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The Falls Festival At Marion Bay 2009/2010 Review

I travelled down to Tasmania to experience my first Falls Festival last year (it feels so weird saying that), with two mates. What I experienced was three days of absolute insanity, memorable and friendly people, beautiful scenery, and truly awesome music. I had the time of my life, and am suffering from severe withdrawal, symptoms of which include a bad sunburn, ringing ears, tiredness, and a strong desire to do it all again as soon as possible.

For three days, random fields in Tasmania were converted into a hipster’s paradise, and an incredible time was had by all. It was unquestionably the best music event I have ever experienced, and more than this, it was probably up there with the best days of my life.

Artists I saw (scroll down for detailed reviews):

  • Philadelphia Grand Jury
  • King Khan And The Shrines
  • The John Steel Singers
  • Andrew Bird
  • Tom Ballard And Arj Barker
  • Liam Finn
  • Jamie T
  • Rodrigo Y Gabriella
  • Moby
  • Hilltop Hoods
  • Lisa Mitchell
  • The View
  • White Rabbits
  • Emiliana Torrini
  • Yves Klein Blue
  • The Temper Trap
  • Editors
  • Midnight Juggernauts
  • Yeah Yeah Yeahs
  • Major Lazer (Soundsystem)

All photos were taken by me. Please do not reproduce them without permission. For the record, they were taken on a pretty crappy camera with only x2 zoom.

[First Impressions]

-Travel-

We had made the decision to purchase tickets to the Falls Funk n’ Soul Revue, which meant that we could arrive a day earlier than most other punters, on the 29th of December. Arriving to Marion Bay at about midday, the traffic was negligible and getting into Falls was almost too easy. Bags were reasonably thoroughly check for any BYO alcohol, which was strictly forbidden, but these checks were made redundant by the fact that it was easy to slip under the flimsy barrier previous to the checkpoint. The staff were friendly and helpful.

-Layout-

The layout of the festival was fairly straightforward. There were three main areas, the main stage arena, the smaller stage arena, and the middle camping area which connected them both. Food shops and other stalls adorned all three areas, as did massive shad pavilions. Outlying areas offered punters looking for a more relaxed time spots to camp.

More than anything, the festival was absolutely beautiful, with the main stage cast over the backdrop of a magnificent view of the ocean. There was something almost serene about the location when it was surrounded by thousands of people. It was in every way the perfect spot for a music festival.

-Camping-

The first decision facing us was where to pitch tent. We opted to a very central spot in the main camping area between the two stages. Perhaps slightly naively, we pitched our tent right near a path that wound around the camping ground, at the time unaware of how many drunken people would stumble into it over the festival. However it was still great to have such a central location, surrounded by thousands of other tents.

-Wristbands-

Next order of business was to collect wristbands, which was a simple matter of travelling to the wristband pavilion and exchanging out tickets for wristbands. Those over 18 needed to show proof of age in order to receive the yellow Over Age wristband necessary to buy drinks from the bar. The wristbands were fabric and quite sturdy, as they needed to be, because they were essentially our tickets to the festival, and were going to cop an absolute battering over the next few days.

With housekeeping duties finished, it was time to enjoy the first day of Falls, the Funk n’ Soul Revue.

[Day Zero]

I call this day zero, because the Falls Funk n’ Soul Revue pre-party was a bit of a non-event really.

-Entertainment-

It offered us a great chance to get a desirable camping spot and get acquainted with the area, but really, this was all that the ticket price bought you. The actual entertainment was fairly disappointing. Firstly, everything was very disorganised- the official program itself constantly mixed up the main stage, The Valley Stage, and the smaller stage, The Field Stage, making everybody unsure of just where the day’s entertainment was meant to take place.

When acts eventually appeared on stage, it was at the smaller arena, and it was a good two or three hours after the scheduled start. And it was in the form of a Go-Go Dancing Academy, which seemed like the kind of thing you had to be smashed out of your mind to appreciate. This was advice that many people appeared to have already taken to heart.

-Our Day-

For our part, we spent the day drinking and just relaxing under the massive shade pavilions. We met a few new people, and took the chance to explore the stores, making a few choice purchases that would serve us well over the next few days. Unfortunately the official merchandise only included Falls items, as opposed to band merch, which we were told would be arriving the next day.

A massive countdown screen in the main arena ensured that everyone knew exactly how long it was until the new year, and kept our eyes on the goal.

It was a supremely chilled day, and in hindsight was probably a welcome respite from the madness that was about to come.

-The Village-

As night fell, the enclosed area known as ‘The Village’, right near our camping site, was opened, and offered immediate entrainment in the form of ‘Circus Horrificus’. To a packed crowd, the two performers reeled off enjoyable jokes, leading up to the climax of one of the members of the group swallowing a sword to the hilt, only to take a bow with the sword still in his mouth (“Did I just hear someone make a blowjob joke? I’ve been doing this act for five years, do you really think I’ve never heard a fucking blowjob joke before?”).

People flocked to The Village for other snippets of entertainment and a small enclosed tent that was showing movies on a small screen. The atmosphere of Falls was starting to warm up.

-Moonlit Cinema-

After grabbing dinner in the form of really nice burgers from ‘Flip’, which would go on to sell over seven thousand burgers at the festival, we settled in to a comfortable patch of grass in the main arena and awaited the start of the moonlit cinema. Oddly enough, it turned out to be the highlight of the first day.

The movies were shown on the smaller screen of the main arena, the one that otherwise showed the countdown to the new year. This meant that people crowded around the area closest to the screen, huddled up in sleeping bags and blankets, but there was still plenty of room to just relax, lay back, and enjoy the atmosphere.

The moonlit cinema made for a very enjoyable night. We watched ‘Sunshine Cleaning’, which was a dark comedy, and was very enjoyable. The night was made better by a guy with a harmonica who traversed around the moviewatchers, serenading people with surprisingly talented music.

We decided to retire to the tent after an enjoyable but very relaxed first day. Falls was about to get a lot busier, and a lot more intense.

[Day One]

-The Morning-

Morning in our tent was absolutely hell. After a long night of people slamming into our overcrowded tent (three people in a 0.5 people tent), we woke up drenched in sweat due to the rapid rise in temperature in the morning as compared to the night. The only solution was to get our of the tent as quickly as possible, however with a great array of options for breakfast and coffee, this wasn’t really a problem.

Everyone was up and about surprisingly early, and new arrivals started pouring into the already busy camping grounds. Most of the 16,000 ticketholders would appear by midday, making for an absolutely bustling and bubbling environment. We spent the morning under the shade once again- despite reasonable weather conditions, it was already obvious that the sun was going to be a killer.

We also took the opportunity to spend copious amounts of money on band and Falls merchandise.

The first act of the day on the main stage was an Australian group called The Dirty Lovers, who played a moderately enjoyable pub rock set to a mediocre crowd. We enjoyed from a distance- the highlight of their set was definitely the guitarist unplugging his guitar and running out to mingle mid-song with the portion of the crowd sitting down ages away from the stage, still strumming his instrument. The crowd however were mostly indifferent.

The second act on the main stage heralded the true start of Falls.

