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Live Review: Falls Festival Day 1 - North Byron Parklands (30.12.14)

The misting stations offered the only reprieve. The barometer was pushing higher and higher and with barely any shade to be found, walking through a green tunnel that sprayed water at you seemed like the best option. Shirts clung to skin, whether through sweat or water spray it was impossible to tell, as the second Falls Festival in Byron Bay shifted into life.

Being only the second Falls held there, some pretty obvious teething problems remain. A brisk walk through the parking area revealed four cars with their noses in ditches, many others parked in by other cars, and campers being forced to lug camping gear across the entire site due to the parking areas being kilometres away from the grounds.

The Valley Stage was cordoned off inside, making half of the ground eerily deserted. The rest of the layout is compact, centered on the Forest Stage; tucked between hills and backing onto forest, it offered drained punters a slice of shade. Most of them were deposited on a hill when Fishing clicked into life. Trap and chillwave, and heavy deep beats rolled out from the stage. Oscillating between chugging rhythms and muted, song thumbprints, the latter half punctuated by weaved in African beats.

Thelma Plum is steadily moving away from quiet folk, into the realm of keyboard driven pop. Tight and expansive, she offered a blistering cover of Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game”, and relived her sultry Like A Version with Chet Faker’s “Gold”. She cut a fine figure, with heavy makeup (“If my fake eyelashes fall off halfway through a song, it’s not my eye, so don’t freak out”) and a sleek, glittering dress.

The afternoon thrash-a-thon was cemented with Kingswood, pounding through “Ohio”, “Micro Wars” threaded with wailing guitar solos. As a tribute to Thelma Plum, they cut in a few bars of “Wicked Game” for good measure. Megan Washington bounced through her sunset set, opening with “Limitless” and “Sunday Best” before pausing for breath. She donned a rasta hat for “The Hardest Part”, twisting and running in place and dragging sweat from her forehead. Single “Who Are You” was striking, Washington wrangling her vocals into a tortured yell.

The heat had broken, and a few stars were blinking overhead when Dan Sultan broke into “Under Your Skin”. Cutting a slick figure in tight black jeans and a white shirt, his set gritty and watertight, closing with the bruising “Kimberley Calling”.

Darude’s “Sandstorm” came out of the smoke in the middle of DZ Deathrays set, muddled with distortion and heavy drums, seemingly every one that lived through the early 2000’s crammed into the Forest Stage to witness three minutes of a punk dance explosion. Elsewhere, their set was typically raucous, although plagued by sound issues – the Shane Parsons’ were tuned out of earshot for the first song - but they pressed through “Reflective Skull” and “Gina Works At Hearts” with vicious curls of guitar and crunching drums. Northeast Party House closed the night out, reliving most of their album Any Given Weekend to an increasingly drunk and rowdy crowd.