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Friday, 1 January 2016 |
Falls Festival 2015 Marion Bay
at Marion Bay
With 2015 drawing to a close, it heralds the yearly pilgrimage to Falls Festival for many music lovers and those who simply want to ring in the New Year with great bands and good times. Filled to the brim with international and domestic acts and a good dash of new up-and-comers, it is no wonder how Falls Arts and Music Festival has cemented its position in the Australian music scene over the past 22 years.
This year, like many, I made the trip to Tasmania for what is most definitely the most picturesque of the three Falls locations. Marion Bay is situated on the islands Apple Coast, sandwiched between ocean and forest, with the stages placed on grassy hills (at least, there is grass before three days of dancing turns a large portion of it to dust).
Slightly smaller than her Byron and Lorne sisters, Marion Bay holds 13,500 people over three nights (compared to Lorne’s 14,000 and Byron’s 15,000) and cultivates a much more relaxed vibe due to the smaller numbers.
Marion Bay kicks off with the more subdued ‘Boogie Nights’ with only the smaller field stage running and a large portion of the crowd yet to arrive. Yet this certainly not deter El Vez, the self described "Mexican Elvis", who got the first night started with his twists on classic American rock and kept the crowd entertained with his witty humor and regular costume changes.
Fleetmac Wood took to the stage next with their reimagining of classic Fleetwood Mac songs. And although it is commonly understood that if you play 'Go Your Own Way' between DJ sets the crowd will collectively go crazy. Fleetmac Wood were let down by their limited use of Fleetwood Mac and liberal use of common dance beats.
Boogie Nights ended with Sydney band Art vs. Science, most well known for there songs 'Parlez-Vous Francais?" getting the crowd jumping and dancing. Playing some of their better-known songs from their debut album and latest releases 'In This Together' and 'Tired of Pretending'. The Sydney trio reminded the Tasmanian crowd why we loved them so much in 2010.
Gang Of Youths kicked off the first of the two main days, playing to the early afternoon crowd who started by mainly sitting on the grass but found it nearly impossible to not get up and dance to such upbeat music. Gang Of youths finished on their highly popular latest release 'Magnolia'.
Meg Mac entered to a crowd that had been chanting her name for the past five minutes. Starting her pumping set with ‘Never Be’, Meg Mac was clearly ecstatic to be playing her first ever show in Tasmania. For an artist that only came to prominence in 2014 after winning Triple J’s Unearthed Artist Of The Year, this stylish lady clearly has a devoted fan base and with good reason.
Børns, with his music that sounds like a mix of Jeff Buckley, Jack White and Marc Bolan, had the crowd at field stage swaying to his ethereal voice on a sunny afternoon. Unfortunately for the young artist, many left his set (including yours truly) before the end to catch soul sensation and Grammy nominated Leon Bridges at the main stage. Such is the issue with festivals with more than one stage, as no matter how careful the planning there will always be a clash along the way.
Leon Bridges soul music was the perfect calming show for a crowd trying to pace themselves for a long night. Bridges, at only 26, is surprisingly young for the amount of life experience and passion packed into his lyrics. Adding his clearly vintage aesthetic and skills as a musician, one could almost forget his first singles 'Coming Home' and 'Smooth Sailin’' were only released in 2015.
Grammy-award nominated Melbourne band Hiatus Kaiyote, who dodge definition, had the afternoon crowd dancing and jumping in the blistering afternoon heat to songs from their latest album Choose Your Weapon and their massively popular song ‘Nakamarra’.
The energy of the crowd before Kurt Vile and The Violators took to the stage said a lot about how much Australia loves him, and his long awaited return was definitely went beyond expectations. Playing a set jam packed with songs from his much-anticipated latest album b'lieve I'm goin down... and from his popular back catalogue, Kurt had the crowd dancing and singing along to every song.
Back over at the smaller Field stage, a crowd was gathering long before New Jersey native and newcomer, Halsey was due to start. Unfortunately, due to some sound trouble, her set was delayed which left many fans sweltering in the heat. This did not deter them, however, from dancing and singing along to what turned out to be one of the best sets of the day. Halsey was full of energy (much like her songs) and kept the crowd pumped and seemed over joyed when the crowd sang her electropop hit 'Ghost' without help. For being so new on the music scene, Halsey’s music is clearly extremely popular with the younger, mostly female, crowd at Falls.
The Wombats followed with a hit peppered set, one filled with nostalgia for anyone in the crowd aged between 16 and 22, with songs that were extremely popular in there teens and tweens. Finishing a set that kept the crowd entertained and singing along, with many of us remembering just how much we once loved these Liverpudlian boys. Finishing their set with 'Lets Dance To Joy Division', they had the entire festival screaming at the top of their lungs.
