This year was the Silver Jubilee for Meredith Music Festival. Given what a spectacle the festival has become, it’s hard to believe that it was once just a stage on the back of a truck in the countryside with 200 or so people.
Now the festival is a drawcard for a wide range of both local and international acts, spanning a wide spectrum of genres.
Meredith is the kind of festival that’s pencilled into the diary as soon as the last one has finished. Its 25th year confirmed to us why the people come year after year.
Central to the Meredith experience is the logistics of camping in a large group, and there is great satisfaction in improving this year after year.
Hardcore festival-goers who rose before the break of dawn were rewarded this time around, because on Friday afternoon the heavens opened up. The Nolan farm was transformed into an unpredictable mess of heavy rains and blustering winds, capable of turning any brave person’s outfit into a wet t-shirt competition entry.
There were tents that didn’t quite make it through the festival – others only just. Despite the small weather battles faced at the outset, Meredith 2015 reinforced that there is nothing better than living with your close friends for a few days and knowing that after a big night, home is only a short walk away.
Inherent to a festival that attracts repeat visitors is a positive sense of bringing people together. This year, Meredith continued its usual traditions of looking after nature (clean-up sessions were to Kendrick Lamar’s ‘King Kunta’), the Community Tucker Tent, the Meredith Gift nudie run and the help of many kind-hearted volunteers.
Last year there were 3,000 trees and shrubs planted at the ‘Sup as part of Uncle Doug’s tree-planting project, and revellers were able to enjoy them this time around. On the Saturday night, there was a mass exodus from the ‘Sup following Father John Misty’s set to watch the sunset from the beloved Sunset Strip. Despite the event appearing to be more of a sun fade, hearing hundreds of people applauding the sky together could melt any cold heart.
Music for everyone
The line-up at Meredith is always incredibly diverse, and this year was no exception. Unstoppable dancing was in order for Australian rapper Tkay Maidza, Melbourne disco duo GL, or calypso band Mighty Duke and the Lords.
Gentler vibes were provided by garage band Totally Mild with frontwoman Elizabeth Mitchell’s sweet tone, or from LA artist Julia Holter and her theatrical compositions.
Meredith is also a place for some magic musical moments; there was a sea of appreciative shoes in the aid for Father John Misty’s ‘Bored in the USA,’ and Ratatat’s unique guitar-heavy electronica had enough uplift to set hearts soaring.
All the pretty colours
Meredith is a sensory overload. Power Rangers, tropical birds and more lycra than normally acceptable were on display in the form of costumes this year, and many acts happily returned this offering, such as Swedish experimental group Goat and their tribal masks, or GL vocalist Ella Thompson in her retro get-up with her trusty back-up dancers.
The totem poles were also decorated in ways both imaginative and disturbing, such as an ice cream cone, a dead pigeon, umbrellas, and the more last-minute beer on a stick creations that were the source of more pride than necessarily warranted.
To mark the Silver Jubilee as a special occasion, the Meredith Light Show took place on Friday night. Beams of multicoloured laser lights danced to New Order’s ‘Blue Monday’ blasting from the speakers for the appreciative throng of thousands.
Organisation is Key
Another reason people keep coming back is that Meredith Music Festival organisers have their shit together.
That only comes with decades of experience in running a sustainable, fully independent festival. As always, no culinary sacrifices needed to be made at Meredith, with plenty of filter coffee, pulled pork and fresh juice to go around.
Toilet problems were dealt with in good time, and volunteers knew what they needed to do. These were easy wins but often the most important.
With no curfew and only the open plains to contend with, it’s easy to lose your mind at Meredith, but important to do so safely.
Meredith always seems to find the perfect balance. Despite the recent spate of drug-related incidents at festivals, it was comforting to see that at Meredith 2015, people were looking out for each other.
With its ‘no dickheads’ policy, the festival was more fun than friction – the police officers’ most challenging matters being decisions on which Belgian waffle to pick.