-Philadelphia Grand Jury-

This was my third time seeing the Philly Jays live. First time they were opening for Yves Klein Blue, and were struggling to fill their own headline gig the following week. They blew me away, and I instantly knew they would be a band to watch, with their absolutely mental stage insanity that included handing out their instruments to the crowd. Second time, at Homebake, they were a bit disappointing, with MC Bad Genius suffering from bronchitis and a bit of a lacklustre crowd.

Now, the Philly Jays are all over the Australian music scene, and are one of the success stories of 2009. With a debut album like ‘Hope Is For Hopers’, it’s not hard to see why. I believe that Falls signalled the true arrival of this band as a real force in Australian music however, and must have provided a great cap to their already great year.

Surprisingly, my mates and I had no trouble at all in picking up a front-and-centre spot on the barrier for the band- we only had to head to the main stage 10 minutes before the band were scheduled to start. Security sporadically sprayed the crowd with a hose, which inevitably led to a rush of energy, but also served to help those at the front stay (comparatively) cool, as did the cups of water that were handed out over the barrier.

The band, consisting of Berkfinger and MC Bad Genius, as well as newer member and drummer Calvin Welch, entered the stage to a resounding reception to the hundreds of loyal fans that were mingling around the front of the stage. They played an amazing set full of hits from their debut album including Ready To Roll, which warmed the crowd up, Philips’s Not In Love With You, which was so very enjoyable, and Going To The Casino (Tomorrow Night).

The crowd built up exponentially as everyone was infected with the insane energy of the Philly Jays, and those sitting down realised that, despite the early timeslot, this was a band really worth seeing. The band had pre-recorded crowd banter which was played in between songs, which really shouldn’t have worked, but it just did. It added to the uniqueness of the band.

New drummer Calvin Welch fitted in with the rest of the band, and indeed perhaps stole the show with his happy energy and crowd participation, getting a huge ovation when he was officially introduced towards the end of the set. He is the perfect replacement for previous drummer Dan Williams, who shared a similar happy energy and is now drumming with fellow Falls performers Art Vs. Science.

The highlight of the show came in the form of The Good News, which never fails to amaze when played live.

The band finished with I Don’t Want To Party (Party), which built up to a cacophony of insanity which included Berkfinger virtually swallowing the mic as he sung, and MC Bad Genius entering the crowd to get us to sing along to the line “I don’t want to party”. I touched him! When Calvin was handed the mic and sung along, the crowd went nuts, and the song finished with Berkfinger dismantling the drum set as Calvin played it.

The Philly Jays had finished, and the crowd looked at each in a dazed kind of way. And it had built into a truly impressive crowd, especially for one of the first acts of the festival. Many people departed to immediately buy Philadelphia Grand Jury t-shirts. I have always loved this band, but their performance at Falls was just something else entirely.

Thoroughly enjoyable, insane, and awesome: the Philly Jays. Falls had begun.

-King Khan And The Shrines-

And we thought that the Philly Jays had been insane…

Still at the front of the crowd, which was still quite large, we saw King Khan enter the arena, dressed in a feather headress, sunglasses, a cape, golden underwear, and nothing else, accompanied by a cheerleader. All other insanity was immediately put in perspective.

Surrounded by his massive band (The Shrines), King Khan was a dominating figure on the stage. The crowd went nuts, and, strangely drawn by his presence, more people congregated around the already sizeable group of people. The band opened with my favourite track of theirs, Land Of The Freak. It is just such an awesome and infectious track, with distortion almost reminiscent of more upbeat Jimi Hendrix, and it was received very strongly by the crowd.

King Khan, despite his decidedly freakish stage presence, interacted normally with the crowd, complimented the beautiful scenery and thanking everyone for coming to his stage. But then, of course, there was also the speech where he talked about “putting my little toe inside” of his girlfriend. Yep, insane.

I didn’t recognise too many of King Khan’s songs, because they really take on a whole new presence when played live. The Shrines were absolutely great, matching Khan’s energy and huge sound, complete with what must have been the biggest saxophone that I have ever seen.

They finished their set with several of The Shrines entering the front of the crowd during a song (again, I touched one of them!). King Khan left the stage, cheerleader in tow, to rapturous applause. His music had been very enjoyable, but that was never really the point, was it? We had witnessed a real party, a truly crazy mess of a gig. The moments where the hose had sprayed the first few rows had been particularly nuts.

Once again, the crowd was in a bit of a daze, as we all wondered what had just happened?

-The John Steel Singers-

Surely, SURELY, nothing could top King Khan.

We headed over to the smaller Field Stage, and somehow managed to get front-and-center on the barrier for the John Steel Singers as well (although no hose-spraying this time). I have been a big fan of these guys for a while now as their rise through the ranks of indie Australian music with catchy pop hooks and carefree lyrics. Newest single Masochist was one of my favourite songs of 2009, and has received a lot of airplay on alternative radio (ie. Triple J). I had never seen them live, so wasn’t really sure what to expect.

What I definitely didn’t expect, however, was for the band to enter the stage all wearing horse masks.

But this was what they did, beginning with an upbeat instrumental track that I didn’t recognise that immediately drew in a crowd. All band members except for the drummer wore horse masks for the entirety of the first song, as well as red hooded capes. After the instrumental, the horse masks were removed, revealing the men underneath, and the band immediately broke into Masochist, which was as good live as I had imagined.

While not adorned with horse masks, the band were surprisingly- dare I say it- normal. They seemed very excited and humbled to be playing at Falls in front of such a large and enthusiastic crowd, and gave their performance their all. Strawberry Wine was given the warmest reception of their set, but really every song had something to offer, even if I didn’t recognise them all. There were no boring bits.

The conclusion to The John Steel Singers’ set was one of the more memorable moments of Falls. The band once again put on their horse masks, and were joined on stage by friends who had previously been backstage, all also wearing horse masks. This made for about ten people on stage, all dancing like crazy, all wearing horse masks and cape, and some even playing music! The song was Evolution, one of their best tracks, but the crowd were so fixated on the dancing figures on stage that it didn’t really matter.

At one point all the dancers and musicians on stage formed one massive line, performing a king of running dance, as they still played music, forming a very lasting image.

The John Steel Singers were simply awesome, and they were really really fun. They have clearly tried to find a way to put on a unique live show, and it has succeeded. Dam, they were fun.

One band member playing trumbone with his horse mask still on was particularily awesome.

-Andrew Bird-

Ah, Andrew Bird. The only real disappointment of Falls Festival.

I should say right from the start that I don’t really blame Andrew for what went wrong in his set, and that I still absolutely love his music. But there is no escaping that his set was a big disappointment, especially when we were opting to see him over Art Vs. Science.

Right from the start, as the band were setting up, it was clear that not everything was right. Andrew was on crutches, and the equipment was clearly not behaving itself. There were panicked roadies running all over the place, and Andrew and his band members looked a bit worried themselves. Having maintained our front row spot from The John Steel Singers, the wait was agonising, as the band took twice the allocated time to set up, cutting into their performance time significantly.

Even once they started their set, you could tell that despite the extra time they hadn’t gotten everything working properly. The sound balance was horrible, Andrew loop machine, which he relied on heavily, was malfunctioning, his guitar would occasionally become horribly distorted with interference, to the point where you had to block your ears, and his violin was nowhere near loud enough.

Andrew had to stop several songs halfway through due to technical problems, and was constantly gesturing to the sound guys. And his set was shortened by about 20 minutes. He opened with a few deep cuts from older albums, which perhaps was not the wisest move given the restless crowd who were clearly wanting to hear material from his better known newer albums.

