Sunday, December 14, 2008

Weekend Wars

I'm going to confess something, I don't really like music festivals. I mean, I love the idea of them and I LOVE working at them but as a punter they're not really my thing. I find them a bit too hectic. A bit too trashy. A bit too difficult to see anything, either because the only bands you really want to see are almost always on at exactly the same time, there's always a dickhead standing in front of you and the sound isn't always great. I love the fact that music festivals bring my favourite bands to town and then I go to their side-shows.

I also don't really like camping.

So it follows that I don't really dig music festivals that involve camping. Except the magical Meredith Music Festival in Victoria, and it's recent kid sister spin-off Golden Plains. There's something about this festival that is just excellent. Maybe it's the good music, the size [it's not huge and there's only one stage so no timetable clashes], the location [it's in a beautiful natural amphitheatre, far enough away from Melbourne to not be attractive to the usual fools you find at festivals. It's BYO, which also means you don't hemorrhage cash there over the weekend, and they have a 'no dickheads' policy.

Whatever it is I'm a fan and pretty much every year for a while now I make the pilgrimage down there and relish in the experience. And over the years there's been plenty of experiences. Like the first year that I went, checked the forecast, saw it was for around 28 degrees and packed accordingly. No one told me that it gets unspeakably cold down there at night and I spent the next three days with bronchitis, desperately trying to stay warm at night, wearing all the clothes I'd brought with me. I have vivid memories of crawling into my sleeping bag, fully clothed, holding my feet in my hands because they were so cold and crying myself to sleep. And after this I still went back for more. A couple of years later there were bush fires raging across 80% of Victoria, it was upwards of 40 degrees, the surrounding valleys were on fire and the whole place was covered in thick ash-filled dust which was being spread around by burning, hot winds. Another year it rained so much on the first night that half the tents got washed away, everyone was thoroughly soaked and then the next day it was so hot that everyone got seriously sun burnt and heat-stroke... Although my favourite crazy weather year was when there was a wild electrical storm, one of the most extreme in over 60 years, and this took place in the valley behind the stage while the Dirty Three played the most amazing set you could imagine.

And they always get good bands at Meredith, that helps. If I run through them all it'll be a boring roll-call but it's a good mix, pretty much a music-lovers lucky-dip.

So I've had some amazing times at Meredith. I've seen some great bands, had some great conversations, read some great books and every year look forward to hanging out, relaxing under the trees listening to amazing music, having a nice nap, catching up on some reading, enjoying a few pink flamingos [vodka and pink grapefruit juice], staying up late and at some stage indulging in an ice cream from the amazing Irrewarra farm - all natural, made from happy cows who eat chemical-free grass... generally relaxing after a crazy year and hectic end-of-year-beginning of summer period.

This year however Meredith had another idea. Or, mother nature did. It rained constantly. Like, from the week before the festival started until the day it ended. It's probably still raining.

I know it's good for the farmers who've battled an intense drought in the area for the best part of a decade, but boy oh boy...

Before I get to the photos, which will do a better job of putting the mud in perspective, the highlights of the festival.

Holy Fuck were AMAZING. I don't even really know how else to describe them. I think they're one of my highlights for 2008, they were that good.

Tame Impala were great too, as were Mountains in the Sky. I didn't see as much as usual, as I was taking shelter in the bar, the only under-cover area. I heard a lot from there, and everyone was solidly great.

The other highlight was easily MGMT, the whole crowd piled into the amphitheatre and sung along to every word of every song. It was pretty special, as it was the last night of their 16 month tour. And then at the very end they played Kids, everyone lost their shit even though the rain had started again, the whole crowd was moving, jumping, singing the instrumental bits and it was entirely worth the 30 hours of being damp, covered in mud, just to experience that.

Two other special moments came while everyone was waiting for MGMT to come on - the dj played ACDC 'Thunderstruck' as the rain stared to get heavier. It was pretty funny. As was when they played YMCA and all the bogan Aussie blokes started singing and dancing in formations, again, in the rain, wearing their garbage bags and plastic ponchos in the bush. Must've been quite a sight for the bands, they must've wondered where the hell they were. They drive 2 hours out of Melbourne, through the sprawling suburbia, through the small towns, through the farm-land, into the bush and then hit this crazy mud-filled warped reality with people covered in plastic dancing in the rain to bad disco tunes.

And then there was the mud. I know I keep going on about it but it was amazing. I've never seen or felt anything like it. It became a fun past-time to watch people dealing with the mud, from the safety of the bar, with the warmth of whiskey. The best bit was watching this guy get a huge handful of mud and throw it at the back of his friend, who was wearing a pristine white jacket. She turned around, he went to flee, but slipped and lost his balance, and then managed to pour his entire cup of beer over his head before face-planting into the mud. Below are some photos, to put it in perspective for you.


