Falls brings us into the new year in style


There’s really nothing quite like a good road trip. Whether it is for the escapism, to visit nanna’s homestead, or maybe just for the sake of crafting the perfect highway mix tape. For whatever reason, we Australians don’t seem to flinch at the idea of clocking over 1000 “kay ems” along our far reaching highways.

It’s likely though, that most people found crawling the Hume or Princess in the last days of 2012, with their heads flailing out the car window wailing “Do you realise?…That you have… the most… beauuutiful face” were NOT visiting nanna, but rather making the annual pilgrimage to Falls Music and Arts Festival. One of the most highly acclaimed music fiestas this country has to offer. Holidaymakers flocked to the small ocean roadside destination of Lorne Victoria in search of sun, music and the guarantee of a new year’s party that WASN’T going to suck eggs.

Just a few minutes’ drive from Lorne’s coastal hub and you are instantly transported into the sherbet smelling Otway rainforest – and also – the festival site. Falls prides itself on sustainability so in the name of keeping the trees happy; the entire festival relies on drop toilets and cold showers. But if you don’t mind getting rough and rusty for a few days then you are guaranteed a soul quenching good time. Just to enhance the Bear-Grills-Experience, there was also no phone reception. It’s always liberating to rid yourself of the mobular for a few days. Albeit I’m sure there were a few souls completely lost without the ability to Instagram themselves in an animal suit. Nor could they check-in to tell the social network “Err mahh gurrrd, look where I am, are you sewwwwwwww jealous?”, and better for it. Because, well, you would have been…

The Hives_7Celebrating its 20th birthday, Falls delivered over the new year weekend an eclectic line-up of fresh new acts but also old gems. The first full day saw some stand-outs from 2012 such as the ever-enchanting Husky. Not only performing songs from their album Forever So, they threw in classical piano solos and a heart-warming cover of Leonard Cohen’s Lover Lover Lover. Indie-Pop favourites San Cisco filled the arena with their hit Awkward (which earned the young four-piece 3 million hits on youtube this year) and ensured the crowd was well geared up for the festivities ahead. We welcomed back well-loved Mexican duo Rodrigo Y Gabriella to bring us into the night. But who better than to help close the first big day than Sweden’s Suited Mischief Makers, The Hives, gracing the Falls stage for the third time? Front man Pelle (pictured, right) preached to the masses with egotistical flair uniting “Lorne, Australia, Sweden under one nationality HIVES” and once again showed to us why they are still on top.

The next day was a menagerie of big names, big sounds and big big balloons filled with confetti. Festival goers paraded around with painted smiles, in homemade get ups bearing pool toys and party hats. As the rain clouds cleared, the Valley stage was in 5th gear with stand-out local bands Jinja Safari and Boy and Bear. In terms of international acts I have to tip my hat to UK’s SBTRKT. A sneaky remix of Wild Fire caught the crowd unawares and they up-roared as the base line came swimming through halfway.

Unlike many other large scale festivals, you’re not required to sprint between numerous far reaching stages. Rather than squabbling with your mates over where you’ll go and who you’ll see and “meet me to the left of the third toilet under the drawing of a penis after 10 minutes of… blah blah blah”, everything is situated in the one arena, with the Grand theatre sitting at the top of the hill, and the Valley Theatre down below.

Heading into the Saturday night and into the Grand Theatre for Flume, it was like nothing I’ve seen before. Having a gig overlapping with the legendary Flaming Lips, it would seem 20 year old Harley Streten had not expected such a reception. Awe-struck, he stepped on stage to a packed The Flaming Lips_6out big top bursting at the seams with ear piercing, lung smothering devotion. I think, after that display, 2013 is going to be a prosperous year for the young DJ.

On the other side of the field were some familiar faces. Anyone who has seen The Flaming Lips (pictured, left) before might tell you that it’s the closest they’ve been to an ACTUAL apocalypse. For years they have been delighting audiences with dramatic entrances – orb ball crowd surfing, confetti, dancing girls and smoke machines. As always they opened with a bang, I did feel that the body of their set felt a little tired. But despite this, they are undeniably always a delight and had our hearts by the closing track Do You Realize??. Hot Chip brought us into the dark of the night with hit after hit such as Boy from School, Over and Over and One Life Stand.

As for New Year’s Eve, the day was devoted to smoother sounds. The likes of Angus Stone and Best Coast played quite early and dragged the masses from their hazy picnic campsites, filtering into the arena. Interest gathered slowly as Best Coast began with simple lyrics and slow melodies, needless to say finishing with their hit Boyfriend had punters jumping out of their seats. Sunscreen smells and Extra Dry lips – we were blessed with immaculate weather. The day was ramping up you could tell, it was good that we had the infectious Bertie Blackman on our First Aid Kitside though. After killing a winning set and reminding us of her incredible set of pipes, she signed off with an ever so endearing “Don’t get too stoned, mother-fuckers!”

We had to raise our well-priced Ale’s to Sweden a second time as they delivered us the delightful First Aid Kit. Covering ABBA’s Chiquitita, their cascading hair and matching dimpled harmonies no doubt stole a number of new hearts. It was the girl’s time to swoon though when Matt Corby came on stage. Into the silent anticipation he hums the first few notes of Brother. With legs upon shoulders upon shoulders, the scream of the packed-out arena reached decibels that probably could have been heard by our homies in Marion Bay.

The evening was looming and as the sun was setting the 20-year anniversary art fiesta paraded around the arena, marking the last few hours of 2012 with space suits, giant alien like puppets and sculptures. I can be an indie-pop sceptic at times, so when I saw that Two Door Cinema Club were on the bill to bring us into the new year, my reception was not short of a grumpy old man complaining about the state of his petunias. I am happy to say now, however, with my hand on my heart that the boys have god damn style. Bringing us into the New Year they played a set that could only be described as “Tight as a Tiger”, with strength and excitement. I’m sorry Coolio, that you had to follow that. To be honest, the guy seemed a little lost, I’m sure indie-pop confuses him some. Needless to say the crowd devoured the highly anticipated Gangsta’s Paradise, which dotted the I’s and crossing the T’s of Falls Festival.

It was the first of the first twenty oh one three, and as we swam in the turquoise sea waiting for the traffic to clear, we say a good-bye and curtsey the Falls Festival for bringing us into the new year in style.

Words and pictures by Sophie Metcalfe. Check out some photos below (click a thumbnail to launch the gallery) and then see heaps more of Sophie’s pics from Falls over at Facebook.

See LOADS more photos at Facebook.