While I would have been perfectly content with older Andrew Bird songs, because no song this man writes is bad, the sound problems were just awful, even managing to ruin the marvellous A Nervous Tic Motion Of The Head.

The songs that worked, however, were magical. Imitosis was not completely free of problems but was very enjoyable, and Oh No was brilliant live. Andrew’s whistling is even more impressive when heard in person than when recorded, which is a true achievement, and it made for some very special moments. However these moments were far apart, interspaced with frustrating sound problems.

Despite Andrew repeating “It’s going to be great”, almost as if to reassure himself, there can be no doubting that this performance simply didn’t work. I don’t know who to blame, but I know that I felt really really sorry for Andrew, who was clearly struggling but trying to put on a show nonetheless. The shortened set meant that we didn’t get many of Andrew’s better known songs, such as my personal favourite Scythian Empire.

Even for diehard Andrew Bird fans such as myself, this set was a disappointment. I would have caught his sideshow, just to truly experience this wonderful musician, but it was in Melbourne while I was still in Tasmania. It was a shame to see such a great guy and such a great artist crippled by sound problems.

However Andrew Bird’s set was just a momentary low point in an otherwise astounding day of music, and there was plenty more to come.

-Tom Ballard And Arj Barker-

After such an crazy start to the day, we were looking forward to some nice and predictable comedy. What we got was Tom Ballard and Arj Barker.

We retired to the back of the arena to have a sit-down and relax, forsaking out barrier position to the swarm of people approaching the stage.

Tom Ballard is a very popular presenter on Triple J, and Arj Barker is an international comedian, so a suitably huge crowd gathered to hear them perform their sets. Tom opened, and he was very funny, albeit in a kind of ‘oh no he didn’t’ way. If it was possible to go too far as a comedian, Tom was dam close, joking that a friend had posted on Facebook that he wanted to punch Bindi Irwin in the face- Tom believed that this was to show the Irwins that “punches can sting as well”. Oh no he didn’t!

Arj Barker was definitely the main act here, and he was greeted with huge amounts of applause when he entered the stage. I’m not sure who was performing on the main stage at this time, but they had some stiff competition in the form of comedians. He took a good 5 minutes to tell his first real joke, later saying that it had won an award for “longest buildup”. It was very funny though, and he had enough material specifically tailored to a music festival in Tasmania to make his set really enjoyable.

Having comedians on the smaller stage was a very clever idea, and provided a bit of a humour break from the music.

-Liam Finn-

This was my second time seeing Liam Finn live, so I had some idea of what to expect, and positioned myself at the front, near the drumkit as opposed to in the middle.

Liam Finn and EJ Barnes appeared on the stage, and it thankfully appeared as if the sound problems that had plagued Andrew Bird’s performance had completely disappeared. Indeed Liam Finn put on a bit of a class in how to use a loop machine, routinely making it appear as if there were way more than two people on the stage- sometimes he would even take a moment to sit down and go berserk on the drumkit prior to playing a song, only to then record and loop his drumbeat over the top of the rest of the song as he played guitar. It worked wonderfully well.

Liam’s set was full of songs from ‘I’ll Be Lightning’, his first and only album, as well as newest offering, his ‘Champagne In Seashells’ EP. Long Way To Go was very powerful live, as was I’ll Be Lightning, which was dedicated to a man in the crowd who was brandishing a giant mock joint. Once again, Liam was made to earn his crowd, however he did this easily- he is just such a naturally charismatic person, and it was his interaction with the crowd that made his set as much as his music.

However he is also an incredibly talented musician, routinely jumped between guitar and drum duties like a man possessed, and pulling off some utterly insane trademark drum solos. Predictably, the highlight of Liam Finn’s set was Second Chance, a really excellent song. Liam Finn finished his set with the same energy that he had shown throughout it, descending onto the grass behind the barricade to throw his guitar high up into the air repeatedly, as EJ remained on stage toying with a joystick that adjusted sound frequencies.

Liam, who had been refreshingly honest, genuine and funny throughout his set, said that “I promise you, when I leave this stage, I will feel dead”. And he most definitely kept his promise.

-Jamie T-

I don’t really like his music, but he was kind of enjoyable from a distance.

Plus, giant joint guy was in the crowd again!

-Rodrigo Y Gabriela-

This Mexican acoustic guitar duo was certainly a strange pick for the main stage just as night was falling and the crowd was getting whipped into a frenzy, but they made it work.

They were very charming, despite speaking limited english, and their guitar playing was technically astounding. The musical skill on display here was unsurpassable, and, impressively, the mosh seemed to really appreciate it. An hour of non-stop, fast-paced guitar playing was perhaps a bit too much given the atmosphere, but this set went down really well and was definitely a success, even if I preferred to be amazed by their skill from a comfortable distance.

-Wolfmother-

…suck.

Kindly piss off from my festivals.

-Moby-

I overheard one punter say during the day, “Moby seems like the place to be this Falls”. And he wasn’t wrong.

Moby was given the main stage from 11.15pm, which was the perfect timeslot for him- early enough so that everyone wasn’t too tired, and late enough so that you could really get into it. Having retreated as far away from Wolfmother as possible, we made our way cautiously through the massive crowd that has assembled. To our surprise, we discovered that with a bit of skill and some elbow-work, it was easy to get within five rows of the front.

Moby’s entrance was delayed, which is never fun when you’re in the mosh. We were packed together way tighter than humans were ever meant to be- once you raised your arms they had to stay raised, because the space that they had perviously occupied would be immediately seized upon by someone else. Everyone was naturally pushing for the best spot, and becoming restless, but overall the atmosphere was quite good, and I felt as safe as it was possible to feel in a huge moshpit of thousands of people (which isn’t very safe).

The atmosphere at nighttime was just amazing- looking back I could make out a sea of people as far as the eye could reach, and looking forward I could vaguely make out the sea to the sides of the main stage, which had sprung to life with spectacular lighting effects. Thankfully, just as everyone was getting really restless waiting for Moby, one punter decided to provide some welcome relief and distraction that had everybody’s attention well and truly distracted from the empty stage for a while (those who were at the front will know what I’m talking about).

Finally, Moby arrived, and opened with the brilliant Extreme Ways. Immediately, the energy in the moshpit increased to its highest level so far at Falls, as everyone went absolutely mental. It was jump up and down like a maniac or be crushed; push with the flow or fall down; and scream/sing at the top of your voice or feel very, very left out. It was incredible fun. Somehow, we managed to keep up this same energy for the entirety of Moby’s stellar set.

In My Heart had the crowd in raptures, as the penetrating keyboard section at the start began just as the hose was sprayed on the front few rows, and for a while it was impossible to see anything past your own arms moving crazily in the air. Moby would occasionally retreat slightly to a pair of huge bongos, which was a move always greeted with deafening cheering. Porcelain was a more downbeat tune, but it didn’t stop the mosh as we jumped up in down in (kind of) unison.

Understandably, it was nearly impossible to stay together with mates, but we would occasionally literally bump into one another, and it was these moments when we were together which were the most memorable for me. Amazingly, one of these moments occurred during We Are All Made Of Stars, one of my favourite Moby songs: it was strangely fitting that we sung “People they come together. People they fall apart…”.

