Golden Plains Fourteen
GOLDEN PLAINS FOURTEEN
March 7-9th 2020
Review by India Weaver & Sally Lewis
Passes provided by Publicists
Hello, Sal and India here. We were lucky enough to spend the long weekend at the coveted Meredith Supernatural Amphitheatre for two-and-a-tad days of blissful live music, community and the outdoors.
Photo: Ben Fletcher | Two Wadawurrung men during the smoking ceremony.
With open arms and hearts, Golden Plains Fourteen was welcomed by Uncle Barry Gilson and traditional custodians of the Wadawurrung land on which the eclectically exuberant festival takes place. On stage and land, Wadawurrung First Peoples shared a beautiful smoking ceremony and Welcome To Country that filled The Sup’ with song, dance and storytelling in traditional language and English. We thank Uncle Barry and the Wadawurrung people for having us on your land, the Nolan Family for hosting and Aunty Meredith for everything else.
In no particular order, here are our fourteen golden moments of Golden Plains. Sal’s on odd numbers, India on evens.
1. Pinch Points put pedal to the metal.
The Melbourne/Naarm four-piece delivered their metallic punk style with a smile as they exclaimed through cheeky grins, “Pinch Points are here!”. Both the first line of their 2019 debut LP ‘Moving Parts’ and their opening set at The Sup’, the powerful declaration of Pinch Points’ arrival caught the attention of the entire crowd. With their distinctive line-trading and unisonned sing-shouting Pinch Points scathingly and sarcastically critique anti-social behaviours and encourage us all to just be decent, respectable people. Oh! And while absolutely mastering their sound.
Stand out tracks: ‘Put Out’, ‘Shibboleth’ and ‘Stranger Danger’.
2. Gimme that sweet, sweet jazz.
The London-based five-piece, Ezra Collective, and their dance-inducing neojazz sent an electric wave through the crowd on Saturday. Slinging the sweet beats of their 2019 album ‘You Can’t Steal My Joy’, punters had no choice but to move and groove. With a massive “JOY” spread across the stage screens, the feel-good vibes were heard, seen and felt. The cheeky addition of a quick Billie Eilish ‘Bad Guy’ bassline breakdown, much to my surprise, got the crowd giggling and woohing. Only a couple of eye-rolls, ain’t nothing wrong with a bit of mainstream pop my festival friends! The rest of my night was filled with chatter about how good Ezra Collective were. Plenty of “froffed it”’s tossed around as means of positive review – completely accurate.
Best boogie: ‘Quest For Coin’.
3. “No Dickheads? … Superb.”
Giggling in her effortlessly cool French accent, Stereolab’s Lætitia Sadier commended the golden rule of Golden Plains during their spectacular set of joyful, electronic avant-pop. Any criticism of the group’s impassive stage manner can be swept aside as their performative whirlwind of obscure syncopation, fuzzy guitar echoes and scatty synths more than made for a fun time. Between the dazzling stage lights and Stereolab’s casual blending of droning rock and jazzy bossa nova, it was a wobbly, warped and wild show. I loved every minute of it – *chef’s kiss*.
My oui, oui, oui-s: ‘Cybele’s Reverie’, ‘French Disko’ and ‘Percolator’.
Photo: Steve Benn | Sleaford Mods’ Jason Williamson gives the microphone a literal and lyrical spray.
Unfamiliar with the Electro-punk Brits Sleaford Mods, a fellow campsite pal described their music to me as, “being incoherently yelled at in a grimy train station and you only realise what they actually said ten minutes later”. Well… not even thirty seconds into their set I felt like I’d been slapped in the face, kidnapped in a van and escorted back to Nottingham. The unorthodox duo didn’t need a fancy set up to win over the crowd; a simple laptop, spitting and some strange hand gestures were the only visuals needed to amplify the power of their unique sound. With many crowd members giving ‘Mods ‘The Boot’ in their act of ultimate appreciation, they were quickly shut down by frontman Jason Williamson, “don’t hold up your shoes, it’s not a competition”.
There is something to be said about their ability to capture the grimmer elements of their hometown and reliably tell of its stories to an audience on the other side of the world. But what really resonated with me was the likeness of their lyrics to my internal monologue… a mix of everyday thoughts, complaints about society and the government, and intermittent profanities. Sleaford Mods were by FAR the highlight of my Golden Plains… why? I can’t tell you. I still can’t really put their set into words but there, I gave it a red hot go.
Best moment: Jason Williamson’s blood curdling screams of, “AGH”, with a hand on his head – fanned fingers and all – imitating a rooster. Ooh and when they played the kazoo, the recorder’s evil cousin.
