How bloody special is Meredith?

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How bloody special is Meredith?

Photo by Fraser Lever
Words by Alex Callan

Indulge in a throwback with this review of Meredith 2018.

I can’t begin to think of any other Victorian festival that even comes close to the unique vibe that Meredith has going (excluding golden Plains of course), and with 2018 marking my fifth consecutive year to the ‘sup I can confirm, the quality certainly hasn’t dropped.

The ‘Aints opening the weekend was a huge surprise when the set times were released, but after seeing their set, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Packing the same intensity I can imagine The Saints did in the 70’s, it was evident that Ed Kuepper wasn’t just an old school punk rocker trying to relive his heyday. Performing with finesse, Kuepper’s raspy vocals and the bands impressive horn arrangement was the perfect way to kick start the weekend.

Mim Suleiman pumped up the party vibes with her Swahili lyrism and hard-hitting beats which provided a great soundtrack for the afternoon sun, clearly being an unexpected (or previously unknown) favourite for a lot of punters.

The Breeders are a band that a lot of my friends have always liked but one I’ve previously struggled to get into. But, with Kim Deal being in The Pixies at a point, I had to suss them out and I’m really glad I did. Performing tracks from their whole catalogue (with a specific focus on the album ‘Last Splash’) the set was concluded with ‘Cannonball,’ a song Kim had initially recorded whilst still with The Pixies.

The Seven Ups proved to be my favourite act of the weekend with their set consisting of heavy afro-beat psychedelic funk, an amalgamation I hadn’t quite come across before but one that worked really well. Blending between heavy funk sax to droney shoegaze riffs, the Melbourne up and comers definitely established themselves as an act to keep an eye out for.

After being one of my favourite bands for years now, seeing Pond at Meredith was a bit of a dream come true. Opening with ‘30,000 Megatonnes’ it was evident that I wasn’t the only one feeling that way, with the stacked crowd quickly rushing from their couches down to the dance floor. Although cheeky numbers such as ‘Don’t Look at the Sun or You’ll Go Blind’ and ‘Giant Tortoise’ made an appearance, their set primarily consisted of songs from their 2017 release, The Weather, which truthfully, was the first Pond album I wasn’t really a fan of. But still, there is no denying it was a terrific performance, with songs such as ‘Paint Me Silver’ and ‘The Weather’ being a mesmerising experience as a glittery Nick Allbrook commandeered the stage.

Yaeji played the 2am set Friday night, which was a pleasant change for inebriated punters. People where already losing their shit to her upbeat yet spacey dance tracks, but when ‘raingurl’ kicked in it was a sight to be seen, the crowd’s energy was contagious.

Mental As Anything was the first band I ever saw live (at the ripe age of seven) so it was an incredibly nostalgic treat seeing them in the Saturday afternoon sun. Opening with ‘Too Many Times’, it kick started what was an incredibly fun greatest hits set. ‘Live It Up’ had by far the loudest crowd singalong of the weekend whilst other hits such as ‘The Nips Are Getting Bigger’ and ‘If You Leave Me Can I Come Too?’ had the vibes high. Throwing in a cover of Johnny Cash’s ‘Folsom Prison Blues’ was a welcomed surprise.

The Pharcyde took out the usual hip-hop time slot of the late Saturday afternoon and were another one of my favourites from the weekend. Showing just how relevant old school hip-hop is Imani and Bootie Brown had the crowd bumping, with hits such as ‘Runnin’ and ‘Passin Me By’ scoring huge roars from the punters as they kicked in. As did the inclusion of Bootie Brown’s verse from the Gorillaz’ track ‘Dirty Harry,’ which simultaneously scored a lot of boots from the crowd as well as a lot of bewildered faces asking their mates, ‘is he actually the guy from the song?’

For a set that was primarily just one man on stage with a guitar, Billy Bragg, who was the only act for the weekend to score an encore, had the crowd hypnotised by his unique punkish vocals and melancholic guitar riffs which was really on display with his slowed down rendition of The Buzzcocks ‘Ever Fallen in Love’.

Mildlife are well and truly one of Melbourne’s most hyped acts at the moment and deservingly so. Having now seen them at Meredith and recently at Kennedys Creek, their unique blend of synthy jazz electronica is the perfect festival set, pair that with the setting sun and their most popular song ‘The Magnificent Moon’ and you have yourself a truly unforgettable experience.

Kicking in after the conclusion of the light show, The Presets did not disappoint. Newer songs such as ‘Martini’ and ‘Do What You Want’ found their way into their set early on and got people up and about whilst the latter half included older songs such as ‘This Boy’s In Love’ and ‘My People,’ both which were earth-shattering in their response. The Presets weren’t just a dance act for fucked up festival-goers, instead they were an act who had their set rehearsed and performed to precision. Their live show was spectacular and one that I would recommend to anyone regardless of their personal taste in music.

As always, thanks to Aunty Meredith for having me back. For the last five years Meredith has been my yearly highlight and I can’t see that changing any time soon. Let’s start counting down the days until Plains.