Meredith Music Festival 2014 – review
Somethingyousaid.com’s Neika Lehman attended her First Meredith this year. Here’s what she discovered:
I was going to start this article with a disclaimer, warning veteran Meredith readers of the following details and compiled notes of one group’s first ever experience at the ‘sup. That perhaps they may find the forthcoming hype a little worn, like each festival punter’s dust-crusted skin at the end of the weekend. A little aged like the hunks of lost cheese that were scattered about the grounds, or the exposed slices of bread that had turned to literal toast amongst the grass. But these are images of only what transitory elements were left behind. Everything else, whether experienced by a first timer, or a festivalgoer 24 years strong into the festival’s history, has a lasting and infectious effect on you. There is something special about this festival, and it makes total sense why Meredith has such a cult-like following, and why Warren Ellis deemed it the best music festival in the world. Let me de-mist the weekend of the 12th, 13th, and 14th of December for you, and if simply for nostalgia’s sake, may the veterans read on.
1. Let’s get something straight: the no glass BYO policy works. This open attitude creates a sense of trust and transparency. It of course allows people to drink more cheaply, but more importantly, to drink at their own leisure. Unlike some other camping music festivals, you won’t see overly intoxicated people at campsites trying to fit in another illicit drink, or staggering around self-consciously, avoiding in vain the subsequent overbearing officials. Here you are encouraged to enjoy yourself in an open environment, and with that, comes mutual respect.
2. Love your neighbours. Meredith feels kind of like an extended backyard party with your most intimate mates, and it’s accentuated by the couch culture. Bring a couch and you’ve got an instant party, and a meeting spot for folk. Couches can have many inventive functions, and Meredith displays them well. I won’t say more than that.
3. You make your own Meredith. With one stage, and no musical clashes, you can run free amongst the spoils of the site’s environment, and know your set times with ease.
4. Meredith is beautiful. It’s a real treat for anyone not used to mainland country landscape. Dry golden grass plains and silent, swaying gums cover the grounds, and lead towards the gentle slope of the ‘Sup: the supernatural amphitheater. Further along west of the ‘Sup is the formidable Sunset Strip, where a dramatic gash in the landscape creates a great hilltop to sit upon. Your view is across a sweeping gully and onto shimmering deserted plains, where the only interruption is hardly that: an old abandoned gold mine, glinting in the wealth of a hefty sunset.
In very loose chronological order, here are some highlights that wooed and entranced my virginal group into complete adoration. I’ll be brief because in the end, you’ll only need a sketch, and no-one likes the uncomfortable “maybe you just had to be there”:
Meredith is easy to get to but we needed a Kmart and thus took a strange detour into a town that seemed to only farm cabbage. Google Maps said there was a Kmart, in its place was just a huge field of cabbage and wide-open sky. This lead to a secret and accidental path through the back roads of national parks and country Victoria with zero festival traffic. This in hindsight was actually a huge highlight. Do the same and do the obvious: never trust Google Maps. We arrived to our group of pals well versed in the art of site securing. Their niche was top camp. Many people at Meredith take their camp ‘burb seriously in a very nice way. Below the gaze of the Meredith Eye, we were welcomed into the decadence of Meredith camp culture (shade, furniture, ice, eskies and goats cheese salad). The Meredith Eye previously mentioned is a giant ferris wheel, which is great fun anytime, but especially after midnight, when the breeze is cool, and Josh Thomas hands you a lighter that’s travelled all the way from Nimbin. On the topic of after midnight, be sure to make new best friends that you bid farewell to before midday (hi John!), and always, always, stay up for the music.
On the fragile Saturday morning, the beautiful Tiny Ruins completing cleansed the festival. Her folk music is not your average. Refreshed, we participated in the Free the Nipple parade run by some of Melbourne’s finest females. The joy from the crowd, and the release as people stood up, stripped their upper halves and marched in solidarity was transformational. We kept the diamontes upon our nips proudly. Up next was the infamous Deep Sea Doof. It’s essentially a camp site designed to look like a back drop from the little mermaid, and punters come far and wide to dance to a continuous beat that turns your legs to tentacles and your heart the size of a whale’s.
Ghost Face Killa was phenomenal, and so was the crowd guest appearance by athlete Dylan Alcott. People were dancing uncontrollably as he rapped his way through a verse of Protect Ya Neck. Euphoria was running very high. Check the video below:
The spirit of Meredith beamed with the final glorious rays of sun. The second dusk on sunset strip was even more glorious than the first. We saw all the music, danced to all the bands. Know that The Skatalites and De La Soul still have it 100%. Thousands kept and kept and kept on dancing, until the sun was way up. Misty Nights: well done. People should get along to feel their disco sometime. They’re playing often in Melbourne at the moment. Shake that end of year slump off your shoulders.
We didn’t get to a single bar, nor do the nudie run, but we drank in style and pranced proudly naked regardless. There’s always time for next year, and the next, and hopefully, ad infinitum. I want to bring my kids here, maybe my grandkids. I lost my wallet twice and it was returned twice, both times with my $175 cash still in tact. I love you Meredith. This is a definite positive review.
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Meredith Music Festival review by Neika Lehman.