Festival Review: The Falls Music and Arts Festival, Day One - Marion Bay, Tasmania (29.12.13)

The Falls Music and Arts Festival really begins in Tasmania the moment your car reaches the top of the last hill revealing a spectacular view of Marion Bay; a sparkling blue sea surrounded by rolling green hills with a natural beauty that’s almost unrivalled the world over. It’s so enthralling that you temporarily forget the bumper-to-bumper traffic… and inevitably stressful task of setting up camp that all lie ahead.

Soon tents, gazebos, cars, swags and camp chairs stretch out across the fields as far as the eye can see which means it’s either time to explore the rows of exotic stalls or perhaps grab a drink, or both. Word on the street is that ponchos are definitely in this year, every second punter seems to have acquired one and the little Nepalese stall selling them is doing an absolute roaring trade. As more people arrive Rage hits start up on the big screen at the Valley Stage and a variety of local acts entertain crowds at the Field Stage, including a rather spectacular beat boxer.

As has been a trend over the past few years at Marion Bay, the wind is doing it’s very best flatten as many tents as possible and it’s not long before there are broken poles sticking out at awkward angles, tearing canvas and generally causing havoc for distressed punters. As the wind finally begins to settle later in the night, the temperature drops significantly, thankfully all the ponchos appear to be keeping everyone in high spirits. At 8pm, the gates to The Village are opened and first official program begins.

This year the artists who work at The Village have really gone all out, there are sculptures, paintings and a whole heap of interactive artwork throughout the area. On a sadder note, the extreme winds of the previous day proved a fatal blow for the much beloved ‘Big Top’ – a tent with almost as much flair and history as The Village itself, instead a newly built outdoor stage hosted the night’s performances. Group Noise began the onstage festivities while punters made the most of a public hairdressing salon, ten minute dance parties in a shipping container, a cosy café and countless theatrical acts.

As the night continued the ever-popular audio-visual show by Hot Dub Time Machine attracted a huge crowd at the Field Stage; it seemed there was just something about belting out Guns N’ Roses’ "Sweet Child Of Mine" at the behest of a DJ that appealed to a lot of people.

Meanwhile back at The Village, Hobartian locals Enola Fall had punters up and dancing to their early-Bright Eyes-style rock, with standout tracks including "Andromeda" and "Lions". Another local favourite, Younger Dryas rounded off the night with a high-energy set that included crowd favourites "Burns Creek Moonshine" and "Young Man". By this time many punters had retired for the night, while others continued to party well into the early hours of the morning. With a line-up that includes Vampire Weekend, MGMT, The Roots, The Cat Empire, Grizzly Bear and The Wombats to bring in the New Year it’s certainly set to be a big couple of days.