Meredith 2004. Well. What can you say? Those that survived Tropical Meredith know what went on. The most eventful, astonishing Meredith ever. It featured, and will always be remembered for, the Dirty Three playing in an electrical storm. The whole district got pounded by a Hundred Year Storm. The festival was very, very nearly wiped out. Cancelled. Finished. It hit hard on the Friday Night – you could see the black clouds gathering in the North, occasionally issuing lightning strikes in the near distance. Then it gathered momentum and headed straight for the site, the temperature dropped and the wind got up so fiercely Jack Nolan said he hadn’t seen weather like it, and he’s been on that land for over 60 years. Then the most brutal storm hit the site – sideways, pelting rain, cyclonic winds that flattened tents, broke trees in half, pulled over fences; gigantic electrical activity in the skies…it was biblical.  So much water had come out of the skies so quickly that rivers – torrents in fact – started to carve out gullies and ravines on the site. It was a tad full-on for our liking.

Then something remarkable happened again – the storm moved on, leaving everyone on site to assess things – everyone was ok, the show went on – in fact the bands played on (Digger and the Pussycats, Die! Die! Die! and theredsunband). But then the storm changed direction, spun around, came back and pounded us again, every bit as hard save for the wind. It was incredible.

Anyway….by the Saturday the sun was out, everyone was in a good mood and looking forward to yet another Meredith Saturday Nite. BUT! The storms started brewing again, and gathering in the same place as the night before, we started getting radio reports of nearby towns having to sandbag to stop the streets getting washed away…the anxiety and tension was again at a maximum, just when Dirty Three took the stage. Again, the temperature dropped, and a little drizzle started, but SOMEHOW the storm literally split in half and passed either side of the site, so the crowd could see the storm at sunset, but not be part of it. Witnessing the artists who have no peer when it comes to live expression, in the surrounds of the Supernatural Amphitheatre, ten years and one day after they first did so, with a gigantic backdrop of forked lightning which lit up the whole district…well…what can you say? If I live to be 150 I’ll be lucky to ever experience anything as profoundly moving. It was like being in War of the Worlds.

Apart from the Dirty Three, highlights including Hilltop Hoods who had one of the biggest crowds ever assembled in the Supernatural going crazy, and Spiderbait, Ground Components, Young Heart Attack, Wolfmother, M Ward, Dexter, The RedeYes, and well, just about everyone.

Jim White from Dirty Three played drums with M Ward on some songs.

On the Sunday, just before the Gift, a man named JK entered the Amphitheatre to a standing ovation that lasted several minutes. He took the stage to a hero’s welcome. Why? Because he’d just run 210 kms from Langwarrin to Meredith. In the nude. A New World Record.

JK had been the runner-up in the Meredith Gift twice, he fell over while in the lead in another, and finally won it the year before only to have been stripped of the title after claims of a break.  His story made the daily papers, the sports bulletins of the national TV news, and we had regular reports in the days leading up to his arrival that he was on schedule to arrive on the Sunday. Big ups to Bill who played Chariots Of Fire through the PA as JK entered the arena, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.  2004 was a magic year in the history of Meredith.

In fact big ups to all the crew for toughing it out, also to the people who came up offering to help. Special mention to Alby, Mick, Quicky, Hoges and all the sparkies for hanging tough when the going got biblical. Likewise Chrisso and the Reception Committee, and Andrew and the Secure Forces. Jesus it was scary. The Raccoon’s first child was born on the Friday; about the time Peelie learned he was to be a father. A magic year.

And yes, after 2004, when we realised we’d chosen another water animal as mascot – the turtle – the game was up. No more water animals.

The MMF2004 Website can be found here.

Below is some of What Was Said about the festival (and a photo gallery or two):
The Age – Finding treasure in Meredith – by Jo Roberts
Triple J – Photo Gallery – by Chris Scaddan
Ballarat Courier – Nude runner arrives at festival
The Age – The Eye Of The Storm – by Marieke Hardy
Beat – Meredith Music Festival – by Claire Stuchbery
Forte – Review: Meredith Music Festival – by Kim Porter
Inpress – Review: Meredith Music Festival – by Tom Hawking
Lucky – The Meredith Gift
mX – Naked Ambition To Get First Place – by Inga Gilchrist
Rip It Up – Getting High With Matt – by Robert Dunstan
The Age EG – Sticky Carpet: Dirty Down On The Farm – by Patrick Donovan
The Age – Finding Treasure In Meredith – by Jo Roberts
The Age – Summer’s Festive Streak – by Jo Roberts
The Age EG – Taking Meredith By Storm
MMF2004 Press Release

Artist LineUp:
Dirty Three
Dexter presents The Shook Daily Crew
Rocket Science
The Unicorns
Sage Francis
Dan Kelly and the Alpha Males
The Red Eyes
Dallas Crane
Hilltop Hoods
My Disco
Xavier Rudd
M Ward
C.W. Stoneking
True Live
Combo La Revelacion
Bass Bin Laden’s Ghetto Fabulous Show
Jolie Holland
Young Heart Attack
The Immortal Lee County Killers II
Cobra Killer
Ground Components
67 Special
Wolf & Cub
Digger and The Pussycats
Special Guest MC: Wayne Deakin

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