Another year means another Meredith – another summer weekend as unforgettable as it is completely forgotten. Another swathe of bands join another legion of food trucks in another rural Victorian town, with thousands of punters coming together to appreciate some of the year’s loveliest days. Following this year’s edition of Aunty Meredith, we’ve made a little list of the best parts of the 2014 festival, which, as usual, was just a revelrous weekend of balls-out fun.
Unless you attended Meredith as a rock purist (which is fair), Jagwar Ma were an unexpected blow-away. The Sydney trio burst onto the stage late Friday night clothed in their svelte little performing outfits (front man Gabriel Winterfield’s bucket hat included) and launched immediately into an array of reverberating, flavoursome, and wholly consuming beats.
The band displayed their bemusing ability to merge elements of electronica and 60s psychedelia in an impeccably sleek way. Jono Ma put to use technical wizardry from behind his truck-load of decks as the rest of the band deviated between instruments throughout. They churned out lengthy electronic odysseys; their “last song” traveling for over ten minutes across an ever-changing plane of light and shade; sparsity and intensity; exotica and industrial. They even managed to chuck in pop numbers ‘Let Her Go’ and ‘Come Save Me’ from their only album Howlin’, as well as a light show that was unmatched for the rest of the festival. Of course, their set left just about no-one in the mood for bed; but with this said, all they had to wake up to was another load of bands.
At least, there didn’t seem to be any dickheads as Meredith’s ‘No Dickheads’ policy would suggest. The ‘bros’ turned up like they usually do at festivals, and of course, thousands of people wondered around the festival grounds feeling about ten thousand miles past sobriety – but nobody appeared to be causing trouble. Lost items tended to come back, there were no fights to be observed whatsoever, and unlike last year’s Meredith, nobody stole anybody’s (my) car keys and tobacco.
It’s a special kind of feeling when you’re standing amongst hundreds of people cheering as the sun retreats behind a distant, farmy hill on a wonderfully balmy evening. What may sound like a sun cult was actually just dusk on Saturday: a globbish, warm, and richly amber panorama.
Pimms Cups and curry wraps
The community stall deserves a mention too – best sausage in bread outside of Bunnings.
DJ Phil Smith
This is a DJ who’s figured out the simple, winning, and yet, sorely understated formula to make a festival swing like a pendulum late into the night. The formula is this: play songs that people like.
DJ Phil Smith took to the stage after De La Soul’s set finished on Saturday evening. Those whose expectations had been shot by the appearance of a ‘DJ’ following a seamless hip hop set were reassured by the sound of several dearly loved tunes. Among these were [early] Madonna, CC Penniston, Nelly, Mark Ronson, Whitney Houston (twice!), Beyoncé, and a range of other tracks that met a plain and simple criteria that needs to be used far more often – that people are aware of the songs.
Hip Hop Part I
Aunty Meredith knows that everyone loves at least a little bit of inoffensive hip hop (as in, no mention of f&*^in bitches or slappin’ h0s a la Eminem); and so, with this knowledge, they delivered. Ghostface Killah (from Wu Tang Clan) and De La Soul had a few things in common with each other. Both acts can quite rightfully claim legendary status, both acts had an onstage entourage, and both acts soaked up the audiences’ enthusiasm like a gigantic sponge flung into a cup of water (please excuse this analogy).
In what were some of the most prominent moments of mass self-realisation in Meredith’s long history, Ghostface had thousands of punters at a time come to the epiphany that pale, scrawny inner-northerners were never meant to shout ‘WU TANG!’ while championing the group’s logo above their heads with their hands. But we did, and he welcomed it, and it was awesome. Every one of Ghostface’s shouted mantras induced a wave of screamed imitation – and trust me – shouting ‘HIP HOP!’ amongst a sizeable crowd in the middle of the day felt far more cool than it should have. This also happened – a heartwarming cherry on the otherwise steaming hot cake.
Hip Hop Part II (De La Soul)
All I can say about De La Soul is that they surpassed peoples’ expectations. They intially met these expectations by playing a tight set of simple hip hop tracks with smooth beats and chants that lured thousands into singing along with the New York trio. Then, they surpassed said expectations by playing ‘Ring Ring’ and a snippet of ‘Feel Good Inc.’ (which they do the rap parts on). They even got a kid who looked about eight years old out from the crowd to be their temporary hype man; the child’s high pitched, furied query, ‘WHO’S READY TO PARTY??!!?!”, contrasting hilariously with the deep American voices of the band. It also made everybody there realise that yes, they were in fact ready to party at the ripe old hour of 1.30am.
Not that I caught a whole lot of it, but the hidden cinema was close to the bush camp, enclosed by a mass of gently slumped euchalypts that looked as drowsy as the cinema-goers lying beneath them. It was here that patrons wound down tranquilly while watching silent films that went as far back as 1912 – with the films’ scores constituting the only sound bites to be heard. The cinema ran all night, providing a colourful retreat for those whose evenings were nearing a close.
It definitely was not cold
Two things: 1. Nobody likes a cold summer festival and 2. There’s nothing that trees can’t fix.
The Victorian climate prevailed over the weekend after a week-long stretch of rain, wind, and brief (but still mostly cold) cameos from the sun. In fact, the climate at Meredith barely even scaled the tediously fine line between bearable and freezing; with aggressive rays of UV turning many of the lesser sun-smart patrons into golden brown (or more commonly, red-coloured) crisps throughout the afternoons.
But for everyone with sunscreen, the weather was a blast. It may have been nearing boiling point at some stages of the afternoons, but as stated, trees and sun protection came to save the festival. On that note, enter the sprinkles.
The sprinkle shack (I forgot its name) is God’s gift to really hot festivals. Basically, what I’m trying to describe to you is an allotment of beams with water sprinklers attached to all of them – forming a pert little shack-shaped structure which dozens of patrons at once could walk through to become gently blessed by a shower of cold sprinkles. At the festival’s hottest points, the sprinkle shack was lifesaving.
Between the Southern charm of Marlon Williams (another highlight), the throaty folk lamentations of Jen Cloher, and the nonchalant twang of The Lemonheads (featuring Courtney Barnett for a beautiful rendition of ‘Bein’ Around’), later-staying patrons were given a reason to linger. And linger they did.