By The Meadow is a festival that I’ve been meaning to head along to for the last few years, so when I finally got the chance to make it along to their sixth event I was absolutely stoked.
Before I go into the musical highlights of my weekend I want to quickly point something out. Meredith has their own unique dynamic via the option of punters bringing couches to the stage, Kennedy’s Creek has their own vibe through the crowd operated fire pits… By The Meadow has a fucking cinema.
And I’m not talking about some projector that’s just playing bogus clips for inebriated punters, but a full on cinema tent showing off classics like The Shining and Super Troopers which was perfect considering the weather and heavy rainfall the came down over the weekend.
Now to the music.
Every festival I have what I like to call the ‘surprise favourite’; an act I’d never heard of that upon viewing their set I become an immediate fan of. This was Thando. Delivering a groovy RNB/Hip Hop vibe reminiscent of acts like Sampa the Great and Jorja Smith, Thando was the perfect Friday night dance music. With her powerful vocals soaring through tracks like ‘Happy,’ ‘Trouble’, and ‘What You Want’, she was truly an enigmatic and mesmerising songstress who has a huge career ahead of her.
If you were into the local music scene around 2009-2010, then you know that The Vasco Era needs no introduction. Opening with Sid O’Neil playing a solo rendition of Elvis’ ‘Can’t Help Falling In Love With You’, the vibe was immaculate. Huge singalong, Sid’s roaring voice – fuck me it was special. Upon the rest of Vasco arriving at the stage, they went immediately into ‘When We All Lost It’ which sounded unreal, except for the vocals which were the victim to unfortunate sound issues. These issues where resolved quickly and fans where treated to favourites such as ‘Rock and Roll is The Only Thing That Makes Me Feel Good’ and ‘Honey Bee’, as well as a cheeky inclusion of Hendrix’s ‘Voodoo Child’, a cover that really got punters who may have been unfamiliar with Vasco well and truly into it.
Zeitgeist Freedom Energy Exchange is the brainchild of 30/70’s Ziggy Zeitgeist and is also an act I’ve been meaning to see for a while now and I’m stoked to say I finally have. Juxtaposing between trippy ambiance and funky dance tracks, Zeitgeist were an absolute spectacle live. If you get the chance please make sure you suss these guys out because I can imagine they will be on a lot of festival lineups in the coming years.
Hobson Bay Coastguard gave punters an afternoon dose of indie pop. Starting out quite ‘dancey’, their set subtly progressed into much more of a psychedelic approach gaining heaviness as it progressed.
The Goon Sax was as good as ever, just some damn nice surf punk. I really enjoyed their set (as I had seen them before and knew what to expect), although one of my comrades was quite disappointed that they didn’t actually feature a Sax. Obviously, this isn’t a criticism, just something that made me wonder how many people are actually going to see The Goon Sax and expecting a completely different dynamic to what they receive. Either way, I’m sure they’d still be impressed.
The Seven Ups are just the best. Being the second time I’ve seen them, I can now confidently say that they are one of my favourite live acts in Melbourne. Their infusions of psych, doom, and jazz was a perfect addition to the Saturday night roster and proved again to be my favourite act of the weekend.
The Murlocs are by far one of the most revered bands from around our region so it was epic to see them take out the headliner spot for this years lineup. Opening with ‘Noble Soldier’ the vibe was immediately high. With lead singer Ambrose Kenny-Smith now donning a guitar, Murl’ belted through tracks ‘Retrospect’, ‘Young Blindness’ and ‘Space Cadet’. I was ecstatic at the addition of ‘Gutless’ to the setlist as that has been one of my longtime favourite Murlocs’ song so when that heavy opening kicked in my mind was blown. ‘Comfort Zone’ was my favourite song that I saw performed the whole weekend; the slow-burning melody mixed with the midnight set time and consistent rainfall was incredible, I was truly in awe.
Harvey Sutherland ushered in the late night party vibes. Performing with a full band setup (not Bermuda) was incredibly impressive. Keeping the punters going Sutherland breezed through his set of upbeat jazzy-dance numbers finishing off with his newest belter ‘Something In The Water’.
All in all, By The Meadow was an unreal festival and one that I’ll definitely be a repeat visitor to. Hopefully, I’ll see you there next year.
Reviewed by Alex Callan
Photos by fromdyl