Falls Music & Arts Festival is about more than its drawcard headline musical acts. It is a festival with a strong sense of sustainability, a festival with a focus on grass roots and collaborative art. It is a festival which welcomes everyone, and does so with open arms. These notions were heavily embodied by the dreamy instalment of the festival just off the picturesque beaches of Marion Bay in Tasmania, under the gaze of mirage-like, undulating mountains.
As you wander around the frolicsome festival site, you find yourself surrounded by an outpouring of artistic vision. There are installations peppering the grounds; rich, vibrant and versatile works. Artists created pieces next to stages, allowing those who passed by to indulge in their creative process. Even the water tanks were decorated with splashes of muted colours, proving that truly anything can be a canvas for expression.
The artistic spirit was embodied best by The Village, the epicentre of all things creative and outside the box at Falls. The dynamic space featured things like confronting performance art involving a mannequin being violated by a mad scientist, a shipping container turned into a makeshift club for extraordinary 10 minute dance parties (props to the DJ’s, it’s no easy feat to create a set that short which still feels like a real journey) and local bands performing to intimate crowds. One of the coolest happenings in The Village was a craft tent, wherein punters could stretch their creative muscles and turn discarded items like tents and blankets from the previous year’s Falls into whatever their hearts desired. This unique initiative was a great demonstration of the sustainable attitude adopted by the festival, and a superb active demonstration of up-cycling.
While we’re on the note of sustainability, it would be remiss to not mention the toilets installed at the festival. It’s not a very glamorous or exciting element, but the efforts gone to by the organisers should be commended. Rather than the typical porta-loo set up, Falls implemented self composting toilets, which did not use water, and all of the waste is later processed on site. This not only saves water, but saves truck trips having to transport the waste, and it is the most environmentally friendly way to combat the problem. Kudos.
Of course, Falls isn’t all about art and sustainable pooping. At it’s heart, it’s about music – lots, and lots of good music. The line-up for the 2017/18 event was impeccably curated, with a spread of artists from varying musical genres making their way onto the bill. While the festival received some criticism for a perceived lack of gender diversity on the line-up, they managed to balance the various tastes of their wide audience, injecting healthy amounts of hip-hop, rock, EDM, indie and pop into the mix. Day time acts like Julia Jacklin and D.D Dumbo offered the perfect soundtrack to the beautiful surroundings, and when the sun set, main stage behemoths like Flume and Run The Jewels whipped the enormous crowds into an impassioned frenzy, with dancing going well into the wee hours of the morning.
An important element of Falls that is rather striking is the diversity of the crowd. People of all ages and of all demographics made their way to Marion Bay, in an accepting environment. While many festivals can feel like a bunch of 20-somethings trying to out Instagram-aesthetic one another, the attendees of Falls at Marion Bay seemed to come from all walks of life, each there to revel in the same joy as everyone else. There was no elitism, and no discrimination to be seen in this welcoming environment.
At most festivals, the contained site is generally all that there is to explore. While the site of Falls in Marion Bay was utterly breathtaking, the surroundings were even more so. This was not lost on the organisers, who allowed punters to take a beautiful walk across a river and down to the stunning Marion Bay beach. Hungover people seemed to relish the opportunity to dunk themselves in the chilly waters, and attendees sprawled themselves across the sand, taking a respite from the chaotic wonder of the festival itself.
Falls Music & Arts Festival is a very unique event, offering a different, friendlier take on festival culture. The sights, sounds, food and people of Falls make it a special place to spend a new years eve, and the joyous nature of the weekend didn’t seem to be lost on anyone in attendance.
All photos shot by Andy O’Connor and Lainey Allen on 35mm film.