Despite the Victorian weather being as temperamental as ever, Day 1 of the annual Falls Music and Arts Festival in Lorne was generally a success.
It was an absolute scorcher as the first crowds rolled in, with temps of over 30 degrees leaving most people seeking a patch of shade for their tents. Once everything was set up, it was into the long line for a wristband. The mood was generally high despite the wait, and even the security guards were happy to joke around a bit.
The first act I managed to catch was Mallrat. After a long afternoon of driving and sweating, her set was a great way to get into the mood for the evening. It was a set very similar to her performance at Splendour in the Grass, but it still works. She also used the set to road-test some new tunes she’s been working on in LA over the past few months. The first ever performance of a collaboration with Sydney artist Basenji proved particularly popular. The crowd couldn’t quite get the lyrics, even with Mallrat’s help, but the track went down well nonetheless. Tyne James Organ joined her on stage with a guitar for a tried-and-tested cover of Outkast’s ‘Hey Ya’, before breaking into ‘Groceries’. The set ended on a high, with newer hit ‘UFO’ followed by old favourite ‘Uninvited’. While it wasn’t a ground-breaking set, it was exactly what the crowd needed to get kicked into gear.
Next up was Hockey Dad. As expected, the crowd was pretty rowdy with circle pits opening up in the tent. It got to the point that the band told everyone to calm down to avoid serious injuries. It definitely seemed like a more energetic crowd than Mallrat, but that can most likely be chalked up to different fanbases. ‘Join The Club’ was by far the best received song of the set, with almost everyone around me singing along. Some banter about how many songs they had left towards the end of the set kept the mood light, and the band seemed genuinely stoked to be on stage. It’s impressive to see how they’ve gone from Triple J Unearthed High finalists to packing out the tent at Falls in just a few years.
One of the only issues with the first two days of Falls is that acts only play on one stage each day. This leaves a 30-minute gap between sets while the stage is rearranged. Luckily, the Jack Daniel’s Saloon had DJs pumping all night. There was a mass exodus from the tent at the end of every set, followed by punters running or sliding down the hill to the lights and music. While it wasn’t as good as having continuous live music between the stages, it was a clever move for Jack Daniel’s.
Ocean Alley managed to draw most people away from the Saloon and back up into the tent. Having seen them multiple times this year, I can confidently say this was one of their best sets yet. They tore through tracks from sophomore album Chiaroscuro smoothly, keeping the crowd enthralled with their swirling guitar riffs and psychedelic vocals. Their Like A Version cover of Player’s ‘Baby Come Back’ went down surprisingly well, considering most of the crowd was way too young to remember the original. As always, though, singles ‘Yellow Mellow’ and ‘Confidence’ set the crowd off. As the last strains of ‘Confidence’ echoed around the tent it was near impossible to hear the band for all the yelling and applause.
Most of the crowd managed to stick it out through the final break for UK grime legend Dizzee Rascal, and he made it well worth their time. He opened with some newer tracks like ‘Space’, but quickly gave the crowd the OG hits they were looking for too. ‘Bassline Junkie’ and ‘Jus a Rascal’ were dropped in between songs off his newest album Raskit, and the overflowing tent loved it. With a career spanning 15 years Rascal was still impressively enthusiastic, and unlike many other rappers he actually knew where he was performing. There were gaps between songs but none were long enough for the crowd to lose interest, and while his hype man was good Dizzee was still clearly the star of the show. The set peaked when he dropped his 2009 hit ‘Dance Wiv Me’, followed soon after by his Calvin Harris collab ‘Holiday’. ‘Bonkers’ closed out the night, causing the crowd to go truly mental.
Despite only utilising one stage, Day 1 has set the bar very high for the rest of the festival. With huge names like Interpol, Toto, Flight Facilities and Golden Features still to go, Falls 2018 is shaping up to be one of the best instalments yet.
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