This year’s Meredith Music Festival was predictably full of highlights — the joyous, multigenerational communal singalong prompted by Neil Finn against a watery sunset, the surprisingly rhythmic and insidiously poppy noise of local kids Rat Vs Possum, the woozy Louisiana/Footscray jungle blues of CW Stoneking, the strutting soul of Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings and the jagged strings of Meredith favourites The Dirty Three (minus the lightning storm) all managed to cut through the intermittent squalls and sprays of rain.
But in a strong line-up, El Guincho seemed to be the first band to be given The Boot. A tradition that first sprung up at sister festival Golden Plains, there’s no higher honour than witnessing a section of the crowd hold their shoes aloft in a sign of respect for a great performance. Apart from earning the coveted Gold Jocks, that is. Although 3pm might be the earliest slot yet that the shoes have been sighted, here they were, gumboots, trainers, natty loafers, aloft in front of three scruffily handsome kids from Spain. The “band” is actually main man Pablo Diaz-Reixa, but he’s got some help on this tour pimping the latest album Pop Negro.
The sound is a twitching morass of island steel drums, tropicalia and easy unison melodies, made with a deceptively simple set-up — a few samplers, some synth drum pads, bass, guitar and a couple of voices. But with every whack of stick on computerised pad, the crowd warmed to the chilly afternoon, until it became a joyous, summery, communal wig-out.
If we see them at Meredith again (and I hope we do), I suspect they’ll be on closer to midnight — a claim backed up by their gig on at the Curtin Rooftop the following Monday in Melbourne, which is fast cementing into folklore.
Story goes the band had so much fun that they moved their gear downstairs to the Toff In Town (handily located three floors below in Curtin House) and played another set. Cheeky buggers.
For those of our friends in the West, catch El Guincho before they head back to Barcelona. They’re playing tonight. The Bakery, 233 James Street, Northbridge 6003 Perth, WA, Australia.