Time flies when you’re having fun, and the Meredith Music Festival‘s 23rd instalment seemed like it was over before it had even begun. Meredith this year actually reduced ticket numbers by 500 and continued to eschew both dickheads and corporate sponsors to ensure it remained one of the most consistently awesome festivals Australia has to offer – an accolade evidenced by the fact that it hasn’t been cancelled, postponed or undersold, which, judging by recent history, might soon become an exception, rather than a rule. Here’s our (by no means exhaustive) list of highlights from Meredith 2013.
1. Deerhunter‘s Bradford Cox halting his band’s Friday evening performance midway through the first song due to the presence of what he described as a “big fuckin’ poisonous spider” on the stage (So fuckin’ big that the drummer thought it was a crab). Once the arachnid was dealt with by a particularly brave roadie, Deerhunter‘s dreamy psych pop was able to drift over the Supernatural Amphitheatre again. Back To The Middle was a hip-shakin’ highlight.
2. World’s End Press‘ technicolour dreamcoat blue light disco show gave further hope to the rumour that this band are going to take over the world pretty soon, with their latest single Drag Me Home (complete with dancers) striking the perfect balance between shapecutability and singalongability.
3. In a massive blow to my indie cred, I’m embarrassed to say that my only pre-Meredith exposure to The Brian Jonestown Massacre was via the documentary Dig!, and so to be honest I was initially a little disappointed with the lack of dysfunctionality on show in their Friday night headline slot. However, I soon discovered that when Anton Newcombe isn’t kicking faces, insulting the audience and sending the guy with massive chops who’s always high to sign his record contracts (and admittedly both he and the Dandy Warhols have pointed out that none of these things really happen anymore, and when they did happen back in the day, it wasn’t that often) his eight-member strong band is fucking awesome.
5. The clouds that gathered during the drive from Melbourne and the drizzle that persisted throughout Friday evening threatened us with a muddy death at Meredith, but waking to sunshine on Saturday morning that continued through to Sunday afternoon was a pleasing surprise. The gumboots stayed in the tent this weekend, because Mother Nature really turned it on for Aunty Meredith.
6. Courtney Barnett left the twee acoustic singer/songwritery stuff at the gates, and to my surprise at least, rocked really, really hard. I knew she’d be good, but after Barnett well and truly woke everyone up with an 11 AM set of loud, stompy, rock and roll versions of her freewheeling musical stories, I was left gobsmacked by just how good she was. Barnett was a perfect fit for the Supernatural Amphitheatre, and seeing that Dan Luscombe of The Drones has joined her band just made it all the more wonderful.
7. Between managing to break three guitar strings in one song (and the subsequent band member banter being almost as entertaining as the set itself), the unique and slightly demented covers of BTO’s Taking Care Of Business, The Beatle’s Blackbird and Limp Bizkit’s Break Stuff (of all things), and closing the set by crowdsurfing the entire length of the crowd to the sound desk, then parting the punters like the Red Sea and running back to the stage (all of this before lunchtime on Saturday, mind you), Canada’s Mac Demarco was the most boot-deservingest treat for the eyes and ears of the weekend. Demarco was spotted immediately after the set conversing with fans and new friends in the crowd, and spent the rest of the weekend hanging out all over the festival grounds, chatting and sharing ciggies with anyone who came his way. What a legend.
8. Hermitude, as usual, put on a big, fat, bass party that rumbled the Sup from the front to the back. Some new and unfinished tracks were hugely exciting, gathering just as much response as their album hits and their remixes of local heroes like Flume and The Presets. The were a helluva lot of fun to experience as the sun went down, but a nighttime set directly after Chic would have been amazing. Speaking of which…
9. Nile Rodgers and Chic tore it up like it was Golden Plains in 2012. The tightest band on the planet played a collection of some of the tightest tracks from the pages of pop music history, and while the show does seem to have gotten a little more focused on Nile Rodgers than Chic since we saw them last, that’s probably just part and parcel of his Daft Punk-assisted late-career rejuvenation. The set built and built, the energy from tracks like I Want Your Love, Like A Virgin and We Are Family culminating in the collective shit of 4000 people being lost when the band broke into David Bowie‘s Let’s Dance.
10. While the new four heats/one final structure tends to drag on a bit and means Australia’s favourite nudie footrace The Meredith Gift (that keeps on giving) has lost a little of the giggly spontaneity of its early years, still nothing can beat the image of a wave of floppy floppy man-bits and lady-bits racing through The Sup, as the owners of said bits try to be the first to snatch the hat off a stuffed dog while avoiding the ravages wrought to bare and sensitive body parts by a tumble to the ground to win a slab of beer, a golden pair of underpants, and mad bragging rights. One Meredith Gifter (who asked not to be named in case his Mum ever Googles him) told us that he’d been planning to run in the Gift since coming to Meredith for the first time last year – “Something about the idea of racing naked through a crowd of people just speaks to me” he said, as he hurried to put his shorts back on after a festival full of people had seen his wang.
Some Best Bits honourable mentions:
– Spiderbait returned to the Amphitheatre 20 years after their acid-fuelled debut, for what at first glance appeared like it might be an unannounced farewell show (thanks to the retrospective video that preceded the set), but thankfully was instead a greatest hits set from a band who, even decades into their career, show no signs of slowing down.
– The campsite who brought their own mini-golf course (open to the public), and the revelation that although Meredith is attended largely by grown ups, the amount of dicks drawn in the dust that settled on cars in the campground is staggering and hilarious.
– The array of incredible food (which tastes good regardless of your mental state/your capacity to actually get it in your mouth) and the miraculously good coffee (which is best enjoyed as you watch Master Song’s Tai Chi class go down on the Sunday morning and promise yourself you won’t be too hung over to join in next year.)
– D D Dumbo ably filling in for an ailing Vance Joy, the weight of taking the place of such an anticipated act obviously not lost on the man who delivered a tight set and fueled discussion about whether he could become the Vance Joy of 2014.
Aunty Meredith, in all her silly, awesome glory, proved once again why she’s the original and the best. Can’t wait for 2014.
Till next year…