Meredith 2010


By Chris Mitchell.

Reviewing Meredith is like waking up from a dream and someone asks you to write down everything you remember. It’s nigh on impossible.

Either that, or it’s the same as going 12 rounds with Danny Green. It bloody hurt, but you are left with a bizarre sense of accomplishment and satisfaction.

With that in mind, let’s try and remember exactly what happened at Meredith’s 20th Anniversary celebrations.

The weeks and days leading up to what is probably this country’s most loved festival were spent doing anti-rain dances. Don’t know if it was just us, but rain seems to have played far too big a part in the last few festival seasons and we were bloody sick of it. Aside from that, the slab was packed, goon bags were on ice and we were ready to go.

One piece of advice that should be remembered each year, but always seems forgotten, is AVOID THE SERVOS ON THE GEELONG HIGHWAY. If we were to review our experiences with them on Meredith morning, Myles Barlow style, they would get no stars. Next year, we’ll remember. I swear.

Running approximately 37 days late following a petrol stop, we were finally there and could set up camp. With the music not beginning until 4pm, energies could be concentrated on building the most over the top camp site possible. Those of us with a builder amongst us spent most of the afternoon feeling incredibly inadequate and trying to look busy as some glorious structures went up all around the festival.

Eventually the pull of the stage proved strong enough, and many an arse was dragged down in time to see the first few acts, which included Rat Vs Possum, Puta Madre Brothers and Kimbra. But it wasn’t until Cloud Control hit the stage, and the nine to fivers started to roll in from the big smoke that things really kicked off.  Reverend Horton Heat did his best to incite some sort of alt-country riot before band of the moment Little Red took to the stage. The boys had played Meredith before, but not in such a prominent slot. Rushing through a mixture of songs from both their albums, the Melbournites, along with Cloud Control, provided the highlight of Friday.

The general consensus amongst those that stuck around for Clipse was that they were disappointed, however there were those that seemed to be at Meredith purely for Clipse, and those types loved it. Some drank enough coffee and Red Bull to stick it out for The Field, and the word from those that stayed up and could actually remember was that it was one of the better late night sets Meredith has seen in recent years. Others who stayed up complained of headaches and muscles spasm, and kept mumbling something about waking up in the wrong tent, but without the possum they had chased in there earlier.

One of our favourite things about Meredith Saturdays is waking up and hearing the lovely sounds of The City Of Ballarat Brass Band. They don’t always draw a huge crowd to the stage, but rest assured, the C-O to the Triple B have a devoted following amongst the hungover and caffeine hungry around the site.

Saturday afternoon brought with it a little rain, a little sun and a lot of dancing. C.W Stoneking did what C-Dub does, and the breezy sounds of Girls washed away any lingering aches and pains that Panadol couldn’t.

Just as well they did, because when El Guincho hit the stage, it was game on. People often talk about epic dance moves, but this 45 minute set was something else. Drawing something from just about every genre you can think of, El Guincho’s music was made for hip shaking. Even as the rain pelted down, a massive crowd of idiots danced like wankers from go to whoa, and Saturday had been officially set up to be something special. A definite highlight, perhaps THE highlight, of the weekend.

Post-Punk legends The Fall probably didn’t get the pre-festival hype they should have, but once he hit the stage, Mark E. Smith showed exactly why he has cast such a shadow over alternative music throughout the last few decades.

Custard were, frankly, brilliant. They say you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone. Well, for much of the Meredith crowd, when it came to these guys, it was a case of you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone and then it comes back again. Girls Like That was everything it promised to be, and it was certainly a triumphant return to Victoria for the Western Australians.

Saturday night brought with it huge anticipation, a whole heap of rain and about 3 billion glow sticks. Crowded House hero Neil Finn brought the sun down, and despite appearing to cop one or two missiles in the face, his hit-laden set was something truly special.

While Finn brought an awed hush over the amphitheatre, Sharon Jones and The Dap Kings brought the party back, complete with some of those earlier dance moves practiced during El Guincho’s set. Regular visitors, the pint sized Jones and her band are consistently fantastic, this was no exception.

The day had been all building towards one act though, and the Meredith site was positively bursting by the time The Dirty Three hit the stage. This is about the time things start to get a bit hazy, but the memory of Warren Ellis and co tearing the shed to pieces will live on for quite awhile. Adding to the spectacle was the appearance of what seemed like hundreds of glow sticks, forming an awesome light show as they were flung from one side of the crowd to the other.

Sunday, well, Sunday frickin’ hurt. Dumplings for breakfast were a bad idea, watching Those Darlins was not. Sally Seltman was delightful, but Sunday’s clear highlight was The Hypnotic Brass Ensemble. A 9 piece brass band, including 8 brothers, these guys played with such tightness and energy, it was impossible not to force our broken bodies to dance. Perhaps the only criticism of the weekend was the timing of their set, a Friday or Saturday performance from these guys would have been truly spectacular.

And so, another glorious December weekend at Meredith drew to a close. The sun dances didn’t quite work, but a quite delightful time was had by all. By now, you know what you’re going to get from Meredith. Probably the best run festival that LNL has been to, Meredith consistently delivers one of the best weekends on the festival calendar.

Just don’t go back to those petrol stations. Please. It was awful. It still hurts.