Twenty-first birthdays, like so many coming of age rituals, tend to be observed by certain festivities. There are presents - carefully wrapped, less carefully stacked - flowing liquor and uncomfortable speeches told by those who should know better. But what occurs when an entire music festival celebrates its 21st? RUSSH caught up with Meredith Music Festival’s highly eccentric Aunty Meredith (yes that is her real name and she is an aunt) to see how Victoria’s darling festival will make the transition to adulthood.
What are the top five ingredients to a successful party?
Excellent, loose people, some of which you've never met before. Wonderful, tight, loose music, some of which you've never heard before. Some surprise element - just when you think the party is peaking, it kicks up a whole new realm. [Lastly], nowhere else to be for three days … And sangria by the jugful.
This year marks Meredith's 21st. What kind of celebrations are you envisioning?
Well, I'll be in the caravan with the door bolted shut so the grandkids don’t try to pinch my sherry again. But outside, at the festival, I expect there'll be 12000 [people] having a blast to everyone from Cut Copy to Mudhoney, Grinderman to Icehouse and Kurt Vile to Dennis Cometti. We've got a giant 21st key made that we'll get everyone at the festival to sign.
There is supposed to be a total lunar eclipse during the three day festival – the perfect natural celebration. When did you find out about it?
When we started Meredith in 1991 we knew if we could just make it last 21 years and convince Nick Cave to bring whatever his latest musical group was to come play then on the Saturday night at 1am out there in the middle of the Victorian countryside ... [Then] a total lunar eclipse would take place. Sure, it took a lot of patience but we persevered and it’s gonna happen.
And your own 21st – what was that like?
Oh, you know, the usual. Drunk uncles, pavlova, telegrams from matinee idols, town landmarks going missing then returned anonymously to the local paper a week later. That sort of thing.
There's a pictorial history slideshow on the website from '91 'til now. Is there a single image that sticks out in your mind that encompasses the spirit of the festival?
Woah, good question! I love the one of the rainbow flag with the pirate symbol on it. We don’t even know who made it or why, but one festival it was flying in the breeze above the campsite. I love that.
If there were no obstacles (dollars, connections, laws and the like), what is the one thing you'd love to be able to introduce to Meredith?
There’s not much we yearn for these days, the Meredith Supernatural Amphitheatre is pretty complete. But I'd like a train line right to the site from Melbourne, that'd be good. I'd like a nice suburban house on the site big enough to feed 12,000 people a Sunday Roast with all the trimmings – and maybe a river so local dignitaries could arrive via motor launch.
What is the most unusual request you've had from a performing band?
I get asked that a lot and can’t say, sorry. But let’s just say it involved a crane, helium and a tattooist.
Meredith's sister festival Golden Plains Sixxx will take place March 10 - 12.