Falls Music and Arts Festival @ Lorne

I attended my first falls last year when the Arctic Monkeys headlined and I fell in love with it. The atmosphere of the four days is one comparable to the perfect combination of the patricians of Harvest and the party goers at a festival like Future Music Festival.

The atmosphere remained the same as my group began to pitch their tents and head over to the illustrious Grand Theatre for Boogie Nights – the funk and soul revue which opens Falls.

After a less than fantastic solo performance from Muscles, the Bamboos took to the stage to display their world class back catalogue of soul masterpieces.

Day two began with King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard showing off their psychedelic thrash on the Valley Stage – the main stage. The mosh pit was alive and kicking well into Australia’s indie darlings San Cisco.

Anyone who has checked out my blog will know that I’m not a huge fan of their first full length album, and my disappointment in it was reflected by their live set. Opening with “Golden Revolver”, I had high hopes. It wasn’t until the stand out track from their debut LP – “Beach” – that I again enjoyed the set. From then it was time for the obligatory performances of their singles – “Awkward” and “Rocket Ship” which got me interested again. It was clear that the crowd loved them, however.Sharon Van Etten - SMH

Sharon Van Etten was the next act I was desperate to see. This little known American songstress was on her maiden tour of Australia and made her first appearance at Lorne Falls Festival. She played a set comprising largely of tracks from her latest release – Tramp. A definite highlight of Falls Festival with singles “Serpents” and “Warsaw” resonating with a crowd who may not have known her at first, but grew to love her.

After a set from Lisa Mitchell sans her greatest hit (Lisa, you have to play “Coin Laundry”, you just have to), Bombay Bicycle Club took to the stage and graced us with the indie rock we all love to hear from them. Crowd favourites and guitar virtuosos Rodrigo Y Gabriella wowed audiences with the Spanish prowess – not letting up for the full hour of their set.

Django Django returned to our shores after a stopover for Splendour in the Grass earlier in the year, showcasing their debut record. “Love’s Dart” and “Default” had the entire moshpit dancing to their synth pop stylings before the headlining act of the day bounced onto the stage.

Prefaced by their stage ninjas – performing their soundcheck for them – The Hives ran onstage and burst straight into the opening track of their latest offering of party ready punk rock, “Come On!”. Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist owned the audience from the beginning of the set right up until the final chord of “Tick Tick Boom”. It’s true what they say about the Hives live performance – once you see them, they’re your new favourite band.

Day three began with Ball Park Music who took to the stage to show us their two albums. It was clear in their set that the band were far more comfortable with material from the first record and the crowd responded similarly – favouring oldies like “It’s Nice to Be Alive” and “Literally Baby”.

When the Vaccines took to the stage I couldn’t contain my excitement. Having caught this band twice previously, I knew what to expect – catchy brit-rock at its finest. Showcasing their new record Come of Age, the Vaccines sampled material from both records, opening with lead single “No Hope” and moving into hits like “Wetsuit” and “Wreckin’ Bar” before closing with the greatest ninety second song ever, “Norgaard”.

Beach House released one of the most critically acclaimed records of 2012 and the live performance cemented that fact. They were magical in all senses of the word, with “Other People” and “Myth” stand out moments of the set.

I left the mosh for Boy and Bear as I knew that whilst Australia’s folk boys would have the Triple J audience squealing, they just wouldn’t do anything for me. My motions involved heading into the pit just as they finished, and the Triple J crowd moved up to Flume, I was front row for psychedelic legends, The Flaming Lips. The set was exciting, in all the ways you expect a Wayne Coyne set to be – he got in the inflatable ball and rode across the moshpit, there was confetti and there was an incredible light show. However the tracks played were for die hard fans only, I myself love the band and connected with tracks like “Worm Mountain” and “See the Leaves” but I would have loved to hear “The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song” and “Race for the Prize”. Closing the third day with “Do You Realize??” made me a very pleased reviewer.

The final day of Falls opened with, soon to be, acoustic legend Daniel Champagne, up in the Grand Theatre. I say ‘soon to be’ as no one really knows who he is, but he shows John Butler how to play a guitar. His whole set mesmerised the audience and concluded with him being the only act, not playing a headline slot, to receive an encore. “Nightingale” was a delicate piece which left the auditorium silent.

I then rushed down the hill to catch Bethany Cosentino and Best Coast play some of their trademarked surf pop over the lunch break. They were followed up by Swedish sisters First Aid Kit whose rendition of  “The Lions Roar” was beautifully accompanied by two young girls skipping in circles next to them.

Falls was quickly drawing to a close, and the final headliner had crowds keen, and me even keener. Two Door Cinema Club took to the stage at about 11pm and opened with new single “Sleep Alone” before heading into their first hit “Undercover Martyn”. This may be an unpopular opinion, but I don’t really think Two Door Cinema Club hit the mark on this headline set. Sure, they played their songs, they sounded good, they even got the New Years Eve countdown right, but there was no gusto to their performance. It didn’t really feel as though they cared about their show, they didn’t command the audience’s attention. I left the set wondering if The Vaccines should have been the final headliner instead, they had the right attitude and performance quality to pull it off. Needless to say, I was a little disappointed by Two Door’s efforts.

Despite all of this, there is no doubt in my mind that this year’s Falls was far and away a better event than last years. I’ve already set up my fund so I can head along for the 2013 event, which is sure to be even better!

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