As always, there was a huge variety of music set to please a diverse crowd. Natalie Prass’ voice is melancholically sweet in a Regina Spektor kinda way. Wonderfully eccentric electronic act No Zu took over the stage with their huge band and fantastic dancing. Indigenous singer Emma Donovan & The Putbacks stole the crowd with her impressive performance. And CW Stoneking – you may not be able to understand a single word coming out of his mouth because he has the definition of a drawl, but he plays a pretty entertaining game with his storytelling way of creating music. He looks like he’s just stepped out of a different era with his sharp outfit and his delightful quartet of back up singers (second only to Sampa the Great’s).
The bread and butter of Golden Plains and Meredith. This is where the magic happens. Can we take a moment to appreciate the fact that you can bring furniture to this festival, sit back and listen to music for hours in mild March weather, all in a beautiful natural amphitheatre? Incidentally, campgrounds that are on flat ground are too often neglected. Beyond The Valley, Falls, and other offenders, take note.
Sampa the Great
And isn’t she bloody great? The sun peeked through and shined through the overcast morning as soon as she stepped on stage, setting the scene for my choice act of GPX. Her band, consisting of three of the sassiest back up singers, a drummer, bassist and guitarist, looked relaxed and, most importantly, happy to be there. Her songs are short and snappy, keeping the energy and dynamic right up there for her 40 minutes on stage. She drew the Golden Plains punters down from the comfort of their couches in the back of the amphitheatre right down to the stage, so the sparse crowd at the start became much more filled out towards the end of her set. She’s just a feature artist on it, but I would have loved to see her perform Urthboy’s “Second Heartbeat” because she is queen af on it.
It may not have been the most musically brilliant or super culturally appropriate act of the two days but damned if it wasn’t entertaining. He effectively created his own mascot by getting a very unsober punter up on stage for the entire set, nicknaming him “White Boy Will”, and telling him to dance like he’s “stirring dope”. He had a decked out DJ behind him plus two hypemen literally standing on each side of stage doing nothing but look huge. This guy needs his own talk show. Needless to say, a lot of shoes were hitting the air for the rapper from Indiana.
2016 was Golden Plains’ tenth year and despite the wave after wave of recent festival cancellations, it’s one of the few that are not just withering the storm, but standing strongly and proudly. A collection of small but unique aspects are what I think make GP what it is, and keep people coming back yearly – seemingly trivial things like the Eye, the couches, the single stage, and the rubbish pick up song (this year being David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance”). But they do it and they do it well. They simply make it easy and pleasant to be there.
Aunty Meredith says it best, “Who really knows what makes Golden work so well.”
Exclusively hand-picked just for you, by Jane.