Festivals, Reviews

2019 Meredith Music Festival Review

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Meredith Music Festival is about much more than the music. People bring their own couches to perch on the hill, wave their shoes in the air to show appreciation for their favourite acts, and carry their own eskys to the one and only stage.

These sometimes odd and always unique traditions have given the festival an almost mythological reputation in the eyes of many of its followers. Meredith also takes chances that no other large festival would dare. It offers primetime slots to little known local acts, shuffles through genres in an eclectic and sometimes bizarre way, and lures the weirdest and wackiest acts from around the globe to country Victoria.

This year’s line-up announcement tested the strength of the festival’s lustre. It was shorn of a bevy of big international stars and received a mixed response from some patrons. Tickets are usually a rare and prized commodity, however this year people were selling them online for a fraction of the $400-plus face value. There were stories of people being unable to give away spare tickets.

Regardless, the festival was declared a sell-out prior to its commencement – vitally important for an event that shuns corporate partners and sponsorship. Those who did make their way to the Golden Plains Shire and on to the Supernatural Amphitheatre were treated to two nights and three days of classic Meredith magic.

For the first time, the festival kicked off with an Indigenous Smoking Ceremony before the traditional Welcome to Country from the local custodians of the land. Highlights of the first evening included Brisbane-based Fijian rapper Jesswar, who delighted with an amped up set of charged hip-hop. Julia Jacklin showed why she has been gaining such favourable reviews around the world with a beautiful dose of country-tinged indie rock. Briggs had the crowd eating out of the palm of his hands with a collection of favourite tunes, while Tassie band Close Counters provided a late-night sonic voyage.

The star name on the bill though was Liam Gallagher. It may now be 25 years since his former band Oasis dropped their ear defining record Definitely Maybe, but Gallagher has lost none of his abrasive charisma. His brother Noel may have been the creative tour de force behind the group, but Liam was the voice that brought together classic hits like Wonderwall, Rock ‘n’ Roll Star and Cigarettes and Alcohol.

Saturday kicked off with some rousing performances from local acts Scott & Charlene’s Wedding and U-Bahn before Welsh singer-songwriter Cate Le Bon graced the amphitheatre. The day’s main drawcard had happened entirely by accident. When London collective Steam Down were unable to travel, DJ Koze was given the call to replace them. Koze packed out the entire hill of shoe-waving fans for a thumping set of jungle house tunes, before closing with elongated versions of his two biggest hits, the disco flavoured edit of Låpsley’s Operator and the Gladys Knight sampling Pick Up.

There was much more to come though as Digital Afrika sprinkled their pulsating African beats with some verses from guest star Remy, while Christine Anu followed later in the evening with some old school pop choruses. Amyl and the Sniffers wowed Meredith so much a year or two back in a festival opening set that they were brought back to play again in a prime late evening slot. The night was capped by Irish singer Roisin Murphy, who back in the late 90s was half of the trip-hop act Moloko. DJs Eric Powell and Helena Hauf provided the beats and tunes that had revellers dancing long into the night.

With an aversion to big name international superstars, attending this year’s Meredith required faith in the festival’s organisers to hit on the right mixture of acts. While there were some misses across the weekend, there were far more sublime hits. With several artists stating onstage that it was their favourite ever show, it was clearly apparent that the crowd was showing a reciprocal level of appreciation.

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