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Falls Festival 2014 In Review

Ahh, Falls Festival. The annual pilgrimage to the grooviest coastal towns in the land where everyone who’s anyone parties away their New Years Eve. This year I made the journey to Byron Bay to fully immerse myself in the festy scene and here’s my little recap on the whole experience. There’s only (approx.) 334 days until Falls Fest 2015, so use this as a guide if you think you know what to expect.


Day One 

We were already struggling, but only a little pain can bring so much gain. The constant Byron heat was hard to get used to, and made us half wish we were at wintery Splendour in the Grass. We sunscreened up, had our water bottles at the ready and hats on, because the party had only just begun.


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The action kicked off at midday with scheduled entertainment on the two main stages (the larger Valley stage and the smaller, undercover Forest stage) and on the two smaller stages introduced this year – the Troubadour and the Lo-Fi Stages, where local and smaller acts were showcased).  The first of the big names began today, with Thelma Plum, Megan Washington, DZ Deathrays and Northeast Party House on at the Forest Stage. 

The highlight of my day was discovering a five-piece Byron based electronic act called Tora. Their sound is similar to James Blake’s irresistible, groovy soundscapes, but with live instruments and cool guest vocalists, like Merryn Jeann and rapper Meals. Check out ‘Never with Me’ and ‘Sugar Snap’ on their soundcloud – really cool stuff. 


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The big surprise to me was Melbourne indie-rock outfit Kingswood. They had a great set, full of big energy and a really willing crowd. Their big hits ‘Ohio’ and ‘Yeah Go Die’, accompanied by a little bit of crowd surfing, left everyone jazzed. One thing I did learn from that night is to go to acts you aren’t that into, especially if it’s that or zipping yourself away into a tent.



Day Two – NYE

Getting used to the early starts, waking up sweating and lack of sleep is tricky, but Merryn Jeann’s singing was a balm to anyone’s wounds. I really do love the exposure of unknown and small acts, on stages where large acts like Glass Animals, Todd Terge and Jamie xx would be performing later in the festival.


Image: Falls Festival


New Year’s Eve at Falls means Boogie Nights – This year’s theme was ‘Under the Sea’, so with our very, very DIY shark fins on, we grooved to Client Liaison. If you’ve ever seen them live you’d know about lead singer Monte Morgan’s funky dance moves and like me, are in love with everything 90’s synth-pop thanks to their super danceable tracks.


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Hip-Hop legends and ‘The Queens from Queens’ Salt’N’Pepa bought a whole heap of nostalgia and some of their crazy popular tracks like Push It and Whatta Man. It was a really cool moment and these ladies know how to work a crowd.


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Rising DJ Alison Wonderland was the final act and really worked to keep the crowed amped for the nye countdown. At the turn of the year, the final tracks wound down and ~good vibez~ were all around. It was a pretty cool way to set up 2015. 


Day Three – New Year’s Day

Surprising amounts of people were up and about considering some very big nights the night before. All stalls and food vendors were open early, so there's plenty to do before the entertainment starts. Trying not to blow our food money with the ridiculously good amount on offer is the hardest part of the festival (that, and the infinite sadness in a timetable clash). Don’t go crazy with that cash, kids…I digress.


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The big name acts started with The Temper Trap. Dougie’s voice is amazing and the crowd sung along to every single song. An extra little treat for punters  were a preview of a few new tracks from an upcoming album.


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The Presets are electro veterans but never falter in their live show; they really brought the party vibe with all their hits. UK act La Roux were exciting because they haven't been in Australia for a while, and used the opportunity to showcase their new album, with a few classics thrown in.


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The real gems in the crown were the literal crowns on stage when Empire of the Sun performed. The amount of performance and theatre that goes into their performances is incredible - they had dancers, costume changes and props. Big theatre fits a big sound. 


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Walking back to the campsite that night was hectic, the mood was high, everyone was going hard and a good old fashioned streaker let us tick off the ‘crazy festival antics’ box when talking about Falls. Gotta love unlimited alcohol. 


Day Four

Louie and Patrick are a local up and coming acoustic duo and they have the most beautiful relaxing music, the perfect slow wake up to the last day of the festival. The atmosphere in the Lo Fi tent was beautiful, with people sleeping and lounging, eating breakfast and generally just taking it easy.



Glass Animals in the forest stage has to be one of the big highlights of the whole festival for me. Getting a spot in the front row was a very important decision as frontman Dave Bayley likes a bit of crowd interaction, meaning he jumped on the barrier at the front and walked it while singing the band’s cover of Kanye West’s ‘Love Lockdown’. Good times. 

Cloud Control benefitted from Julian Casablancas’ late cancellation when they went from being on the bill on day 1 to playing a prime time slot on the last day, and they filled the void with ease. After 10 years they are old hands at this and just had fun with the eager crowd, and it was bittersweet as it was one of bassist Jeremy Kelshaw’s final shows with the band. 

After SBTRKT and before alt-J, John Butler Trio might seem an odd middleman between two dance/alternative acts but he was a real crowd favourite. Everyone in sight was dancing and singing along to ‘Zebra’, and he also treated us with an acoustic track that showcased the raw power of just him alone with his guitar.


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The most powerful headliner was left until last and any alt-J fans in the crowd could have told you they were not disappointed. The band played their set with adoration from the audience and it was a great send-off to our home of the last four days. The level of production in their performance was outstanding, and it left everyone in the 17 thousand-strong crowd their own memory of experiencing a festival unlike any in Australia.



I have a couple of festival tips: 

  • Plan when to shower - you're always going to be sharing with a large group of people so either shower at odd times or skip it. Also, always chose an act over a shower. Obviously.  
  • Know the shuttle bus timetables - even though there's heaps of things to do, of you're keen to head off site it's a bit of a trek to the shuttle bus and if you haven't timed it right, you’ve wasted time and sweat out two bottles of water for nothing. 

So Falls in Byron 2014/15 was a lot of music, a lot of sweating and a lot of people. I’m stealing a line from Client Liaison here, but “Think Nothing. Feel Everything” is pretty much all you need to do to have a rad time. And yeah, it was pretty rad.


Image: Instagram

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