Live Review: Meredith Music Festival

14 December 2015 | 3:35 pm | Brad ArmstrongBryget Chrisfield

"It can't be over, man. No one wants to go back to the real world yet!"


Three, Two, One, Here we go! Ten ciders for $30? Why thank you The Royal Hotel, Meredith, that's a great deal we'll take a coupla slabs.

Like some form of weird magic, the harsh winds that make tent erecting nigh on impossible leave and the sun even makes its way out as Power kick things off, and what a way to start. It's all The Stooges-AC/DC-Ramones worship that's weird and, more importantly, balls-out rock'n'roll that turns the Sup' frowns into smiles and beers, a sure-fire trend for the event ahead.

The first thing that catches the eye with Pearls is the band's rather eclectic dress sense, which calls for kudos from whatever Melbourne op shop that is now out of stock. The second thing to note is that the music is so enthusiastic and filled out with an underlying dream-pop aesthetic that, again, just feels so natural in the Sup'. The band's formula does become a little stale after a while, but they bring it home in the end with the thumping Big Shot.

Don't miss a beat with our FREE daily newsletter

"Following an announcement that tonight's temperature will set a new coldness record in Meredith, all the festival-themed beanies sell out at the merch tent. "

Albini-endorsed US band Bully follow and, from their presentation and initial delivery, it is pretty easy to typecast them within the power-pop/pop-punk world (and it is a little hard not to compare them to heyday-era Hole) despite the fact there is a little more to it than that. But whether it is the mix or song choice it does kinda fail to break from that mould. Comparisons aside, it is executed rather well, though enthusiasm from the crowd does wander back to the campsite for an esky top up.

The overwhelming response for Kendrick Lamar's King Kunta as the housecleaning anthem for Meredith 2015 means there's not much rubbish collection by punters who prefer to get their dance on. Following an announcement that tonight's temperature will set a new coldness record in Meredith, all the festival-themed beanies sell out at the merch tent.  

For anyone who heard a guitar in the '90s it's hard not to get giddy like a school girl as Thurston (fucking!) Moore Band take the stage. This is no ordinary band either with James Sedwards (Nought) on guitar, Debbie Googe (My Bloody Valentine/Primal Scream) on bass and fellow Sonic Youth legend Steve Shelly on drums. Things mainly draw from Moore's fourth studio album The Best Day and everything is executed perfectly, most notably during new unreleased track Cease Fire. They hold back from the trademark spiralling guitar passages and it's a festival show that's perfect for Meredith.

Big Daddy Kane lures us down into the Sup' for some old-school hip hop party vibes. There's an OG breakdancer busting moves onstage and Kane's flow is impressive enough to be appreciated unaccompanied. A record number of identification poles are brandished skyward (some are even illuminated with fairy-lit detail) and the atmosphere is loose. How genius is this!? Fly swatter as prop: Handy during the day for its intended use, then just add lights and wave in the air at night to transform it into a location marker/friend magnet by night. It's good to see some people are still using the trusty old hold your hand in the air and pretend it's a sock puppet for this purpose, though. (Side Note: the next day we see two punters DRESSED as flies carrying fly swats (*brain explodes*).

Goat, where to begin... This oddball Swedish band's set stands to go down in Meredith history. Everything adds up to simple awe from the presentation of the band to the backing visuals not to mention the wildly talented playing from the ten-plus strong band. If they played for another two hours that would have been perfectly fine according to the deliriously satisfied crowd. It's not only boot worthy but also shoes, pants and 'join the cult' worthy. No one will be forgetting them any time soon.

DJ Joey Lightbulb, wearing a Kevin Spacey mask (trialling your costume for the Space-themed cocktail party in Bavaria tomorrow, are we?), drops some absolute belters and Joy Division's Love Will Tear Us Apart tears us a new one with many racing to the dancefloor and blissfully busting moves. Miss You by The Rolling Stones is also greatly appreciated. 

In this year's program, there is a photo spread of the festival's last 25 years. One of these photos is of the Meredith Sky Show 2007 3D event and has a sea of amazed punters in 3D glasses while two 'inebriated' punters to the side are without and having the time of their lives. Though she doesn't pop up every year, this year's Sky Show follows similar suit but with lasers taking the spotlight and, in the end, it makes the new Star Wars movie a potential waste of time.

