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Golden Plains

  • Music, Music festivals
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  1. A crowd of people clapping.
    Photograph: Chip Mooney
  2. Yussef Dayes and band.
    Photograph: Eloise Coomber
  3. Zambian band WITCH.
    Photograph: Eloise Coomber
  4. People gathered on a hill.
    Photograph: Chip Mooney

Time Out says

Scorching heat didn't stop this beloved festival from throwing one heck of a party for its sixteenth birthday

There was some trepidation in the days leading up to the 2024 iteration of Golden Plains. After the trials of a mud-bogged Meredith Music Festival months before, attendees were now faced with another extreme weather event: a bona fide, three-day heatwave. Despite it being my third voyage to the Supernatural Amphitheatre, I was a little worried – but a long-time veteran ‘Sup-goer assured me: “it’s the best place in the world for it”. And after two days spent immersed in this musical microcosm, I learned he was spot on. In the mystical Aunty Meredith, we trust. 

The sweet 16th edition of the festival really put the ‘golden’ in its title, with the sun’s rays relentlessly beating down on the regional event site from the first morning. While the total fire ban wouldn’t allow for any birthday candles at this party, there was still a celebratory energy in the air. If anything, any adversity applied by the sweltering temperatures bolstered communal spirits. There was a mutual understanding: we are all hot and sweaty, but we are still so happy to be here. Organisers and attendees alike were proactively prepared for the heat – there were volunteers wielding electric-powered water sprayers, ample drinking water tanks, plentiful ice, cool outdoor showers and a misting tunnel, as well as plenty of inventive cooling methods gleefully shared between punters.

The festival may be small in scale, but the music is world-class – many acts also perform at other major festivals on the same weekend, like Womadelaide. Highlights of Saturday’s earlier sets included a blissful jam session from locals Baro Sura and Silentjay and energetic Zamrock group Witch (We Intend To Cause Havoc). Arguably the most anticipated set of the first night was acclaimed jazz drummer Yussef Dayes, who deftly met high expectations and transfixed the crowd with rhythms that seemed to defy physics. 

This jazz masterclass was sandwiched between heavy rock trio Boris and a rollicking set from Aussie rockers Regurgitator, which could have been considered jarring, but such is the aural journey of the genre diverse programming at this single-stage event. Loyal attendees know to have faith that they will get to their desired destination over the course of the festival, whatever that may be. 

An unexpected favourite of the weekend was Belgian duo Charlotte Adigéry and Bolis Pupil (solo acts in their own right uniting in a recent album collab), who were a perfect example of the musical surprises continuously presented in the ‘Sup. The pair entranced the audience with an innovative and introspective electronic set, with brilliantly bizarre dance tracks. Their song ‘Mantra’ felt like a collective dancefloor meditation, which at its peak saw many in the crowd (myself included) raise their shoe – a tradition to signal an audience member’s favourite act. Sydney rapper VV Pete had a tough job following this joyful dance party with downtempo hip-hop, and definitely would have benefited from being scheduled earlier in the evening.  

Soju Gang reignited the energy and then cranked it up about seven notches – transforming the amphitheatre into a nightclub with back-to-back ‘90s and early 2000s banger remixes (I never thought I’d dance unironically to Reel 2 Real’s ‘I Like To Move It’). A friend who said she was ready for bed at the beginning of the set found she couldn’t pull herself away as the floor filler hits kept coming.

Day two arrived with a cool breeze and welcome clouds in the morning, as many parked themselves beneath shady trees to take in cruisy sounds. Mutti Mutti songman Kutcha Edwards’ emotionally moving performance was a highlight, as he stood and swayed with the crowd and sang the closing strains of his set: “We dream of peace”. 

DJ Koco played an infectiously joyful set in the late arvo that filled the amphitheatre with dancers despite the peaking heat, mixing J-Pop with reinvented classics like a very fun Latin version of Jackson 5’s ‘I Want You Back’. One of the best parts of this festival is taking in the crowd during these moments of collective joy – here, the connection between artist and audience is as equal a spectacle as the onstage performances. 

Festival headliner The Streets’ set had a rambunctious disposition, with Mike Skinner’s tongue-in-cheek persona decidedly an acquired taste. His incessant monologue seamlessly flowed between rap and chatter, vacillating sporadically between earnest praise and satirical quips. While fans know Skinner’s banter isn’t to be taken too seriously, his repetitive crowd interaction felt forced by the end of the set. But, the band was tight and the hit tracks were as good as ever.

By midnight, the temperature had dropped and revellers were ready to tear up the grassy dancefloor. Sunshine and Disco Faith Choir didn’t quite meet their potential for a truly ecstatic set, but crowd-pleasing tunes like ‘Rolling in the Deep' and ‘Dreams’ laden with impressive vocal gymnastics were still met with appreciation. It was house music titans Braxe and Falcon who properly got the party started, their disco-filled bracket rolling into masterful electronic sets from ANZ and Ben Fester in the early hours of the morning. The latter closed the festival with the Billy Idol track ‘Eyes Without A Face’, an aptly selected final song that felt like a collective exhale for those who remained swaying at 7am. 

Golden Plains, much like its older sibling Meredith Music Festival, has a tangible togetherness that has to be experienced in order to be truly understood. It’s a congregation of passionate music lovers and partygoers who earnestly strive to uphold the ‘no dickhead policy’ festival commandment. While comparatively petite in size, this festival’s energy is still huge. Consider yourself warned, once you experience this gem, its magic will most likely ruin you for all other Aussie music festivals. 

Liv Condous
Written by
Liv Condous


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