5. King’s the name, disco’s the game.
Evelyn Champagne King’s incandescent love for life shone brighter than the beaming sun during her Sunday evening slot. Accompanied by Mondo Freaks, the iconic King powered through her disco-soul anthems and taught festival-goers a thing or two on how to expertly shimmy and shake our bodies and bums. Both during her songs and inspiring in-between pep talks, King’s vocal prowess filled The Sup’ with joyous delight and posi vibes.
Disco delights: ‘Love Come Down’, ‘Shame’ and ‘I’m In Love’.
6. Weyes Blood? More like wet-eyes blood.
1pm isn’t prime cry time, but nowhere else makes time feel more of a social construct than The Sup’. Weyes Blood’s early afternoon set was the perfect lunchtime accompaniment. Knees and chins wobbled as Natalie Mering melted the hearts of her audience with her sparkling songs filled with hearty yet delicate vocals. Dressed in a personalised white sailor-themed suit, Mering floated across the stage, spinning and twirling. If you weren’t already crying, you were quickly trying to figure out where on earth you stashed your travel pack of tissues.
Saddest sob: ‘Movies’. If her vocals don’t break you, the quivering synth will.
Photo: Steve Benn | Black Francis of the Pixies.
7. Rock royalty grace the stage.
The only quiet that came from Pixie’s Sunday night performance was their near-silent crowd interaction. With no time for spoken formalities during their marathon set, the legendary Boston alt-rockers roared through their extensive catalogue of hits (and a Jesus and Mary Chain cover too!). Pixies’ reverberating and rightly effing loud instrumentation drenched Golden Plains in their iconic surf and punk rock sound while frontman Black Francis’ archetypal screams ripped through your core-being and inflicted some kind of feeling that’s hard to explain. I can only imagine what kind of emotions stirred within their die-hard fans in the crowd. The band bowed down arm-in-arm at their finish, to a rapturous applause in a truly special scene.
Biggest belters: ‘Where’s Is My Mind’, ‘Here Comes Your Man’, ‘Monkey Gone To Heaven’ and ‘Debaser’.
8. Bananas for Bananagun.
Bananas being the official snack of my Golden Plains, it was only appropriate to get right in amongst the BBE (Big Banana Energy) of the Bananagun crowd. Literally, bananas were held above people’s heads as an alternative to ‘The Boot’. The 70s-psych-drenched Melbourne/Naarm group were joined by members of neighbouring bands Gonzo and Traffik Island on stage. With a full house and a full offering of percussion and woodwind, the Bananagun village brought boogie inducing tracks like ‘Out of Reach’ and ‘Do Yeah’ to brand new heights.
Prime piece of percush: Bongos. Always bongos.
9. The Hot Chip hypnosis
The UK six-piece bounced into action with effervescent energy and their momentum never staggered as they partied through their list of severe electronic synth-pop bangers. Hot Chip pushed Golden Plains’ monumental sound system to its absolute limits and most certainly utilised every stage and strobe light available to hypnotise the crowd into a frenzy of dance. Both Alex Taylor and Owen Clarke of the group failed to stand still themselves; Taylor euphorically zipped around the stage while on vocal duties and Clarke’s hips oscillated behind his keyboard/synth setup.
Each BPM in Hot Chip’s set was another drop of water in their *bath full of ecstasy* and by the time they were wrapping up, the crowd were swimming in it. Then… it happened. Confusion blanketed the crowd as Hot Chip ‘Sabotage-d’ The Sup’. Their cover of the Beastie Boys brain-melter was so jaw-droppingly similar to the original, many had thought Hot Chip’s set was over and an interstitial DJ was back on decks. I, personally, lost my damn mind.
Dance floor favourites: ‘Night & Day’, ‘Flutes’, ‘Over and Over’, ‘Ready For The Floor’ and ‘One Life Stand’.
Photo: Steven Benn | A Golden Plains attendee worshiping their meal.
10. Feed me, fuel me, fire me up.
There is no hunger like the hunger provoked by a band named after a delish food (looking at you Hot Chip, Parsnip, Bananagun, and DJ Sprinkles) and boy did the food truck offerings at Golden Plains satisfy. There couldn’t possibly be a hangry soul in sight during the festival. With a wide range of cuisines, vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options there was no stopping Sal & I from filling our allergy and intolerance laden bodies with food that really hit the spot. A particular shining moment was our post-Hot Chip trip to the International Foodcourt, where we were able to satisfy our long potato shaving cravings.
Fill me up on: The sweet potato chips with plum sauce salt from Ghost Kitchen. 11/10 would recommend.
