On entry we overheard a conversation of two punters that went a little something like this: “What’s the day today?” “It’s New Years mate” “Yeah but Is it Thursday? Sunday?” Byron Bay’s Falls Festival comes at the fringes of a dream-like state where every day is Sunday and its habitual for mimosas to come with breakfast. Falls Fest carries on this state for a few more days, and we couldn’t be more grateful.
Earlier in the evening names like Bec Sandridge, Mini Skirt and the Psychedelic Porn Crumpets kicked off the three days, and were a healthy warm-up to the powerhouse that is Vera Blue. Adorned in layers of purple tulle, Vera sent us on a rollercoaster of feelings, with ‘Lady Powers,’ ‘Regular Touch’ and ‘All The Pretty Girls.’
At the Valley Stage (also known as the Ampitheatre for all the Splendour veterans) Tash Sultana’s acoustics echoed high up into the parklands. Her set up had no band, no flashy gimmicks. Just her. Barefoot, with her music. You couldn’t conjure up a more in-the-moment performance. For those who have seen her black and white YouTube video of ‘Jungle’ recorded live from her bedroom, picture exactly that, Persian rug and all, but just add 25,000 people immersed with her.
The crowd then saw John Farnham take center stage, which for many of the younger punters felt like 57 minutes of swaying until the opening beat of ‘You’re the Voice’ played. Nonetheless, the crowd roared.
Just when you thought we had seen all sides of the musical spectrum tonight it was time for PNAU – pronounced pah-now not P.N.A.U as many die-hard fans in the crowd may have thought. PNAU is one of those artists that makes you think, “No, I’m not too sure I know them” until they play an entire setlist that you know every word to, from ‘Go Bang’ to ‘Chamaeleon’ to ‘Solid Gold.’
With half an hour left to the new decade who was going to bring us into 2020? Flume just beat them to countdown back in 2017 but this year it was Peking Duk’s reign. Playing ‘Take Me Over’ as the clock struck midnight every reveller had the same thing on their mind, “there is no better way to start the New Year.” The boys even threw in a cover of ABBA’s ‘Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!’ and a very bass boosted, The White Stripes ‘Seven Nation Army.’
After Peking Duk it was home time. Little did we know we’d be spending the first three hours of the new year in the bus line, but hey, I wouldn’t rather be anywhere else.
Images (C): Santography by Danny Santangelo