Music shines in difficult year for Falls Festival
It seems ignorant to begin a review of Falls Festival Lorne without acknowledging the tragic culmination of factors that led to the injury and emergency treatment of over 80 festival goers, with 20 hospitalised, and countless more attendees, friends and family at home traumatised.
To all music lovers, harness the lesson to be learned, and use this to make both future festivals and yourself better. If someone looks scared in the mosh, help them get out. If someone falls over, protect them until they can stand. Help others feel safe, and in turn, know you’re safe yourself.
Fortunately, the music is what we came for. It did not disappoint.
Spit Syndicate put on one of the best sets of the festival. The Sydney hip hop duo’s energy was as high as the ceiling of the tent they performed in, and they captivated the muggy and sluggish crowd. It’s just a shame they were on so early, as their excellence was received by a small crowd comparative to the rest of the festival. Client Liaison followed, their euphoric dance tracks drawing a much larger crowd, dressed in shimmering gold for the “All Gold Everything” theme.
The humidity hit fever-pitch on day two, but I almost forgot my sweltering when Gretta Ray’s gorgeous vocals drifted throughout the festival grounds. The 18-year-old triple j Unearthed High Winner was right at home amongst the more seasoned acts, and her set was only enhanced by the simplicity of her and her guitar.
AlunaGeorge's voice travelled all the way, up the hill, to the back of the crowd, strong and captivating. She no doubt won new fans as well as pleased the old, for the remainder of the festival, their merch was all over festival goers. On the other hand, Illy’s vocals let him down, with his beats carrying in the show. Unsurprisingly, Papercuts and Catch 22 went down well, before a bit of a time out and scatter
Far and away the highlight of the festival, Childish Gambino made his way on stage dripping with his breed of cool and sex that no one else came close to matching. Entering to Me and Your Mama, Gambino - AKA Donald Glover - danced across the stage, expertly combining his new funk sound with his traditional, heavy rap material.
A touch of comedy was the perfect way to start Day Three, with the cooling weather providing so much relief from the previous two days. Joel Creasy was the comedy highlight of the festival, playing to the crowd in style, including cut-off denim overalls.
The arts events onsite were their own world of wonder. The Village was fucking ace. The freak show-esque old world carnival provided constant entertainment from start to close. From the Moon and Sun tent providing comedy and karaoke (the hilarious Tom Walker proclaimed my boyfriend had ‘the angriest face” he’d ever seen), to the Marriage Machine (marry anyone, anything, any number of you), to a games booth, and a crowd of people who were at all times digging a hole, for no reason other than to dig a hole. Just around the corner, Rancho Relaxo provided the most chill and splendid entertainment one could ask for on a hot day, with gorgeous music, massage, and more.
Olympia combined solid riffs, and an excellent collaboration between the vocalists to produce a punchy and powerful performance. Alliteration aside, the dance-worthy electro pop was a welcome addition to the lineup.
The Jezabels were great. Growing from a ridiculously small crowd at the beginning to one reaching far up the sloping hill of the stage by the time they got to Pleasure Drive. Frontwoman Hayley Mary owns her awkward dancing, singlehandedly entertaining the masses and consequently making me feel less alone.
London Grammar was a tricky one. From our front and centre position, the reported magic of Hannah Reid’s vocals were lost and barely audible, and the crowd filled with those waiting for Violent Soho, spent more time making human pyramids and picking up, than appreciating the beautiful band before us. The band failed to captivate their front row, and despite my disappointment, I look forward to seeing the band again at one of their own gigs.
Hein Cooper marked a surprise favourite. With an earnest and gentle voice, he reminded me of a rugged, matured version of Justin Bieber. As a one-man-show performing without a band, the tracks lack depth and the sound as a whole suffered.
The thing about The Rubens, is that everyone likes them. They are so inoffensive that seemingly the entire festival came out to see them play their Hottest 100 topper Hoops. But inoffensive isn’t necessarily a good thing, and their time on stage was easily forgettable. Jamie T however, sure knows how to divide a crowd. With many truly uninterested in his indie rock hip hop concoction, he gave a shout out to the ‘haters’ before exploding with a set that made me smile and groove from start to finish, even including his own New Year's countdown at 7:40pm, ‘cause he could.
The Avalanches stepped up their game for the New Year set, wooing the crowd with their hits before a relaxed countdown to 2017. Tkay Maidza was a flawless follow on, her first hour of 2017 spent ensuring the dance floor didn’t lose traction.
Music festivals like Falls - seemingly taking place in a bubble of solitude - have inherent value to music lovers, musicians, and locals. We here in Victoria need to protect this precious gift we have in the form of the original Falls Festival. Be kind, be safe, don’t be a blockhead.
Highlight: CHILDISH GAMBINO.
Lowlight: People being crushed in a stampede probably has to be it, right? My other lowlight was that the coffee in the VIP tent was the worst I’ve ever had.
Crowd favourite: Working 18-hour shifts driving the shuttle bus to our campsite and back, David the Busdriver was the real MVP of the festival. Hailing from Adelaide, David was spending his holiday helping out his brother who is starting a locally sourced produce delivery service in Lorne, and needed some extra dollars. Excellent banter and A+ service. Hail to the bus driver man.
By Clare Varley
Image: Ian Laidlaw