Review: Meredith Music Festival ‘23 shines on despite the rain

There’s a palpable sense of excitement and anticipation in the air as the Meredith Music lovers set up camp and make their way to the amphitheatre. Seasoned attendees have secured their favourite spots, decorated their campsite and set up their couches in the amphitheatre.

Friday’s weather is hot and windy, but that doesn’t deter the festival goers who are there ready to party. The fashions are something to be seen, with whole groups following a trend.

Miss Kaninna on stage preaches peace and love, which is the pervading feeling in this glorious, wooded valley, halfway between Ballarat and Geelong. Meredith Festival boasts a “No Dickhead” policy, and it proves to be an inclusive and fun space for all.

The choice of music is eclectic, with Newcastle rockers Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs performing next with an Oz Rock swagger that doesn’t take itself too seriously.

Floodlights are a rhythm and soul outfit that play old-school rock and roll, and the audience is there for it. During the changeover, an extended version of Donna Summer’s classic hit “I Feel Love” has the crowd grooving away. By this stage, the fairy lights are becoming obvious in the amphitheatre and on people’s outfits.

As the rain threatened, US performer Alex G made us forget the rain and took us on a musical journey of lo-fi indi rock. Then it’s back to old-school hip hop, with Californian collective Souls of Mischief. Caroline Polachek follows with a solid set of indie and experimental pop that takes us into the night.

Melbourne hip-hop band 30/70 then takes over with grooves drenched in love, weed, and meditation before the night air is filled with pulsing drum and bass from Flowdan, dance and electronic music from Dameeeela and garage dubstep from UK producer Blawan.

The rain increases overnight, and the morning has people hiding away in their tents until late. But as your German mother would say. “You’re not made of sugar,” so the wet weather gear comes out. The day starts with the City of Ballarat Municipal Brass band. Did I mention that the musical selection was eclectic? A rousing version of “Sweet Caroline” has the audience in a solid sing-a-long.

US harpist Mary Lattimore finished her Australian tour at Meredith, with gentle and sweet sounds to help the attendees wake up slowly. Although one punter remarked that it was almost sending him back to sleep. She related the story of meeting Big Bird from Sesame Street when she was a child. Her song “And Then He Wrapped His Wings Around Me” was dedicated to that moment.

What followed was a solid mix of artists. The powerful storytelling of Australian Watty Thompson. The rich vocals of Noongar singer Bumpy who reminded me of Joni Mitchell at times. The gypsy sounds of Tokyo collective ALI, a multinational hip hop/funk band. C.O.F.F.I.N. (Children of Finland Fighting in Norway) are a solid rock and roll band from Sydney. Think Hard Ons meets Frenzal Rhomb.

They Hate Change have an Arctic Monkey’s feel to them, whilst Kuniyuki is a Japanese DJ with a hip-hop rap influence. His genres range from deep house to experimental and dance. The festival attendees are here to dance, and this was the perfect warm-up for a long evening of music still to come.

German headliners Kraftwerk hit the stage late evening to a sea of lights and shining totems. As the pioneers of electronic music, they were warmly appreciated with a huge backdrop of LED screens to animate the show.

Sneaky Sound System followed with a solid set, with Milo Eastwood and Moktar giving the amphitheatre a pumping sound well into the wee hours, combining Arab trap music with conventional techno music.

But of course, there’s more to Meredith than just the music. In a way, the attendees become part of the entertainment. A group of golfers set up a putt-putt course for all-comers. Not to mention the famous Meredith Gift held on the Sunday afternoon. A nude running race, steeped in tradition that went ahead despite the muddy conditions.

As the weary punters drifted out, it is clear why the tickets to this annual festival are hotly contested. A well-run event, with plenty of diverse music to help you discover your new favourite artist and have an amazing time with a group of friends.

To find out more about the Meredith Music Festival, check the website and sign up to their mailing list.

You can see more of photos from the weekend, via Eloise’s gallery HERE

Meredith Music Festival was held near the town of Meredith in Victoria, 8th-10th December 2023