REVIEW: A Meredith Music Festival Blow-By-Blow
The dust has settled, the tinnies are in the recycling, and Meredith Music Festival is over for 2013. Purple Sneakers gave me a media pass in the hope that I would be able to sum up the incredible weekend—the music, the people, the ineffable Meredith vibe that happens like magical clockwork every year.
What follows are some notes I scribbled down, long after phone battery had run out, as a kind of diary, to provide some sort of record of my last hours in case, as I expected, I didn’t make it back in one piece… We also decided to omit the several pages that were just sketches of the Teletubbies.
Awake, showered, packed, ready to go! I sit by the front door waiting for my ride, keen to get a good spot and start getting into the weekend.
My ride arrives one hour late. I’m glad he got a good sleep-in. No, really. We hit the open road!
The open road closes up in front of us as we hit the line to get into the festival.
Still in line. Thank god for podcasts.
We arrive at Meredith! The vibe is already so thick you could cut it with a knife, but I decide to just set up the campsite instead. The motivational power of a cold tinnie fuels the construction of a tent in record time.
I take a break from tinnies to check out the first band of the festival down at the Supernatural Ampitheatre. Meat-and-potatoes pub rock band Warped are very exciting. Back to tinnies.
Sitting on couches at the back of the Ampitheatre, listening to Stonefield. Hearing the retro riffs without being able to see their fresh, youthful faces is a weird experience.
After a false start when frontman Bradford Cox was freaked out by a large spider on stage, Deerhunter burn through a set of dreamy jams and noisy freakouts. Tracks from this year’s Monomania blend in with extended versions of old favourites like ‘Nothing Ever Happened’ and ‘Desire Lines’. The guitar codas go on for minutes and I raise a tinnie in respect.
The Ampitheatre shakes as cult grunge predecessors Melvins start cranking out their first few riffs. There are two drummers on stage, playing perfectly in sync as guitarist Buzzo shakes his gigantic grey afro to their angular, unpredictable brand of sludge metal. When you can feel the bass vibrate your bones, it’s hard not to start nodding your head.
World’s End Press kick off and a bona fide dance party in the crowd ensues to their twinkling synths and disco-inspired rhythms. ‘Drag Me Home’ in particular resonates with the crowd.
Brian Jonestown Massacre dip into the psychedelic sprawl of their discography for a perfectly pleasant set, with no onstage meltdown in site. I take a chance to grab one of Jeri’s Vegie Burgers. A girl walks up to me and says, “Do what you gotta do, so you do it, and then it’s done”. This will be my motto of the festival.
I’ve been trying to save myself for a big day tomorrow but the dark alluring beats of Le1f, informed by club bangers and nocturnal r&b, finally convince me to rush down into the crowd. He’s a charismatic performer, holding the audience in the palm of his hand and whipping them into frenzy in a blaze of strobe lights. Even seeing a guy dressed head to toe as Gumby can’t wipe the smile off my face.
Stumbling up the hill after Jon Hopkins. Speechless. Feel like he’s reached into my brain with his laptop and turned me inside out. Roland Tings starts playing pleasant house tunes but after Hopkins’ utter audio demolition of the festival I need to go to my tent and reevaluate my life.
The annual tradition of being woken in a sweaty tent by the blaring, glorious horns of the City of Ballarat Brass Band.
I put my shoe back on my foot after raising it into the sky for Mac DeMarco’s set-closer. He earns the boot, a Meredith tradition of showing appreciation for a great set by, well, holding your shoe up, with a crowd-pleasing and clearly-inebriated set of crisp pop perfection. He manages to change three guitar strings in the time it takes his band to play a gleefully-obscene improv number, and crowd surfs the length of the Amphitheatre to celebrate.
Put my shoe back on my foot after taking part in yet another boot for The Smith St Band. My hangover has been pummelled away by their glorious racket and watching frontman Wil Wagner drink a Bacardi Breezer from a shoe onstage has inspired me to crack the tinnies again in earnest.
Needless to say, Dick Diver receive their own Boot after a version of ‘Head Back’ which ends with a gaggle of dancers onstage wearing cardboard boxes with images of Gina Rinehart and Rupert Murdoch, while bassist Al Monfort chants ‘FUCK KOCHIE’ to a roaring crowd. It’s been quite a day.
I’m enjoying Joey Bada$$ and his 90s East Coast hip-hop vibes until someone points out that he’s like five years younger than me and already a huge success. I go and have a desperately-needed nap to ponder this.
I wake up and make a beeline for a lifesaving veggie burger. I end up shoving it into my mouth so I can run into the crowd and soak up some of Hermitude’s vibes. Their originals and remixes, full of bass drops and sparse 808 rhythms make a lot of sense at an outdoor festival playing to a surging crowd jumping in unison.
Spiderbait play ‘Black Betty’ and get an instant Boot from everyone in my immediate vicinity.
Body failing but must continue. Just saw Chic with Nile Rodgers. The feel-good essence of classic pop music delivered in bulk for 90 minutes. ‘Like A Virgin’, ‘Le Freak’, ‘Original Sin’, ‘I’m Coming Out’. When he declares that after three years of battling he is “cancer-free”, well, thank God. They walk offstage to ‘Get Lucky’ playing over the PA which just proves he has a lot more love to give us.
Memo to self: give Tranter a hug for playing that Robert Smith version of Crystal Castles’ ‘Not In Love’.
Don’t know who’s playing but I must remember to thank them later because I’m still dancing. I will never get this much glitter out of my beard.
Looks like I forgot to go to bed. Here’s a tip—if you’ve ever thought that sleep deprivation, espresso martinis and sunrise would be a good combination, it’s not.
Watch about thirty seconds of the Meredith Gift (a nude race around the Ampitheatre) before deciding that my body is teetering on the edge and that the sight of some dude’s junk wobbling in the afternoon sun will probably send me well over that edge.
Packing up my tent strangely takes much longer than setting it up. This slapstick comedy is soundtracked by the snotty punk sounds of The UV Race.
Yeah, a Double Whopper with Cheese Meal, thanks.
Walk through the front door, only one hot shower away from sixteen hours of much-needed sleep.
Same time next year Meredith!
Words by Matt Nielson