I WAS THERE | FALLS MUSIC AND ARTS FESTIVAL 2015/16 @ MT DUNEED ESTATE
After a whirlwind 30 hours in the lead up to gates opening, and despite the sea of doubts from fans and the community, The Falls Music and Arts Festival managed to take place over the new years of 2015/16 thanks to an impressive transition to the nearby Mount Duneed winery.
Boogie nights set off to a scattered start, the Falls team had done an amazing job having the venue more or less ready before the first act was scheduled to play, but the delayed gate times left only little time for people to prepare for the first acts. So whilst Mighty Dukes and the Lords and Sex on Toast let loose a set of entertaining sets, it wasn’t until the tail end of El Vez that a crowd really started to gather.
It was the quirky hero of many, Weird Al’ Yankovic who pulled the audience out of the campsites for what was the start to party that is hard to regret. His set started off with a bang, with a live stream of him performing through the artist’s areas as he moved on stage being broadcasted to the crowd. As the set continued however, any showmanship got lessened by the constant costume changes between songs, creating a clunky run to the set. These breaks did provide the perfect opportunity to observe the audiences costumes for the night, the best of which was almost certainly a flawlessly composed as Cher from Clueless who could be seen cutting shapes throughout the tinsel and bodies of the crowd.
Fleetmac Wood’s set seemed target to a specific audience, who apparently weren’t present as the bulk of the audience failed to engage, grooving aimlessly throughout the grounds while waiting for Art vs Science to hit the stage. Art vs Science may have a long term reputation for being the biggest party starters regularly on Australian stages, but they showed off a new found level of maturity in their new live performance, however that isn’t to say that they didn’t have the audience lapping up all their biggest hits. An obvious leaning towards older material was present, but highly appreciated by many.
As half the crowd nursed hangovers and sore feet from the night before, and the full body of the camping attendees started to trickle into from the campsites, Ainslie Wills graced the main stage with a level of energy that was the perfect way to open a day. Her soulful lyrics washed over the scattering crowd with ease, and it was impossible to miss the grin on her face, or any of the audience present. The Babe Rainbow bought the coast to the stage with their breezy surfer rock style, but it was The Bennies that had the crowd churning next. Dressed in the most eccentric outfits of the day, their distinctive party rock nature had the hearts of everyone present, setting the atmosphere for the festival to come.
Hiatus Kaiyote had the hill the fullest it had been all day, their soulful style being perfectly suited to their afternoon slot, with frontwoman, Nai Palm, wearing the most impressive headpiece (golden cat ears are something that really do need to come back into fashion), whilst performing in a uniquely static yet captivating manner. Their performance lingered on the audiences mind long after the band walked off stage. Halsey won the attention of everyone present during her set, her somewhat lacklustre album was turned into an absolute beast of a live performance, and it was impossible to walk a hundred meters post set without hearing someone professing their love for her afterwards.
Wavves played out their punk rock material with an ease that was in a way a little disappointing to witness, however the energy behind each track was truly captivating. The crowd was out in full force this point, and embraced every moment, leaving the set as the perfect lead into the major acts of the night. Hilltop Hoods followed up, backed by a small brass section and live drummer had an energy that was almost impossible to match. With Suffa and MC Pressure parading across the stage, you never did quite know where was best to look, but in the end it was their build up to fan favourites, mainly ‘The Nosebleed Section’ that really became the key part of their show. The Wombats were the last live set of the night, and performed a predictable, yet brilliantly co-ordinated set. They played with an effortlessness that felt a bit dialed in at times, but at the times where they fully committed they were simply stunning to watch.
Day three kicked off with a stellar set by Banoffee, drawing an impressive crowd and backed by two captivating dancers throughout the set. The Valley stage filled early on in the day as Alpine whipped through their two albums in their usual energetic fashion, with a nice touch of eye catching tassels and dance moves. Off the back of an astounding year of touring, Seth Sentry pulled off yet another stellar show, pumping out his trademark wit between all the hits of his catalogue.
A respectable sized crowd showed up for what was a disappointing set from Jarryd James in the Grand Theatre, but unsurprisingly it was the back to back set by fan favourites Mac DeMarco and Courtney Barnett that had the hill jam packed with bodies despite the rising temperatures.
Whilst the stage was overflowing with members of the Melbourne Ska Orchestra, City Calm Down threw out what was one of the gloomiest sets of the festival, but was undeniably brilliant once you embraced the slightly darker tones. Rufus took control of the night with their set, pulling the attention of nearly all present, lighting up the entire crowd with their impressive new lightshow. It was Bloc Party who took act of the night though. With a fresh live line-up, they burnt through a setlist that was impossible to complain about, working with ease through their biggest tracks from the last ten years, to some of their more low key ones. Disclosure’s live set up may be flashier than ever before, but is still lacking any real depth, but their easy to dance to material had the crowd bustling away with ease while Tuka strutted away with a commanding comfort in the Grand Theatre.
By the time Little May walked onstage early on the last day, the site was anything but cool. Even under the shade people were melting, but their perfect harmonies and cool fashion had the audience melting into the music. Down in the blistering sun of the mainstage, Gang of Youths had the crowd up in arms and full of energy to match what was on stage, but it was Meg Mac who followed who had the audience captivated. As you looked up the hill it was hard to spot a break in the crowd as Mac spun through a collection of new and loved material.
Elliphant, on her second trip to Australia for the year proved why she is a fan favourite with a dominating evening set. Walking out on stage in a staff uniform to belt out her attitude filled pop style, stopping only to leap off stage to hug a member of the audience before returning to the stage. To the audience’s surprise, Børns took to the stage again instead of The Avener, but the audience responded with joy, casually grooving away before grabbing the last round of drinks before the highlight of the night, Foals. To put it simply, Foals took the cake for best act out there. Bursting with energy, it was impossible not to be dragged into the show, as every track was performed with utter perfection; the crowd was spilling over each other to get closer to the band. A brief respite came in the form of the countdown, before Foals whipped back into their set. The stage closed on an impressive set by Django Django, but by this point the crowds had moved towards seeing the novelty-esque sounds of Opiuo, before I Oh You DJs closed the formal performance with a classics filled set.
By Ayden Measham-Pywell
Photos by Michael Prebeg