For long-time attendees Meredith is not simply a festival that showcases some of the best music from Australia and the rest of the world but an institution – a sacred and mystical event that helps close off the end of the year.
Over the course of its 25-year history Meredith has ingrained strange traditions and rituals that perhaps to a passing observer may seem absurd, but those versed in the knowledge practice with a feverish devotion.
There’s ‘the shoe’ – a single sole raised to the sky by patrons to show affection to a particular favourite act; sunset at Inspiration Point – where thousands gather to cheer and countdown the sun slowly tipping beyond the horizon; and of course the Gift – the annual nudie run around the Supernatural Amphitheatre.
Each instalment is remembered and canonised – the festival booklet carried a brilliant flash through some of the most memorable moments of the festival’s history – great acts are mythologised, their names and feats passed on down through the years so even if you weren’t there you know something magical happened
While other festivals live and die off the strength of the names on the bill, for Meredith it often feels like a secondary consideration. It’s not that the acts aren’t fantastic, but that they are drawn from such a vast array of places, times and genres that to be a sincere fan of all of them would require a depth of musical knowledge beyond the average capabilities of most.
You place your trust in Meredith to deliver a stellar lineup and it almost always delivers in abundance. This year was no exception.
Helping to kick off proceedings on the Friday evening and dispel the remaining patches of rain that drifted across the campsite was Melbourne band Pearls. Playing tunes off their latest record Pretend You’re Mine, their T-Rex influenced rock was an early highlight.
Nashville punk group Bully, legendary Sonic Youth front man Thurston Moore and hip-hop legend Big Daddy Kane all delivered highly impressive sets on the Friday evening.
Psychedelic Swedes Goat paired their Afro-beat tinged sound with a costumed energised stage performance, before Unknown Mortal Orchestra played a hit-laden show drawing heavily upon their stellar latest album Multi-Love.
Neon Indian was a standout performer of the Saturday afternoon, although his abridged set was occasionally affected by finicky vintage synthesisers.
Father John Misty released one of the standout albums of 2015 in I Love You, Honeybear so expectations were high on mastermind Josh Tillman. He more than exceeded them, playing an impassioned slice of songs as well as taking off his own boot to salute the near unanimous wave of shoes greeting him from the crowd. The pre-sunset slot has seen many great performances but few to match Mr Tillman (who was seen taking in some of the later performances amidst the crowd).
Funk, soul and R&B legends Fatback Back got things pumping in the evening before Brooklyn-based ratatat crowned the evening with a non-stop attack of hits such as Wildcat, Seventeen Years and Abrasive. UK electro producer Floating Points had people dancing off late into the night though declined to lean too heavily on his recent excellent album Elaenia.
Meredith is always an expertly run event with a setup, infrastructure and general crowd vibe that are the envy of others and this edition was hard to fault.
Meredith 25 will take a fine and memorable place in the weird and wacky lore of the festival.