Meredith Music Festival

feat: MGMT, Holy Fuck, Man Man, Violent Soho and more.

There's really only three things you need to know about the Meredith Music Festival this year:


1. It rained 2. Holy Fuck blew everyone out of the water. 3. MGMT didn't.


Obviously for the sake of a decent and enjoyable review, I shall go into further detail. Do not misinterpret me here, there was a whole lot more going on at the Super-natural Amphitheatre. These are, however, the three main things that those of you who didn't attend Meredith, missed out on. 'Who cares if it was wet, fuck Holy Fuck and MGMT are so six months ago' I hear you mutter in the dim glow of your computer screens. Sour grapes fools, sour grapes. First off, it wasn't just wet. It was end-of-the-world-get-two-of-every-animal-and-a-babe-in-a-boat wet. It rained, non stop, for almost 48 hours. The weatherman (who I am loathed to believe, but he got it right this time) said we got a month worth of rain in two days. A whole month. Not just any month either, it's December. DECEMBER, PEOPLE! I always thought December meant sunshine and rolling sets, thongs and those little cut off jeans that bring me oh so much joy. Never again shall I operate under such false pretences as these. Ordinarily, this much water would ruin a festival. The wind would put everyone in a bad mood and no one would want to do anything. Not at Meredith. I think it took about half an hour for the majority of people there to decide that they were going to get wet, they were going to get muddy and there was nothing that could be done about it. The whole festival seemed to have a nice 'who gives a fuck' attitude towards everything, which is a good way of looking at things if you ask me.


The winners of Meredith this year were Holy Fuck, a Canadian group who, I'll be unabashadley honest here, I'd never really heard of. If you ever get a chance to see this band perform live, don't be a fool: go see them. They're an indie electronica group who create ingenious electronic tunes without any of the techniques normaly used in electronic music production. No backing tracks, no computers, no looping. Just live instruments (and, apparently, non music instruments like toy guns and film synths etc). It just all seemed to come together for an epic set. The rain slowed, then it stopped and everyone flocked to the stage. After six to ten hours standing in the pounding rain and howling wind, everyone (or maybe it was just me) was ready to go a bit loopy. Cue Holy Fuck in all their glory. Their blend of electronic dance and indie rock along with the blinding light show had everyone who was there dancing in the mud and when the rain kicked in again half way throuth their set, well nobody seemed to mind too much. They had the crowd dancing in the palm of the hand. The last time I saw an act build a set like this, maniacally pushing towards crescendo after crescendo only to blow everyones face off with such an explosion of light and sound was Daft Punk (yes I know that is a big prop to be giving). I've listened to a couple of their recordings and they're good, but the live show is something straight of the hat. This was the set of the festival. I feel sorry for everyone who only had a two day ticket because as well missing Holy Fuck, they also missed the vaudeville stylings of Philadelphia band Man Man.


I've been trying to come up with an apt and stylish way to describe this band for a few days now. Nothing really fits though. They are, quite simply, a car crash of instrumentaion, energy and facial hair. They are high on energy, higher on hooks and melody and will destroy a crowd with their live shows. It was like watching a private gypsy jam session in the middle of the bush. The numerous members (I was long past the ability to count by the time they played) bash and crash off each other on pianos, guitars, saxophones, marimbas, drums and I think (again, I was caught seeing things that weren't there so I may be wrong here) pots and pans. These guys had everyone within earshot and eyesight grinning like blissfull fools. I don't want to rub it in (but I will), these were the two sets that I will remember from Meredith '08. There were great sets to come on Saturday, but no one touched these two bands. So again, it's just too bad if you missed them (hahaha)...


Other sets worth a mention on Friday came from Violent Soho who kicked the festival off in fine fashion, Regurgiator who came on when everyone was just drunk enough to start partying, and Scientists of Modern Music who finished the night with a bang and flash.


After waking up in my tent with no recollection of having left the Pink Flamingo bar the night before, I partook in some of the fine festival cuisine on offer (other festivals take note – home style woodfire pizza is a winner. A WINNER) and stumbled upon Tame Impala welcoming all the Saturday/Sunday people into the festivities. The latest 'next big thing' impressed with their psychadelic rock offerings and got things going again quite nicely. I've heard mixed reviews about their live shows in the past but they didnt dissapoint. It must be tricky to recreate the same psych vibe you hear on their recently released ep, but they hit the nail on the head this time. Final Fantasy (Owen Pallett of Arcade Fire's side project) were interesting, but perhaps too much of an aquired taste for much of the (hideously hungover) crowd present. Mountains in the Sky were ok, but the Mountain Goats were better. John Darnielle is a charismatic fellow, isn't he? Some frontmen (and women) can get a crowd to do whatever they like. Example: Mr Darnielle didn't want to sing a particular song (its name escapes me) but a vocal portion of the crowd wanted to hear it. So, he played it on the condition that he didnt have to sing. And he didn't. He strummed along for the biggest karaoke session I've seen in a long time and the crowd loved it.


