After Camp Cope took to the stage earlier this year and called out organisers for filling the Falls Festival line-up with male headliners, it was incredible to see no less than 23 wonderful women killing it under the laser lights. Sampa the Great lived up to her name, Vera Blue extolled her lady powers with queenly vampiric style, and Alex Lahey made us all feel better about not taking very good care of ourselves by being an absolute bloody rockstar. What’s more, the groovers showed their support for diversity in the arts by going mental for indigenous rapper Baker Boy and LGBTQI-activist woman of colour Faustina Agolley AKA Fuzzy, among many other hot acts – more please!
That said – the later in the day, the deeper the voices. The women and POC were overrepresented in the earlier timeslots despite drawing massive crowds of fans, and definitely copped the smaller stages far more often. We’re moo-ving in the right direction, but there’s a way to go yet… Yeah, just tell me again how there just aren’t that many girls in the music scene?
In other news, the Canberra festival was the first example of an on-site pill-testing facility being trialled in Australia, wherein festivalgoers were able to have their drugs tested for dangerous ingredients without fear of facing criminal charges. Amongst the 85 substances tested, various components were found including paint, toothpaste, arnica cream, condensed milk, and two examples of highly concerning toxic chemicals – n-ethylpentylone and NBOMe – that were promptly discarded. The initiative was perhaps a little hard to find and not well advertised, but overall deemed to be a positive as it allowed health professionals to know what was circling the grounds as well as prevent potentially serious harm to those who used it. Ambulance commander Toby Keen noted that the number of people treated for intoxication was similar to previous years, disabusing critics of the notion that such an initiative would encourage risky drug taking. While the safest action is of course to abstain from drug use entirely, it’s a positive sign to see authorities exploring new avenues to reduce drug-related harm.
Last, but most definitely not least, what festival review would be complete without credit given to the haute couture of the day? Honourable mention to the large group of people sporting fluoro green shirts emblazoned with the caption “Where’s Rob?” and a picture of (presumably) Rob. Dishonourable mention to the brave souls who ventured out in their summer best and were unpleasantly surprised when the sun - and the temperature - got down harder than the ravers did. Credit to the onesie wearers, the sequin sporters and the rainbow rockers of the day – but the victory definitely has to go to the girl in cow-print ass-less chaps, whose dedicated mate could be seen dusting the mud and grass off her bare butt cheeks as the sun went down. A-moo-zing.
All in all, it was a moo-velous day. Everyone was riding the good vibes and not even the afternoon storm could dampen our spirits – some bolted for the covered stages while others (myself included) just had a boog in the rain. We moshed to the Amity Affliction, swayed to Dean Lewis, raved to Duke Dumont and celebrated Australian rock during the Alex Lahey/Paul Kelly double act we never knew we needed. Temperatures got as low as four degrees but no one in the Flight Facilities mosh was complaining – and the view from this reviewer, sitting on the shoulders of her six-foot-six brother, was unparalleled.
I’m skipping Splendour in the Mud this year, so this is me hanging up my festival fishnets for the winter – but what a way to wrap up the season. See ya in the summer, groovers.