Revellers flocked to the 14th annual Golden Plains festival over the Labour Day long weekend with extra bog roll and hand sanitiser stuffed into their vehicles in amongst couches, camping gear, doof sticks and Eskies.
Mad props go out to the Pink Flamingo Bar for their cooler cloaking service (inside which unopened tinnies could also be ‘cloaked’ while you raced inside to grab an espresso martini pick-me-up or wayward mate). And to the DJ that dropped a mashup of Peter Bjorn and John’s Young Folks and Get Ready by The Temptations into the mix on Sunday arvo? We salute you.
Header photo and all included images: Craig Johnstone
Hot Chip vs Beastie Boys
Hot Chip were always gonna be a weekend highlight, with punters scheduling drop o’clock accordingly (and worrying they would peak too soon for the British synth wizards’ scheduled 10.50pm Sunday timeslot), but holy smoke! When they covered Sabotage by Beastie Boys the Supernatural Amphitheatre collectively lost their doof sticks! “I can’t stand it, I know you planned it…” – is that Alexis Taylor sounding irate AF!? We had to rub our eyes and check the stage multiple times since his trademark vocal is usually that slightly quivering, heartstring-pulling falsetto. As onstage strobe activity tested safety guidelines, we were completely blown away by Hot Chip’s versatility. And let’s not forget their own Over and Over (watching munted punters trying to work out what those robotically delivered letters spell out during this song’s breakdown was priceless), Night & Day and Boy from School! Hot Chip’s combination of bombastic, banging beats, effervescent synths, chugging guitar and whimsical vocals abducted our limbs for their set’s duration, we have zero idea what shapes we were pulling and fittingly floated off into the night afterwards like we’d just emerged from A Bath Full of Ecstasy. Wah, why did their Melbourne sideshow clash with Day One of this festi!?
Stereolab: Metronomic Underground
So Frenchy, so chic! You’re not allowed to judge us, because there’s waaaaaay too much music in the world to be across absolutely everything, but some peeps we have mad respect for rate Stereolab very highly so we headed straight for a barrier posi. Wow, Stereolab are exceptional indeed and we definitely wanna be Laetitia Sadier when we grow up. Over a locked-in rhythm section, Stereolab’s arrangements turned in on themselves – complicated and a tad showoffy, sure, but executed to perfection. They return from a ten-year hiatus and, although tardy to the party, we’re now fully on board the Stereolab train.
Joe Camilleri: Shape I’m In
How on Earth had we forgotten about this stone cold classic!? We’re calling it: the sax riff from Shape I’m In by Jo Jo Zep & The Falcons is right up there with the best of all time. Not only can Joe Camilleri sing plus play the guitar AND saxophone like a boss, he also peacocked with some regularity across the very front of the stage while cheekily/knowingly shoulder-shimmying into the very same camera lens that broadcast directly onto the giant screens! Also, who knew that Kids in the Kitchen’s Claude Carranza played killer guitar in this band!? We did miss Vika & Linda Bull when it came to songs like Chained to the Wheel by The Black Sorrows, but everyone knows those Tongan kweens are impossible to top. Crap, that’s right! Vika Bull is starring in At Last: The Etta James Story at Hamer Hall at the moment! That would be why they’re unavailable on this occasion.
Mwanjé: Nature Boy
After her backing band left the stage, Mwanjé tackled the wondrous melodies of Nat King Cole’s Nature Boy solo. Nailed it! She may not have that many gigs under her belt, but Mwanjé has definitely got what it takes and those synchronised dance moves and coordinated outfits are a winning combo. We were already sold, but then Remi Kolawole was invited to the stage to showcase his flow. Only one Mwanjé single, The Divine, is available for your ears on Spotify and, yep, she is the melisma master.
General Levy: Keith Flint Tribute
The English ragga DJ who pioneered his own ‘hiccup’ emcee style elevated his exceptional early-evening Sunday set by throwing down a dub mix of The Prodigy’s already-hectic Voodoo People. It was limbs akimbo as we all kicked up some serious dust clouds while attempting to dance to the rapidfire tempo (fact: sometimes jogging on the spot is the only way to stay in time where drum’n’bass/jungle is concerned). General Levy shared his wish for Keith Klint to S.I.P. (Sleep in Peace), reminding us that the late Prodigy frontman passed away just over a year ago (on 4 March). Recognising that the vibe of Golden Plains is “special”, General Levy then held his camera phone aloft to take “a selfie with the massive”.
Clean-up Song: The Clash
Given that our cue to pick up and dispose of any surrounding trash – with a view to leaving no trace in The Sup’ – is dropped at regular intervals throughout the entire weekend, the timeless appeal of the clean-up song is of utmost importance. Our options were Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick by Ian Dury & The Blockheads, Rock the Casbah by The Clash and Love Shack by The B-52’s. Voted in by the unofficial Golden Plains clap-o-meter? Rock the Casbah (of course), which speaks volumes about the high quality of attendees at this particular highlight on our annual festival calendar.
Weyes Blood: A Whiter Shade of Pale
Many Sunday morning coffee-queue convos expressed an urgent need to return to designated posse meet-up areas by 1pm for Weyes Blood. Natalie Mering, the woman behind the moniker, wore a stunning white suit with appliqué detail on the back – comedy-tragedy masks inside a Weyes Blood-inscribed ring buoy – and we decided her voice is what you’d get if you combined the dulcet tones of Karen Carpenter and k.d. lang. Even those unfamiliar with her soaring, cinematic masterpieces (of which Movies was a standout on this occasion) got a chance to to bask in another hue of Mering’s glory thanks to the inclusion of Procol Harem’s A Whiter Shade of Pale, which she introed as the embodiment of an “OK Boomer” song. “Thanks for allowing us that indulgence,” Mering acknowledged, post-cover version.
Simona Castricum: “Oonce, Oonce, Oonce”
Post-set, we made eye contact with some nearby revellers. “That was really great!” one punter eventually announced. Agreed. It’s not even 5pm on Day One and we’ve already experienced a golden Golden Plains highlight. You could tell Castricum and co. were buzzing to be afforded the opportunity to grace Aunty Meredith’s stage and their party-starting enthusiasm paid dividends. It’s percussion-heavy and industrial with just the right amount of sleazy sass. Supertouch featuring m8riarchy (who absolutely rocked that fluoro-green, snakeskin-print chaps over black PVC G-banger bikini look) is a banger, especially since we were presented with a thrilling opportunity for an “oonce, oonce, oonce” singalong .
Sampa The Great: The Greatest
Following her gasp-inducing set at Meredith 2018, Golden Plains marks The Return (see what we did there?) of Sampa The Great to The Sup’ (which she actually played for the third time this GP). A riser jutted out from the centre of the stage and Sampa Tembo materialised wearing the best pants ever: black with hems featuring layer-upon-layer of red and black frills trimmed with gold. She kicked off her performance and then the sound cut out. After some time, an announcement was made. They’ve gotta switch generators? About half an hour later, she returned to the absolutely own that stage: “Can we try this sh-t again?” Dedicating Black Girl Magik to her little sister – who graced this very same stage earlier today and now supplies backing vocals as part of Sampa’s outstanding backing trio – was particularly poignant in light of the fact that Mwanjé slayed her very first appearance at a festival of this magnitude.
ABBA vs Doof Stick
We saw you and took a photo to remind us of your fabulousity: an ABBA-themed doof stick that featured a picture of everyone’s favourite Swedish popstars underneath the words “Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Bag After Midnight)” – pure brilliance.