ABOUT THE WRITER: Milly Bannister loves her journalism and her music live and loud.
What is it like to leave the normalities of everyday life and enter a separate world where its inhabitants all dress with similar merriment, adopt primitive living standards and gather in mobs to enjoy one unified pleasure: the arts? Exactly what you’re thinking. Just add more glitter, nudity and alcohol.
Australian home-grown and well-loved music celebration, The Falls Music and Arts Festival, kicked off on November 31, promising to be one hell of a party amongst the exquisite scenery of Byron Bay Parklands. The highly anticipated nation-wide festival brings keen travellers and campers to the humble hinterland of the Gold Coast, to enjoy an ensemble of established and emergent local and international artists. This sell-out year was no exception, bringing a fruitful – and killer - lineup over a spectacular few days.
Day one of festival life began naturally. Starting the day in a tent with temperatures soaring well above the 30’s encouraged a premature start on drinking, swimming and eating, as the only way to dull the fever. The festival offered shuttle services to nearby beaches, it’s own Palm Springs waterpark and extensive culinary choices, which made for a great distraction from the intense weather. Most festival-goes sought shelter in poorly erected camp-ground tarps or hill-top bars, before the echoes and rumbles of the first acts of the day drifted over the hills, drawing its patrons from near and far.
The smorgasbord of sounds on offer this year was incredible, as always: the flippancy of Catfish and the Bottlemen, the unrestrained energy of The Jezabels, Broods, LDRU, The Rubens; the eclectic experience of London Grammar, Aluna George, and Client Liaison, all graced the Falls forest stages of 2016. Each set was a whole adventure in itself; true talent, style and individuality to suit all desires. What better way to bring in the New Year than witness artists pour their passion into their craft; in a mutual appreciation for the experiences they created before us?
The highlight of the last day of the year is easily endowed upon Grandmaster Flash and Childish Gambino who were clear crowd favourites. Dropping bangers left, right and centre it was hard to catch a break or a breath, as we got amongst Grandmaster’s old school vibes, his set completed with an honest tribute to Prince. The pinnacle of the festival, the much anticipated but slightly underwhelming New Year’s countdown arrived before Childish Gambino graced us with his immense presence. Dropping lyrics live and quicker than a talented auctioneer, it felt his set came to an end too soon with a warranted mic drop. The Forest Stage roared with energy from the audience, making it clear that a well-received act goes a long way, all the way up the hills and beyond, evidently.
Day two presented us with Matt Corby, a raw representation of what it means to be a young and passionate Australian vocalist, a surefire soldier of his set, captivating every individual lucky enough to spectate his performance.
“The audience was absolutely enthralled, you should have seen them!” I mentioned excitedly to Corby, as he casually knocked back a few bevies at the backstage bar, to which he replied:
“I did. But from your perspective, I guess that’s something I’ll never get to see.”
Ahh of course I thought, you were there. It is a truism that we forget that the artists are live, in front of us, re-delivering iconic melodies we’ve only ever jammed out to riding in cars with boys.
Illy was another distinct vibe in itself; a true Aussie dedication to hip-hop and plain old good times. Violent Soho brought the house down with a killer set and the Avalanches brought night two to a close, in untamed style, delivering their most favourited tracks of their decade’s history.
The weather only got hotter, skin got pinker, friends became closer while funds and supplies became scarcer. On the final day, festival goers made the most of the sideshows, merchandise stalls and remaining alchohol on hand to end the experience by going all in. Bernard Fanning, former frontman of iconic Powderfinger summed up the vibe of the high-spirited festival in a way no other act could. Rain fell unapologetically and crippled the nightlife, after a while causing us regret wishing so hard for cooler weather. Nothing would deactivate the party though, as Golden Features zapped energy right out of the sky, providing an electrifying performance enclosed within walls of waterfalls surrounding the tent.
At the end of the day, it didn’t really matter what was going on around you. It was all about how the music, the friends you came with and the friends you made and that’s all you’ll remember. The experience is a total mecca of community spirit and positive vibes: call a tent home for a few days, see vibrant art installations, seek new friendships and enjoy exquisite soundtracks amidst a stunning backdrop and the Falls is all yours.
Photo Credit: The Photo Journo