We had so much fun down in Byron Bay at Falls Music and Arts Festival 2014. How much fun? Well, between stellar sets from Wolf Alice, Alt-J, John Butler Trio and a surprise guest jumping on stage with Aussie rockers Spiderbait, I think it’s safe to say we had the time of our lives!
Vance Joy @ Valley Stage, Day 3.
As I walked over to the Valley stage, I heard people joking that Vance Joy would just play Riptide for his 45 minute set, since, according to them, “he has no other songs”. I’m sure that by the end of the set, Vance Joy well and truly proved them wrong. He shyly stepped out of a puff of smoke into the public eye and wasted no time before getting into a song. He spoke very little to crowd, simply allowing his music to do the talking for him. Many of the fans knew every lyric, and the others who didn’t appreciated the music all the same. As Vance Joy struck the opening chords of Riptide on his ukulele, the crowd cheered briefly then became almost silent before joining him in singing the song in full. Vance Joy closed the set with This Mess Is Mine, and wished the crowd a happy New Year.
Wolf Alice @ Forest Stage, Day 4.
The four piece have felt a fair bit of love in Australia from independent stations, and for good reason. Tracks like She, Moaning Lisa Smile and Fluffy are brilliant and are one of the many reasons that I decided to see this band. They opened with Storm before treating the crowd a few songs later to a beautiful cover of Chris Isaak’s Wicked Game. Ellie Rowsell’s vocals were spectacular, and she pulled off intricate melodies without the slightest hitch. Their set was consistent from start to finish, and I can safely say looking back that this was my favourite set from the last day, and one of the best performances of the entire festival. I hope their debut LP explodes and they find themselves down in Australia again sooner rather than later!
Empire of the Sun @ Valley Stage, Day 3.
Empire of the Sun closed the Valley stage with what could be best described as an ‘out-of-this-world’ performance. Luke Steele materialized on stage in his Alien lord outfit while dancers swirled around him in their sea themed costumes. Standing On The Shore got the crowd going, and each song afterwards kept them dancing until the final notes of Alive. There’s not much I can say about Empire of the Sun live, it’s a show you have to experience, not read about.
John Butler Trio @ Valley Stage, Day 4.
After listening to John Butler for over 14 years, the stars finally aligned and I got the chance to see this inspirational Australian musician hit the stage for the first time. My family was on a holiday in Perth when we first heard John Butler Trio emanating from a tinny CD player in a cafe, and my parents immediately loved it. We ended up with a copy of his second album, Three, before we left the west coast of Australia. Since then, my love of John Butler Trio’s music has grown, and I am ecstatic to say that their performance did not disappoint. Even though the genres (and the people attending) varied quite widely at Falls Music Festival, everyone there knew the lyrics to John Butler Trio’s songs, and so it came as no surprise that tracks like Zebra became a massive singalong. Ocean threw the crowd into complete silence, but they did cheer as each section of the beautiful track ended to show appreciation for the exquisite composition.
alt-J@ Valley Stage, Day 4.
alt-J had the distinct pleasure of closing the festival, and they sure did close it in style. Their light show matched Radiohead’s incredible performances and massive hits like Left Hand Free, Hunger of the Pine and Fitzpleasure overrode the fact that the men didn’t move an inch from the positions they walked out onto. The crowd craved Breezeblocks as the band trawled through their two albums, seeming too eager to wait and see when it would be played. As the set drew to a close, the anticipation was high. alt-J gave the fans what they wanted, and they danced on for another four minutes of bliss.
Moses Gunn Collective @ Forest Stage, Day 2.
As the group walked out covered in glitter (not chrome), they had a definite throwback feel to their visuals. When the guitars sent out their first notes, it was more than confirmed that this band was fusing the new with old and creating an epic psychedelic jam on stage in front of a busy tent. The crowd was in sync with the musicians, dancing along in time to their tracks. The band was clearly enjoying themselves, with smiles frequenting their faces numerous times throughout the set.
Spiderbait featuring Stephanie Gilmore @ Valley Stage, Day 4.
Wow. That’s all I can say. Kram has been touted as a god of Australian rock, but this show was beyond impressive. I’ll explain why later, but there was something just as awesome… a “world first”, as Kram put it.
Six time Surfing World Champion Stephanie Gilmore slid out on stage to play a track with Spiderbait on her own shiny Converse guitar. The smile she came out with never left her face, and she seemed to be enjoying the experience more than everyone else. She kept perfect time, moved around as much as anyone on stage, and overall was a spectacular addition to Spiderbait. After they wrapped up the song, Kram inducted the audience into Spiderbait as members, but that was not all. Kram’s antics stretched from running around on stage in wide circles while Whitt and Janet built up a song that made the huge audience go silent. In addition to all that, he rearranged the crowd because there were “too many guys” in one section.
Their set was incredible. Kram certainly knew how to work the audience, getting them to fill in the melodies throughout the whole set. Janet’s vocals were superb, and Whitt’s guitarwork was flawless. They threw in a quick cover of 99 Luftballons, which everyone in the crowd both young and old knew, before closing with Black Betty. When Spiderbait played Splendour in the not too distant past, Dan Sultan joined them on stage for a song. Now, with Stephanie Gilmore added to their list of special guests, I wonder who will be next.
This was just a small selection of our Falls experience. If you want to read more, jump onto other articles on the Blank website to hear about the hat fashion along with more highlights from Falls Music and Arts Festival. After an incredible New Years like this one, you can lock in our attendance for another incredible Falls festival this year!