The anticipation in the lead up to this year’s Golden Plains festival has been brewing for months and months. With a lineup announcement unmatched in quality by rivals around the world, a weather report of almost perfect proportions and a lush green amphitheatre to greet punters on arrival, Golden Plains had once again prepared the formula for an almost unbelievable, “golden” weekend.
After staking out a sweet camping spot, setting up camp and getting geared up, weekend openers Gold Class hit the stage to a packed amphitheatre. Feeding off the glowing reviews and local hype off the back of their recent debut album It’s You, Gold Class won themselves many a new fan with their powerful post-punk attitude and singer Adam Curley’s distinctive baritone.
With a weekend crammed full of stellar acts of all kinds of genres, scheduling and playing times must surely create some disagreement between the organisers. An example of this came when U.S. Girls made their appearance for a still green crowd at the “early” time of 4pm. With a brooding, intricate and captivating take on alt-electro pop, this is definitely an act that would have gone down better at a later playing time. Despite this (and with a distinct lack of dancing), their performance made a fantastic set to get excited to for the upcoming evening.
It was pretty evident that lot of people we’re excited to see Buzzcocks. Legends of the English punk movement in the late 70’s and 80’s, reforming in recent years to once again travel the world to bring back the songs that people have loved for decades. There is often a chance that bands who have reformed are unable to match a live intensity or enthusiasm that they once showed, but Buzzcocks did not have any issues at all bringing life to fan favourites Orgasm Addict, What Do I Get? and Ever Fallen In Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve)?
This provided a great introduction into the falling darkness and the perfect platform for Sydney favourites Royal Headache to take to the Meredith amphitheatre stage. Despite having a few sound issues and singer Shogun experiencing some vocal strain around the middle of the set, they still managed to plough through a list of highlights from their self titled debut and last year’s High to a rapturous crowd, who couldn’t give a stuff if they weren’t at their best, instead just being bloody happy to see them here at Golden Plains.
As the evening played out, we had a bit of a Boogaloo good time with blues man C.W. Stoneking that got the whole amphitheatre dancing, whilst the progression later into the evening saw a typical shift towards a more electronic, dance heavy sound scape. Local duo Friendships absolutely killed it, giving the crowd everything they were lusting for – a deep, clever and cool set of electronic jams matched with absolutely far-out visuals that all came together with an intelligent, artful focus and spoken word interludes.
For those who didn’t spend the entire evening dancing and partying (music ended at 5am, y’know!) may of found it slightly easier to make it down to the stage to see local goth/chill/ambient electronic duo HTRK (pronounced “hate rock”) open up day two at a sparkly hour of 10am. The coffee lines were ridiculous and the hangovers aplenty, but another strange time slot allocation was soon justified as the delicate, sleek waves of synth lines and Jonnine Standish’s gorgeously lush vocals soothed us back into reality of daylight. Equally soothing was a captivating set from improv legends The Necks, before Sydney based, Zambian born hip-hop kween Sampa The Great got us all back in the mood to party. Here with a full band and back up singers, she was a force to be reckoned with and held the attention of all present with her slick rhymes and powerful messages.
Much loved Melbourne band Tyrannamen are a rare sighting. With a recent debut album filled with songs that people have already been singing along to well before they were even released, it was a great thing to see them here at Golden Plains loving it on stage just and much as the crowd were lapping it up. Expect to hear their name around more often if you haven’t already.
Sunday evening’s lineup was truly something rock and roll dreams are made of. With a roster of (in playing order) Built to Spill, Sleater-Kinney, Violent Femmes and Eddy Current Suppression Ring, the anticipation in the ‘Sup was unmatchable. 90’s indie rock stalwarts Built To Spill were many a person’s surprise favourite – there were a lot of boots in the air early on as the band brought to life well-loved tracks such as Living Zoo and Car, whilst ending the set with a near perfect cover of the Smiths song How Soon Is Now? that blew a few minds there and then.
Now the sun had set and the amphitheatre was well and truly packed to the brim, Corin, Carrie and Janet of Sleater-Kinney made their way to the stage to a deafening applause. Here in Australia for the first time in over 10 years in support of their (don’t call it a comeback) album No Cities To Love and Carrie’s fantastic memoir Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl, they played a set that integrated their entire catalogue and a number of old favourites. The sing along for Modern Girl was enough to elicit goosebumps (and tears!) whilst closing with Dig Me Out left the entire crowd eager for more. A very special experience for many people who regard Sleater-Kinney as one of the most influential band of the last two decades.
It’s been 7 years since their last appearance at the Meredith Supernatural Amphitheatre, and completely fitting that Eddy Current Suppression Ring would make their first appearance in 5 years at Golden Plains to an audience that could not be more excited. Even the clever interstitial DJ span Thin Lizzy’s The Boys Are Back In Town immediately before their set (and equally clever with The Avalanche’s Since I Left You once they had finished) to stir the excitement. Once the boys did finally hit the stage, it was like they had never left. With no intention to write and play any new music, the set was made up of all of the fan favourites from their three albums, including Which Way To Go (which probably elicited the most insane crowd response seen in all of Golden Plains history), Colour Television, Get Up Morning, Precious Rose, Wrapped Up, Memory Lane and the list goes on. Closing with Rush to Relax saw singer Brendan Suppression gently crowd-surfing a good 15 to 20 metres away from the stage and back again, like a precious king being lifted by his loyal subjects.
But the crowd didn’t believe that this would be the end – it is unusual to have encores a festivals, especially those run by Aunty Meredith, but the boys of ECSR were more than deserving of the privilege. The thunderous screams of appreciation saw them return to the stage in flabbergasted awe, before rounding up what we considered as one of the most magical weekends in Meredith history. Sorry to gloat, but if you weren’t there, you bloody well missed out.