There’s nothing like a road trip down the Great Ocean Road to kick start your foray into the chaos that is New Year festivities. A pilgrimage taken by 15,000 Australians, to the heart of the Otway National Park, all in the name of music and close quarters camping. Very close.
This was my first trip to Falls Festival and from the get go, it was an all out adventure – one that Russell Coight would be proud of. If you think a one day music festival is an illustrious event that requires planning, perseverance and stamina, image multiplying that by three!
Once you get past the hazardously dusty roads that wind their way to the festival grounds, fearing for your life along the way, you are met by an undeniable sense of camaraderie. We were all in it together, in the wilderness, away from civilisation to enjoy some rocking tunes, dance in the dirt and hang out with people keen to have a good time. The crowd’s commitment to this cause was more than evident as I sat in the long line of cars entering the campsite, preparing for three days jam packed with sensational live music acts, stand- up comedians and well, let’s face it, cold showers and no electricity. Albeit, it’s easy for me to judge sitting from my lofty ivory tower (otherwise known as 4 star accommodation, with air con, in Lorne) and comment on the camping conditions, yet I did witness the hardcore campers managing to soldier on in the stifling conditions and party hard into the New Year, portable dunnies and all.
The line- up of artists was enough to get anyone out of their tents to have a hoedown in the dust. Day One offered up enough to whet the appetite with the sensational Jackson Jackson accompanied by an entourage of performers heating up the stage, followed by the beguiling Sarah Blasko. The weather then turned unbelievably cold for the remainder of the acts which included Magic Dirt and the never disappointing Brits Groove Armada.
Day Two saw stand- out acts such as Lior grace the stage in all his nonchalant yet thoroughly endearing glory, alongside Aria award winner Gotye, singing and drumming away to the crowd’s absolute delight. It was a real treat to see him work his magic live with songs from the acclaimed album, Like Drawing Blood.
I viewed American trio Black Rebel Motorcycle Gang from backstage and was astounded not only by the aurally invigorating rock, but mainly by how awesome the crowd looked from that angle. Veteran performer Paul Kelly evidently is a favourite amongst Aussie crowds, because everyone gathered together for it – from the young neon wearers with the over- sized sunnies to the stubby holding connoisseurs of Falls – to chant his songs in unison. Hip- hop and funk masters Blackalicious had the whole horde bouncing, then the Go! Team wrapped things up for the evening.
The third and final sweltering day presentedJose Gonzalez, whose wistful sounds were a stark contrast to the lashings of Regurgitator’s guitars. The Beautiful Girls added some rock flavour to their usual reggae/ roots melody, leading the way for the biggest act of the festival to hit the stage in amongst a throng that was thick with anticipation. Not only for the stroke of midnight, but for the mighty Kings Of Leon to count us down to it. One of the best bands roaming the globe currently, the Kings marked the New Year with a set full of fervour, coupled by those powerfully anthemic tunes.
Falls Festival was literally one gigantic melting pot of the wacky, wonderful and highly memorable. It had it all – from people using boxes as the latest fashion to butt naked boys crowd surfing in a blow up pool whilst being hosed down by overly enthusiastic security guards. Drunk table tennis matches and Hare Krishna take away food. And most importantly, one of the friendliest vibes I’ve encountered from a festival in a long time.
Maybe next year I’ll harden the fuck up and hire a camper van.