive. Mrs LTLT was done for the night so I walked her back up to the tent and was told that a shower was necessary before I dragged my weary and dirty frame into bed. Not wishing to have a real shower, I was unceremoniously hosed down by mates with water bottles. At Midnight. Only at meredith.
Feeling suitably refreshed now 2 days of dust and suncream had been removed, it was time to check out the DJ/VJ combo of Naysayer and Gilsun. A nice way to keep the crowd entertained and ticking over into the late show this was, with the large screen providing some slick visuals to the punter friendly beats. But we were waiting for Julio (Bashmore). And the man from Bristol didn’t disappoint, dropping a very nocturnal and deep dubby-housey-whatever you want to call it set full of four to the floor bangers, including his epic ‘Battle for Middle You’ (People get up!). With our attention spans starting to fray we decided to go for a spin on the eye while Zanzibar Chanel did their thing and waited up to watch Moodymann drop a couple of disco-inspired numbers to start before exhaustion and common sense got the better of us and we returned to camp.
Some 90 minutes later the rapid evacuation began and we started to hit the road (no, I wasn’t driving, thanks for asking). After more greasy McDonalds than is recommended and a seriously amazing shower I crashed out, beholden to the wonder that is golden plains.
Over and Out,