I could easily wax lyrical on the subject of the importance and brilliance of Meredith for thousands of words, describing its utopian characteristics (eg its loving atmosphere, its lack of over-bearing security or pointless police, its BYO freedom) even here in the middle of a Felix Baumgartner-worthy freefall comedown just a few hours since driving away from the Supernatural Ampitheatre’s dusty roads. But alas, a word limit and an early deadline relegates me to skimming just the surface of my memories and emotions in the event’s aftermath. So with that in mind here are my immediate memories of what was Meredith 2015.
Day one, and after a brief torrential downpour the rain eased and left us in a chilly night with more layers than we were hoping to wear in December. That didn’t sway the early crowds from filing in droves to watch Bully, as the Nashville grunge revivalists continued their increasingly infamous Australian campaign, which has quickly solidified their reputation as one of the best rising rock acts on the planet.
Thurston Moore proved that the age old combination of guitars and amps can continue to produce sounds and frequencies your ears still aren’t totally convinced are possible to process yet. He even managed to make me forget everything Kim wrote about him in Girl In A Band. For about a minute.
It is blindingly obvious why Big Daddy Kane has a titan-like reputation for bringing the ruckus. He rocked the mic with a conviction and ability that could only come with expertise, as he served as a surprisingly perfect lead in act to the tribal beats and psychedelic melodies of masked marauders GOAT, who by the night’s end were leading mumbled conversations between friends about how “those guys were sick,” as we tried to secure the location of our tents in the dark / brain haze.
Sadly, they were followed by a pretty lacklustre delivery from fellow trippers Unknown Mortal Orchestra – who despite being bathed in colour and coming on stage at the pinging hour just before midnight, were sorely lacking in stage presence.
Tkay Maidza on the other hand, and her Kirby’s Dreamworld of hip hop, flipped that sentiment on its head. She’s growing in confidence with every new showing and easily commanded the whole stage with just a DJ in support. The kid’s got audiences on a string and she’s yet to drop an album. Her future is bright – my night was done.
Day two the sun took its rightful place in the sky and through crusty eyes and multiple bathroom retreats, the soothing tones of Jessica Pratt’s freak folk and Julia Holter’s baroque pop became the musical equivalent of poached eggs and béarnaise sauce – serving as the ultimate recovery brunch for the ears.
Aussie hip hop star Briggs then proved why he’s earning a reputation as a truth teller and innovator in the local scene. The big man and his backing band were a force to be reckoned with, and saw more than a few boots being raised in the traditional Meredith ceremony designed to acknowledge the highlight of the festival. They were not going to be the last boots held skyward though, as punk trio The Peep Tempel capped off what has been a huge year for the band with one of the most searing performances I’ve seen on a Meredith stage. The thudding opening notes of Carol visibly shook the crowd into a frenzy and by the song’s explosive conclusion saw a wave of footwear flung into the air.
Father John Misty swaggered on stage and was hypnotic from start to finish as he gave his incredible 2015 record I Love You Honeybear a spectacular live showcasing, including slow burner Bored In The USA that proved to be a surprise crowd favourite, with arms intertwining and more dockers being pointed at the sun.
A couple of hours/Pink Flamingo cocktails later, and Ratatat’s octave manipulated bass and guitar notes warped the night and our brains into a whole new level of aural ecstasy. By the time DJ Levins was aptly announcing, “That moment when your pinga kicks in and you’re listening to Bieber at Meredith,” it was time to return to the moist confines of my night two tent.
Day three/Olympic comedown morning served as the local music showcase, with triple R faves Jess Ribeiro, Totally Mild and the Steve Miller Band reminding us that despite the wheelbarrows of international and local talent we’d marvelled over for the last two days, some of the best music will always be in your own backyard.
A nude run and a longer than hoped drive home with multiple fast food detours later and Meredith was complete for another year. Honestly it would be tremendous to go on and on with much more detail, but Peaky Blinders season 2 and an IV of Gatorade awaits.
Gallery: Meredith Music Festival 2015 / Photos: Nikki Williams