How By The Meadow are sticking true to their humble beginnings
A truly authentic boutique music experience, By The Meadow is returning for its fourth year.
The now three-day, two-night festival is held just an hour and a half out of Melbourne in Bambra, nestled in Victoria’s Otway Hinterlands. With a focus on locally sourced talent, the picturesque setting will play host to a stellar lineup of up-and-coming Aussie acts as well as those firmly cemented in their individual, thriving scenes.
Originally started as the site for a 21st birthday celebration, By The Meadow was birthed by a love of all things music, good times and even better mates. “As an organisation we’re generally obsessed with local music, and if it weren’t part of this job, we’d still be trying to keep up with what’s new and exciting in Australian music anyway,” says Cameron Wade, one of the original founders of the festival.
“Local radio, gigs across Melbourne, other festival lineups, feedback from Bigsound and Melbourne Music Week, word of mouth, playing in our own bands and so many more things inform the direction we take. When it comes down to the final cut, it’s all very personal – the selections are then a direct reflection of our own taste and what we personally enjoy and want to share with everyone who comes along.”
Set to take the stage at the naturally-created amphitheatre this year are the likes of Banoffee, Baro, Jaala, Moses Gunn Collective, Alta, The Pretty Littles, Confidence Man, Jazz Party, Totally Mild, Foam, Braille Face, The Beths, Tetraheda, and Neon Queen. Serving up a platter of genre diversity, the festival’s event organisers ensure there’s something for everyone – from jangly pop to boundary-pushing electronica.
“If people are coming to hang out with us for an entire weekend, we want the festival to feel like a journey through what’s currently happening in Australian music,” says Wade. “In this way, it definitely has to span or at least touch on a number of genres, to take people on that journey. We know Melbourne, or even Victoria, has its favourite genres and this influences us firstly as music consumers ourselves before then flowing through into our lineup curation.
“We’ve set-up the Friday night to act as a wind down from the working week. We want people to treat this as though they’re at the pub after work having a few knock offs among friends, with a more band-centric set of acts taking to the stage. Saturday day is setup for lounging around with 700 of your newest, closest mates soundtracked in the most casual and leisurely fashion. Saturday night, we reserve for dancing. On Sunday morning, the music is suitable for grabbing a cup of coffee while you gather yourself.”
With humble beginnings as a pop-up event for festival organiser Ruby Weatherhead’s 21st birthday, By The Meadow’s location is another invaluable aspect of its character. Ultimately, the Bambra-based festival boasts a communal presence that simply cannot be forged.
“There’ll always be a strong representation of easy-going Bambra locals on-site, setting the tone and providing the roots for the temporary community we’re creating during the festival weekend,” says Wade.
“Even the family’s farm dog is there each year, wandering around throughout the night collecting pats from our happy punters. This intimate, relaxed vibe is something we are carefully and consciously fostering as the festival grows. We aren’t trying to be a big shiny festival, and that will never change. We’ve spent enough weekends at Ruby’s farm, enough time with her parents, enough time working with the locals to know that whatever it is that makes Bambra such a perfect community to be part of, is something that we must echo in the By The Meadow festival experience.”
Regardless of their festival’s ever-growing popularity, By The Meadow organisers have maintained their intimate aesthetic over the years by staying true to their small beginnings and involving local businesses.
“It’s super important to us for everyone to feel safe and relaxed while they’re at the festival,” Wade says. “Keeping it fairly small is a big part of that. People say they feel like they’re at a big house party.
“You just get the sense on site that everyone is conscious of making sure every other punter there is enjoying their weekend as much as they possibly could be.”
By Phoebe Robertson
By The Meadow will take place in Bambra, about 90 minutes from Melbourne, from Friday March 31 until Sunday April 2.