This new years I was lucky enough to attend The Falls Festival. The festival is set on a property in the hills behind the picturesque tourist town of Lorne about 2 hours southwest of Melbourne (they also hold an event at Marion Bay in Tassie which I hear has a breathtaking backdrop). Upon arrival I was instantly in awe of the thousands of tents that made up the main camping area, luckily for us my friend Nick and I had VIP tickets and had a more secluded, far less 'hectic' area to set up for the next three days. After setting up our tent and sinking back a few Melbourne Bitter tinnies with our new friends in the tent next door we headed in to see our first act. The main area for the festival looks as though it was made specifically for music. A huge natural amphitheater looks down onto the main 'Valley Stage' making for an excellent view whether you're deep within the very energetic dancefloor/mosh or chilling out on a rug up on the hill.
I grabbed a beer and headed out to watch the my first act of the festival. Perth natives Tim & Jean have been on my radar for a while, after seeing great success in the blog world with their home demo 'Come Around' I hadn't heard to much else from them so I wasn't sure what to expect from a festival set. All I can say is that I was blown away, these two owned the stage. They delivered a set full of bass heavy synths, extremely catchy hooks and Passion Pit-esque vocals that had the crowd going wild. Their stage presence was huge, something I didn't expect from artists of such a young age and that have had such a short time in the spotlight. Highlights were definitely 'Veronica' and 'Come Around', in which the boys managed to get the whole crowd screaming 'hey, no, look what you've done now' (or at least that's what I was singing). A top Australian act whom I'm sure have a very bright future. Head on over to their Myspace for a listen to their tracks and if you want to 'Come Around' click here.
After a quick dash back to the campsite to change into jeans for the impending frigid night we arrived back just as The Cool Kids were starting. These guys had the crowd bouncing to their fresh brand of hip-hop the entire set. Their tracks are riddled with famous samples and at one point they were throwing down over Queen which was just fucking great. Definitely one of the more fun acts of the festival just a little bummed they didn't play Awesome.
The only other act I found worthy of seeing the first night, Ladyhawke played what people told me was the same set she's been doing for 2 years. However having never seen her live I thoroughly enjoyed her set full of typical Ladyhawke goodness. Back Of The Van, Paris Is Burning and My Delirium were all executed perfectly by the Lady and the band, I even found myself yelling along to My Delirium.
Following Ladyhawke was The Living End who I don't particularly like, however the masses seemed to lap up their classics like Second Solution and Prisoner Of Society. Peaches DJ show was plain awful, I mean she couldn't DJ which is the simplest performance there is. I didn't stay for Yacht Club although I heard they were fairly average.
After a quick trip to the beach for a wake up swim and some more tinnies we headed in for day 2 and just caught the end of Washingtons set but up next was another band I was eager to see live. Canadian outfit Hot Hot Heat brought some much needed energy with their afternoon set. Although I'm not to familiar with the bands newer stuff it was great to hear 'Talk To Me, Dance With Me' and 'Middle Of Nowhere'.
Angus & Julia Stone played next and probably drew the biggest crowd of the festival and with me not being a huge fan I went to check out the end of band Jamaica's set which had a rather small yet seemingly devoted crowd.
What can I say, this was just awesome. Chuck D was spitting his trademark rhymes perfectly and Flavor Flav was being straight Flav complete with crazy dancing, reality show references, a 'Yeah Boi' at the most appropriate of times and his signature clock necklace which when first produced made the crowd go insane. They performed their classic album 'Fear Of A Black Planet' to most probably the whitest audience the have and ever will play to. It truly was a spectacle, DJ Lord even did a nasty scratch routine with 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' which went off with a bang. A few parting words from Flav at the end of the set about togetherness were a fitting end to a great set. "There is only one race and that race is The Human Race".
The next act on my calendar were New York band Interpol. A classic set with a mix of old and new that was delivered in a way only Interpol can. Frontman Paul Bank's baritone voice was a perfect compliment to the bands top notch execution and musical prowess.
Probably my favourite act of the evening. These UK lads had the crowds going nuts, probably the most fist pumping of the festival. I was a huge fan of their first record 'Myths Of The Near Future' and it's quirky hits. 'Surfing The Void' I really didn't give much time however after their electric live show I think I may have to. The band left the stage at one point which I thought was the end, I was extremely disappointed because they hadn't played 'It's Not Over Yet' (my favourite Klaxons tune) however they charged back onto the stage and ended with it and 'Atlantis To The Interzone'
After their set we grabbed a beer and headed down to 'The Village'. I'm not really sure what to say about that place other than if you ever go to Falls Festival you must, MUST go there.
The last day was an absolute scorcher and we spent most of the day under the shade of a huge tree in our campsite. To make things worse we experienced gail force winds and many, many tents were uprooted and sent flying which was hilarious for us, not so hilarious for those who owned them.
After missing out on Cold War Kids and Beardyman due to my unwillingness to leave the blissful shade of our tree I finally headed into the festival to see one of the most talked about bands of 2010. These guys have been huge in the blogosphere and their debut album 'Innerspeaker' has had many bloggers touting it as album of the year. I feel their sound is somewhat of a post-Beatles meets acid, in a good and very original way. A top set with some really cool periods of extended Hendrix-esque feedback that set a really cool vibe for the evening.
Another it band of 2010 following their successful album 'High Violet' these Brooklyn natives smashed out a fantastic hour of music. In September they played infront of 25 000 people at a rally for Barack Obama right before his speech, so if Obama like these guys you know they're good, right? I'm not sure if it was the energetic baritone vocals, the subtle yet powerful horns section or perhaps just the feel good vibe of their songs in any case I think the song below personifies the festival for me.
These guys became synonymous with a guy name Ben and his inability to get laid. I first heard of these guys when the title track from their first album 'Echoes' was featured on a ski movie and ever since I've been hooked. They ended with 'No Sex For Ben' which got the crowd into a serious frenzy. I personally liked 'Echoes' the best, however their whole set was electric and a great way to warm up for NYE.
So Joan Jett ushered in the new year. She was awful, I even heard people in the crowd shouting 'NO MORE' she even botched the countdown, not cool.
The perfect answer to Joan Jett and her crap-ness? Sleigh Bells! Former Poison The Well guitarist Derek Miller met singer Alexis Kraus whilst working at a restaurant where she was dining with her mum. The duo now make a super distortion and bass heavy form of noise-pop that is flippin' awesome. At one point I thought the bass bins were going to explode during their short but definitely sweet set. I can't wait to for new material in the coming year from this fantastic duo.
I was looking forward to seeing A-Trak having always seemed to miss out whilst everyone I know has seen him several times. I was hoping for more of a mixed set due to it not being an electronic only festival. Regardless his set was down right fun and he even threw in his 'Robot Rock' routine which was cool to see. Unfortunately due to what I assume was a noise restriction they cut his bass out near the end of his set and everyone seemed to leave.
It seems that we are in an age where your average Australian festival is overrun with roid jockeys who don't seem to own shirts, 14 year old OD-ing girls and countless people who don't watch a single act and attend purely to get 'fucked up'. It seem that Falls has escaped this for the most part. The general vibe was fantastic with throngs of music lovers intent on getting the best experience out of their three days. I for one think that Falls could quite possibly be the Australian festivals scene's saving grace.