Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Golden Plains X: Day 2

Yeah, fuck I was tired. I fell asleep at about 5 when the music stopped and woke up at 9, which was actually later than I expected, so I got up, had a beer (hey, I'm on holiday!) and wandered down to the showers and waited for nearly an hour. As an aside, the facilities at the Nolan farm are phenomenal. The composting drop toilets aren't nearly as feral as portaloos, and they're often decorated. The showers have tokens which run for 3 minutes, which is more than enough time really.
This toilet was decorated with wedding notes from a couple who met at Meredith

This toilet print is beautifully 80s
As I lining up to get a coffee from Eric's Bar (which was amazing, particularly for a festival!) and some food (corn fritters and bacon and eggs - again amazing) Melbourne band HTRK were playing. They play some angsty dream pop, and it was quite nice for that time in the morning. Also quite nice was the Bloody Meredith which totally hit the spot. I never used to like tomato juice, but the combination of spice and vodka really does make it a great drink.
For the next few hours, Golden Plains reminded me of Womadelaide, my favourite festival in the world*. (*I've only been to festivals in Bali and New Zealand, so my "world" is pretty small). I wandered down into the Sup and found a good place to watch the Necks. Although it's certainly not to everyone's taste, the Sydney based jazzy three piece played a non-stop 45 minute piece of freeform tinkly piano music that built nicely. Many people commented they were the perfect music to wake up to.
The Necks: Perfect morning music.

