Mud, mud, mud! If nothing else, Falls Festival 2016/17 was great opportunity to model the Tasmanian uniform of Blundstone boots, boardshorts and a Kathmandu puffer jacket, and join in the annual passage of people to Marion Bay.
Despite the late withdrawal of both MØ and Grouplove, the line-up for this year’s event was impressive, and apart from a couple of sessions relaxing and rehydrating around various camp sites, the rest was spent revelling in the festivities.
December 30 saw an impressive selection of artists. Over the last 14 years, Falls has developed a reputation for providing for all musical tastes, and Falls 2016/17 did not disappoint. A mid-afternoon set from 2015 Triple J Hottest 100 champions, The Rubens, interjected with a storm or two, was the perfect introduction to festivities.
Golden Features were a late call up to the line-up, and were booked for the more intimate Field Stage. However, they proved to be a real festival highlight and provided plenty of opportunity for a dance in the mud. There was also plenty of good people-watching opportunities, with a few lads, who had clearly spent the last 12 months in the gym, demonstrating their ability to out-meathead each other.
Booka Shade was a surprise package, the one that you manage to uncover at every Falls Festival. Not being overly familiar with their sound, I didn’t really know what to expect. However, they delivered a superb set, accompanied by an impressive light show, and quickly had the crowd wrapped around their little finger.
2016 saw the release of The Avalanches follow-up album, Wildflower – an album that has taken more than a decade to curate. The group has been on a significant live show hiatus, but returned to play a handful of shows in 2016 to coincide with the release of their second album. Marion Bay was fortunate enough to be graced with their presence. The Avalanches played for just over an hour, with their new music interwoven with plenty of early millennium nostalgia, proving to the masses that they still have what it takes.
As the sun rose on the 31st, it wasn’t long until I started cooking like a rotisserie chicken in my tent. I decided that the only way to refresh myself for Day 2 was to grab a well-earned coffee and trek down to the gorgeous beach for a quick dip.
Feeling invigorated, it was great to jump back in for plenty of good tunes on New Year’s Eve.
Brisbane five-piece, Ball Park Music delivered their signature blend of pop, rock and indie, with the revellers that witnessed their performance having no doubt why they are regulars on the Australian festival scene. The opening harmonies of She Only Loves Me When I’m There had Marion Bay seduced instantly.
AlunaGeorge played an absolute banger of a party set, just as the sun was setting on 2016. Having previously teamed up with artists like DJ Snake and Zhu, these guys have a dance music resume that would be the envy of many. Attracting Flies was definitely a favourite amongst the crowd. If you get the chance to see AlunaGeorge perform, I would highly recommend it.
Next up, DMA’s took to the Field Stage. Their infectious Britpop-inspired sound made them a band that I’d put on my “must see” list early on. True to form, these boys did not disappoint. Slow, heart-breaking anthems, such as Delete and Step Up The Morphine, magically contrasting with up-beat tunes, like Lay Down demonstrating the impressive diversity in DMA’s musical ability.
Over the years, Falls Festival have brought some sensational acts to Tasmania. London Grammar last played Marion Bay in 2014. That year, they played a fantastic late afternoon set, providing for the perfect opportunity to relax, basking in the sunshine on the hill, armed with a cold cider. This year, London Grammar returned. While their performance had improved on that of two years ago, the scheduling by festival organisers was way off the mark. The UK trio were booked for the penultimate performance before midnight, and their slow, dulcet tones dampened any pre-New Year party vibes.
If people were feeling a little sluggish after London Grammar, then Violent Soho certainly woke them from their slumber. This Brisbane band has exploded in recent years, finding fame and popularity not only in Australia, but in the US and Europe. Violent Soho managed to tease out all of those campers out that had spent the previous three days, sitting round their campsite smashing smuggled-in tinnies of Woodstock and pumping Barnesy and Farnesy, and enticed them to join the festivities at the Main Stage. A particular highlight was bringing in the New Year with a shoey and all of Marion Bay screaming in unison those three iconic lyrics to Covered in Chrome.
Despite the mud, Falls Festival had, once again, been an enormous success. After 14 years at the site, the festival is now a well-oiled machine. The line-up was high quality, the crowds were amongst the strongest ever, and staff and volunteers forever with a beaming grin on their faces. Dickheads were also kept to a minimal, and sales of glitter at local haberdashery stores were at an all-time high.
Falls Festival is a seriously well organised event, at one of the most beautiful festival sites going around. Falls is a great advertisement for the state for those who come from interstate or overseas, but it also provides Tasmanian’s from all walks of life with an opportunity to see world class performers in their own backyard. For everyone’s sake, let’s hope this event continues to be well supported into the future. See you all for the annual migration down the Arthur Highway next New Year!
*Patrick Carroll is a music lover ...