I’ve existed in the Melbourne music scene for a decade now. I’ve been a part of all the subcultures, transitioned across multiple social media platforms and had at least three personal rebrands – yet 2016 was my first year in ‘The Sup’. Earlier this year I made my debut at Golden Plains for the sole purpose of seeing Eddy Current Suppression Ring. It was there that I experienced my first encounter with a Compost Loo and received praise for my lucrative spot at Bush Camp. The overall experience was pleasant, but still a teething experience considering I had only been to one and a half Paradise Music Festival’s since I had written the truly iconic masterpiece ‘One High Maintenance Girl’s Guide to Festival Life’ back in 2013.
Now here I am – a total of two and a half camping festivals deep and I’m busting to win ballot for Meredith Music Festival. I’m definitely no aficionado for surviving in ‘the nature’ and as a self-obsessed millennial, the idea of watching my iPhone battery die as I sit on a grassy hill making content that I can’t upload actually gives me anxiety. I’ve literally spent years scrolling and silently judging the cooked photos from the sunrise set as they’ve rolled onto my feed. So what changed in 2016?
I can pinpoint the exact moment when I flipped – it was around a fortnight ago at Paradise, when I was sitting on a bean bag in the camp cinema taking a group of unwilling friends on an intensive retrospective of the Melbourne club scene. Any story that begins with “There was once a club called One Love…” peaks at “I can’t even describe Third Class” and ends with “…and that’s why The Mercat closing is the greatest tragedy of humankind” will inevitably have you romanticising Click Click, craving St. Jeromes toasties and rationalising that “Shittown wasn’t actually THAT shit”. These are the triggers that encourage a nostalgia fuelled impulse to attend Meredith Music Festival after a solid 10 years of disinterest. So I got myself a ticket. I finally went to Meredith. I had a tantrum, followed by an existential crisis and then I ‘found myself’ and didn’t want to leave. The infamous prophet Kylie Jenner once said – “I feel like this year is really about, just the year of realising stuff” and not once has a greater truth been spoken.
Here are the things I realised in ‘The Sup’:
REALISATION: Listening to other people is a trap
This is controversial but I’d like the record to state that Bush Camp is not the best camp. Reports from Bush Camp pioneers is that there is shade there (narrator: there wasn’t). Using portaloos with no lights on at night is gross. I opted for Top Camp this time which had flat surfaces, clear pathways, compost loos with lights, hand sanitiser and the glow of the ferris wheel at all times. Not to mention the short walk to the showers, food and stage. @ me if you want to debate it but Bush Camp gets a no from me. I had to learn the hard way but let it be known that the third lantern is a scam. Absolutely do not listen to anybody who tells you to meet them there. Everyone meets under that stupid lantern therefore it is the actual definition of hell trying to get to the spot and even worse trying to get out. Meet anywhere else. The first, second, fourth, lantern but for fucks sake do not plan to meet at the third lantern. It is a trap.
REALISATION: If you’re a dickhead – fuck off!
Early into the festival Fee B-Squared hopped on the mic to make a very important announcement: ‘If you’re a dickhead – fuck off!’. This statement was the tipping point for my first existential crisis of the weekend. I’d been reluctant to attend events such as Meredith, as the thought of running into an ex-lover or an ex-friend and being unable to escape was traumatising even as a hypothetical. Inevitably any survivor of a scene phase is going to have a trail of uncomfortable social scenarios awaiting them after the fact. Have I been a dickhead? Sure. Am I still a dickhead? That’s subject to opinion but lol probably. Fortunately, there’s nothing a pair of shades and being drunk on tinnies can’t fix. I narrowly avoided a number of people I’d prefer not to engage with and was inevitably swerved by a number of people who simply could not be bothered with me. I also didn’t get kicked out so I suppose that’s some sort of validation for my existentialism.
REALISATION: Subcultures don’t define you
Kelela looked and sounded incredible but tbh the thing I remember most about her set was her speculating to the crowd that ‘If you don’t like R&B then you probably don’t like me’. Cue existential crisis part two. Scene phases tend to operate around music genres and, more broadly, subcultures. Which got me thinking about whether or not a person is defined by the subcultures they partake in? Can they destroy you? Can a person exist in various subcultures simultaneously or must they be isolated in order to be considered true and valid? I remember being heavily invested in the punk scene and being criticised for not being a ‘real punk’ when I started showing a strong interest in hip-hop and rap music. Then similarly when I was all about the beats scene I was mocked for being simultaneously invested in pop music. I used to think being truly down meant looking and acting the part. Essentially my life until now has been a montage scene of me screaming “This is the real me, Mum!” coupled with a wardrobe and iTunes overhaul and new online handle. As I’ve become #woke, it’s become apparent that mixing subcultures should be a positive experience and not a punishment. Just be unapologetically you. This mantra was validated when I looked at the eclectic list of artists on the lineup, when the campsite next to me blasted a playlist that consisted of Hanson, Bee Gees, OT Genasis, Frank Sinatra then Vanessa Amorosi, and most of all when someone’s Mum started screaming “I’m fucking amazing and I won’t let anyone tell me otherwise” after she belted out a rendition of ‘Total Eclipse from the Heart’. Onya Mum.
REALISATION: We have a sick local music scene
It’s a natural tendency to get into the hype of international artists on a bill, perhaps because of the immediacy of the tour and the fomo that would incur if you missed your chance to see them. I was super down to see BadBadNotGood, Throwing Shade, Kelela, Sheila E, and Ben UFO who all played incredible sets. But tbh I was mostly blown away by our local talent. I haven’t seen King Gizzard play in ages but damn they are tight now. I was in awe of them even after seeing Dungen. Chiara Kickdrum brought a level of class to her set that was a combination of strong visuals, consistent track selection, and seamless mixing. There was also a lighting thing happening in the trees that reminded me way too much of Stranger Things but added to the overall intensity of Chiara’s Friday night closing set. I was finding sanctuary in the showers when I first heard Mondo Freaks playing who were so impressive that I had to look them up the second I came home. Pretty bummed I had to sleep through Wilson Tanner but I can confirm that listened to him in my sleep. Set Of The Festival, however, was local radio legend CC:Disco, who really worked her ass off. Her attention to detail was impeccable. I actually spent most of her slot mumbling about how great her visuals were and forced myself off the couches to dance along to every song. She threw me over the edge by closing with ‘Under The Milky Way’ by The Church and went ahead and brought her dad Harold in front of the huge mass of bodies to tell him “This is what I do, Dad”. Dammit, CC. Right in the feels.
REALISATION: Doof sticks are the new sneakers
I’ve legitimately spent most of 2016 trying to expose the next hypebeast obsession. “Glasses are the new sneakers” was my initial prophecy but after Meredith I’m convinced that “Doof sticks are the new sneakers”. Everyone had them and those who didn’t have one were ready to do anything to get their hands on one. I managed to gain possession of an Ice Cube and Kevin Hart mashup doof stick at one point, what that cost me I refuse to disclose. My favourite doof stick design was a pair of crutches wrapped in lights (which may have also been actual crutches but whatever). I kept finding myself staring a Kramer doof stick that read “Here’s to feeling good all the time”. This mantra was on my mind as I watched a girl make a phone call using a literal banana as the first signs of sun spilled onto Ben UFO as he closed off Saturday night. And just like that, Aunty Meredith provided: In a sea of squashed VB tinnies and used nangs I found half a pouch of Port Royal tobacco. So cheers to you Meredith: here’s to feeling good all the time and pretty shit for a week after that.