This year’s Golden Plains was an important one for many reasons, mostly though, due to it being the first year the late Jack Nolan (whose farmland has played host to Meredith and Golden Plains for decades) wasn’t in attendance. Tributes scattered the site, with photos of his time lining the walls of the entrances to the amphitheatre and many messages scrawled in toilet cubicles (a festival tradition) and spoken on stage.
And for what he’s helped create, this year’s Golden Plains stood up as one of the finest around. One of the greatest things about Golden Plains (and respectfully Meredith) is the local roundup of musicians who dazzle the stage and show just what Victoria has to offer.
Ausmuteants brought a uniqueness to the stage and represented the punk-garage-rock sound quite nicely, though perhaps too early for some punters. Cash Savage and the Last Drinks shone early on with a dynamic performance that saw many boots raised (again, a festival tradition) and overall pretty flawless performance from the band. As for other Melbourne band highlights, Olympia came in with perhaps the strongest performance of her career to date, Camp Cope gave a new life to their music in the live sense and ORB kept fans guessing.
Unfortunately, given the stellar performance from locals before him (Cash Savage and Camp Cope) expectations were high for Kurt Vile, and while his performance was pretty close to how you’d imagine, there was a limited ability to truly capture the audiences’ attention. Notable mentions also go to Chain and the Gang, Confidence Man (a new project by members from The Jungle Giants, The Belligerents and Moses Gunn Collective who since performing GP have had killer ticket sales for future shows), and Wax’O Paradiso.
Particularly for Confidence Man, who otherwise would have been a questionable pick for the festival, delivered every track with a fierceness you’d only dream of from a band and closed the set with debut single ‘Boyfriend (Repeat)’. Neil Finn returned again and there’s a nostalgia with his performances that can’t be questioned. It’s always going to be a unifying moment, and that’s exactly what this set was. Particularly speaking about women being able to heal the world after men have fucked it up.
Highlights: Hearing Neil Finn give a nod to the women of Australia and Melbourne bands shine bright.
Lowlight: The use of toast sliced bread at the Tucker tent instead of sandwich slices. It’s all about that bread to bacon/egg ratio!
Festival trend: Fluffy pom-pom earings
Overheard: “I didn’t think Neil Finn played this song?” said by confused punter during The Peep Tempel set.
Supernatural Amphitheatre, Meredith
Reviewed and photographed by Amanda Sherring