Meredith Music Festival in Victoria has developed a reputation that is envied (and even emulated) by many of the countless festivals around the country. For its 24th year, the friendly festival that lets you BYO couches and booze drew over 12,000 peeps from far and wide to discover (and rediscover) what it is that makes this festival so damn spesh.
A great festival experience isn’t just about the line-up (even though this year featured some stellar acts like The War On Drugs, The Lemonheads, Ghostface Killah and the epic Jagwar Ma). It’s also about the community spirit, the beautiful natural amphitheatre (the ‘Sup’), the amenities and set-up, and Aunty Meredith’s strict “no dickheads” policy – all creating an atmosphere that keeps punters coming back year after year.
Sometimes, simplicity delivers the deepest of pleasures. There’s only one stage at Meredith. Sets are longer. Queues are shorter. There’s a decent break time between acts. You don’t have to research the program and make tough decisions on who you want to see (and possibly miss out on another choice act because you’ve gotta trek through mud for 20 minutes to make it to the other stage).
At Meredith, you get to sit back in your own comfy couch or camp chair, chill, and enjoy the band without exhausting yourself through FOMO. Simple. We really like this.
Here’s what else we really liked discovering at Meredith in 2014.
Staying Awake 19 Hours To See Jagwar Ma Was Totally Worth It
Getting a good camp spot at Meredith requires some strict discipline and terrifyingly early alarm settings to arrive before the other 12,000 happy campers on a Friday morning. Which can make staying awake late Friday night a challenge. But hey, that’s what siestas are for, right?
And even though our 5am-rise left us a little bleary eyed, it was totally worth it to see Jagwar Ma back on their home turf after a year of solid international touring. Even more priceless was the delight on a punter’s face on learning the psychedelic dance band that had just blown them away is actually from our own little country.
The Meredith Eye Is Awesome, Day Or Night, And This Year It Was Free
We didn’t mind the long queue at midnight on Saturday. We just had to experience the Eye’s view of De La Soul pumping the crowd from up high. Haven’t been to Meredith and wondering what the hell the Eye is? It’s a big metal wheel with lots of little cages that happy people climb into to get the lay of the land, get cosy, or just get a great view of the stage. In seductively slow rotation.
There’s Nothing Seedy On Sunset Strip Except The Grass (The Legal Kind)
This year saw the introduction of the caravan bar on Sunset Strip. This magical natural chill-out zone was where you could quietly sit with a bev in hand, watching the setting sun give a golden glow to those magnificent giant wind turbines on the distant hills as they nobly swung their arms through an endless silent disco routine. Zen.
Randomly Witnessing A Wedding Under The Meredith Arch Was Too Damn Cute
There we were, enjoying the shade tent in 30 degree heat with a great view of the stage when it happened: some lovely peeps got hitched. Their friends, dressed in tutus and taffeta, lined up to form an aisle for the couple to walk through to meet the celebrant waiting for them at the Meredith Arch.
(FYI the heart-topped arch appears every year through the random generosity of a loyal punter, and this year was decked out in sexy leopard print.) No doubt the freshly wedded couple met right there at a previous Meredith festival. The entire audience in both shade tents erupted in appreciative share-the-love applause. Nawww.
Enjoying The Excellent View From Eric’s Bar Can Attract Some Unexpected Friends
Sucking down a legendary espresso martini at Eric’s is an awesome way to wake up in the early evening. On the bench seats at the far corner, you can see both the stage and the sunset, people-watch, and get the full perspective of the Sup’s grandeur.
People are super friendly. But so was a gate-crasher of the large eight-legged variety who dropped in on our unsuspecting neighbours. There was a minor kerfuffle involving some rapid butt-shifting, then a superhero worked some magic with a plastic cup and gently relocated the Huntsman to his own private Idaho. Peace was restored.
Compost Dunnies Are Much Better Than Portaloos At A Three-day Festival
If you’ve been to a few festivals like we have, you’ll know the fear of Day Three when you need to queue for the portaloo. Well, compost dunnies are different. Seriously. The silent sawdust flush minimizes the Day Three gag-factor.
And if you happened to stumble into loo number 29 at Meredith, no doubt it became your throne of choice. It was decked out like something you’d expect to see in a sleazy celebrity’s L.A. mansion circa 1979. We’re talking fringed light shade, floral wallpaper, gilt-edged mirror and more. Who’d have thought a loo could be so spesh.
Courtney Barnett Made Two Stage Appearances
While she’s scheduled for Meredith’s sister festival Golden Plains in March 2015, the busy Miss Barnett wasn’t on this year’s Meredith bill but she was playing guitar with Jen Cloher on Sunday.
Not only that, she joined Evan Dando on stage for a super sweet duet. Dando played a couple of catchy acoustic numbers solo before the duet, commenting that he was having a fun Meredith and that he’d always wanted to check it out (Aunty Meredith, your reputation really does travel well). The rest of the Lemonheads then joined Dando on stage and rocked out a smashing final Sunday set.