Monday, March 16, 2009

Golden Plains 2009 wrap up

I heard this saying about Meredith Music Festival that I now repeat ad nauseum every December: going to Meredith for the music is like going to the movies for the popcorn. After rocking and partying out (Phil style) at its little sister event, Golden Plains, last weekend – by now the other official bookend to summer– I’ve come up with a new one (no, it wasn’t hatched at 3am in the Ecoplex Cinema, thanks for asking). Going to Golden Plains for the music is like going to Christmas for the presents. Ok, so *obviously* the best/most important thing about Christmas is the presents, especially if you have a boring, tea-totalling family or relatives with food allergies or limited culinary skills; I mean, it’s a standard question to ask friends at New Years: “How was Christmas? Yeah? Get any good presents?”. And yes, live music generally IS the reason you shell out $200 for a music festival. Furthermore, since its inception three years ago, I reckon GP has delivered more impressive musical line ups than Meredith. But it’s quite telling that most people who rated last weekend as one of the best ever – still riding high on the Supernatural experience – could only recall or offer insightful analysis on less than 50% of the acts on Saturday and Sunday. Just like an awesome family Christmas that culminates in Shirley Bassey and Neil Diamond karaoke medleys (and where your unwrapped presents are left perilously close to the rubbish bin in the lounge), last weekend seemed to be all about the off-stage fun.

This pretty much encapsulates the weekend. See? No bands or music in the frame. When you’re sitting on the hill with a fancy deck chair and esky, what more could you want? In other revelations, the sooner Fosters wakes up, smells the coffee and realises there’s a market for Mercury cider in cans, the sooner we can stop decantering slabs of Mercury longnecks into 1.5 litre plastic bottles, and the better the Summer festival season will be. (Just on Meredith/GP’s “no glass” policy – it was interesting to see the volunteers on the gate going through every car boot and esky this year. Also interesting how good-natured everyone seemed to be if punters were caught with glass on arrival. No fuss, usually just a “shit mate, sorry – forgot about those ones, there you go”, and the vollies nod and smile, knowing their Sunday night is going to be that little bit larger.)

If I read another fashion magazine focus on “music festival chic” this year, I think I’ll hurl. Thankfully I don’t think there were too many ladies around our camp who’d painstakingly recreated “Alexa Chung at Glastonbury 2008” or “Mischa Barton c.2006” (a.k.a. anything boho/noho/fauxho, mocassiny or fringed leathery). For god’s sake, if your biggest issue is matching accessories to your tan slouch boots, you need to get stuck into a 1.5 litre bottle of Mercury and reset your priorities. (Buying novelty fluoro emo-inspired fingerless gloves at the Ballan market on route to the festival does not count though, OK? As long as there’s a cool story to explain your purchase – “I needed to break a $10 note so I could buy two sausages in bread at the Rotary Club stall” – you’re sweet.)
For practical ladies – or anyone who prefers a slim line on their pant pockets – the only sartorial “must-have” for a music festival is a bum bag. My trusty Kathmandu number has been mocked and acclaimed in equal measure since Splendour ’06, but let’s face it – when you can whip out lip balm/chewy/photo ID/sunscreen/ciggies/water bottle/ciggie lighter/hair band/ sunnies or $20 quicker than Michaelangelo could quick-draw his numchucks, who’s got the last laugh now? Despite our long partnership and innumerable good times, I’d swap it in an instant for a leather belt with separate press-studded compartments and internal zippy pockets. We're pretty much talking about the Godfather of fanny packs. That’s it above on the left, FYI.

Even the insects were feeling the love in the Supernatural Ampitheatre. This fat and furry bee well-and-truly got jiggy wit it when he came upon my hat on Sunday afternoon. He must’ve thought it was the biggest, brightest and most OTT tropical flower he'd ever had the pleasure of pollinating. He just wouldn’t buzz off. We really should have videoed his little humping dance, he kind of had a Ginuwine thang going on.

It’s always great when a festival-goer brings something completely ostentatious to the table - err, mosh pit. But it’s a fine line between unexpected performance art and antisocial invasion of dancing space. Dude crowd surfing in full-sized inflatable dinghy to Regurgitator at Falls Festival two years ago? Spectacular. Excitable (and excited) naked man dancing inside a moat of empty beer cans after Gary Numan early Monday morning? Yep, a little creepy. But the young guy who popped up on top of the crowd inside a giant inflatable bubble provided one of the coolest moments of the weekend. Especially when he cracked the can of Melbourne Bitter from his pocket and managed swigs while his bubble was bobbing along (during My Disco’s set I think?). We ran down for a closer inspection just as his friends pulled him down, unvelcroed and unzipped the bubble and he popped out, good as new.

Think camping festivals and toilets, and suddenly catheters, constipation and dehydration appeal as conveniences rather than afflictions. It’s a scientific fact that port-a-loos are only safe for the first four hours of Day 1. Which makes it all the more amazing that the permanent blocks of composting toilets provided some of the happiest moments at GP (and no, I’m not talking about Dan Deacon’s guerrilla performance outside the Bush Camp dunnies on Saturday night). Seriously, the totally environmentally-friendly loos are the best things since the flat-bottom taco shell and the esky on wheels. Best discovery of the weekend? Toilet no. 29 near Bush Camp. It’s pimped out with a fancy chandelier.

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