Live Review: Meredith Music Festival 2014
The Meredith eye completes its last majestic rotation for the weekend and piles of tinnies lay in defeated heaps around the campsite. Meredith 2014 is done and dusted for another year, and yes, that pun was very much intended.
The 24th annual Meredith Music Festival was exciting, unpredictable and full of plain old good times. There was plenty of glitter, plenty of dust and of course plenty of good music. To ensure an efficient delivery of this important post-festival information, I will now move on to highlight my three top acts from each day, a tough yet necessary task.
The opening act of the festival, the Hard-Ons definitely set the bar high. I’ve never really got much into Aussie punk, especially that from the golden era of 1981 when these guys formed in Sydney, but within a few minutes of them being on stage it was obvious that’s where they belong.
The Hard Ons are by far one of the biggest Australian exports of punk music to date, and the energy these guys omitted was a sure way to pump up the sluggish crowd after an early start that morning. Their hair was a little shorter, clothes a little more sensible, but the Hard Ons performed with as much charisma as the bunch of angsty, noisy teenagers they once were.
The War On Drugs
Friday night rolls around, and a huge crowd gathered in the amphitheater eagerly awaiting The War on Drugs set. The kind of uplifting but always strangely melancholic sounds of Adam Granduciel’s voice resonated through the massive crowd, and everyone stood mesmerised in the presence of him and his band mates as they swept through a montage of tracks both from the latest album ‘Lost In The Dream’ as well as earlier offerings.
The War on Drugs and their music that unassumingly loiters somewhere along the blurred lines of ‘true’ American indie rock delivered exactly what many people in that crowd were looking for.
Jagwar Ma are the kind of guys that keep Aus electonica relevant, and will do for a very long time to come. This set was so infectious and energetic it was almost overwhelming. The entire amphitheater moved as one huge, uninhibited entity for the entirety of their set, swaying and lifting to every beat that Jagwar Ma spat at us.
Their 2014 release ‘Uncertainty’ was a massive highlight of the weekend, and shout out to whoever was in charge of the lighting for this set because if my memory serves me correctly, it was fucking awesome.
Phosphorescent, led by Matthew Houk were one of the most intriguing acts I saw over the weekend. I didn’t know much about this band to begin with, but after being convinced to skilfully weave through the sprawled out crowd, dodging couches and sunburnt legs along the way I was led to the front and centre of the stage, assured that sensory delights were to come.
Houck and his band did not disappoint, and even went beyond that and impressed me so much so I think Phosphorescent have gained themselves a new fan. The set was technical, and had soaring fusion alternative rock sounds swerving through unmistakably Alabaman roots. Phosphorescent were the perfect afternoon pick-me-up, even though I left with a weird sense of euphoria meets dejected somewhere at a roadhouse diner in the desert.
I couldn’t help but compare Ty Segall and his live performance to a slightly more tame version of our own Nick Allbrook from Pond, both are amazing performers, and weird, wonderful human beings in their own sense. Ty Segall brought his unclassifiable sounds to the Meredith stage, delivering a set just as eclectic as his own music.
Sliding between chilled out psychedelic rock to heavy garage punk and everything in between, Ty Segall will have you forever on your toes. I’d never seen him live before this, but would definitely go again.
Dr Phil Smith
Maybe I’m crazy to be ignoring the fact major legends of the hip hop scene like Ghostface and De La Soul were in my presence on that fine fine Saturday eve (they were both awesome fyi), but if I’m being honest in my highlighting the highlights, DJ Dr Phil Smith, moniker for an undisclosed “local legend” of the Melbourne DJ scene took the cake that night. The two-hour set was packed with indulgent party tunes that, along with other things, had people in the most ecstatic of states.
Things were a little bit hazy by this time of the night, so specifics of the music aren’t clear, but I can confirm there was Nelly (Ride Wit me, obviously) and Fleetwood Mac, so this guy had every base covered to say the least. An awesome collection of pop tunes devoid of cheesiness, Dr Phil Smith you made my little pop music lovin’ heart sing.
Sunday not-so-fun day / Extremely honourable mentions
Sunday was an overly emotional day for me; maybe it was a collision of happy thoughts of an imminent shower and comfortable bed mixed with sadness of departure from the humble chaos of tent city. Or it may have just been sheer exhaustion and my body crying from the inside out, either way, feelings were strong, emotions were high.
New Zealand country and blues artist Marlon Williams who has been likened to Elvis and Roy Orbison was responsible for the first bout of tear welling, his incredible and almost chilling vocals reverberated through the much more reserved crowd that slowly dribbled down from the campsite. It was dead silent in the amphitheater as Marlon performed his epic final song, to which he received a completely justified standing ovation from the crowd, and a tear or two from me. This guy is amazing in every sense of the word.
The Lemonheads were the next to toy with my already fragile mind. Front man Evan Dando was as nonchalant as ever, even asking for the lights to be turned off on stage (because why the hell does there need to be lights on in the day time, or something) and mumbling some other stuff into the mic between songs. But when Courtney Barnett walked on stage to perform a duet version of ‘Being Around’ I lost all chance of composure. The two worked together to recreate that song with even more careless charm than I thought humanly possible.
And then everyone got naked and ran around a few times and someone proposed to his girlfriend, because why the hell not.
See you soon Aunty Meredith.