In the sleepy little town of Bambra, rolling farmlands speckled with plateaus mark the perfect place to settle a small boutique event. This little fact was not wasted on the founders of By The Meadow, the latest event to join the impressive roster of festivals that are picking up the slack around Australia. With the help of both local and Melbourne volunteers, Ruby Weatherhead and Cameron Wade created a noteworthy two day event that could very well become a staple of the Victorian music scene.
With a campsite fitting in roughly 500 people along with a segregated designated car park close by, convenience was certainly key. Less than two hundred meters away, a small decline lead towards the festival food stalls. An impressive set up of both delicious wood fire pizza and a mouth-watering selection of Vietnamese cuisine provided by the popular local restaurant, Fusion. The Pork belly Bahn Min was an absurdly delicious snack.
Two large domes, made from wood and canvas were built by local resident, Tom Reid. Fitting approximately 20 plus people. Lined with haystacks and carpets, they were the perfect place to chat amongst friends while still in ear shot of the stage.
To the left of the food stalls stood a small, enclosed bar. Sporting reds, whites, pale ales along with rather delicious and cheap cocktail of their own creations. All, of course, locally sourced. Pink and blue tables, banana recliners and benches spotted the bar area. Providing the perfect pool side atmosphere to relax and enjoy the gorgeous hillside view and watch the fantastic music line up.
The stage, a truck equipped with lasers, smoke machines and an incredible PA system, rested at the bottom of the hill, a mere 50 meters from the bar. The hillside provided the perfect angle to see musicians perform no matter how far away you were from the stage. An impressive and calculated design.
While the weather threatened to turn sour with an overcast and windy bustle, by 1pm, everything had cleared and we were all set for a fun day of music, dancing and cheeky mayhem.
Nafasi, a neo-soul band the likes of Hiatus Kaiyote, opened the festival with a wonderful fun and smooth set as punters began to wander down from the campsite. Red Spencer and Edward R provided an indi-rock set of diversity and finely polished tunes for the growing crowed. Uncle Bobby brought a psychedelic element to the event. Together they were charismatic and fun. Their presentation could easily be mistaken as the love child of Frank Zappa and Tama Impala, shot into space to traverse the galaxy.
New Zealand born, Anthonie Tonnon, was all class in a polished suit and an enthusiastic performance. Crooning on guitar and piano against highly organized loops. Masterfully drawing a response out of the crowed as he ran off stage with his microphone, beckoning the punters to stand, dance and make their way to the front of the stage to sing along in tandem.
The Attics, fronted by Cameron Wade himself, started with a shaky set but soon found their dance pop groove as the light show was put to great use. Finishing with a gorgeous cover of Depreston by fan favourite, Courtney Barnett, that had the crowed singing along.
When it came time for The Ocean Party to set up, it was incredibly disappointing to not only have them running late but to see them eventually swagger past the crowed, lacking any sense of urgency, was a display of disrespect for punters and organisers alike. Once on stage it was pleasant to hear their staple tunes but their latest music was left wanting.
Fraser A. Gorman, off the back of a successful album release, Skyline Skyscraper Blues, smashed out an effortless set. The crowed couldn’t stop themselves from dancing as we watched the sun start to set on the beautiful hillside.
As the night drew in and a chill spread across the crowd, we were kept happy and warm, eager to see Mose + The Family perform for their second time at By The Meadow. Due to the PA system cutting out shortly into the set, the crew kept us all keen with excellent banter as the sound team swiftly dealt with the problem. Mose’s mash up of a few of Kendrick Lemar’s smash hits, set the crowed off into an uproar of pure musical joy.
By the time Milwaukee Banks were set to play, the party was in full swing. The crowed danced, laughed and sang all while thoroughly enjoying themselves to their powerful electronic hip hop. Habits, Melbourne’s golden children, had a dedicated fan base eager to lap up their ‘sad goth’ music before 10 and couture set the rest of the night into an electronic blaze.
As we awoke in the morning, bleary eyed, we were greeted by a crisp and energizing day. Mercifully, a coffee van had been booked for the morning and the food stalls pumped out the necessary egg and bacon sandwiches. As we reclined on the hill and munched our way back to clarity, we were soothed with charming instrumentals by Luke Howard’s Dirty Three-esque performance. Velvet Bow finished off the festival with one last energetic boogie.
As the crowed slowly moved back to their campsites, there was a great sense of satisfaction. We had just shared an experience brought together by a team of dedicated music lovers who wanted to create something of substance. The result of which was a fantastic event of musical diversity, great food and beautiful views. By The Meadow is a necessary experience for the lovers of an intimate musical experience.