Reports began to circle on Christmas Day that huge bushfires were destroying homes and the Lorne instalment of Falls Festival was looking unlikely.
Those affected in the area and punters keen for safety prayed for a cool change, but unfortunately, time was to no avail. Boxing Day arrived and coupled with scorching heat and raging winds, locals saw multiple bushfires, one of which was in excess of 1000sqm.
With safety and quick thinking, Falls Festival organisers were not going to be shaken that easily. Finding a new venue at the Mount Duneed Estate north of Torquay, gaining new permits and setting up facilities for 16,000 or so people within what felt like 48hrs, it seemed a near impossible task. Literally building stages and other infrastructure within this condensed time frame was unbelievable – but somehow, they managed.
Day One consisted of pretty much waiting in line in our car. And next to our car. And well, on the roof of our car. And of course, in front of our car. It took us almost five hours to get inside the premise of our campsite; but luckily we had tunes and some camp chairs to distract the time away. The musical beginning of Falls was Weird Al Yankovic, who is aptly named because he is quite possibly the weirdest unit going around. Comprising of changing the lyrics in semi-tribute and taking the piss of popular tracks, he had the crowd in hysterics with ‘Fat’ as he bounced about in a huge fat suit, moving on to ‘White and Nerdy’. It was the first time I’ve seen a white guy on a Segway, wearing gangster clothes while rapping. I’m pretty sure it’s going to be the last too.
Undoubtedly, the highlight of Day Two was pop-power artist, Halsey. Not much of a pop music fan, my girlfriend had previously informed me about 100 or so times that, “I don’t care who she clashes with me, I’m going to see her and you’re coming.” With that said, it was pretty decided for me that I was attending and wow, MY GOD HALSEY IS AMAZING. Powerful vocals with catchy hooks had the whole crowd belting out stadium anthems ‘Americana’ and ‘Ghost’ from start to finish. It was really refreshing to see a performer literally ecstatic and truly passionate, and with that, Halsey gets a big thumbs up from me.
The ever popular Hilltop Hoods played an anthem filled set, but it was somewhat dampened by the rough crowd. Understandably, every man and his dog wanted a piece of the action and thus a rib-crushing, elbow-in-the-face and then another-elbow-to-the-back-of-the-head type situation ensured. MC Pressure even had to stop mid-set to ask everyone to “chill the fuck out” and “look after each other”.
Rufus were a highlight of Night Three and their commercial take on deep house was very well received by the entirety of the crowd. Featuring soulful vocals and great songwriting, each song was uniquely melodic and held a chilled out energy perfect for a hot summer festival night. Following Rufus was the uber-popular Bloc Party, which unfortunately fell short of my expectations. Tracks from their older album’s such as ‘Ratchet’ and ‘Helicopter’ were banging and loved by the crowd who moshed like they had never moshed before, which was expected. But newer material such as ‘Exes’ wasn’t well received, the result that their new material was bumpy rather than cohesive. For older fans, it appeared that new Bloc Party was ignoring old Bloc Party.
Day Four was so hot that the depths of hell itself might have been a few degrees cooler. Nothing screams “summer music festival” like waking up to a thumping headache, the sun at 8am being 28 degrees beaming through your half-open tent door because you were too drunk to properly close it the night. With a spinning head, Day Four on NYE had begun. Spending quite literally six hours in our car with the engine running and the air-conditioning blasting with only brief ventures to grab another drink was pretty much, in my experience, all which occurred for the most part of Day Four.
However, once it had cooled down to temperatures akin to Earth and not Mars, I decided to hide under The Big Top for up comers Lurch and Chief. Previously seeing them a month or so ago at Paradise Music Festival, I had high expectations for the unique dual vocalist indie outfit. I was not disappointed.
As gorgeous as ever, the dual-vocals from Hayden Somerville and Lili Hall featured their timeless raw emotion. To close their set Lurch and Chief belted out ‘Mother/Father’. A call and response track with a steady yet building drum beat, pulsing guitars and male/female harmonies once again proved to be a winning combination.
The day only got better from there as I made my way down to the very hot Valley Stage for Kurt Vile and the Violators. Twangy guitars, banjos and vocals fitted perfectly to become a laid back, afternoon set. The title track of his brand new album, Pretty Pimpin’ was catchy and a crowd favourite with the fingerpicked guitar combined with electric organ, synthesizers and percussion to curate a sound that is ever-changing in tempo; creating a story by seamless transitions.
Foals got the prime-time New Years Eve slot, and brought in the new year with absolute tuuuuuuuunes. Opening with ‘Snake Oil’, which is the best new live tune off What Went Down, Foals went from strength to strength with a good mixture of old material such as ‘Inhaler’, ‘My Number’ and ‘Spanish Sahara’ whilst still incorporation with the not-to-be-missed new material of ‘Mountain At My Gates’; even finishing the show with lead, ‘What Went Down’. Foals have created a sound that is uniquely their own, guitar driven indie-rock that is hallmarked by their electronic sounding bass lines that make you want to forget everything and boogie.
In what was very quickly looking like a festival that was not going to happen, the unbelievable work of those organising this festival was probably the most impressive part of the entire festival. Sweltering temperatures combined with a sweltering variety of great music made it a very memorable experience. Those who experienced Falls Festival 2015/16 at Lorne will remember the heat, the dust and the overall good vibes for years to come. For those who didn’t get the pleasure of Falls, you will have to take our word on the quality of music, the efforts of Falls organisers and most of all the weather – they were all pretty damn hot.
Cover image via Falls Music And Arts Festival’s Facebook. Credit: Joseph Mayers.