Live Review: Falls Music & Arts Festival Day Four - North Byron Parklands (02.01.15)

The crowd was looking just a little tired and dusty as the fourth and final day at Falls kicked into gear. It was the coolest day thus far, breezy and cloud covered, but it was nonetheless still baking when Sydney’s Sticky Fingers wandered on to the Valley Stage.

Ever the crowd favourites, they skated through the expansive “Just For You”, and “How To Fly” within the first half, flinging around the stage for closer “Australia Street”. Over at the Forest Stage, Glass Animals opened curiously with breakout track “Gooey”, before managing to hold the crowd and delving into a solid, groove driven rock set.

San Francisco’s Tycho pulled off an enthralling set – big doses of liquidy guitar and spilling synth crescendos cascaded over the gathering crowd. It flowed – from tracks from Past Is Prologue (the sensitive and stunning “A Walk”), to the rockier, thicker sounds of new album Awake (the title track being the closer)– with lush crystal synths and heady echo effects.

Cloud Control ripped through a bouncing set of their hits – “Dojo Rising” opened, followed shortly after by “Promises”, Alistair Wright and Heidi Lenffer’s harmonies swooping around each other and they stumbled up the register. Throwback “Gold Canary” was punctuated by screechy, discordant guitar solos, Wright unable to shake the grin off his face as they slid into 2010’s “There’s Nothing In The Water”, before “Scar” came as the last.

Surrounded by a ring of synth pads and percussion, UK’s SBTRKT was a constantly moving figure – darting back and forth, fingers flying over instruments. Underlined by heartbeat throbbing bass and scored with dense and layered percussion, single “New Dorp New York” was coolly chaotic, the tribal rhythms clanging. Aided by a drummer and keyboard/percusionist, the focus on rhythm was evident – they swung from bass thudding 4/4 to looser, dub driven funk. They remained in the groove, “Hold On” was pummeling, “Wildire” bass driven – at the expense of the vocals, which were swamped out of earshot. His remix of Radiohead’s “Lotus Flower” bounced synths over the valley, ending in a frenzied percussive jam backed by intense red and white strobe lights.

alt-j brought their hits, but not much else, to their headlining slot. Opening with “Hunger Of the Pine” beneath a pulsing red light, they stood still and faithfully delivered. “Fitzpleasure” followed, still packing a significant drum punch, as did the dirtied riff of “Left Hand Free”. “Matilda” lilted with falling harmonies, and then a run of bloodless album tracks followed. It picked up with “Tessellate”, filled out with thundering tom drums. The entire valley seemed to crack open when the thumbed notes of “Breezeblocks” drifted out, built to a frenetic drum breakdown. At 11.59 on the dot, Falls Festival ended with 10,000 people singing.