Disco Lies, the delightfully infectious and upbeat disco track, had the entire crowd of 15000 people singing along and dancing.

Moby finished nearly every song with the rapidly spoken words of “Thankyouthankyouthankyouthankyouthankyou”, which has already become a Falls in-joke. Honey got the crowd pushing and jumping even more, and the security certainly knew the best times to spray the crowd with water from the hose.

Moby’s set signalled our first encounter with Crowdsurfing Banana (CSB), who would become a bit of a cult hero for me and my mates. He was a guy dressed up in a banana costume that seemed to crowdsurf for ridiculous periods of time. He was awesome. As Moby said, “When you see a crowdsurfing banana, you know it’s going to be a good night”. Unfortunately CSB was removed from the crowd by security, to which Moby yelled “Are you okay?”. The question was received with a manic smile and two thumbs-up.

Moby’s set finished in a blurry, sweaty, drenched haze. It was one of the many highlights of Falls: almost clinical in its efficiency but never losing the passion or the sense that we were part of something special and unique. Moby was indeed the place to be at Falls this year, at least for the first day. Thankfully he played a full set despite appearing on stage late, and every single minute was appreciated by the dancing, jumping, singing, wet, screaming, pushing masses.

-The Hilltop Hoods-

Following Moby was never going to be an easy ask, but if there was one band that could please the restless mosh, it was Aussie hiphop group Hilltop Hoods. My mates and I had retired to the hilltop (ironic, no?), far removed from the mosh, after Moby, as we were drenched in a combination of sweat and water and absolutely stuffed. We enjoyed a midnight snack as we watched Hilltop Hoods work the crowd into a frenzy.

Strangely, considering that they play a genre of music I can’t force myself to like, this was my second time seeing Hilltop Hoods live. At Homebake, they had got the sections of the crowd swearing at one another, and I can’t deny that I was hoping to witness this again. I was a bit disappointed though- to me they seemed really boring. Maybe this can be attributed in part to the fact that I wasn’t near the front, but their set really did nothing at all for me. In particular this was true of them paying tribute to some of music’s greats, which seemed a pointless and unnecessary interlude that they had also forced upon the crowd at Homebake.

Maybe following Moby was always to greater ask for any Australian band. The moshpit enjoyed Hilltop Hoods, but we didn’t at all, and retired to our tent halfway through their set.

Nosebleed Section was kind of cool though.

It had been a day absolutely full of amazing music. I was almost in shock at the quantity and quality of the music I had experienced, and the insanity I had participated in. Bring on day two.

[Day Two]

-The Morning-

‘Death’ is the first word that comes to mind. We had thought that the first morning was bad, but the temperature had risen significantly, and despite what had been a cold night, it was already an absolute scorcher when we woke up at 7am drenched in sweat once more.

We rushed to leave the tent, only to find that the outside world offered no such respite as it did yesterday. There was an occasional cool breeze which was just heaven, but it was overwhelmingly a very uncomfortable morning spent drinking coffee, eating bacon and egg rolls, checked out the stalls once again, and waiting for the main acts to appear as we fell asleep together under the shade with our hats covering our faces and our sunglasses still on, surrounded by likeminded people.

Indeed shade was a valued commodity this day, with every time little bit of it being pounced upon by punters- even the very thin shadow cast by a fence harboured five people stretched out on picnic blankets. Today, it was clear that the bands would really have to work to coax people out of the shade.

Lisa Mitchell-

This would be my second time seeing Lisa Mitchell live, and she was an interesting choice for the main stage so early. Any doubts about this were quickly alleviated however, as an absolutely massive crowd built up in the leadup to her arrival on stage, despite the heat. Again, we managed to secure places on the barrier, so were eagerly anticipating a good set.

She appeared on stage, looking as adorable as ever, with the same backing band as when I had seen her at the Corner Hotel. She reeled off a set full of favourites from her debut album Wonder, as well as a few tunes I didn’t recognise, meaning that they were either old or new.

Lisa wondered if it was technically new year’s eve yet, and came to the conclusion that since it was after midday we could officially start celebrating, which the crowd, which stretched all the way past the sound desk, were all too happy to do. Oh! Hark! was a great inclusion in her set, as was the gorgeous Valium.

Her backing band were brilliant- as quirky and fun as Lisa herself. Her drummer, wearing a very smart bowtie, would routinely pull out a camera and take shots of other band members with the crowd in the background, which always got the crowd excited. Lisa talked the beauty of the location, which most people seemed to be doing, but got a resounding cheer when she quietly wished that the jelly swarm at the beach would disappear so that beach access would reopen.

Two members of the crowd were constantly asking Lisa to marry them, which appears to be a constant in Lisa Mitchell concerts. Overhearing their conversation in between proposals was quite humorous: “Man, I think we’ve been rejected four times”…”Nah, we haven’t been rejected four times, we just haven’t been acknowledged four times!”. Eventually Lisa recognised them however, saying that they were probably looking for the kissing booth, which was back up the hill. One of them realised then that “I think she’s getting sick of it… nah fuck it, keep on going!”.

Coin Laundry was enjoyable of course, however punters took the line “Do you have a dollar for me?” very literally, throwing dollar coins at the stage and at Lisa. When one came very close to hitting her, she actually stopped the song and got pissed off a people throwing them. The whole crowd was in shock, Lisa Mitchell angry! It was a very strange thing to witness, but oddly attractive all the same.

Lisa closed her set with Neopolitan Dreams, which the huge crowd had been holding out for. It is always brilliant when played live, and as the hose sprayed us with cooling water we loudly chanted repeatedly “Ba da, ba da da da da” to the extended chorus. It even bought a smile to Lisa’s face. And her set was over, way too quickly.

The drummer was visible backstage, going through the photos he had taken as other band members looked over his shoulder. It would have been great to hear Lisa’s cover of Romeo And Juliet again, but you can’t have everything. The huge crowd began to disperse, but the day had only just begun.

-The View-

We decided to wait it out at the barrier for the next act on the main stage, Scottish band The View. The wait in the sweltering heat was certainly not enjoyable, but was made easier by cups of water being handed out by security, near constant spraying from the hose, and even sunscreen that security passed out over the barrier.

I didn’t really know what to expect from The View- their recorded stuff is fairly cool, but is definitely with low and high points. When they appeared on stage, they looked every bit the part of happy tourists, despite the heat which saw the drummer begin the set shirtless. Opener Glass Smash got the gig off to an immediately bouncy start, and the guys were very charismatic up on stage, even if we couldn’t understand a single thing they said.

They had some groupies from Scotland who were standing right behind us and being a bit annoying, but although they had started with a very small crowd, they gradually drew more and more people out of the comfortable shade and into the heat. Unfortunately I thought that the first half of their set was a bit dull, and I was beginning to feel the pressure of the heat.

However things livened up in the second half of their performance, with the guitarist and bassist swapping duties and reeling off the number Realisation, by far my favourite The View song. Even if it wasn’t quite as good live (with an electric guitar instead of an acoustic), it was very enjoyable. One Off Pretender also made an appearance, and it was great fun hearing the entire crowd sing “Shout it from a rooftop” in its best Scottish accent.

Same Jeans was finally played, to huge applause, and didn’t disappoint live. The guys seemed like they had a great time, and were appreciative of the largish crowd that had built up. Or at least I think they were, because I couldn’t understand a single word.

