Live, Music, Reviews, Stage

Golden Plains 2016 review

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Golden Plains may only be into its tenth year but it has already built a glowing reputation as one of the country’s best boutique music festivals.
Only two days long, Golden Plains is shorter, less populous and skews to an older audience than its sister festival Meredith. While Meredith is steeped in traditions and rituals Golden Plains is more spontaneous and unpredictable. The line-up swings from hip-hop to Afrobeat and from avant-garde jazz to pub rock all within a couple of hours.
Saturday afternoon highlights included the swinging soul of Emma Donovan and The Putbacks, the electro-tinged classic pop sounds of U.S. Girls and American country singer-songwriter Natalie Prass.
Legendary punk rock band Buzzcocks kicked off the evening with a hit laden set, before C.W Stoneking brought his brand of feet-tapping blues to the Supernatural Ampitheatre.
Golden Plains often programs local acts at the prime time sets, an honour which few other festivals are prepared to grant to anyone other than the biggest names. NO ZU (below, photo by Theresa Harrison) have been bubbling under the surface of the local music scene for a few years now, but recently have exploded into prominence. The eight-piece disco party band betrayed a couple of small hints of their relative inexperience on the biggest stages, but generally delivered a tight and exciting performance.
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Day two kicked off with the Berlin-based minimalist Australian band HTRK (pronounced “hate rock”) and the duo delivered a delicately beautiful early morning session —  though a later time slot may have been more appropriate for the critically acclaimed group.
The breakout highlight of the festival was Songhoy Blues – a desert rock band hailing from Mali. Their raucous and entertaining set received ‘the shoe’ (where patrons hold their shoes aloft as a sign of appreciation) form a large percentage of the crowd.
Seun Kuti inherited a famous name as well as a well-drilled orchestra from his father, legendary Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti, and lived up to the reputation with a swinging Sunday afternoon show.
The most anticipated performance was Sleater-Kinney – the band’s reputation as one of the most important American alt rock bands of their time, and one of the best all-female rock bands ever. Playing hits from across their entire career, the band showed why they’ve managed to earn such high praise.
Melbourne-based band Eddy Current Suppression Ring returned from a four year break to deliver a typically hectic blast of punk and garage inspired rock. Their set crowned Sunday night and while they didn’t have any new music to play, their back catalogue contained more than enough for the four-piece to mine.
All performers were good, yet none dropped a set that felt awe-inspiring; there were no “I was there” or “You should’ve been there” moments.
Walls around the festival were lined with photos of past years previous acts that have taken their place in the lore of Golden Plains. This instalment lacked something that felt as memorable or noteworthy as those.
Headliners of recent years have included Public Enemy, Bon Iver, Nile Rodgers, George Clinton, Joanna Newsom and The Village People, but this year’s line up didn’t quite have a drawcard name. It’s tempting to wonder if the decline in the Aussie dollar is making it harder and harder to attract acts of a similar calibre.
Golden Plains sets an incredibly lofty standard for itself, so even when it falls short of greatness it’s still a rip-roaring good time.
[box]Featured image: Eddy Current, photo by Ty Johnson[/box]

4 responses to “Golden Plains 2016 review

  1. Ah Built to Spill, Sleater Kinney, Violent Femmes and Eddy Current and no drawcard name?? Really?
    Did you even watch the Built to Spill set?

  2. This is so off the mark.
    “I was there” for Eddy Current will be said for years to come. Beyond ECSR it was the strongest and most diverse lineup of the past 10 years.

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