Thursday, December 11, 2008

a little bit on the side, pt 2

My other fun 'hobby' is making radio documentaries for ABC Radio National. I do this and my Fuzzy stuff for kicks in between my weekly radio show on FBi Radio in Sydney, and my full-time gig as a quality-control checker at a sock factory.

The most recent documentary I made was about the Sydney Street Socceroos. They're a team of homeless soccer players. I followed these guys around for a few months, went to their weekly training sessions and then went to Melbourne when they went down for the first ever National Homeless Soccer Championships. They won. It was emotional. You can read about it and see some photos here

And earlier in the year I made a story about what it's like to be a young Iraqi at the moment. This story is going to be re-played on ABC Radio National Street Stories this coming January, Sunday 3rd at 1.30. More information is here

A little bit on the side

So I have a few different things that I do. And I'm lucky cause a lot of them are fun. Hard work, fo real, but fun. But one of the most funnest things I get to do is work with a company called Fuzzy. They put on mighty fine music events. In the last little while I've been stalking the acts and chatting with them backstage. Sometimes you get funny insights into folk. Like Soulwax. Who knew they were so entirely hilarious? Or who really knew just how cheeky Diplo is? Maybe it's no real surprise cause he seems like a nice guy - but Feadz really is the most charming and funny guy. When we were doing our interview, we took him out into the festival to film him with a view of the harbour bridge behind him and all these grown men kept rushing up to us and gushing about how amazing his set was. He was really polite and chilled about it.

Anyways, here are some of the highlights of the chats I've had. They're all packaged up all smartly and colourfully for your interweb watching pleasure.

Here's Feadz, Feliz, Van She Tech, Aston Shuffle + Mo Funk at Harbourlife a couple of weeks ago...

These are some highlights from Parklife 2008. It was a hilarious and crazy tour. It's like a school camp but with a whole heap of artists travelling around the country. Everyone gets loose and there are some funny stories. Get the low-down, do Soulwax and Diplo have beef? Diplo, Jesse Rose and Van She get up to antics with golf buggys, Does It Offend You Yeah spill the beans on another artist on the tour, XXXchange fears for his safety, Peaches decides to change her name to 'Peace' to help people build bridges and there's a whole lot of laughs.

And these are just straight-up interviews

- Parklife 08

- Parklife 08

- Parklife 08

DIZZEE RASCAL - Parklife 08

UFFIE - Field Day 08


GIRL TALK - Field Day 08

CHROMEO - Field Day 08

Monday, December 8, 2008


So after a good 18 months of having this account I've finally decided today is the first day of the rest of my internet life.

WOW. The future is bright. Luckily, I have shades.

I'm feeling inspired today to write about my favourite things. And because everyone else is compiling lists of albums of the year I thought I'd leave that already full market alone. This is more just a snap-shot of places to go, things to make and do. Some are old, some are new, some are borrowed and some are blue.

I know I might sound all hippy and shit with this one, but my cousin started a vegie co-op earlier in the year. It's totally changed my life. There's about 16 of us in it and once a fortnight we head to Bondi, collect some organic fruit + vegetable produce and then get inspired to cook. We've also saved a freakin motza - because it's so cheap. And we're getting all healthy in the process. And we're eating seasonally, which is better for the planet.

The Uchi Bar. I've recently rediscovered the love of the Uchi Bar. It's on the quiet Brisbane Street [which is really more of a lane] in that oft forgotten corner of Surry Hills. Away from the madness of Crown Street and the tired once-was-glamour-now-seediness of Oxford Street.

I'm quite partial to the Ginger Sake [warm]. It tastes a bit healthy, in the same way that a hot totty does, but cleaner cause it's sake rather than whiskey based. The Lychee [chilled] is also pretty heavenly. They're open late.

The Falconer on Oxford Street. Hidden right down the bottom of Oxford, across from Spectrum, in between the IGA and Subway is one of the best cafes, bars, general hangs. The Falconer.

Excellent music. Excellent food. Great beverage selection. Open late. Friendly.

This my friends, is the 'Peach Pit' for our generation. In Sydney. Handy.

Two thousand and fine. I think it's going to be, judging by the amazing summer of music lined up alone. TV on the Radio, Hot Chip, Santogold, Bon Iver, Buraka Som Sistema, Metronomy all coming out for BDO/Field Day/Sydney Festival and perhaps most excitingly, the first ever All Tomorrow's Parties on Cockatoo Island, curated by Nick Cave.