-White Rabbits-

And then it was time for one of the main attractions of Falls for me, and one of my favourite bands in the world at the moment. White Rabbits were due to appear on the smaller Field Stage forty minutes after The View, but we wasted no time in securing a spot on the barrier, and actually really enjoyed watching the band set up.

And it was a huge effort for the band to set up. Keyboardist and frontman Stephen Patterson sat facing to the side of the stage, with a double-keyboard setup in front of him, while guitarist Gregory Roberts stood next to him and would share lead vocal duties throughout the set. In the meantime percussionist Matt Clark had his own little corner of the stage full of anything that could be hit by something else and make some kind of sound, as well as a cool mini-drum kit set up instantly recognisable from the Percussion Gun video clip. This was in addition to a full drum kit manned by Jamie Levinson, as well as Alexander Even on guitar and Brian Betancourt on bass. It was a very busy stage, to say the least.

The band took seemingly forever to get everything set up to their liking, but they inadvertently entertained the rapidly growing crowd as they did. When Stephen was soundchecking one of his keyboards, Jamie on the drums howled in agony, because the keyboard was turned up way too loud in his nearest speaker. He pointed at the speaker, saying “This one’s turned up to eleven!”. Meanwhile Stephen, a sly look on his face, broke into a very loud and energetic keyboard solo, backed by Jamie’s refreshed howls.

Eventually however, the band exited stage and reappeared to play their set. The crowd was decently sized, but I don’t think most people knew just what a good set they were about to witness. The band’s energy on stage was just staggering. Matt Clark stole the show, bounding between his percussion corner of the stage, where he would hit drums with items that ranged from maracas to tambourines, and the rest of the stage, where he would occasionally join Stephen in playing the keyboard (at the same time).

Despite how busy the stage and the sound was, White Rabbits managed to make it work- the cacophony of sound seemed very natural, and the band were just so in tune with one another. It was easily the loudest set that I had experienced on the Field Stage, but this was a very good thing. The band played every song I could possibly have wanted, ranging from songs off ‘It’s Frightening’ such as Rudie Fails and They Done Wrong / We Done Wrong to older songs off the debut album such as The Plot, Kid On My Shoulders, and While We Go Dancing.

The band’s energy was infections, and the entire crowd was really into the performance. Halfway through the set, the crowd stretched back well into the grassed area of The Field, and White Rabbits certainly deserved the attention. Many people thought the band may be a one-hit-wonder with Percussion Gun, but they could not have been more wrong. Every single song was very enjoyable, and it was impossible not to appreciate the skill of the six-piece band. As a live act, they were just brilliant.

Of course Percussion Gun made an appearance, and it was one of the single best songs of Falls for me.That drum beat is just so spectacular, and Stephen on the lead vocals was impassioned and even more energetic than usual. The crowd greeted the start of the drum beat with huge amounts of applause. During the keyboard interludes, Matt would take a rest from his percussion duties to lie down, tired, on stage, only to bound back to his feat whenever his services were required.

White Rabbits finished their set with The Salesman (Tramp Life), which saw Stephen rise from his keyboards for the first time during the set and walk around the stage, mic in hand, singing just as strongly as he had been when sitting down. The band seemed very appreciative of the extremely warm reception that they received, and they were very very likable.

More than this however, their set was impossibly good. I knew that I would love these guys live, but this was something else all together. ‘Love’ would be an understatement, they were one of the best live bands I have seen in a long time. The way they swapped lead vocals, the amount of percussion, how Matt constantly jumped between instruments, how sometimes two band members shared the same instrument: it all just worked.

I will try my hardest to catch their Melbourne sideshow, because this was a true festival performance that I will never forget, and one of the many highlights of Falls for me.

-Emiliana Torrini-

Probably the biggest surprise of the festival for me was the immense crowd that Emiliana Torrini drew on The Field stage after White Rabbits. It was easily the biggest crowd to date on the smaller stage, and standing people filled basically the entire grassed area, including under the shade tent. I had never imagined that she was this big, I had been expecting a quiet and calm interval between White Rabbits and Yves Klein Blue.

She appeared on stage, looking as cute and innocent as ever. I only really knew one song of hers, but I enjoyed listening to her tunes, all of which were melodic and soothing in their own way. Jungle Drum came and went in a blur of dancing people, but even though it was the song I had been waiting for, I didn’t enjoy it as much as some of her quieter numbers.

What I did enjoy was the massive sign being held up at the front of the crowd, which read: “Emiliana Torrini, you Icelandic princess: will you marry us?”. I love the use of ‘us’, and it was complete with a giant mock wedding ring. Emiliana’s set was enjoyable, but I found myself wishing I could just sit down somewhere: it was only the thought of Yves Klein Blue coming up that kept me on my feet (mostly) and hovering near the front of the stage.

-Yves Klein Blue-

After the giant crowd for Emiliana Torrini had dispersed, we managed to grab a spot one row from the barrier and in front of the center of the stage for Yves Klein Blue. Despite having seen these guys live two times before, I was opting to see them above Grizzly Bear, who were playing on the main stage, which gives you some idea of the quality of performance I knew I was about to witness.

Frontman Michael Tomilson entered the stage, and the crowd, which was by this point nearly as large as it had been for Emiliana Torrini, went mental. The band opened with Digital Love, one of my least favourite tracks off their debut ‘Ragged And Ecstatic’, which sounded a bit flat at first. The reason for this was soon obvious, when guitarist Charles Sale, after wondering for a while why his guitar wasn’t sounding loud enough, realised with a exasperated smile that it wasn’t plugged in.

Opening with Digital Love was a signal of what was to come: a bit of a different YKB setlist than normal. Every time I had seen them live before, they had opened with Silence Is Distance and closed with Queeny, so it was good to hear something a bit different. Michael was as charismatic and charming as ever, and the band were typically full of energy. A mid-set Queeny had the crowd going absolutely mental, with a mosh pit formed at the front.

Dinosaur was a great as always, as the entire crowd sung “Everybody’s very concerned about the weather”, which was fitting given the heat still radiating around Marion Bay. Blasphemy, from the ‘Yves Klein Blue Draw Attention To Themselves’ was a welcome inclusion, and Summer Sheets was very enjoyable, as was Make Up Your Mind, despite the very odd placement of the keyboard directly behind a huge pole. The rest of the band left Michael on stage to perform About The Future solo, as they always do, although he did so this time with an electric guitar as opposed to an acoustic, which really took a lot away from the song for me.

It was probably the most excited the crowd had been at the Field Stage. It really did have a main stage atmosphere to it, and it can surely only be a matter of time until these guys are playing only main stages. Polka was a real singalong song as always, and the crowd lifted up the energy to a whole other level to match the band. The band didn’t pull out their tried and tested cover of The Boss’ Born To Run, instead opting for a cover of Love Is In The Air, accompanied by Meg Washington, who had travelled to Marion Bay despite only performing in Lorne. I totally didn’t see it coming, and it was a great moment, as the crowd threw their hands around one anothers’ shoulders and swayed in time.

The band closed with Getting Wise, completing an hour-long setlist, thankfully ten minutes more than what was allocated to them. And no-one was complaining. Getting Wise passed in a happy blur of the crowd singing along to every word and going mental. The band left the stage to huge amounts of applause, and I was very content with my decision to see them for a third time above Grizzly Bear. My favourite Australian band had not disappointed.

