Review :: Golden Plains Festival
March 19th 2014
Golden Plains has often been referred to as the festival to trump all others.
Being my wise-ass self, I thought “Yeah it’ll be good but, it can’t be that great…” The lineup seemed really exciting and diverse, pulling international acts like Flying Lotus, Gold Panda and Charles Bradley amongst amazing local acts such as King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, Cut Copy, and Seekae. “Golden Plains is so much more than the lineup” one friend told me. “Socially, it’s ridiculously chilled. Not to mention the Supernatural Amphitheatre.”
Mind you, this was just another account of just another music festival; I’ve also heard how there’s apparently “nothing like the sun setting over Olympic Park at Stereosonic.”
After meeting some friends in Meredith just outside of the festival site, one mate beckons; “Follow us, we know a shortcut”. We’re soon pushed into a car lane that sees us drive to the very front of the deadlocked queue, which then leads us to arguably the best campsite. We set up camp, chuck some beer in the esky, and head off to catch some questionably-timed afternoon beats. Upon entry, the crowd doesn’t really conform to any one style: so much colour, I felt drunk.
UK producer Gold Panda plays at 4pm and is more or less refreshing; the sun, still warm, scatters dappled light across the amphitheatre as a cool Victorian breeze sweeps in. My eyes meet with an incredible, rainbow Hawaiian shirt; like no other I’d seen before. I compliment the guy wearing it, only to be met with the insane debate of whether or not I want to trade his shirt for the technicoloured tangle-toy I’m wearing as a necklace. “That shirt mmmm… But this isn’t even my toy…” He begs me through a slur of beer while I refuse him his prize.
After an exhaustingly trippy yet magnificent journey to King Gizzard’s closing track “Head On/Pill” we trek back to the campsite where we break out the drinks. Our group’s excitement swells as we dance under our gazebo; drinking the afternoon away to The Strokes, Destiny’s Child, and Toto.
“Get ready to have your minds blown – this is Layer 3!”
The MC echoes over the amphitheatre, now covered in dazzling fairy lights and lanterns; Flying Lotus is introduced to a roar. The visuals throughout his set are definitely mind blowing, intense even – a personal favourite includes the reworking of the video clip for “Zodiac Shit” (check it out NOW). Later that night I choose to walk into the closed-off field behind the campsite. The festival looks beautiful from afar; a blur of lights under a sky of shooting stars. Surrounded by great friends, old and new, I have the best tent-sleep I’ve ever had.
The weather is so optimistic Sunday morning that it doesn’t take long for us to get over our lack of hydration (more on that later!) It’s under a blanket of speckled sunlight that I crash upon one of the many random couches available for punters during Seekae’s set. While blowing bubbles I watch drunk, middle-aged men try to hula with an onslaught of applause while, not far off, some people enjoy a doubles game of pool on a full-sized table.
“Hey, have you ever heard any Japanese funk?”
Well of course I haven’t… Then Osaka Monaurail come on. These guys are jaw-droppingly tight! The lead singer wears a face that looks as if he literally can’t handle the funk coming out of the speakers. “Let’s go back to the 60s! Let’s go back to Aretha Franklin! To Ray Charles!” he preaches.
I’m handed a tall bamboo rod with a plush octopus (named Ollie) skewered on top. Somehow, god knows how, he fits the music perfectly. As I stare up at Ollie, instructing his every move to Osaka Monaurail playing an impressive cover of James Brown’s “Get On Up”, a sea of shoes distract me. You know when you see a band that plays so well, you just need to take off your shoes and hold them in the air? Right, well, me neither. It only seems to happen at Golden Plains when a full amphitheatre unites in appreciation of something that has wildly exceeded expectation, for instance; a band from Osaka playing funk as if they’d just gotten off a plane from 1960’s New Orleans.
Up the hill from the amphitheatre, a valley vista draws a huge crowd to watch a stunning sunset of pink and orange swirls that stretch beyond the horizon. After devouring a few kilos of melted gummy worms to a crowd of strangers chanting my name in disgust and/or excitement, the sun finally sinks and the crowd cheers.
Public Enemy diminishes all questions of selling out by beginning their set screaming; “GO TO WWW.PUBLICENEMY.COM” along with details on how to follow them on Twitter. Fighting the power has clearly never been so easy. I feel the beginnings of quite a bad headache as I slowly realise I’d been having so much fun that I’d forgotten to drink literally any water. Perhaps it’s the gummi worms, perhaps it’s the heat (it was the gummi worms) but the dehydration gets worse, so I walk back to the tent while hearing the crowd being instructed to chant “YEAHH BOIIIII.”
My headache turns into a migraine (#idiot) which makes me miss Cut Copy’s entire set. As my medication slowly kicks in, I doze off to the fittingly distant tune of Cut Copy’s “We Are Explorers”. I manage to miss the band I have loved since the first (and only) time I’ve seen them perform, at a MySpace Secret Show over 7 years ago.
It isn’t hard to get over this though, as I reflect upon all the bands I’ve witnessed, the amazing people I’ve met (the festival FULLY upholds their ‘no dickhead policy’), it seems like it had all gone too soon.
The only thing I really feel is the need to come back next year.