Aunty Meredith Takes Us On A Trip

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One bittersweet week after Meredith’s Silver Jubilee wrapped itself up with a confetti bang, Chloe Mayne takes us for a stroll through the forested daydream that was…

Oh, Meredith; the sparkled stuff of olde festival fables, rising to greet the summer each year like a mythical planet in the paddocks, a wave of loyal followers flooding in to catch its orbit and drink the sweet juices that flow from its sun-splayed fingertips. Reaching the silvery twenty-fifth year of its existence, Meredith 2015 was a full-bellied beast ready to unfurl and photosynthesise by the rays of hype that have fed its roots consistently and enthusiastically since its conception as a small and fiery 200-strong seed in 1991.

Fingering through the booklet passed through the car window to us on the way in, an entire history was breathed to me in blurry photographs. Nestles of colourful humans drifting together in sun-bleached fields, gum trees swaying maternally overhead as the dark of night swooped in and things got wide-eyed and starry, as they always do. Through pages of fabulous nineties garb and radiant faces my favourite memento of all was taken from the 2007 instalment, when this pair of old mates figured that they didn’t really need their 3D glasses. Besides making me laugh until I cried, this photo served as motivational fuel for the dizzy heights that awaited us on our virginal journey into the ether: what kinds of treats would be in store for us first-timers on this legendary journey?

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What got me the most about that history book, though, was how entrenched the Meredith Music Festival has become within the local community; celebrated rather than dreaded, a time for everybody to pitch in and make some magic happen faraway (but not so far, after all) from the giddiness of the city. That magic began before we even hit festival turf, when we popped into a little side-of-the-road store in the neighbouring town of Elaine to pick up some last bits and bobs. We purchased a fifty-cent paper bag of Clinkers scooped from a tub, and when one was dropped and tumbled across the linoleum the lady behind the counter reached right for the tongs, insisting on putting another one into our palms and wishing us an excellent weekend. It left me humbled, excited and a little bowled over as we trundled down the gravel road, billows of dust rising in columns in our wake, couches and inflatables strapped to the sagging backs of station wagons and tins of beer clutched lovingly through wound-down windows.

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The only thing that tried to batter the weekend around good and proper was the weather. Just as we staked out a campsite and began to unravel our mangled/borrowed tent from its slinky bag the wind howled and pulled at our ankles, shadowed clouds moving in to greet us with dollops of cold water licked across our cheeks. It was a gritty theme that threaded through the weekend like the edges of an adventure novel, giving our endeavours an arduous glow that made us flush with pride whenever we jumped an obstacle, such as purchasing food or changing clothes in the cold or going to the loo. A swig of port was all that was needed to brave the tumbles of our tempestuous ship, and how is any really worthwhile tale complete without a few splinters, anyways?

Meredith attracts a marvellous demographic; not only are they a superbly friendly bunch, but they sure know how to make their own fun. Armed with all manner of paraphernalia from ornaments on sticks and house furniture to wearable fairy lights and enough rhinestones to bejewel the outside of my house, there were enough toys for the place to feel like a dreamy technicolour playground. More than an audience, people participate, and it’s this attitude that makes things like the BYO policy such a success; instead of feeling like a pair of scumbags with vodka stuffed into our skirts, we felt like curious and intelligent human beings having a good time. Add to this a broad spectrum of delicious festive eats, a smattering of smouldered sunsets from ‘the’ hill and a Bloody Meredith from the Pink Flamingo and you’ve got all the segments you need to create one delicious Meredith mandarin.

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Then, of course, there’s the music. The following gems have been pulled from the weekend’s bountiful treasure chest, a tapestry so riddled with goodies that it’s difficult to tease them apart…

  1. In the waking hours of Friday afternoon, Pearls put on a glittering stomp of a show with their distinctively slightly-daggy wave-pop and some seriously dapper stage get-up.
  2. Shellac grabbed the evening by the shoulders and gave it an almighty rumble, tearing through their set like sharp teeth through gristle. It’s only the second time they’ve played in Australia in almost as many years as Meredith’s been around, which made it all feel pretty special.
  3. Making Friday’s belly even more robust was The Thurston Moore Band, during which it was impossible not to feel a little gaga, guitars slicing and weaving with a gentle but fervent power. With an all-star lineup featuring members of My Bloody Valentine and (of course) Sonic Youth, it was a super impressive set.
  4. Swedish voodoo warlocks-and-wizardesses Goat were an undeniable highlight of the festival’s sonic menu. Hollering back and forth across the stage in all of their finery, they drummed the opening evening up and over the crest with delicious ferocity.
  5. One of the first treats of the second day, Moon Duo drove the afternoon into a slow and smooth crest of swirling kicked-up colour. The early hour strangely suited them, pulling a tightly-knotted crowd of swaying shoulders into one woozy tapestry.
  6. Like stepping into a two-dimensional acrylic-painted video world, Ratatat were a surprising amount of fun in the silly stretch of Saturday night. Their far-out stadium guitar riffs burst loose with a shameless energy that was difficult not to catch.

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To top it all off, there was the majestic Meredith Eye, the festival’s resident spinner a.k.a. Ferris wheel, which took us on a grand trajectory through the clouds (or so it seemed) in the closing hours of the weekend. Watching the lights unfold in all directions like a whorled Milky Way, Aunty Meredith’s humble palace is just as gorgeous from above. Tumbling through the brisk night air with cheeks aflush, swollen with the kind of grin that gums your eyes together, I saw myself projected into the kaleidoscopic future of many Merediths to come.

Thanks for inviting us in, Aunty. We’ll see one another again at summer’s end (Golden Plains, y’all)!

Chloe Mayne


Words by Chloe Mayne. All photos by Steve Benn, besides the 3D mates snapshot which is courtesy of Aunty Meredith’s family album.