MEREDITH MUSIC FESTIVAL 2019

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Don’t Ever Doubt Aunty, She Knows How To Throw A Party

Words: Bec Grech and Sally Lewis
Photos: Chelsea King

 

This is Bec’s fourth and Sal’s first Meredith Music Festival. Here is who and what they saw during a wonderfully wacky weekend at the coveted Supernatural Amphitheatre. 

 

FRIDAY

Cleansing smoke from the smoking ceremony filled the Supernatural Amphitheatre, signalling the start of Meredith Music Festival in its 29th edition, held on the land of the Wadawurrung. In a MMF first, Uncle Barry Gilson along with other traditional custodians of the land performed a beautiful Welcome To Country. Stories, singing and dancing. In a minutes silence, the Sup’ stood in solidarity to pay respect to their recently lost Elder, Aunty Mary. Thank you Uncle Barry and the Wadawurrung people for sharing your stunning land with us for the weekend and welcoming us all with open hearts. 

 

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Photo: Meredith-goers walking through the Smoking Ceremony held by Wadawurrung people, the traditional custodians of the land on which Meredith takes place.

Jesswar opened the festival with an explosive, tough as nails performance. Her hard-going hip hop had all the bad bitches move to the front. And move to the front, we did. 

Karate Boogaloo, the funky and oh-so funny four-piece served up a set of their finest and fruitiest jams. Sweet, sticky, ooey-gooey goodness. Kay-Bee’s unconventional funk and fusions of psych and RnB, had the Sup’ swaying and smiling ear-to-ear. Carn the Boogers! 

With housekeeping out of the way (courtesy of FEE B2 and Shania Twain), Julia Jacklin instantly warmed and wowed the crowd. Equally composed and expressive, Jacklin’s voice has the power to deliver a performance that can be simply summarised as, stunning. Singalongs to ‘Pressure To Party’, ‘Don’t Know How To Keep Loving You’ and ‘Pool Party’ had our hands to our hearts. 

Aunty Meredith, thank you for putting together a lineup with set times that allow us to jump from the dreamy, indie pop of Julia Jacklin to the electric rockabilly of Tokyo’s Stompin’ Riffraffs. Seriously, the screams, the masks, the blazing theremin solos. Unreal. Check them out. 

I was quite perplexed by the disregard of Meredith’s ‘No Dickhead Policy’ when Liam Gallagher was announced as a headliner… After a couple of tracks I swapped out his set for some downtime at the Ecoplex Cinema and was witness to an odd Christmas movie where Santa hosted an international kindergarten rock eisteddfod inside a grand organ, then proceeded to invade an innocent child’s dreams that were influenced by Satan. I was happy with my decision, but hey, I’m sure most people in the Sup’ were having the time of their lives, and that’s great too.

I stayed for the Friday night headliner and the set was, strange? With two decent enough albums behind him, Liam Gallagher surprisingly leaned heavy on the Oasis classics but not the ones I was expecting. ‘Wonderwall’ of course came out, as did ‘Cigarettes And Alcohol’, ‘Rock N Roll Star’ and ‘Stand By Me’, but Gallagher chose to skip over a huge mix of mega hits. Admittedly I may have fallen asleep in the deep comforts of a cosy couch as Gallagher played, but I suppose there’s something cool about being woken up to a crowd of festival goers singing along to some iconic 90s Brit-pop. Special mention to the unaware punter yelling “play Wonderwall!” as Gallagher and his band were belting out that man’s very request right in front of him.

“Who are you looking forward to seeing at Meredith?” they all asked. My instant reply, “Close Counters
”. The Tasmanian duo (with lots of friends to help them onstage) played their biggest crowd to date and utilised their deep synths and drilling bass lines to get the Friday night party started with their crazy good fusion of house, jazz and soul.
Mmmm Moog synths rule. Elle Shimada also made an appearance to slay the violin, as well as Francesca Gonzales who leant her vocals.

Logic1000 whose debut EP dropped only weeks before our supernatural adventures carried us into the early morning, floating between deep house and ambient electronic moments.

Oops! Bed time for me.

Closing out the night was Vanessa Worm. I was meters away from my tent when Vanessa’s wacky vocals permeated through the campsite. It sounded too good to be true, and impossible to miss. I made the trip back to the dance floor to witness her set in the flesh. Gritty electronic beats provided a background to some incredibly silly vocal stylings that appeared to be emanating from a puppet who had gained awareness of it’s strings and was making every attempt to rid itself of it’s puppet master. They definitely expelled some of their inner demons. Fantastic, I wanted to put my boot up but held onto it for some strange reason, which I have now come to regret. 