Closing the second day, Foals played songs from there new album What Went Down, including the same titled single and many songs from their much acclaimed back catalogue. Foals kept the crowd moving and elicited some laughs as well with a few of their antics. Unfortunately, due to a lack of a balcony at the Valley Stage, lead singer Yannis Philippakis was unable to complete his usual dive into the audience from a balcony. All together, the Foals set was energetic, kept the crowd moving and the perfect ending to the second day at Marion Bay.
New Years Eve thankfully opened with some delightful sun much like the days proceeding it, but not unbearably hot. Around 10am many punters could be seen taking the twenty minute walk to the beach for a much needed cool down/wash in the waves to remove the layered dirt. Then followed it with a game of beach cricket that the lovely Falls volunteers set up.
The Village, as it was all week, had yoga and face painting available in the morning, to which many festivalgoers availed themselves. The Village is what puts the “Arts” in Falls Arts and Music Festival, with smaller acts, interpretive dance classes, origami classes, juggling acts and many more running all three days.
Alpine got the day rolling with their energetic set, goading the mostly hungover crowd into dancing along to their much loved music. The crowd went into an almost frenzy when they played 'Gasoline' halfway through their set, dancing and screaming a long. This Melbourne band, unlike what they suggest with their latest album title, were certainly not Yuck.
Followed by Australian Hip Hop artist, Seth Sentry, who played an electrifying set to a clearly adoring crowd. Proud to see one of their own that has done so well and returned to the Australian music scene. The crowd surged up and carried DJ Sizzle when he crowd surfed, taking him all the way to the back of the crowd before returning him to the stage.
Canadian artist Mac DeMarco brought his signature sound to Marion Bay in the sultry afternoon. Playing songs from his 2015 release Another One, DeMarco kept the crowd captivated not only with his musical talents but also with his quick witted humor, eliciting many laughs from the crowd between songs. The only down point to DeMarco’s set was that the singer had to remind a few members of the crowd that flying the confederate flag was not cool and the singer was clearly upset about this matter.
Courtney Barnett, the homegrown singer/songwriter that’s taken the worlds attention has had a busy year but none of that showed in her live performance, jumping up and down and getting the crowd riled up with her truly Australian lyrics. Starting with 'Elevator Operator', Barnett mentioned to the crowd that she’s wanting to perform at Falls Festival since she was seventeen. Barnett’s set was energetic and delightful, full of all the things we love most about her. I don’t know about a pedestal but put her on a stage and she certainly won’t disappoint.
Gary Clark Jr. was exceptional. His signature distorted guitar playing and smooth voice filling the twilight spot on New Years Eve. While the crowd was far more subdued compared to previous acts; it fitted Clark Jr.’s sound and many needed the small reprieve his show gave that allowed them to rest on the grass and chill before the storm that is New Years Eve hit.
It is common knowledge that if Falls Festival is running, then either Paul Kelly or Neil Finn will be playing. This year, Paul Kelly and The Merri Soul Sessions took the nostalgia spot, with the crowd happily grooving along to the classic songs that every Australian knows the lyrics to, a long with some recent ones that the crowd ate up. With the entire band showing their vocal range, The Merri Soul Sessions proved their separate titles as great Australian artists.
RÜFÜS got the party atmosphere going with their set, the crowd jumping up and down and many on shoulders, all waiting for 2015 to end. RÜFÜS mainly stuck to their hits, songs that they knew would keep the crowd happy and energetic. Add that, their sound and the light show they had going, the crowd was more than content to sing along and jump in all the right parts.
With the end of RÜFÜS, came the show everyone had been waiting for. Not only were Bloc Party a major headline, but also their arrival on stage meant we were getting closer to the countdown. The Londoners kept a tight ship, barely pausing between songs (both new and old) to fit as many in as possible.
As the countdown came closer, the crowd got rowdier and rowdier, ready send off 2015 with a bang. Unfortunately, while Bloc Party played a great set, the countdown itself was a let down, with the numbers being shown on the screen, the band dispassionately counting down with the crowd. When it reached one, and we officially began 2016, there was a ‘Happy New Year’ to the crowd before the band continued playing. And while this should not take away from Bloc Party’s set, many felt disappointed at the fizz instead of the bang they were expecting.
Compared to the other Falls Festivals, Marion Bay is far chiller and offers a refreshing alternative for those that normally go to Lorne or Byron. And while the costs of travelling to Tasmania from interstate may seem restrictive at first, with flights and possible car hire (although the shuttle is easy to catch and cost effective) if you spend a few days either side in Tasmania then its the perfect addition to a holiday.
Situated within walking distance to the beach, with ample camping space and a lack of shirtless bogans, Marion Bay Falls Festival is tonic to many gripes most have about camping festivals.
In addition, I cannot emphasise enough just how beautiful the location is. Sitting on top of the hill with a cold drink, watching a fantastic live act and seeing the beautiful Tasmanian east coast in the distance and trees all around, its easy to see why for many, Marion Bay Falls is not just a pilgrimage but a ritual.
TheDwarf.com.au comprehensive photo gallery of the Falls Festival 2015 from Marion Bay by Rag and Bone Photography is available at the following link:
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