My favourite moment of the show was when Michael recognised me and pointed to me in the second front row, saying: “It’s good to see some people in the front are from Victoria!”.

The lack of Soldier was a bit disappointing, as was the electric version of About The Future, but it was still an absolutely stellar performance from the boys. It can’t compare to their Homebake performance, which was indoors and later at night, but it was still yet another highlight and extremely enjoyable. YKB are one of the few bands where I know every single word to every single song, so by the end of the set I was extremely tired and sore.

But it was totally, totally worth it.

-The Temper Trap-

The Temper Trap are an Aussie band, but they are bigger overseas than they are here. Therefore, the purpose of their return to their home country was to further establish a fanbase here, and they were always bound to succeed. Their debut LP, ‘Conditions’, is a great record, and I had seen them live once before, at V Festival, on the back of their first EP release. I knew exactly what to expect, but I’m not exactly sure that everyone else did, so it was bound to be a fun set.

Although not right at the front this time, given that YKB went a bit overtime, we managed to secure a spot in the middle of the front section, right in the moshpit.

What I certainly didn’t expect, however, was for the band to appear on stage and open with the amazing hit of Fader, Love LostDown River, and Sweet Disposition. My four favourite songs by the band were played as the first four songs of their set. It was almost surreal, and it was absolutely exhilarating, as they pulled them off perfectly one after the other, and the mosh bellowed its approval.

However I couldn’t enjoy it as much as I wanted to- I was just so utterly dead from White Rabbits and Yves Klein Blue that I just couldn’t go as insane as everyone else around me was, and the moshpit is an uncomfortable place to be when you’re not as excited as everyone around you. Ultimately, I decided to leave the front area after the opening four songs, having witnessed everything that I wanted to.

As it turned out, the reason that the band had opened with these four songs was that Dougy Mandagi, lead singer, was feeling sick, and his voice was a bit off. Therefore Temper Trap’s set was roughly half of their allocated time, which I’m sure was a bit disappointing for those that remained at the front. They closed with Science Of Fear, which I witnessed from a comfortable seat under the shade.

No-one could  call their performance a disappointment: they were still brilliant, and I’m sure I just didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would because I was suffering from an YKB hangover. Their gig was good, not great. I can safely say that I far preferred them at V Fest, when they played in a tiny tent and no-one knew who they were. However hearing those first four songs was an experience I won’t forget in a hurry, and they are sure to take over Australia as they have done the UK, if they haven’t already.

-Editors-

They’ve become a bit lame, the Editors. They pioneered the revival of dark pop/rock with their debut album ‘The Dark Room’ and its followup ‘An End Has A Start’, but it is almost as if they have become a parody of themselves with their newest album, ‘In This Light And On This Evening’, with a song titled Eat Raw Meat = Blood Drool. It should be bands that have blatantly ripped them off, such as White Lies, that seem stupid, not the original.

So it was that we decided to watch Editors from a distance, eating dinner, and preparing for the leadup to new year’s. I needed all the time I could to recover from YKB. And Editors seemed okay. I love Smokers Outside The Hospital Door, if only for the first lyrics of “Pull the blindfold down, so your eyes can’t see, now run as fast as you can”. New songs Papillon and Eat Raw Meat = Blood Drool actually sounded okay live as well, but really this performance didn’t do that much for me.

The Editors weren’t a highlight of Falls, but then they were never going to be. They fitted the atmosphere leading up to the final countdown to new year’s on the main stage, but apart from that didn’t offer too much. At least it gave us a chance to grab something to eat and debate the best way to approach getting towards the front for the new year.

-Midnight Juggernauts-

Although I’ve never been a big fan of the Midnight Juggernauts, when you’re in the moshpit with thousands of people surrounding you, it’s just impossible not to get into the band playing.

Thanks to three Red Bulls, I was feeling much more energetic, and well and truly ready for the countdown to the new year. We made our way around the side of the massive crowd, which by now would have included all of the 16000 people at Falls, and entered the moshpit from the side, halfway through the Midnight Juggernauts’ set.

Immediately, the atmosphere was just electric, complete with lightning overhead. It was a truly insane experience, as we pushed our way to the front, making sure to stay together. Somehow, we managed to be about five rows from the front of an absolutely immense crowd, just as the rain started to really fall. For a while, it was impossible to distinguish between water flying from the hose at the front with that falling from the sky. The fact that the Midnight Juggernauts were playing Water at the same time, and the entire crowd was chanting “WATER!” only made the moment more memorable.

Just as we were really starting to get into the Midnight Juggernauts’ performance, they announced that they were leaving the stage due to the storm overhead. The crowd went ballistic, and for the first time during Falls, I genuinely feared for my safety. An announcer appeared on stage, to screams and booes, to say that the band had been pulled due to safety concerns. “You’re a bad man!” yelled one punter bluntly.

I’m really not sure how long the band were off the stage for, but I’m guessing it was about 20 minutes. And it was not a fun 20 minutes. A massive chant of “BUUUULLSHIT” emanated from the crowd, and I was really afraid that we would be welcoming the new year to silence instead of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, which would have been absolutely horrible. Rain continued to pour, and lightning continued to strike. We were soaked to the skin and surrounded by angry punters trying to get further towards the front.

I remember that we looked at each other, considering moving back a bit, in order to be safer. We looked behind us. What we saw was a sea of people, literally stretching beyond as far as we could see, and all packed together tightly than was possible. “Nah, we might stay where we are I think…”.

Finally, the storm died down a bit, and the Midnight Juggernauts appeared back on stage. Although everyone else was understandably excited, we were worried that if they played through the remainder of the set, their may not be time to set the stage up for the Yeah Yeah Yeahs to welcome in 2010. However thankfully the organisers proved that they have brains, and Midnight Juggernauts only played one last song, their biggest hit Into The Galaxy.

Safe in the knowledge that we would after all be getting the Yeah Yeah Yeahs for the new year, we enjoyed going nuts to Into The Galaxy. And, with rain still falling heavily from the sky, and only an hour left until midnight, Midnight Juggernauts departed, and the stage began to get set up for the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. For once, the wait was very bearable. The atmosphere was one of such excitement that words can’t really describe it. Rain and hose-water ensured that we stayed drenched, and we wouldn’t have had it any other way. The climax of Falls 09/10 was about to take place.

-Yeah Yeah Yeahs-

I was still amped on the Red Bulls, but I don’t think I really needed to be. The atmosphere in the moments leading up to Karen O’s arrival on stage was enough to put every single person in the mosh on a high. Somehow we managed to get even closer to the stage, and we couldn’t quite believe our luck. You had to go with the flow of people no matter, as many people that fell down amidst the surges learned. Thankfully everyone took pretty good care of each other however, helping those who fell down up and passing around the cups of water that were at a premium.

The stage setup for Yeah Yeah Yeahs featured a massive eyeball as a backdrop, which had become a bit of a cult item during their recent European tour. It was good to see that they had bought their stage items to Australia, and even to Tassie for Falls.

