Ten years of a good thing can only be described as that: a good thing. Though in the case of Golden Plains, it’s even that little bit better – as anyone who has attended the festival will know. It’s such a highlight on the festival calendar that tickets are guaranteed to sellout and punters come from across Australia to camp out the night before on the street outside the grounds to ensure them the best possible camping posse.
As festival goers set up on the Saturday morning, wheeling in couches on trolleys, sprinkling themselves with glitter and positioning that first slab in the esky, the Golden Plains vibe was growing. With beers chilled, outfits prepped and everyone on a high, the festival began. Emma Donovan & the Putbacks were naturally a highlight, as if that lady couldn’t turn it on, though a pleasant surprise came with Natalie Prass. I was previously unfamiliar with the singer, though her honey-dipped vocals suited the chilled afternoon vibes of the Sup’ nicely. Honourable mention also goes to the Buzzcocks and Royal Headache.
The only thing GP is really lacking, in comparison to its sister festival Meredith, is that third day. When Sunday rolls around the realisation kicks in that this is the last day of music, leotards and the potent but must-have Pink Flamingo. Musically things were ramped up considerably on the second day, and the highlight hands down early on Songhoy Blues: that man was the definition of fun, and in the early hours of the arvo. Freddie Gibs was really for the hardcore hip hop lovers (you know, the ones crouching low with their hoodies up) but the scheduling from that point on was nothing but stellar and as diverse as they come, though that is the appeal of a GP line up. Seun Kuti and Egypt 80 had everyone dancing and trying to twerk along with the dancers on stage – achieving their standard was near impossible. Built to Spill were a highlight for me as were Sleater-Kinney, who both rocked it out on stage. The Violent Femmes were an interesting one, and with the soundtrack to summer in ‘Blister in the Sun’ starting off with that song in their set probably wasn’t the wisest move. For the most part, you could tell from the considerable loss of enthusiasm from the hit track that the crowd were not all that familiar with the remainder of their set. However, the same could definitely not be said with Eddy Current Suppression Ring, who managed to continue on with their stellar live performance even after a six-year break. How they do it is anyone’s guess. The night finished on a high, some much higher than others.
Golden Plains is really one of those festivals where you could simply wander around the various campsites and stumble across a party that will rival the main entertainment itself. GP has set itself up on its community feel, and after 10 years there are some serious traditions that have been set up by regular attenders. The Gold Party if you haven’t seen it, seriously get there, it’s a gold bedazzled, g-stringed affair that often ends in a group dance – in this year’s case it was a group sing-a-long and choreographed dance to David Bowie’s ‘Let’s Dance’. It doesn’t get much more Golden Plains than that.
In this year’s incarnation of the festival, X most definitely marks the spot.