I'll take this oppurtunity to denounce a few of the acts who played on Saturday. There are certain bands who are no good, and I can deal with that because a lot of the time it's a matter of personal opinion and who am I to tell you that your opinion is a crock of shite. There are, however, certain bands that are the spawn of the devil and have managed to bullshit their way into some modicum of success and, if one day I am king of the world, the heads of those responsible will roll. First up is Little Red. If you just got to the end of that last sentence and gasped or mumbled to yourself 'oh come on, they're alright' then you, my friend, have been duped. The wool has been pulled so far over your eyes that you're wearing a knitted onesy and you have lost sight and objectivity. They are not alright. They are tripe. They are boring. They are formulaic and they blow. Hard. Second and third respectivley are Streetparty and Yacht Club dj's. I know that at the time of the night that they played all most people want to do is dance. I get it. They play all the kiddies favourite tracks and really had the crowd going. But the organisers could've fit two or three more acts (you know, people who write songs and stuff) on the bill instead of all this, closed with Palooski (the french maestro) and educated the kiddies on real and decent music. But alas, it is not a perfect world we live in and as long as the majority of the crowd loved said digressions, well what does it matter what I think.


Now that i'm off my soap box let's talk rock and roll. The three best sets of Sunday came from The Bronx, The Datsuns and Architecture in Helsinki. The Bronx were brutal. They were violent, inciting the crowd and pounding home a killer set laced with crowd pleasers including set opener Heart Attack American. Architecture in Helsinki are a festival favourite. They're (suspicioulsy) happy, there's heaps of them on the stage and they know how to get a crowd dancing. Wishbone and Do the Whirlwind among others really set the tone for the rest of the afternoon. The rain was starting to make everyones brains a little damp and when coupled with a number of external factors (use your imagination) people were starting to get up to some mischief. It suddenly became apparent that it was much easier to simply slide face first through the mud than to walk through it. I watched a very rotund fellow in a Wii t-shirt produce the most epic projectile vomit I think this planet has ever witnessed. He actually got a round of applause. It was clear things were getting out of hand, something was need to re focus the crowd on their objectives (whatever the fuck they may be) and it was clear who was going to do it (not me). Enter The Datsuns. New Zealands rock and roll powerhouse. These guys are good. Big guitars and big vocals but not cheesy in a Wolfmother or Jet kind of way. They delivered a most excellent set of soaring numbers. In hindsight I would have had them play after MGMT (I'll explain why shortly), but hindsight is 20/20 and I'm not in charge. So after a nice NZ sing-a-long to Harmonic Generator and MF from Hell it was the moment all the kiddies had been waiting for. MGMT.


It must be hard being the hottest band in the world. You have to travel the world, get everything for free, deal with beautiful woman throwing themselves at you and get up in front of thousands of people every night and play them songs that they love. If you agree with that last sentence then you are not my friend (and never will be – dick). From the second MGMT walked onto the stage it was apparent that they didn't want to be there. When they announced that this was their last show of a 16 month world tour, the exhaustion in the voice of Andrew VanWyngarden (the pretty one) was obvious. When they had to pause for 5 minutes before their second song due to technical difficulties, it was crystal clear that they just weren't on tonight. They played all their songs, and a fair portion of the crowd got really into it but they just missed the mark. It was a real shame because there were a lot of people there who had been standing in the rain for days purely to see this band play. How hard is it to come out and play a decent set. Even if you are exhausted. Even if you have been on tour for months. Even if you are sick of playing the same god damn songs every fucking night. These are your fans. These are the people that pay for your nice plane ride home and your nice big house and the life that you are living. They have been waiting for months to see you play and you can't even muster a decent set. Ben Goldwasser (the other guy) looked so miserable the entire time I wanted to climb up on the stage and beat him around the head with his bass. The icing on the cake was when they came back out to play Kids and just put on a backing track and danced around the stage while VanWyngarden sang. What the fuck? I could have done that. I dig what they're trying to do. I'm enjoying the psychadelic musical revival and these guys write some damn catchy pop tracks. But they need to sort their live show out because if they want to take the next step then that's the only way to do it. Never-the-less the kiddies lapped it up. The girls stared dreamily (most of them anyway) and everyone had a little boogie. All in all though, it was a bit of a bummer (for me anyway).


From that point onwards is all a bit of a haze. I refused to watch Streetparty or Yacht Club and I'm pretty sure Palooski was amazing but you'll have to ask around to find out for sure. Sundays events were good, Adam Green was a charmer, Black Diamond Heavies were fun and I saw lots of dick and breast action in the Meredith Gift. I spent most of the day drinking what was left of our beer and eating anything I could find in our (and other people's) tents.


So another year and another Meredith goes by. It was most definitely a testing one, but one I won't forget for a very long time. So thanks Aunty Meredith. Thanks for getting me wet you you old minx. 'Til next time...

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