How is it Tkay Maidza o'clock already? The pocket rocket struts her stuff up there and to Brontosaurus we "stomp [our] feet". Maidza is a shining light and her funky sense of style is effortless. Awesome to see Maidza's merch visually reflects her brand also (that windcheater is to die!).     

It's late-night showtime and whether you're wide-eyed or can't remember where your mate's couch is, it's time to dance. Harvey Sutherland proves an excellent way to kick off the 4/4 beatz and his music is diverse, executed with mathematical precision, and amplified with drummer and violin player joining the analogue synths.

Fuck knows how we're still awake for Lucy Cliche; it must be all those Pink Flamingos. Cliche makes her Meredith debut shrouded in fog and a blaring light show. The darker-driven upstart plays solidly throughout her extensive set and the crowd get down. Then the music stops and we feel like the only people in Meredith still up for the party. Return to tent. Talk some shit. Zzzzzzz.


The next door campsite decides to blare out Danger Zone (Kenny Loggins) and we're awake. Ugh, hydrate! The answer is fresh coconut water on sale in the Sup'. Then Saturday morning begins as per the norm with City Of Ballarat Municipal Brass Band to brighten our spirits. Jessica Pratt follows and her laid-back, beautiful music is a nice relaxing intro into the day. We demolish bacon and egg sangas from the Community Tucker Tent and feel as if we're contributing to Meredith massive's financial wellbeing.

Julia Holter feels like a criminally early booking at around midday. Regardless, Holter's music does the talking as her blend of intellectual classical-style pop is simply jaw dropping. Everything is executed with virtuosity with a bit of slacker banter from Holter to ease the mood. The final run of tracks cement it all with a beautiful version of the appropriately titled Lucette Stranded On The Island followed by a minimal, slowed-down, more sparse version of Feel You and then upbeat closer Sea Calls Me Home. This is easily another of the festival's highlight sets.

"A nearby chick announces that she'd like to make frontman Alan Palomo her husband and she could possibly have a crack at his percussionist brother, Jorge, if Alan's spoken for."

A few punters deem Moon Duo, actually a trio, worthy of the Meredith boot. But, depending on how much shut-eye you've had, their repetitive jams could be too full-on for this time of day. Visuals make us feel as if we're falling down a K hole. Their precision is on-point, but we wander up the hill in search of a tolerable volume for sore heads. Circa Pink Flamingo bar, where we can also purchase Espresso Martinis, is just right. It's a shame, really, 'cause Moon Duo by night would really take us there.

Shepparton-based rapper Briggs comes with full band in tow and draws a fairly sizeable crowd for the early arvo. Musically he is closely in line with heyday-era Ozzie hip hop so watching the performance feels clichéd. Some of the man's phrases and samples are also cringe-worthy at times and we take it as our cue to go back to camp and regroup. GL follow and their intellectual electro is most certainly a welcome change of pace and watching it makes us wanna save our pennies to go buy a drum machine.

Neon Indian play songs with familiar keyboard lines that make us hum them in our heads while trying to work out which OG songs they remind us of. It's awesome to see not many people with their faces in mobile phones in the Sup', we basically accept there will be no coverage, but Shazam would've come in handy here. A nearby chick announces that she'd like to make frontman Alan Palomo her husband and she could possibly have a crack at his percussionist brother, Jorge, if Alan's spoken for. Bangers include Polish Girl and latest late-night club cut Slumlord. It's smiles all 'round.

Now it's time for those national treasures The Peep Tempel. Frontman Blake Scott convulses wildly as if there's an electric current coursing through his axe. He also has an authentic battler mullet. "Have you spewed already today?" bassist Stewart Rayner enquires in an accusatory way before admitting, "Me too". Scott tells us they met a four-year-old fan called Leo before the show who said they're his favourite band. "He knows all the words... Concerning parenting," Scott adds. Many boots/shoes/flip flops are held aloft for Carol and it's the moment we've been waiting for. Immediately following this song, Scott kisses Rayner on the top of his bald head then triumphantly high fives drummer Steven Carter. Scott coaxes groans from his guitar by dropping it repeatedly on its face. A victorious set.

