Trouble Juice do Golden Plains 14
Words by James Lynch
Photography by Steve Benn, Suzanne Phoenix, Ben Fletcher and Robyn Strathearn
Friday 20th March, 2020
Given the state of the planet over these past few weeks, I think everyone has been in need of a little extra supernatural in their lives. And last weekend, like the gravitational pull of the sun to the earth, the mystical powers of the Meredith Supernatural Amphitheatre drew us back into its welcoming arms. As always, Golden Plains delivered exactly what we needed.
The only issue that comes with being tasked to review a festival like Golden Plains is that heading for a weekend in the Supernatural Amphitheatre feels a bit like teleporting to a different world - time and space suddenly feel different, which makes keeping track of things slightly challenging. So, armed with only a bunch of poorly recorded voice memos kept throughout the festival, here’s my best attempt at encapsulating the magic that was Golden Plains 14.


It was a pretty classic start to a Golden Plains weekend - an early morning, a bit of car tetris and a cruise into the town of Meredith - and before long we were setting up tents in Top Camp and soaking up those first few hours where all the amounting anticipation was finally bubbling over into full blown excitement. First drinks were cracked, ridiculous conversations instantly became the new norm, and the seeds of where this weekend would take us were just being planted.

Although these early moments around the campsite make for some of the most memorable parts of the festival, as soon as it hit 1:30pm the crowd migrated down to the ‘Sup for the Welcome to Country and Smoking Ceremony. Led by traditional custodians of the Wadawurrung land, we were once again reminded how privileged we were to be spending another weekend on these incredible lands. However, the tranquil atmosphere quickly turned animated as we shared a traditional song with Uncle Barry Gilson, and following the stirring ceremony, we were bustling to get going.

Much-loved local punks Pinch Points were up first, a fitting choice to open the festival given they were just as thrilled to be there as we were. They quickly got to work blasting us with their post-punk chaos, and as they twisted and turned through much of their back catalogue, all we could do was grip on and enjoy the ride. DIY punk soon turned to DIY pop as Parsnip hit the stage, dressed like b-grade 90’s pop stars, and we were treated to their gloriously wonky 60’s pop, which glowed with all kinds of charm on the GP stage.

A quick dash to the campsite to restock on drinks, before Simona Castricum transformed the ‘Sup into a pumping dancefloor, with her intensely compelling electronica, a first taste of what would be coming as we headed into the evening. Not long after, London's Ezra Collective followed suit, commanding the crowd with their charismatic mishmash of afro-beat, RnB and jazz and leaving plenty of us hooked, before Bill Callahan slowed things down with his dark folk, masterfully lulling us into a stillness with his rich baritone vocals and untethered musings.

After another spot of house-keeping accompanied by some excellent interstitial DJing to fire the crowd back up, it was time for Stereolab. A festival standout, it was hard to believe that some of these songs could be over 30 years old, given how immediately cool they sounded. We were completely mesmerised as the band blitzed through their 55 minute set, somehow managing to make their eccentric pop excursions feel as direct and punchy as they were effortlessly groovy and free-flowing.

An unexpectedly well-suited follow up, Nottingham’s Sleaford Mods turned our hypnosis into hysteria, as they bombarded the crowd with their pumping mixture of furious punk and grimy hip-hop. It was a lot to take in, but if the sheer force of vocalist Jason Williamson’s showmanship didn’t have you convinced, the thumping bass did.

As the night begun to blur and waver, it was time to give ourselves over to the mystery of Golden Plains. We were completely at the festival’s beck and call by now, and between blasts of Electric Field’s extravagant pop and a twerk with the enigmatic Moonchild Sanelly, it was all pink flamingos, late-night hijinks and plenty of boogieing until we were lured to sleep.


It’s not often that something legitimately smart occurs in the midst of a festival like Golden Plains, but the previous night I’d had the groundbreaking idea of pre-buying the food tickets I would need for breakfast from the Community Tucker Tent. As soon as I was up, it was time to get back in business, so I rolled down to the ‘Sup, skipped the queue, and got stuck into a few egg sandwiches as J. McFarlane’s Reality Guest eased us into the day with their bizarrely playful pop.

Thanks to the subdued weather, there was word floating around that the crowd had collectively experienced the best sleep of any Golden Plans or Meredith ever, which meant we were heading into the day two with nothing holding us back. However, as if it was planned, the sun emerged at midday to pair perfectly with Mwanye’s radiant neo-soul goodness, and enticed even the most hungover of us to take on the day.

Next up was Weyes Blood, who had us captivated with her majestic indie-folk. Seeming both delicate and overwhelming at once, she put us into a spellbinding trance, one that could only be broken by Bananagun who hit the stage next with their inherently groovy psychedelia. The party vibes expanded along with their lineup (now with an extended percussion section and duelling saxophonists), and it was almost impossible to not get caught up in the contagious energy as we were swamped in tropical rhythms and 60’s hooks. The local love continued with Civic, whose fiery punk came us a bit of a sonic assault after Bananagun’s joyous set, powered by their double guitar attack while frontman Jim McCullough commanded the frenzying crowd with a fistful of attitude.

We were heading into the best part of the afternoon, which meant it was going to take a whole heap of dedication to keep up with what Golden Plains had in store for us. Watching from the balcony at Eric’s with a cocktail in hand, Joe Camilleri & The Black Sorrows took to the stage to summon some classic rock ’n’ roll energy from the crowd, before General Levy abruptly flipped the mood, but kept everything pumping with his impenetrable bangers.

If there was a set to not be missed, it was Evelyn Champagne King and Mondo Freaks up next - but I missed it somehow. I can only guess I was off doing funny-buggers somewhere, which really doesn’t stack up considering the 59 year old disco veteran was apparently popping high kicks on stage at the same time. My bad, GP. I did make it back for Sampa the Great however, and following some technical problems, Sampa and her band put on a knockout performance, her magnetic stage presence making it hard to believe that only a few years earlier she’d played this same festival in a 12pm slot.

Night was falling now, and we were all starting to realise that we were getting into our last stretch of Golden Plains. Naturally, as we prepared to give the final night our all, the festival lifted for us - firstly, with a killer interstitial set from Milo Eastwood. If anything was to prepare us for Pixies, it would be Scott and Charlene’s Wedding, The Modern Lovers and U-Bahn.

Without a word, the Pixies emerged and got stuck right in, their 80-minute set flying by as an obsessed crowd hung onto every erratic guitar riff and obscure lyric with absolute glee. Whether you were a Pixies die-hard or a fair weather fan, it was undeniably a special set, with tracks like ‘Here Comes Your Man’, ’Gigantic’ and ‘Debaser’ hitting twice as hard from within a crowd as enamoured as this. It might seem like a tough act to follow, but synth-nerds Hot Chip stepped up to the plate and effortlessly converted the audience’s passion into energy. With a set packed with dance floor classics, and a monstrous cover of the Beastie Boys’ ‘Sabotage’ in there, it was impossible to not be taken by the pure fun of it all.

We were back in the thick of late-night party time by now, and all we could do was see how much left we had in us. I’m not going to pretend I’ve got great memories of this part, but I definitely got down to Floorplan’s thumping set, and I have some funny voice memos to prove it - someone cried “I feel like I’m at a rave”. Like many others, I couldn’t make it until DJ Sprinkles festival-closing set, but if that meant I left the festival with my brain still intact then it was probably a sacrifice worth making.

Golden Plains had done quite the number on us, but once again proven why it's one of the country’s best music festivals. And now, considering the way things are looking in the real world, if that was going to be our last chance at some revelry for a good while, it was a real pleasure to go out with a party like this one.