“Time for you to be still” – listening to Vanessa Worm, I hit the hay too.

 

SATURDAY

Scott and Charlene’s Wedding was the most wonderful soundtrack to waiting in line for coffee. A very blissful morning indeed.

U-Bahn was up next and boy, not only did they look good (hats off to outfit coordination and killer eye makeup) they sounded bloody brilliant. Having caught these synth-punks around Melbourne town a few times previously, their moment on the Sup’ stage may just be my favourite performance of theirs yet. 

“Where are you camping?” is apparently every third question asked at Meredith, so for the sake of this article.. I ran back to our castle/camp at Bluegums to refuel and unfortunately missed seeing River Yarra, but thanks to there only being one super loud stage, I was able to listen to their pops of percussion fuelled, experimental electronica. Wobbly, wonky, I liked what I heard.

Cate Le Bon on a sweet Saturday afternoon was sublime. Uniquely impassive in their own kooky fashion, Le Bon and her band in their performance slip in twinkles of magic and stubborn eccentrics. It was truly dazzling and full of heart. Plenty of boots up in the air for this set.

It seemed like the entire festival flooded the amphitheatre for DJ Koze on Saturday afternoon. An incredible turn out for a last minute addition to the lineup. Koze must have raided the local Meredith nursery, going full bush on the set design – it looked and sounded amazing. Potentially the crowd favourite? Sally, please blast ‘Pick Up’ as you scatter my ashes through a forest somewhere. 

Can do! Bec and I both gave our boot to the German DJ, as we boogied our bums off to Koze’s impeccable selection of beats and bangers. I’m having flashbacks. Might go cry to the memories of Meredith right now… 

Following Koze’s wild hour and a half were some marvellous afro house beats, courtesy of Digital Afrika. I didn’t realise just how much dancing could be squeezed into one afternoon. The Eqyptian Lover then whipped the crowd into a frenzy with their powerful stage antics. Forcing the crowd to scream “eight oh, motha effin, eight”. They proceeded to play nothing but that drum machine for fifteen minutes straight while thousands of smiling faces ferociously shook their booties. 

I was also one of those booty shakers and I aspire to dance as The Egyptian Lover dances… He’s got the moves I tell ya. *Flicks hands left and right*.

Viagra Boys. WOW. The five-piece punkers from Stockholm, Sweden, had everyone in the palms of their hands as they bashed through their catalogue of witty post-punk belters. Frontman Sebastian Murphy is a crazy character, he threw himself around the crowd and all about the stage as he sang and shouted his lampoons on life. Push ups into a microphone as he yelled “sports!” during the ‘Sports’ outro, very, very impressive. Special shoutout to the saxophonist of the band who bloody slayed that thing all set long. I admire a punk band who indulge in using bongos. Absolutely wild times. I may have given DJ Koze my boot but Viagra Boys have my heart.


49219791063_631f360818_oPhoto: Viagra Boys frontman Sebastian Murphy singing into the front row of people. 

Dead Prez were up next, who blew us all out of the park. Gangsta Brooklyn political-rap pairs very nicely with samples of Red Hot Chili Peppers and Pink Floyd.

Amyl and the Sniffers came in stinkin’ hot (and slightly late) with an ARIA tucked under their mullets. Two years ago the local punks opened Meredith on Friday night. This year they cut loose during a headline time slot. My. Oh. My. They delivered. A set equally as punchy and wild as it was wholesome. In between heavy breaths the band made it pretty clear how special it was for them to be playing another Meredith. Props to Amy for creating a safe space in the mosh for everybody except creeps. She is a force to be reckoned with. Footage of buff kangaroos fighting while Amy sung “I wanna be your little angel” along with a live Chat Roulette video stream displayed throughout the set, sent me (and I’m sure many others) into fits of laughter. The joy of short and sharp punk songs is that nearly every single Amyl and the Sniffers hit can be squeezed into a 45 minute set; ‘70 Street Munchies’, ‘I’m Not A Loser’, ‘Monsoon Rock’, ‘Gacked On Anger’, ‘Cup Of Destiny’. All killer no filler.

 

49220496062_5a23afe9d4_oPhoto: Amy Taylor of Amyl and The Sniffers on stage during their Saturday night headline slot.