An informative "What Poo Did You Do" one-sheeter is pasted on the wall inside Composting Loos and brings the LOLs. We hope not to do a "Brain Hemorrage[sic] Poo" at any stage over the weekend. A better appreciated campsite tune accentuates our happiness in Blue Gums around 6pm: It's Not Unusual by Tom Jones. Overheard comment, "I'm a grower not a goer." What does that even mean? It certainly doesn't sound complimentary. Hillside activities this year include but are not limited to limbo, pool (yep, there's a pool table on the hill!) and Frisbee.

In tune with Moon Duo earlier in the day, Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats bring the heavy guitar-based psych to lower numbers in the Sup'. Their playing is tight and they clearly have a solid formula but it feels boring and repetitive as opposed to hypnotic and bone crushing.

Fatback band are tasked for leading the late night 'danceathon' this year and these disco-funk legends have quite the shoes to fill in this sovereign world considering years past have featured the likes of Nile Rodgers & Chic. They belt through their barrage of hits that include (Are You Ready) Do The Bus Stop during which there appears to be some kind of dance-off happening up there. A funky dude gets his groove on and laps up the accolades, but it's so packed in the Sup' that there's no room for travelling steps. Our spines and hip flexors get a thorough workout, though. 

Ratatat basically win Meredith. There's no time for chats and we dance solidly throughout their set, which we swear wraps up in record time; they successfully mess with our internal clocks by osmosis. The growl during Wildcat beckons our inner beasts and the lasers absolutely dominate. Is it just us or are those guitars actually in conversation onstage? It's impending disaster music done ridiculously well.

Floating Points loves a diva vocal to the point where his two-hour set becomes predictable. It's pleasant enough to dance to but probably suffers by comparison to the preceding set, which totally blew minds.   

Optimo drop AC/DC's TNT, which is a stroke of genius given that memories from our iconic rock'n'roll band are fresh in thoughts from last week's epic live shows - best track selection all weekend. Then they follow it up with Par-T-One Vs INXS: I'm So Crazy (basically Just Keep Walking chopped, spliced and remixed to striking effect). The pace is manageable for tired bods, but it's certainly no option to stand still while these Scottish legends man the decks. The sun comes up, sunglasses are placed protectively over eyes and we dance on.


Jess Ribeiro lures us out of our tents and down to the Sup' with Rivers On Fire. "This is about a bad drug deal," she winces by way of introduction to another of her songs. Ribeiro has a quiet, confident presence onstage and watching her today reminds us just how great her last album (Kill It Yourself) is. She jumps off the stage to present a fan with her setlist then pauses to chat with front-row punters for a spell. We're charmed.

There's a lot of lost property hanging on the front fence next to the stage. As we peruse the Gift Shoppe a new uncle (he explains his sibling's baby was born last night) purchases a Meredith romper. This lucky kid's birthday will coincide with Meredith for the term of his/her natural life!

Totally Mild have been making notable strides in the dream-pop psych world of late and, despite being billed relatively early on the Sunday, they don't hold back performance-wise or sonically. A few hungover road warriors venture down to the front for a boogie with warm beers they found back at the campsite while others sit back on random couches to take it in. Either way, it feels like we may be seeing a little more of these guys down this way in the future.

It's that time again; cover your kid's eyes and get ready to laugh your arse off as the iconic Meredith Gift is back. Hosted by regs The Town Bikes with MC Jane Clifton, it's an all-out race for the golden jocks/gusset (minus the carton of beer victory prize this year, WTF!?). Taking the longer circuit adopted by years past, runner 'Mystery Bag' captures the audience's hearts with his speed (and well-executed circumcision). Overall, this year's jaunt is a clean run with no slippages or collisions (which is a little disappointing for onlookers). Still, it's always fun to see the way the human body looks in full flight with gravity not being a kind mistress.

Diverting us for the last time is Melbourne bitsa supergroup Drug Sweat, who feel just about as satisfying as that warm beer that guy found and offered you. Despite being clearly hungover like the rest of us, these guys bring the energy with just the right amount of skuzz and accessibility. A brief closing ceremony follows, which is almost entirely made up of "make sure you fuck off by 4.30!"

It can't be over, man. No one wants to go back to the real world yet! Unfortunately, it has to be called. A reveller blows 1.11 at the Free Breath Testing station and punters queuing for their go cheer. If old mate is the designated driver it's unlikely he'll be able to "fuck off" any time soon.