FESTIVAL REVIEW: Falls Festival Lorne

Glass Animals

Falls Music and Arts Festival, Lorne December 28th 2017 to January 1st 2018
Media passes provided by Event Organisers 

Words by Matilda Elgood
Images by Beth Ware

This season, Falls Music & Arts Festival celebrated it’s 25th anniversary in its original location, Lorne. A sold-out crowd made their way to the Great Otway National Park for the massive 4 day stellar line-up.

This year saw all types of characters drawn out of the woodwork, including a majority of youngsters, fresh out of high school, making a Falls veteran of me at the ripe age of 21. The end of my Falls career might be closer than originally thought.

Lorne’s weather turned up the heat just in time for campers to start setting up their tents and marquees. Unprotected from the sun, the glitter that  had been painstakingly applied was sweating right off even before the music had begun to play.

In comparison to years previous, the first night’s line-up was impressive. The heat in the Grand Theatre reached new heights as Confidence Man took to the stage. Playing hits like ‘Bubblegum’, ‘Boyfriend (Repeat)’ and ‘Better Sit Down Boy’, the four piece delivered a high energy show.

Confidence Man

For long-serving Confidence Man fans very few surprises have been left in their live performances, leading to hope that the new year will also come with a new set list for the group. Sharing front man, Sam Hales, The Jungle Giants took to the same stage later that night. Paying homage to their roots, The Jungle Giants played tracks from their debut album Learn To Exist, perfectly intertwined with songs from their newest album Quiet Ferocity. Crowd favourites included ‘Used To Be In Love’, ‘She’s a Riot’ and ‘On Your Way Down’.

‘A solo artist accompanied only by a guitar can often leave an underwhelming impression, however Donnelly’s set emitted a certain electricity throughout the valley’

The weather turned slightly sour for day 2 with an early morning downpour – it wouldn’t be Lorne without it. Stella Donnelly brightened the day despite the persistent rain clouds with her relatable banter and chillingly honest songs like ‘Boys Will Be Boys’ and ‘Mechanical Bull’. Although sporadic periods of rain passed throughout the day, a large crowd stuck it out to hear the Perth-based singer. A solo artist accompanied only by a guitar can often leave an underwhelming impression, however Donnelly’s set emitted a certain electricity throughout the valley. The perfect way to ease a crowd out of its sleepy haze.

Tasmanian outfit, Luca Brasi kept the intensity high with their classic Aussie punk, complete with the first circle pit of the festival. Luca Brasi’s cover of the legendary Australian anthem ‘How To Make Gravy’ by Paul Kelly, had the whole crowd singing along. With just over a week since the official “Gravy Day”, festive spirits were still soaring high.

The sun finally came out for Julia Jacklin later in the afternoon at The Valley Stage. Another bad-ass girl with an a soft electric guitar and heart wrenching lyrics, this time with a band in tow. Her quiet gentleness welcomed old and new fans to enjoy her soft indie rock, and as she played ‘Don’t Let the Kids Win’ a whole crowd sing-a-long was ignited, stretching across the festival grounds. Jacklin’s iconic take on The Strokes’ ‘Someday’ is fast becoming a regular part of her live set, and a contender for 2017s best cover. The slow tempo of Jacklin’s music allows you to be entirely engulfed by her incredible lyrics. Testament to that, her final song ‘Pool Party’ left not a dry eye in the house.

Day 3 started off nice and early with a set from Melbourne locals, IV League. The opening set was the perfect opportunity for punters grabbing their morning feed to sit down and discover one of Melbourne’s biggest up and coming local acts. Although they were one of the youngest bands on the line-up, IV League were no strangers to the stage, with ‘Bleached’ receiving some sways of familiarity. Despite playing early in the day, we’ll be sure to see them sliding into more lineups throughout the new year.

‘The opening set was the perfect opportunity for punters grabbing their morning feed to sit down and discover one of Melbourne’s biggest up and coming local acts’

Methyl Ethel took to the Valley Stage later that afternoon with a familiar face and fellow Perth musician, Stella Donnelley; gracing us with her gentle presence once more. Albeit joking in her own set earlier about botching the intro to ‘Twilight Driving’, Donnelley’s solo guitar riff went off without a hitch. With a new member in tow, Methyl Ethel played magnetically together. The crowd was satisfied with plenty of treats from recent album Everything is Forgotten, including favourites that we’ve been hearing since its release in March, ‘No. 28’ and ‘Drink Wine’.

