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Live Review: Five things we learnt at Meredith Music Festival 2018

14 December 2018 | 8:27 am | Hannah Galvin

Meredith Music Festival treated us to its 28th year of live music in a beautiful Australian farm setting. Here's what we picked up at this years festival.

Located down in rural Victoria sits Meredith. Operating as a farm for most of the year, this beautiful, tucked away part of the world transforms into our Aunty around Christmas time, and has been doing so spectacularly now for 28 years.

The cool, hip relative with all of the good taste and know how, she invites a handful of her extended family to marvel by the Supernatural Amphitheatre for a two and a half day music festival, known to us all as Meredith Music Festival.

The big sister to Golden Plains, one weekend becomes a world of live music, outdoor lounging, relaxed camping and an incredibly wholesome and respectful sense of community.

Sharing a bevvy on the hill before a slew of native and international talent, Aunty Meredith pricked us with some more useful intel that could only be picked up at the 'Sup.

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Taste the rainbow

Falling into the deep of Meredith's Supernatural Amphitheatre, a conglomerate of fruit bopped timely beside me, before sparkling gold gypsies leapt their way out of the bustling salad; filling the view where an enlarged Sriracha bottle waved overhead a party of retirees. With all of these whimsical costumes enjoying classics such as 'Live It Up' and 'The Nips Are Getting Bigger' during Mental As Anything, the afternoon could only develop wildly; with punters transforming their friendship groups into professional scuba divers and pastry chefs to spice up the magic of the crowd.

With daring punters comes adventurous dance moves, making the grassy hill down to the stage a pulsating sea of colour and light to illuminate Aunty Meredith's rich soil against a neighbouring wall of sound from our performers. A sight to view from afar, it was a gorgeous moment to take in from the peak of the ferris wheel - aka the Meredith Eye. Combine this powerful trance with Saturday's midnight light show, and you have a festival radiating colour and substance with so many micro moments experienced from every corner of the crowd.

The resurgence of jazz featured beautifully at Aunty Meredith's house

With soul and disco being more prominent comeback kids in recent years when considering retrospective genres, it's apparent that jazz is slowly digging its way back into the minds of music lovers today. Something about its soft timbres and intricate layering tickles the fancy of many a sonic enthusiast, which was reflected over the two and a half days of Meredith 2018.

Where Friday evening picked up many a foot and positive gesture from the crowd enjoying cuts from Melbourne's The Seven Ups latest LP, Commandments, the motif carried well into sundown of Saturday, as fellow locals Mildlife trickled hints of jazz flavours into their multi-dimensional experience. Maintaining momentum just moments before the Meredith Gift saw 30/70 member Zeke "Ziggy" Ruckman lead his four-piece jam project Zeitgeist Freedom Energy Exchange for one of the final sets of this years instalment.

Liberating, experimental, percussive and rhythmic, these three unique outfits solicited outstanding impressions born straight out of their craft.

Less will always be more at the Supernatural Amphitheatre

Something to be admired about Meredith Music Festival is its lack of care for third party influence. Unlike other huge festivals we nurture (and still love) in this country, there's a sense of maturity in Aunty's stride that sees her steer away from the presence of on-site media attention and sponsorship. Whether 50 people or 5000 turn up, she's just happy to put on some decent music and dance with whoever is willing against an idyllic backdrop of grassy hills and blue gum trees; locking eyes with faraway windmills and a smiling sun setting down over the breathtaking gorge just a minutes walk away from the festival bustle.

Allowing just one stage creates ebb & flow in set timing, as well as a fairness for every performer as the competition of neighbouring stages just doesn't exist. This in turn makes for an easy three days in reunion of punters - there's just no need for stressing about where your mates may have run away to.

Deciding against the operation of market stalls where only food trucks, a massage tent, band & festival merchandise, bars and a ferris wheel frame the space, the least amount of distraction from live music survives whilst still giving punters options in how to spend each Meredith day.

Two boots up for Mildlife

It wasn't quite light, nor was it very dark. Not blistering hot, but definitely too warm for a jacket. Busy, and yet so much comfort in moving and grooving. Melbourne four-piece Mildlife could not have fallen into a better time of day to perform a 50 minute statement of reverence and wealth.

Like stepping into an episode of Stranger Things with a funky-jazz infused twist, the metallic synthesised theme carrying the rhythms, distant vocals and spritely beats cascaded over Meredith with confidence and sophistication. Incredibly strong in stature, the bustling audience jerked at every angle in glee; celebrating tunes from their 2018 EP Phase, new tunes including 'Phase II', and the incredibly large and elongated version of their debut single, 'The Magnificent Moon'. Propelling energies through the stratosphere, sunset at Meredith last Saturday was met with an esteemed sense of readiness for nightfall; the set acting as a journey in itself.

With dusty boots and sandals waving in the air as the festival's symbolic trophy of approval, those who were there can vouch for an incredibly elegant and historic moment now set in Meredith history.

The late 2000s / early 2010s will historically be remembered as the electronic dance music age, with The Presets fronting as an iconic Australian pioneer

Gerling; Sneaky Sound SystemThe AvalanchesPendulumFlumeAnna LunoeSeekaeMidnight JuggernautsPVTVan She; PNAU... Australia has fostered and built the careers of so many wonderful electronic artists. Where some have actually been in full swing since the late 1990s, those aforementioned alongside a crateful more have paved the way of Australian electronic dance and techno in both very recent and formative years, and continue to create music history in our exciting Australian music climate.

Watching The Presets illustrate a moment at Meredith Music Festival was simply magic. More than a performance, Kim Moyes and Julian Hamilton collectively illustrated a beautiful moment that saw a community of people from all walks of life engage in elation and deep appreciation. Slotted within the laser beams of the incredible light show, their art bridged the sensory gap of sound, and was celebrated in a nostalgic dance party from those lucky enough to bear witness.

Showering Meredith with instant favourites 'Martini', 'Do What You Want' and 'Until The Dark' from their 2018 record Hi Viz, as well as woven Australian classics 'Talk Like That', 'My People', 'Are You The One' and a broken down version of 'This Boy's In Love', their builds, peaks and energy circulated within and throughout the entire crowd, accidentally crowning themselves (once again) as an Australian powerhouse that are so heavily important to how our dance music scene has evolved into what it is today. A moment that could not be properly unpacked, it's fantastic to continue witnessing the stealth of their 15 year career.

Words by Hannah Galvin.

Photo credit: Naomi Lee Beveridge