Sydney's Sampa the Great kicked this off with an amazing performance. She's a tiny thing, and I'm not sure if she's really small or really young, but either way her voice is incredible, and her lyrics are amazing. Her backing group were funky as hell, and this is definitely someone who should be in the limelight over the other hiphop pretenders in the world.
Sampa the Great: Bona fide hiphop queen!
The next band to play were Songhoy Blues from Mali. They appeared in my Spotify playlist just last week and after hearing just one song, I wasn't going to miss them. Starting off with a slower blues track, the lead singer asked if Meredith wanted to dance, and when a resounding "yes!" followed he smiled and said let's dance. And boy did he dance! With moves like Michael Jackson meets the Soweto Choir, he bounded around on stage as the band rocked out with some sweet funky bluesy rock. A sea of boots went up (When you like a band at Golden Plains, you take a shoe off and hold it aloft... it's a Meredith thing).
Songhoy Blues: He can dance!
The odd one out was the Tyrannamen, who were very non-womad and very aussie pub rock. Although they are very much a band I should like, as they have great songs, great energy and great stage presence, I felt it was a little jarring to be honest, and just couldn't get into the groove of their songs. But they're definitely a band I would see in a pub or similar. Speaking of odd, there was this door. It made its way around the site. I'm still not sure if it was an art installation or if someone just brought along a door. Why not? People bring couches...
The door to the heaven or hell?
Someone who thought he was clearly the odd one out was gangsta hiphop artist Freddie Gibbs. And before I go on, can I just say something? Fucking around like most hiphop artists seem to do nowadays and spending 15 minutes listening to a DJ playing shit music tell you the artist you've paid to see is about to come out isn't fucking cool any more, alright guys? So you can stop - bring your 40 / dope / crack out on stage and share it with us! With that rant out of the way, when he finally did get out, Gibbs was pretty damn entertaining. His banter with the audience was really great, commenting on the sea of white people, the actions of the "cops", the skankiest sprite he's ever tasted, and worried people were going to throw their shoes at him. His music isn't too flash, (too electronic, overproduced and souless for my tastes) but it's almost as if he recognises it and kills the music and raps acapella, and fuck me, he's good at it.
Freddie Gibbs: Needs a clock around his neck so he can arrive on time
Returning to day to the Womad vibe were Koi Child. Hailing from Perth, they're a laid back funky hiphop group. Their cover of Breath by the Prodigy was pretty poor, but otherwise they weren't too bad. Following on from them were Suen Kuti and Egypt 80. Another of Fela Kuti's sons, he started in homage to his late father with a cover of a Fela track, and then went on to give us a decent performance of Afrobeat. It wasn't the most electric of sets I've seen, even with the backup singers shaking their asses in that oh so fabulous manner of Afrobeat singer way, but it was still enjoyable.
Koi Child: Not that coy.
Suen Kuti & Egypt 80: Bad viewing position
As the sun started to dip, I went and grabbed more food and beer and wandered back to see Built to Spill. Here was another band I'd not heard of, but they seemed very at home playing to a crowd in the middle of nowhere. They reminded me of a modern Eagles or Neil Young, but more interesting maybe because I haven't heard them a billion times before. 
It was probably right at the end of their set I decided to take a walk and noticed a large number of people moving towards the valley overlook. This is a tradition as thousands of people go watch the sunset over the valley. It was at this point I felt connected to the millions around the world and throughout history who have partaken in such a ritual of simply enjoying the great ball of gas which gives us life vanish over the horizon, bringing twilight to the world.
The Nolans were also there, so I thanked them for letting us be there and facilitating such a great weekend. Mrs Nolan replied to me "Continue to work at making it great", which was just perfect. It's a festival about US, the people who go, and we have to contribute by cleaning up, respecting the lands and each other, and not being dickheads.
Sunset is truly magical here. And I hate saying this hippy shit.
Although I'm sure I've dismissed them in the distant past, Sleater Kinney were amazing on Friday night and were amazing again tonight. I don't understand why I could have ever though badly of them to be honest - it's four amazing women playing amazing music. There were a few issues with their set at the beginning, but they quickly got past it and rocked out. I wish the screens were on for their performance, but whatever.
Sleater Kinney: I can admit I was wrong.
I don't understand the hate for Violent Femmes. They're weird, funny, you can easily sing along, and they're very talented multi-instrumentalists. I loved every minute of their set, sang along to nearly every word, and the crowd around me enjoyed them too. The other reviews where people are saying they're old hasbeens are stupid jaded cunts who were probably picked on at school. (Incidentally, this is how someone responded to my negative review of a band once...)
Violent Femmes: I'll punch you in the face if you say they're crap.
But the main reason I decided to go to Golden Plains rather than Womad was just about to come on. A band I had been wanting to see for over half a decade. A band who epitomises modern Aussie rock. And boy, Eddy Current Suppression Ring did not disappoint! From the get go they were electric, just playing how they wanted to play and not giving a fuck. The lead singer is fearless, walking out onto the audience who hold him aloft for an entire song. They made me think of how it would have been to see the Saints play back in the late 70s, with a pure punk mentality and energy and excitement.
Eddy Current Suppression Ring: Achievement Unlocked. Mind blown.
 The night wasn't over, and I saw and heard some of the DJs playing throughout the night, but slept incredibly uncomfortably and for an incredibly small amount of time. But still, I had a fucking awesome time, and now am faced with the decision of Golden Plains versus Womad.

I'm glad the festival is only two days, and I've learned what I need to do for next year:
- Go with friends. Although I hung out with a few people over the weekend, camping alone was a silly choice. I need to make sure if I go again next year (or head to Meredith Music Festival in October) that I camp with a big group of people. A base of operations seemed great, somewhere to hang out and chill with others more intimately.
- Take a car. Although I don't drive, I'll be willing to pay for a car, or even a campervan for the weekend. It's the convenience of having a car for your stuff mostly, but also to get out of the weather.
- Take a big tent. Even if I do go alone, I want a tent. To be able to stand up and change clothes, or sit and chill by myself or with another.
- Take a chair and / or rug. Find a decent spot in the Sup and make that a go to place for the weekend.
- Take less food. The food there is good and not too expensive. I took food to share, but didn't really find anyone near me who was in a state to eat.
- Take more beer. I went craft beers, but I should have just grabbed a slab of Dr Tims for half the price, that way I could buy more cocktails and T-shirts.
- Get a Telstra sim. Just for the weekend. Phone reception is terrible for all the other carriers.
- Take thongs. They say not to wear thongs, but having to put my shoes on at 3am in the dark just to take a piss was annoying.

Golden Plains: Festival of the boot.
Read Day One

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