Golden Plains Day Two @ Supernatural Amphitheatre, Meredith (11/03/2012)


Waking up hungover in a hot tent is an inevitability on the second day of Golden Plains Sixxx, however it was unfortunate that this came at the cost of seeing Harmony. The first set of the day is often reserved for the sort of bands that generate cult followings, the kind that you stumble upon at a festival and become obsessed with. True to form, from the confines of the tent, Harmony sounded incredible; a delicious mixture of a rhythm and blues rhythm section, garage guitars and lead vocals, and backed by a gospel choir!

After stumbling down the hill and queuing for a coffee for fourty minutes, it was interesting to note the number of festival goers who had put an effort into maintaining their appearance, despite obvious problems with remaining upright. Ties and waistcoats were in place, costumes were re-donned (if indeed they were ever unadorned), which this year included the Yip Yip alien Muppets, a Teletubbie, and the majority of the animal kingdom.

The line for the burrito truck stretched just as long as that for the coffee, but it was worth it. Many festival goers could not resist the Community Tucker Tent’s promise of $5 bacon and egg rolls, although those joining the line were assured to remain there for the duration of the following act.

Lost Animal were impressive, with singer Jarrod Quarrell’s Joe Strummer-style vocals somehow blending beautifully with the minimalistic beats, which were complimented by dreamy, reverb-laden melodic guitar and piano parts courtesy of Quarrell and bandmate Kirin J Callinan.

First Aid Kit offered a pleasant change in tempo, as their sweet folk-country harmonies soothed our thawing brains and battered bodies. The Swedish duo earned points simply for having cute Swedish accents (sample of between song banter: “this is from our new album, ya? Ya! We hope you like it, ya? Ok, ya!”), as well as for waving their hair around and rocking out whilst performing a slow acoustic-based set.

New York City’s Endless Boogie are perhaps the most aptly named band in living memory – their songs are long jams built around a simple repetitive groove with regular guitar freakout spots whilst singer Paul Major shouts out psychedelic lyrics with little apparent melody or narrative. This was perhaps a turning point in the day’s programming, as many were initially turned away by the sudden outburst of noise, clutching deckchairs and picnic rugs. One bemused passer by was heard to complain “that drummer has literally been doing the same thing since they began!” However by their last song, Endless Boogie had a respectably sized crowd nodding their heads in front of the stage and holding up boots.

It has been a few drinks since The Celibate Rifles last album in 2007, and several more since their formation in 1979. Many in the audience (very few of whom were born 1979) quite obviously did not know who the band was when they took the stage, and consequently they performed to a diminished crowd, littered with a few older die hard fans. Struggling with sound problems for the first few songs, The Rifles found their feet belting out Aussie punk classics such as Killing Time and Bill Bonney Regrets, a request from a particularly excited front row fan. Even if they did not win over the crowd, singer Damien Lovelock’s dance moves and attitude remain intact, and the band proved that they can still hold their own.

One of the (many) things that makes Meredith and Golden Plains such exceptional festivals – the eclectic nature of the programming, jumping from one style to another with little discernible reason besides that the more famous groups play later in the evening. Case in point – the previous night’s sleepy set by Bon Iver, sandwiched in-between the strange psychedelia of Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti and the ridiculous but awesome Kisstroyer.

This remained true on Sunday, as Aunty Meredith moved from punk to funk, with Melbourne eighteen-piece Saskwatch taking the stage and basically setting it on fire. Making a strong case to be seen as successors of The Bamboos’ throne, the band quickly had the re-populated Amphitheatre busting grooves and throwing shapes with newly discovered energy. After two instrumental funk pieces, singer Nkechi Anele walked onstage and blew everyone in the vicinity away. Although obviously equally nervous and excited to be there, Anele has an incredible soul vocal and infextious sense of showmanship. She had the audience eating out of her hand and her confidence noticeably grew, particularly later in the set when she re-emerged following a costume change (!).

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