The band appeared on stage, with about 40 minutes to go until the new year. It was absolutely mental in the mosh. Then Karen O appeared, and all attempts to describe the feeling in the crowd would be kind of pointless. Getting the Yeah Yeah Yeahs for new years at the Tasmanian Falls and not the Victorian Falls was a coup, and made me so very very happy. This was well and truly reason enough to choose the Marion Bay version of the event- I’m not sure how or why it happened, but I am certainly glad it did, because I can think of no better way to welcome the new year than what was about to happen.

Karen O was immediately the perfect frontwoman of a band, dressed as she was in an outrageous kind of dress thing, various ridiculous headresses, and prancing and dancing up and down the stage as she demanded the full attention of every single person in the crowd. The YYYs opened with Dull Life I think, off newest album ‘It’s Blitz’, and immediately the moshpit was alike to some kind of rain drenched super-party, as everyone let off every last ounce of 2009 energy.

Second song Phenomena, one of my favourite YYYs tracks, was absolutely brilliant, as we jumped up and down as high as we possibly could in time with Karen O chanting “You’re something like a phenomena…” repeatedly. My mates and I were determined to stay together in the moshpit for the duration of the YYYs, and we found that the only way to do this was to have arms around each others’ shoulders for virtually the entire set, jumping and dancing in unison, and leaving an arm free to wave in the air in time with the current song. It was an amazing experience, as the rain died down and eventually ceased, as almost nonstop hose-water took its place.

My tracklist radar was a bit off, lost in the insanity of the front few rows, but I distinctly remember Cheated Hearts being one of the crowd favourites, as we all chanted “Sometimes I think that I’m bigger than the sound” along with Karen O. Gold Lion was an early hit in the set, as everybody in the front looked at each other and intoned “Oh oh” repeatedly along with the famous chorus. Although my mates and I moved around a fair bit, we always managed to stay together, and remained at all times only a few rows from the barrier. Once I took an opportunity to look behind us, and it was simply staggering to see how far the mosh extended, and just how immense the crowd was. The new year had nearly arrived.

Skeletons, another track off ‘It’s Blitz!’ was absolutely epic, but the time before the countdown seemed like it was over in a hearbeat, and before anyone had really noticed, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs paused their set, as Karen O screamed “Get ready to say goodbye to fucking two thousand and nine!”. And although I had experienced an amazing 2009, suddenly I found myself thinking “Yeah, goodbye fucking two thousand and nine!”. A countdown appeared on the screen to the side of the stage, and Karen O lead the chant, beginning from 30.

The clock reached ten seconds to go. I’ll never forget the following ten second, it was just such a surreal, oddly beautiful moment. My hands draped over my mates’ shoulders, surrounded by 16000 people we didn’t know but yet somehow did, we screamed at the top of our lungs, as loudly as we possibly could, our throats in pain, and we still couldn’t hear our own voices. The countdown reached one, and I heard thousands of voices drown out Karen O as we all yelled “HAPPY NEW YEAR!”. And it was 2010. And it was the perfect way to go into a new year.

Karen O proceeded to drench herself in a champagne bottle, much to the delight of the crowd, and the band broke into the unmistakable start to Zero, which was naturally the perfect song for the aftermath of the countdown. Somehow, the energy in the crowd didn’t die down at all after the countdown, which is pretty amazing. Although perhaps less surprising when you consider the songs the Yeah Yeah Yeahs still had to play: Heads Will Roll was a definite highlight, and passed in an absolute insane haze as the hose sprayed our area at the front for virtually the entire song, and Karen O wore some kind of strange neon mask. “Dance, dance, dance till you’re dead,” screamed the dancing crowd. Y-Control also provided a reason to dance and jump.

During Zero, two giant inflatable eyeballs had entered the arena out of nowhere, and whenever one bounced anywhere near your general vicinity, there would be a mad surge to touch it, making for an even more cramped personal space than usual, which is really saying something. And then the Crowdsurfing Banana appeared again, doing a circuit of the mosh before crash landing right near me and my mates. It was like meeting a childhood hero. I believe that we blabbered something about loving him before hugging him, to which his response was: “BOYS! GET ME UP”. And so, as our first significant act of 2010, we helped a crowdsurfing banana get above the mosh with an amazingly efficient lift, and he was off.

Then came yet another absolute highlight of the festival: the Yeah Yeah Yeahs toning everything down to play a true acoustic version of Maps, one of my favourite YYYs songs. It was suddenly so quite in the moshpit, as everyone joined arms and swayed in time. The song didn’t build at all, but just remained supremely quiet and acoustic. It was a strange and beautiful moment. Even thinking of it as I write this is giving me goosebumps. It’s hard to describe. Drenched in sweat and water, thousands of strangers shared a real experience during that song, as Karen O sung with an impossibly restrained voice: “Wait, they don’t love you like I love you”.

But of course, the set had to finish with a party, and Date With A Night provided just that. As Karen O and the band left the stage, the crowd was perfectly ready to chant and scream and clap for as long as it took to get an encore, but roadies were already rearranging the stage for the next act. It was over.

Again, words cannot describe the awesomeness of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ set. It was absolutely perfect, I wouldn’t change a thing. My mates and I managed to stay together for the whole set, firm in solidarity as people tried to push past. We also we right at the front for the entire show. It was the perfect way to celebrate the new year, and it was beyond my wildest expectations. It made the trip to Tasmania worth the effort and money a thousand times over, compared to Lorne celebrating with Hilltop Hoods and Pyramid not celebrating at all.

It was with stupidly happy smiles on our tired faces as my mates and I pushed our way out of the mosh, and we didn’t need to speak a single word, because we knew that we had just been part of something truly, truly special.

-Major Lazer (Soundsystem)-

We knew that we weren’t up for another hour at the front, but likewise weren’t exactly ready to retire to bed. So we sat on the hill, together, eating a 1am snack this time and reminiscing without speaking on how amazing the Yeah Yeah Yeahs for new year’s had been. Meanwhile Major Lazer whipped the crowd up into an absolute frenzy.

They seemed pretty cool, and the perfect afterparty for the YYYs, but we were all feeling completely and totally at peace with the world, and so retired to bed very early for a new year’s eve, at 2am.

It had been a day, and indeed a festival, full of incredible memories and incredible music.

[The Festival]

-Moments-

I’ve always believed that a music festival can be defined in terms of the moments that you experience, as much as the music you hear. And Falls was full of plenty of moments that I will remember for a long time to come.

There was of course the Crowdsurfing Banana who we gave a lift up to during YYYs and who was mentioned by Moby. There was the giant joint guy who had a song dedicated to him by Liam Finn. There were the guys that proposed to Lisa Mitchell and Emiliana Torrini respectively. There were the guys who drove a bloody bus in, and proceeded to sit on top of it and watch the Field Stage.

There was also this guy who came up to us in the huge line for the toilets, said conversationally “Big line, huh?”, before saying “Watch me for some comedy”. He then proceeded to absolutely sprint the entirety of the queue, reaching a cubicle just as it was vacated, and diving inside just before the first person in the line could make it. He appeared a few minutes later, looking very pleased with himself indeed.

As we were leaving, we met a guy who had the exact same jumper as one of my mates, and found this absolutely amazing, yelling to his mates: “Quick, someone get a photo!”, before realising seriously that “I don’t know whether I love you or hate you”. He was wearing his jumper inside-out and back-to-front, and upon being questioned about why this was the case, replied simply with “I don’t fucking know!”.

