Falls Festival Lorne: the highs, the lows and a few of the things in between

Falls Festival Lorne: the highs, the lows and a few of the things in between

Falls was great.

But you knew that already, didn’t you?

You couldn’t possibly have escaped the Instagram stories, Snapchats, the posts, reposts, and the ‘throwback’ posts that are already coming through—honey, it was only three weeks ago, come on—and that’s just from Lorne.

Now that all the residual glitter has washed off and the mourning period for all my lost possessions has passed, I’ve had some time to ponder, and to grasp at some semblance of objectivity.

I’ll start with the music because, despite all the selfies and self-promotional uploads, that’s what we were all there for, wasn’t it?

This is in no way chronological, because it does all tend to melt into one big bouncing ball of sounds and sights and hazy memories at the end of the four days, so here goes.

I thought Ocean Alley were brilliant; they were my dark horse, my surprise packet.

Their presence on stage, coupled with their ability to turn mellow studio tracks into ground-thumping anthems, instantly established them as both a crowd favourite and a sure-fire festival mainstay for years to come.

Confidence Man were the first act I watched for the entire festival; I’ve been sceptical about their quirky, yuppy-esque brand of music for quite some time, but I have to say, they bloody well rocked it.

Daryl Braithwaite played ‘The Horses’ for 10 full minutes – that’s all I’ll say about that apart from the fact that, wow, the man still has some pipes on him.

The Jungle Giants could easily have rung in the New Year; their Thursday night set in the Grand Theatre was off-the-charts good.

Countless hits from their 2017 third album ‘Quiet Ferocity’ echoed through festival-goers’ campsites long into the night as punters lamented the Giants’ first-night slot, all the while wondering if they’d see anything better all weekend.

Foster The People and The Kooks both looked extremely well-drilled – this wasn’t their first rodeo, obviously.

To a certain extent, they did what they needed to do and got out of there, but what more could one ask?

They engaged the crowd, they performed flawlessly, and they left people wanting more; that’s three big ticks for live music in my book.

Glass Animals performed amazingly, as well as Methyl Ethel and the ever-cool Winston Surfshirt, but I did think Flume and Peking Duk lacked slightly.

Flume basically just played his songs – no singers, no instruments, just a little electric drum he’d occasionally smack with something resembling gusto.

Peking Duk spent the first half of their set playing dubstep, before bringing out singers and the all-important bass guitar for that infectious ‘Fake Magic’ riff; it was a slow burn but it definitely got better as the set went on.

Angus & Julia Stone, Julia Jacklin and Stella Donnelly were fantastic.

Their afternoon/evening slots were absolutely perfect; special mention goes to Stella for getting up on the Valley Stage on her own and singing her heart out, telling lovely little anecdotes and just genuinely captivating the small-ish crowd.

Run The Jewels should not have been slotted in for the countdown, not only because it wasn’t the right audience, but because Vince Staples came on afterwards and blew them away – their roles should certainly have been reversed.

Bad Dreems put on a true display of rock ‘n’ roll and did our fair state mighty proud, garnering a substantial crowd to open their Falls account in style.

Now, you may have noticed a total lack of Liam Gallagher-related tittle tattle thus far, and for good reason.

If I wanted to go and see a fairly blasé performance but with all-round better music, I’d go and see the DMAs, and I’m also pretty sure that you don’t come out for an encore if nobody is shouting for one.

I have left a few artists out of this, purely due to the fact that—take note, LG—nobody wants to know what I think about everything, but the music certainly lived up to and in some cases surpassed expectations.

Still, though, the best thing about these wonderfully organised festivals remains: camping.

Access to the VIP campsite was all well and good—it probably would have been a little nicer—but nothing beats the experience you have camping in rapidly deteriorating makeshift favela with your mates.

There is something so chaotically beautiful about the sea of tents and cars and gazebos and George Costanza flags and pool toys and fairy lights, in the middle of a goddamn forest.

99 percent of the people in these enchantingly grubby temporary communes are there for nothing more than a great experience; it truly is like nothing else.

Despite our spines being permanently askew from sleeping on a 45-degree incline, and the occasional torrential downpour, we’d wake up every morning gleeful, ears still ringing, greeted by the colourful canvas city under the protective eyes of the forest beyond.

I went to Falls two years ago—the one that was moved to Mount Duneed due to bushfires—and I thought that was well organised.

My one complaint is this: if you’re going to forbid BYO alcohol, at least have drinks prices somewhere closer to $5 a pop rather than $10-12.

I understand the whole ‘no glass’ rule, but surely there is a way around licensing that allows punters to bring a slab of beer or two.

Anyone who complains about the organic toilets, however, needs a serious slap; if you’re going to be precious about where you drop the kids, here’s a hint: don’t come to a camping festival, stay at home on your gold-encrusted loo and listen to music on the iPhone X+ that mummy and daddy paid for.

It’s great to see the organisers and staff getting behind the environment and trying to keep the place beautiful.

There will always be litter, unfortunately, but the work that goes into containing the mess and disposing of waste thoughtfully should never be taken for granted; the bleary-eyed clean-up on the final morning is also one of the most melancholy bonding experiences as you make the most of your last few minutes spent in this wondrous place with your neighbours and friends, new and old.

I haven’t covered it all here; in fact, I’ve barely scratched the surface.

These festivals are a punter’s playground and an artist’s dream; they’re a testament to the longevity and sustainability of live music, as well as, for the most part, the love that young people have for themselves, each other and, of course, the arts.

Long live Falls Festival, and long live live music.


Photography by Anthony Smith, provided by Tristan Larkin (Secret Service PR)

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