Irish alt-pop/disco sensation Roisin Murphy who you’d recognise from Moloko (‘Sing It Back’) blew us away with an impeccably controlled vocal delivery and performance. It was a real treat to see her delve into the sonic world of her solo endeavours – swaying between chiming, glittery, lush synths and the squelchier sounds of ‘Overpowered’. Upwards of 4 costume changes? What a party. There was also some kind of silver alien that Murphy hugged and danced with. It was confusing but I loved it. After that, I only remember dancing. 

Two hours of solid dancing to incredible house followed, soundtracked by Eric Powell. Thank you. Just, thank you. German producer and DJ Helena Hauff, whose appearance at Meredith had been years in the works, mixed the entirety of their set on vinyl. Starting dark and brooding, we were quickly plunged into dark, fast and heavy selections accompanied by intensely curated visuals.

“Are you ready to RAMBL?!” … No, I’m so sorry but by body can’t do it. Dancing for upwards of 15 hours had me beat. I did however enjoy the local DJ’s diverse mixes of house, disco, funk and techno from the comforts of my tent AND as I woke back up at 7am for a cheeky run to the loo. There was no better way to wake up Sunday morning than with another wee dance.

 

SUNDAY 

We all rolled out of our tents slowly late Sunday morning with sore heads, full hearts, and dropped jaws, recovering from the breathtaking talent that graced the Amphitheatre the night before and we headed down to catch Gordon Koang. As much as he insisted he loved the crowd very much, I think we loved him more. Koang had the amphitheatre standing up and clapping their hands (despite how rough we all undoubtedly were feeling at this point in the weekend) before he even played ‘Stand Up (Clap Your Hands)’ which on stage featured a string of the cutest dancers possible. Two disco ball headed dancers also joined the party on stage and now I need a disco ball head for myself, toot sweet. 


I’m not going to lie, I had no idea what The Gift was. I didn’t even think to ask. Holy. Moly. Not only is the Sup’ the perfect place to let your hair down but also, your pants. Nude racing around the Amphitheatre by those with brave souls and bare bums. Meredith truly is a magical place. Speaking of…

 

MAGICAL MOMENTS

Interstitial DJs – the unsung heroes of the dancefloor. Adriana selects the most wonderful international boogie gems and only FEE B2 can get away with mixing ‘Come on Eileen’, into drum and bass, into disco.

The People – Ingrained in its philosophy, everyone is welcome at MMF. With open arms Aunty Meredith and the Wadawurrung people allow festival goers to indulge themselves in music, art and community. The people at MMF are a united bunch of loose bananas who have the best fun, and who importantly look after each other while doing so. No dickheads. No worries. 

The amount of ‘overheards’ and ‘seen ats’ could be endless. I loved seeing the endless array of dolled up punters and groups of friends in highly coordinated outfits; women in 80s business attire passing around a cheese board in the midst of a Swedish punk set, a crew dressed in life jackets and helmets carrying their mate on an inflatable raft who paddled and parted the Sup’ like the sea, netballers, cricketers, flight attendants, birds, disco dancers, you name it and someone was probably dressed like it at Meredith.

The Return of Doof Sticks – This year the doof sticky things were removed from the banned items list (as long as their heads were no larger than that of a cauliflower). They lined the Sup’s horizon to make a spectacle of lights and crafty work. Even some cauliflowers on sticks were spotted.

The Boot – My first time at Meredith, I was relieved and heart-warmed by the concept of giving an act your boot/shoe. Thankfully not a suggestion of a shoey, but an act of admiration. 

Cricket – Who doesn’t love an impromptu game of bat n’ ball in the rise of the Sup’? Meredith is the only place the police and punters sporting ‘eff the police’ shirts can come together for an over.

Couches – How have I survived past music festivals without one? A place to chill out and enjoy the music from afar, or dance on top of, or start a party at, or make as a meeting point. Genius.
Also, I hope the guy we found asleep on our couch Sunday morning is doing fine and found his friend Sarah.

 

FINAL THOUGHTS

Despite comments in the lead up that MMF’s 2019 lineup wasn’t as strong as previous years (which we never once bought into) and the ticket swapping page being swamped with heavily discounted tickets – it is pretty damn clear by the success of the weekend that; 1) don’t ever doubt Aunty, 2) She knows how to throw a party, and 3) those who sold their tickets missed out on a stellar weekend. During every set there were boots being held up left right and centre. With every twist and turn someone beside you was having the time of their life. The Supernatural Amphitheatre is without a doubt the most magical place for live music in Australia.

Thank you Aunty Meredith. Thank you to the Wadawurrung people for sharing your land. Thank you to the lovely friends we met and made. We are already counting down the days ‘til Golden Plains.