Live Review: Falls Music & Arts Festival Day Three - North Byron Parklands (01.01.15)

It’s the afternoon, the heat has broken slightly, and Asgeir stands on the Forest Stage, playing a lilting cover of Nirvana’s “Heart Shaped Box”. Hushed and gentle, it shifts Cobain’s drawl for Asgeir’s fey vocals, altering it into a delicate indie anthem. It’s halfway through his set, and he’s just warmed up after a sluggish start. Single “Going Home” came just before, extended with pitch warped keyboard solos, and “King And Cross” will come later, before the folkish “Torrent” closes out the set.

It’s a shift in energy from the previous act –Remi was crackling, skulking and ducking over the stage as rhymes as he slipped rhymes a mile a minute. It was a barebones set up – there’s only him and a drummer on stage – but there’s nothing lacking in sound, “LIVIN” was rife with dirty beats.

If Day Two was all about hip hop, then Day Three was all about dance. Jagwar Ma played a pulsing set in the Valley, extending album tracks “Come Save Me” and “The Throw” into 15 minute long psych jams. Johnny Ma’s vocals were slathered in effects, with so much echo that when he was speaking to the crowd he was barely coherent.

Slotted into the sunset set, The Temper Trap coasted on their arsenal of hits. Opening with the tumbling “Rabbit Hole”, before moving into festival territory with the huge “Trembling Hands”. They premiered some new tracks – “Southern Star” was shifting, their cover of “Rock The Casbah” standard, before “Sweet Disposition” closed it out on a predictable high.

They may be veterans of the scene, but The Presets once again proved why they were still around. Their set was shattering – Julian Hamilton ran out of breath in the midst of the restless “Youth In Trouble”, filled out with massive muted bass drops; “Goodbye Future” and “My People” showered in dense beats. “Talk Like That” was frenzied - broken into sharp synth splinters. Following on, London’s La Roux made her Australian comeback - dressed sharply in green pants, black suit jacket, her trademark red quiff rising sleekly from her head – bouncing through tracks from 2009’s La Roux and latest album Trouble In Paradise. “In For The Kill” came second, Elly Jackson’s vocals having lost none of their quality – high and wavering, she flips around the register above the bubbling synths. “I’m Not Your Toy” was a deadly 80’s glitz punch, Jackson stalking the stage, huge eyes icy cold as she tore notes from her throat. Jaunty “Uptight Downtown” and the scattershot, killer “Bulletproof” closed – a businesslike and watertight set.

None can match Empire Of The Sun for theatricality – their set featured (amongst other things): t-shirt guns, confetti cannons, flag waving people wearing bullhorns, numerous costume changes, and a huge sun shaped symbol in the middle of the stage. Front man Luke Steele was draped in gold chains, donning a glittering gold cloak for “Walking On A Dream”, where he wrenched chords from his white Stratocaster, before lifting it up and smashing its neck off clean over his knee. Feel good closer “Alive” fist punched its way to the end, with Steele and the second to last Falls day both disappearing in a cloud of smoke.