The raw guitar mixed with strong beats and upbeat synths gives Methyl Ethel their signature sound and audiences a taste of something truly unique. A regular on Australian line-ups throughout 2017, we can only expect even bigger things to come from Methyl Ethel in the future.

Stella Donnelly

Stella Donnelly

The band closed their set with ‘Ubu’, a clear highlight of 2017 releases, finishing off with an ultimate crowd sing-a-long. Temporary guitarist, Donnelly, appeared to get a bit too excited as she continued to sing the repeated line ‘Why’d you have to go and cut your hair?’ just as the song finished. Here’s hoping Donnelly will soon join Methyl Ethel on stage again, especially so she can perfect that dramatic end to ‘Ubu’.

Beloved British band The Kooks played to Lorne’s Valley Stage, the first Australian date of their new album tour, The Best of… So Far. The last time the Brighton-bred group toured Australia was back in 2015, so for fans a visit was well overdue.

Drawing from their 5 albums, The Kooks intensity and power did not falter at any point during the set. Like catching up with an old friend, the crowd was taken way back to the beginning with ‘Eddie’s Gun’ and ‘She Moves In Her Own Way’ among others off their debut album Inside In/Inside Out, but they also sprinkled some of their newest track like ‘Be Who You Are’ throughout the set. ‘Down’ off their 2014 album Listen heard vocalist Luke Pritchard take his singing abilities to a higher level than in previous albums.

Finishing off with the classic ‘Naive’, The Kooks captured the entire crowd. Even punters who thought they weren’t familiar with The Kooks’ work, recognised the opening guitar notes, which has been featured numerously in popular culture.

‘If punters had any clean clothes after 3 days of temperamental weather, patches of mud, dust and your regular camping shenanigans, then the sweaty mess of Day 4 ensured there would be non left’

The fourth and Final Day of the Falls Festival in Lorne saw temperatures soar once more. If punters had any clean clothes after 3 days of temperamental weather, patches of mud, dust and your regular camping shenanigans, then the sweaty mess of Day 4 ensured there would be non left.

The Creases and their crowd endured the brunt of the heat in the Valley Stage tent. For the audience to stick around in the sticky conditions the Brisbane outfit was clearly impressive.

Another on-stage collaboration saw Hatchie joining fellow Brisbane friends on stage with her incredible vocals, repaying the favour from earlier that morning when The Creases member Joe Agius did the same. The addition of Hatchie’s angelic voice to the all-male band gave their 70s new wave sound a whole new dimension; an addition the band should seriously consider making permanent both on and off stage.

Another honourable mention to one of the many British bands on the line-up, Glass Animals, the four-piece that never fail to impress. The last time we saw Glass Animals on Australian soil was only Laneway 2017. Although not long ago, their performance at the Valley Stage this time around left audiences counting down the days until their next return.

Despite being restricted from bringing pineapples into other festivals over the course of the year, Glass Animals were able to fill the stage with their own personal symbol, both real and inflatable. Lead vocals, Drew MacFarlane, jumped around the stage encouraging punters to follow in suit, yet MacFarlane’s physical work-out was not at the sacrifice of his vocal abilities. A cover of Gnarls Barkley’s ‘Crazy’ showcased his incredible vocals, setting a tone for what music might be to come from Glass Animals. The Oxford outfit, packed a punch with their high energy show, both a visual and audio pleasure.

The electronic/indie rock mixture of Glass Animals would have been the perfect way to ring in the new year, however a scheduling let-down saw Run the Jewels wish a dismally small crowd a Happy New Year. Meanwhile, an at capacity Grand Theatre welcomed in 2018 with Wax Motif.

Falls Music & Arts Festival brought it home with a great all-round 4 day experience at Lorne. Although I do believe my remaining years at Falls Festivals might be numbered, there is no doubt it is a really great opportunity to spend new year’s with friends and strangers alike, while taking in some of the best live acts from our own backyard and around the world.