The story behind the GoldenPlains Boot
Tue 8th Mar, 2011 in Features
Almost three years ago today on a typically golden afternoon in the Supernatural Amphitheatre, I was busy negotiating my footing on a styrofoam esky when I was struck in the back of the head by a mud-caked desert boot.
The blow knocked me forwards into a burly looking fella who was awkwardly shuffling around on one leg while trying to unlace a soggy, black Chuck Taylor. As I lurched about trying to steady myself Sam Beams (aka Iron and Wine) was on stage with a seven-piece band fleshing out his beautiful folk country tunes. He had just just been awarded the Golden Plains Boot.
According to Aunty Meredith – the elderly but never cantankerous matriarch of both Golden Plains and Meredith Music Festivals – The Boot is “…unscripted, and unanticipated. It happens when the whole of The Amphitheatre unites in appreciation of something that has wildly exceeded expectation. Someone or something that rises above and thrills. You can’t plan The Boot. It can strike at any time of day or night. It’s an example of the people that go to Golden Plains inventing something, and it catching on, and becoming a tradition.”
And a tradition is something it certainly has become. Much like the raising of flags at Glastonbury the raising of The Boot has nestled itself inside the minds and souls of all Golden Plains punters
The only recorded time The Boot has been awarded twice at the one festival was last year, when punters held their footwear aloft for Wooden Shjips’ psychedelic cover of Neil Young’s Vampire Blues and later that day as Nashville Pussy stomped out a hicked-up version of Nutbush City Limits. [Editor’s Note: In 2011 the boot would go on to be awarded a whopping five times.]
Throughout your typical Golden Plains weekend there will be several attempts to award The Boot to different bands, but if the greater crowd does not agree shoes are quickly (and shamefully) lowered. Only last year I was part of a breakaway group who tried in vain to award the boot to Calexico during their late evening set. We were, however, left shamed and soggy footed like a herd of drunken highland cattle when the rest of the audience deemed the moment unworthy.
For many years Golden Plains faithful have debated the origins of The Boot, and this year I was determined to find out where it all started. After some intense research (read: email to Aunty Meredith) I uncovered the story behind the first Boot Moment. And, as it turns out, there is even photographic evidence.
March 8th, 2011
Somewhat fittingly the very first footwear lofter was Cherry Bar owner and regular rock ‘n roll cowboy James Young, who along with music journalist and current CEO of Music Victoria Patrick Donovan, was blissing out to the mystical sounds of Comets On Fire at the inaugural Golden Plains in 2007 , when a spirit from above pushed them to raise their boots.
Tell us what was going through your mind when you first held your Boot aloft at the inaugurate Golden Plains?
James Young: It was the first Golden Plains back in 2007. It was the afternoon of the second day and we were all pretty fried by then, but there was no way I was going to miss the psychedelic sounds of Ethan Miller and Comets on Fire out of Santa Cruz California for the first time. I made my way down to the very front of stage and got lost in the swirling guitars. I looked down to the ground and was transfixed by the dirty bare feet around me. Then I started staring at my white patent leather Rocco’s boots and became obsessed with their beauty. A beauty I had to share. Share with the band, share with Golden Plains. So, I took off my boot and held it in the air. High and proud. Later I took off my other boot and remember enacting a Punch and Judy boot theatre performance. I was completely absorbed in the music and the moment. When my buddy Drew Head tapped me on the shoulder and encouraged me to turn around I was amazed to see a thousand other people holding up their shoes in a united gesture of crazy love.