A man was wondering around at 2am after the new year’s countdown, muttering to himself “Two thousand and ten or twenty ten?” repeatedly, to which we answered definitively “Twenty ten”, which was greeted with a resounding roar of approval and excitement from the man.

There were so many memorable moments like this, quite removed from the music, and undeniably a part of the festival. These moments, as well as the music, made Falls 09/10 special.

-Food-

The selection of food at Falls was varied and quite cheap, which is all you really need. Woodfired pizza went down very well indeed, as did burgers from a wide range of stalls. These huge donuts were a good discovery, and made the perfect midnight snack. Really however, when you were intent on seeing as many bands live as we did, you made sure that you ate whenever you got the chance, and at the nearest stall possible. No complaints at all about the food.

-Booze-

Drink prices were reasonable (for a festival), and the system of buying drink cards at booths and then exchanging them from drinks at the bar worked fairly well.

However it was immediately obvious that the strict policy of no BYO had been a complete and utter fail. Snippets of conversation included “Hey, I think we’ve run out of goon”, and “We have either gin or midouri. Or both…”. But of course festivals are never going to be able to prevent BYO, especially when cars are involved, and the vast amounts of alcohol only served to create a more festive atmosphere.

-Stores-

A nice array of stalls, catering directly to the hipster and indiefag. Made a few purchases that will naturally only ever be used at the Falls Festival, but no regrets. Essentials such as hats and sunglasses were well represented, and there were a few more specialised stores such as ‘Assettes’, wallets shaped as cassettes. I was expecting a bit more of a market, given that this event was billed as the ‘Falls Arts And Music Festival’, but there wasn’t much time to shop anyway.

-Merch-

There was only one official merchandise tent, and it was very very busy at all times. There was a great array of merchandise, from official Falls shirts, hats, and stubbie holders, as well as shirts and CDs from pretty much every band performing. My only complaint is that there was no White Rabbits shirt, which was very disappointing, as after their performance I would have loved to buy one.

However this didn’t stop me from spending copious amounts of money in this tent, buying a Philly Jays shirt, my second Yves Klein Blue shirt, and official Falls shirt, and a Falls hat. I was sorely tempted by a shirt that read ‘Moby For President’, and in hindsight wish I had grabbed a Yeah Yeah Yeahs shirt as well. But again, I can’t complain, and left Falls with a much heavier bag than I bought.

-Staff-

I cannot speak highly enough of the staff at Falls. They were very helpful, especially the security behind the barrier who allowed artist to jump into the crowd, sprayed the front rows with water, and handed out cups of drinking water as well as sunscreen in between acts. They removed crowdsurfers they could get their hands on, but I believe that they were allowed back into the crowd. Perfect staff for the event, including the many friendly volunteers, most of whom were picking up rubbish and did a great job of keeping the beautiful location clean.

-People-

Generally very very cool. Met some awesome people. See ‘Moments’ section.

-Atmosphere-

Fucking amazing. Chilled when it needed to be, electric when it needed to be. Could not have been better.

-Location-

Marion Bay was the absolutely perfect location for a festival. Incredibly beautiful, plenty of space, and with a view all the way out to the ocean when you were looking at the main stage. Both the stages themselves were set up very well, despite the smaller of them being plagued by a few sound problems. There was enough camping space to go around, but it was naturally very crowded. All in all, it was a beautiful location for a music festival that added to the atmosphere and the music.

-Facilities-

Water tanks to fill up bottles were very much appreciated. Apparently there were showers, but come on, who seriously showers at a music festival? Urinals were provided, as were many ‘environmentally friendly toilets’ which started off fine but got gradually messier and messier as the festival progressed. Really though, it was as good as one could possibly hope for from a music festival held in some random field.

-Weather-

The weather was pretty much perfect for the first two days- hot enough, but never too uncomfortable, even when in the mosh. The third day was incredibly hot, but a cooling breeze kicked in at about midday which made everything much more bearable. And then of course there was the new year’s storm, which caused the main stage to be empty for about 20 minutes. It didn’t really cost us anything however, unless you really really love the Midnight Juggernauts, and in fact may have even added to the energy leading up to the new year. Rain for the first bit of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs set was certainly a magic moment.

Thanks to massive shade structures and organisers with brains, weather was never really going to be a major problem, baring the storm worsening in the leadup to new year’s. Considering what went on in other festivals for the new year, we can count ourselves lucky.

-Safety-

I felt safe at all nearly all times, thanks to mostly friendly people, the presence of ‘Save A Mate’ guys all over the place, and ambulance and police officers wandering around. Even in the mosh people tried to look after one another, and there was a real atmosphere of camaraderie. I felt as safe as it was possible to feel when surrounded by 16000 people.

-Leaving-

Leaving was fairly smooth, or at least much more than the chaos of last year from what I’m told. We even managed to grab a sign from somewhere, which will serve as the perfect souvenir. No problems with leaving, there was even free breath testing for those driving, which would prove useful, as well as activities and a BBQ organised, even if we didn’t hang around for long enough to try them out. As far as clearing 16000 people out of a field, this was done pretty smoothly.

[Final Thoughts]

Falls was up there with the best days of my life. Highlights included White Rabbits, Crowdsurfing Banana, our packed tent, same jumper guy, Yves Klein Blue, the Philly Jays, moshing to Moby, and of course the Yeah Yeah Yeahs for the new year. But really, I will cherish every single moment.

For three days, in the often sun-drenched and occasionally stormy, but always beautiful, Marion Bay, Falls was home. It still feels like home.

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11 Responses to “The Falls Festival At Marion Bay 2009/2010 Review”

  1. Hey guys, loved the review. Was just wondering if you managed to snap anymore photos? would love to take a look if so..
    Ta

    • Hey Chelsea, thanks :) Yeah I got a few other photos, what artists were you interested in? I only managed to get a few shots of Moby and Yeah Yeah Yeahs, they are all up here.
      Cheers, Lachy.

  2. Love the review, glad to see that one of my best mates got a good review to – AKA Crowd Surfing Banana. He definately added that something to the Falls experience!! :)

    He will be pleased to hear he made such an impression. :)

  3. Wow that is a brilliant and detailed review! Very impressive. I struggle to even remember much about falls – even throught I was completely sober for the whole event.

    I was one of the group from Rave Review that you re-meet at YKB. I hope you had a good trip back to melbourne!

    Hope to see you out at another YKB gig soon!

    Laurence

    • Hey Laurence, thanks a lot! I loved the review on Rave as well. I think I saw you around at Laneway the other day? Anyway, hopefully catch up soon, I’ll definitely be at the YKB Corner Hotel gig coming up.

  4. hey,
    i was one of the guards at the main stage,nice review.
    falls festival was a blast,

  5. What an awsome festival ….shite review tho just cos u don’t like a band can’t say they were shit when they wernt … That’s your opinion .NOT FACT

    • Wolfmother fan, I assume by the spelling? Anyway of course this is all my opinion, that’s what a review is: my subjective opinion of the festival. The facts about a festival would be pretty dam boring and would consist merely of stats and setlists, rather than any actual experiences. Thanks for the comment.

  6. Wolfmother…

    That was heaven haha. Great read man, can’t fecking wait till this years!!!

  7. Wasn’t there but felt like I was from your review…I’m so jealous. Great job.

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