11. Hype men of the rave den.
A silencing technical hiccup on Sunday afternoon was no worry to England’s jungle-ragga-DJ, General Levy. The frantic percussion and thrumming bass boomed around the festival soon again and instantly had the crowd back on their feet and in a frenzy of flailing limbs. Although the people of the party were most certainly having a good time, I don’t think anyone was enjoying themselves as much as General Levy himself. Capping off his time on stage with the “BOOYAKA!” of all booyakas, and the “WICKED!” of all wickeds in his ‘Incredible’ remix, General Levy proved himself to be an airhorn of enthusiasm personified.. *BA BA BAH BOW!*
Imagine this. It’s 1am. Your DJing Golden Plains. On stage beside you are bouquets of red-foil love heart balloons. Your shirt is off. You’re yelling into the crowd “Let’s Mother-effin’ do this!” and “Thank you!”. You’re living your best life. That was Prequel. Spinning sounds of soul, funk, house, techno and RnB, Prequel nailed the mixing board with an exemplary set of dancefloor fillers and special guests in the way of dancers, and violinist Tamil Rogeon. Ending his time on stage with a list-off of love and thanks to his Golden Plains team, I have nothing but respect for a hype king who both hype’s himself and his kingdom.
Photo: Suzanna Phoenix | Sampa The Great slaying her Saturday night set.
12. Sampa The Great(est).
‘OMG’ is about right! Sampa The Great is one of the most powerful hip hop acts of our time. So powerful, in fact, that her sleek entry onto the stage blew the stage’s generator. Despite a thirty minute delay, a false start couldn’t knock Sampa off her game. Joined by fellow GP artist and sister, Mwanje, she worked her way through the highlights from her debut album and most recent release, ‘The Return’, as well as other career-defining tracks from her discography. Sampa proved to the crowd why she was one of the most hyped acts on the festival lineup. I, personally, was overtaken with goosebumps for the entirety of her set.
Sampa & The Sup? A Match made in ‘Heaven’.
Crowning moments: ‘Freedom’ and ‘Final Form’. Euphoric!
13. A 4am ferris wheel ride.
It’s four in the morning and Detroit techno veteran and his daughter, Floorplan, are in their final stages of an early morning set of some of the grooviest disco and house mixes I’ve ever heard, festival goers are going hard or going to bed, and The Meredith Eye is still spinning… The Meredith Eye is still spinning?! It’s freezing cold but the line to jump on is non-existent making it the perfect time to hitch a ride and circle atop The Sup’. Joined by a couple of friends, we cry-laugh and talk absolute fatigued nonsense as we enjoy our heighty spin. DJ Sprinkles has taken over the music, bubbling a mix of ambience, club and house as our ferris wheel ride comes to an end, so we headed down to the stage for one last trance-dance. We don’t last long, but in our final upright moments, I realise just how damn special (and wild) this festival experience is. Because where else can you take a 4am ferris wheel ride? Golden Moment – tick.
14. ‘Sup Sticks and slick fits.
Arts and craft skills were on display right throughout the weekend. Here are a few notable examples…
Janine. Janine looked like she had seen some things in her time as a probably overused hair model in a below-average salon (to no offence!). Golden Plains, however, gave her a new life and purpose: Queen of The Sup’ Sticks. I went off to find Janine’s creators and ended up falling in love with her and her fruity friends. Not long into my encounter, Janine was united with another unrelated group of fruitful festival-goers. Everyone lost their minds – nay, bananas. You could tell that even Janine was over the moon.
Plaid Pals. Underneath a Sup’ Stick decorated with a tartan umbrella and colourful outdoor lights stood a group of Golden Plaid-ers dressed head to toe in tartan treads. Despite the umbrella being confiscated for breaching the requested size limit of a cauliflower head, the group continued to sport their plaid patterns all weekend long.
Well plaid! indeed…
Hummus. Hummus tub on a stick? Simple, sublime….genius.
Toilet Paper. Both a single roll and a 24-pack were spotted. Keep that toot-paper close friends!
Please enjoy a series of other notable sticks…
Particularly relevant and particularly funny.
Literal sticks… Very eco!
Kel you hunk of spunk, you.
In light of the mass festival cancellations, Aunty didn’t let the looming thought of COVID-19 stop the party; there were more hand sanitising stations than pairs of boots. With regular reminders to wash your hands as often as possible, it was fantastic to know that we were surrounded by the percent of the population who not only value good music, but good hygiene.*
Thank you again to the Wadawurrung People, The Nolans and Aunty Meredith for another unforgettable weekend in The Sup’. We can’t wait to do it all again in December!
*Edit: Since publication, a Golden Plains attendee has been confirmed to have COVID-19. If you attended the festival, you can stay updated on how to proceed here. Wash your hands and stay safe friends.