A drive down The Great Ocean Road is usually enough to suffice for a pretty good getaway, but to drive along that coastline knowing that you are about to watch one of the greatest festival line-ups ever gets you pretty psyched before you even enter The Falls Festival. Once the mandatory traffic jam on the way in, and race for the most camping space was over, everything was set to go for day 1.
The first set we caught was The Smith St Band headed by the energetic Will Wagner. Playing a host of pacey indie punk tunes, these guys were one great way to pop my Falls Festival cherry for 2014. After a solid set from rising Brit star, Tom Odell, Owl Eyes took the stage to perform one of the best sets of the day. Whipping through a host of classics like ‘Raiders’, ‘Crystallized’, and ‘Closure’, Owl Eyes just captivated the crowd with her take on indie electro. Bombino were definately one of the cooler acts of the festival. Dressed more like characters out of Ali Baba than rock stars, these guys just ripped through an absolutely pulsing set. Although largely instrumental, even the songs sung in anohter language were enjoyable, and it was just so cool to see something so different to the norm rocking out on the main stage.
As good as the others were, London Grammar stole the show on Day 1. One of the breakthrough artists for 2013, it was easy to see why with the vocal prowess of lead singer Hannah Reid just blowing the crowd away. It was great to hear singles such as ‘WastingMy Young Years’, ‘Strong’, and ‘Hey Now’ live for the first time, and despite some computer trouble, left the crowd very very happy.
Come the evening, Flight Facilities reunited with Owl Eyes once more to give off the first real party vibes of the festival. In a great set combining their DJ mixing abilities coalesced with their singles, aptly sung by Owl Eyes, with ‘Claire de Lune’ being a particular highlight. MGMT were the only slightly disappointing act for the night. Whilst it was great to hear their music, it was a fairly self-indulgent set, where the guys didn’t really put as much of a show as they probably could have. They also destroyed ‘Kids’, making into a weird 10 minute mash-up of sound as opposed to letting the crowd enjoy the track in its original glory. It was just one of those disappointing sets that showed MGMT hate the music that made them famous. Nonetheless despite the MGMT dampener it was solid day 1 as we rugged up and returned to the tents, eager for Wombats tomorrow night.
Day two saw an early rise to catch the one man talent known as Oliver Tank. His calm melodica was a great way to kick off the morning as he played a mellow set including my personal favourite ‘Last Night I Heard Everything in Slow Motion’, and new single featuring Taku. Asta followed on in an energetic and colourful set that was so solid, you could be forgiven for forgetting that the 19 year old was only unearthed last year.
Sliding into the Grand Theatre to catch the comedians Amos Gill and Ronnie Cheing was perhaps the best ad hoc decision of the day. Amos Gill showed why he was one of the best rising comedians around, with a phenomenal cyclical routine comprising a host of eloquently (yes, eloquently) executed poo jokes and introduction of catchy terms such as ‘glutards’ in reference to gluten intolerant individuals. It was a great way to break up a day, and get plenty of laughs out.
The John Steel Singers, Vydamo, Chet Faker, and Grizzly Bear made up the rest of the afternoon, each producing a set that melted the ears and left you very happy with the decision to go to Falls. The John Steel Singers gave us a good taste of their new album, along with their older favourites including ‘Overpass’ and ‘Strawberry Wine’. Chet Faker signaled his love for the Festival and played on our excitement announcing that his new album was dropping early next year. Words cannot describe Grizzly Bear, they made me weak at the knees like nothing else.
Neil Finn, Crystal Fighters and The Wombats all made for one hell of an evening. Never before have I been so happy to be packed into a mosh for four hours, but these three acts were incredible. Neil Finn played a ‘greatest of’ set featuring all his classics from Split Enz, Crowded House and solo career, getting the whole crowd going in the process. Time hasn’t wearied him as a performer either, the stage is clearly HIS stage, and hits such as ‘Weather With You’, ‘I Got You’, and ‘Don’t Dream Its Over’ are simply timeless.
Crystal Fighters took to the stage in a fit of eclecticism, with veils, topless guitarists, and so much sparkling colour. Having been a huge fan of there music on the iPod, I can vouch that it is so much better live, as these guys lose no quality of their sound, and buff it up with boundless energy and entertainment. MGMT should definitely talk to Crystal Fighters about putting on a show, as they gave the crowd more than I think anyone was ever expecting.
The Wombats were one of the acts I was keenest for at the Festival, and having already seen their mesmerizing live show before, was glad to see they hadn’t lost a smidgen of their entertainment value. In a set that had the entire hill at Lorne bouncing around to tracks such as ’1996′, ‘Techno Fan’, and the older hits such as ‘Kill The Director’, the Wombats couldn’t put a step wrong. Debuting their latest single for the first time live, ‘Your Body is A Weapon’ was received really well, whilst closing their set out with ‘Lets Dance to Joy Division’, was just the cherry on top of an incredible set and phenomenal day of music.
Day 3 opened up with one of my favourite bands of 2013, The Preatures. Showing why both their EPs have been so well received, these guys pumped through a pulsing set of rock n’ roll, with the anthem of last year ‘This Is How I Feel’ getting everyone running down to dance in the mosh. Dustin Tebbut was next up and a complete change of scene as the rising folk star plucked his way through a delightfully soulful set, where break through single ‘The Breach’ was a particular highlight.
Big Scary put in one of the most solid sets of the festival. Their debut album ‘Not Art’ was one of our picks for 2013, for its perfect embrace of moody, atmospheric indie pop, and seeing them live only confirmed this. They were so much louder, more raucous and intense live than I ever imagined, and the on stage interactions added such personality to their music that you could not have got just from the record. It was a set that just re-inspired my obsession with Big Scary.
The Paper Kites continued the Grand Theatre’s run of more mellow artists on Day 3 as they picked their way through their array of soft calming indie folk tunes. As always ‘Bloom’ and ‘St Clarity’ were well received, with the highlight being Sam instructing those you cannot whistle not t0, “Because you will ruin it”. Ah the Brutal honesty.
One of the more upsetting acts of the day was Dappled Cities, not because of their music, but because of their lack of crowd. I am a huge Dappled Cities fan and their set was competitive with the best at the festival, but the whole time you couldn’t help but feel sorry for the guys, I guess there set just wasn’t on at the right time.
The Cat Empire put on a very loud, very fun, brass filled set that managed to get the whole crowd on side. They just had that energy and buzz that made their music enjoyable, despite most people not knowing anything other than ‘Sly’ and ‘Hello’. Needless to say, the crowd was well and truly warmed up for their next act.
Vampire Weekend were a great way to bring in the New Year, with their three albums worth of calypso indie pop fully out on display. They played a fun solid set, albeit it slightly light on crowd interaction. A flare shooting onto stage didn’t even enhance that interaction too much as they played A-punk post midnight barely fazed, despite destroying a host of their equipment. With my festival fatigue well and truly set it, we retired to the tents to enjoy the very loud Hermitude from the camp site.
Needless to say cannot wait for next year!