With Summer coming and festivals have already started announcing their line-ups, I find myself trying to convince people to come to Music festivals. While I will always have a core group of friends willing to camp out in the heat or survive a mosh-pit with me, I feel that it is an experience that everyone should enjoy, one way or another. So rather than focussing on the line-ups, I’m going to start a small segment where I analyse the ambience, festival grounds, and general vibes of each festival.
Starting with my favourite festival, and the longest running music festival in this series, Meredith Music Festival.
Aunty Meredith is the matriachal deity of the festival
Founded in 1991, Meredith was started by a couple of friends who wanted to have a big party. They had a few friends in bands and asked if they wanted to come and play at the family farm. It turned into an annual event. Starting with an Australian dominated roster, the festival expanded to host some fine international acts. The festival retains the friendly atmosphere from the early days, but the line-up has expanded to host the likes of Jarvis Cocker, Crystal Castles and MGMT in the last few years.
These days, the festival is held just outside of Meredith, a small town in between Geelong and Ballarat. On the private farm, a stage and infrastructure have been built at the base of what is now known as the ‘Supernatural Amphitheatre.’ Inspiration Point is a long field over-looking the valley and is a truly magical place to witness the sunset.
Line-Up: Meredith has generally had a diverse, underground line-up. You’re not likely to see a huge headliner, with organisers preferring to spread the bill. The exception being 2008 when MGMT played headlined fresh off their huge Oracular Spectacular album. You can be sure that the line-up will be good. Whether you’ve listened to a band before or not, the festival is chosen on substance, rather than on popularity. Last years line-up featured the likes of Grinderman, Cut Copy, Mudhoney and Explosions in the Sky.
Alcohol Policy: For a poor student like myself, the drink prices at festivals can often be a little unreasonable, but
The icnonic Pink Flamingo Bar
Meredith offers a BYO policy. As long as there’s no glass. Unlike other festivals where you get forced to wait in a drink queue to acquire drinks, which will then be consumed in designated licensed areas, Meredith allows you to share drinks with your friends in the comfort of your own camping area. No stress about missing bands; or watching the nearby drunk bloke throw-up while trying to finish your own beverage. There are places where you can purchase your own drinks, with the Famous Pink Flamingo bar, selling their iconic Pink Flamingo cocktails.
Community Spirit: There’s a strong focus on the local community. Vendors are sourced from local towns, you can purchase beanies for the Meredith Football Club from the Merch Stand, and bands from local areas are always on stage. The Ballarat Community Brass Band have a now permanent slot on the first morning of the festival, playing a series of covers ranging from Bob the Builder to The Final Countdown
Crowd: The festival goes by a ‘No Dickhead Policy’ which has become one of the catch-phrases of the festival. It is accepted that you respect your fellow festival-goer. It becomes a self-governed population. Unlike other festivals where patrons attend to get drunk, there’s a more sophisticated vibe at Meredith. By the end of the festival, you’ve made friends with your neighbouring campers, having spent three days sharing drinks and stories about previous festival experiences, and starting rumours about secret acts.
Neil Finn’s sunset set in 2010 is by all accounts one of the most beautiful sets in the festivals history. The rendition of Fall At Your Feet brings shivers.
Tickets are usually around $300 and will go on sale in late August. The ticketing system is quite complex, with a huge demand for only a small number. A two-tier balloting system is used, and there are also some store sales. You can enter the ballot here