It’s never an easy task to pick five standout acts from a stellar bill comprising of over 60 artists, especially when it includes the likes of Paul Kelly, Banoffee, The Wombats and our Live Act of the Year, Gang Of Youths. Honourable mentions to those four in particular and whilst the music is the focus, I must say that the biggest highlight itself was the fact that amidst the Victorian bushfires, Falls Festival was successfully relocated from Lorne to the Mt. Duneed Estate in the mere space of 24 hours.
We cannot applaud the entire Falls Festival crew enough for not only their hard work and dedication to keeping the Victorian leg alive, but making the four days run so unbelievably smoothly. A huge shout out to the owners of Mt. Duneed for generously accommodating the artists, media and punters – we really could not have done it without your warm hospitality.
Here are some quick thoughts on my top performances from this year’s line up.
No surprises here. Having previously seen them three times in 2013, I was so utterly keen to hear their latest record What Went Down in the flesh and man, did it live up to any expectation I had set over the last four days.
Explosive and commanding, their live arrangement remains the tightest I have seen and this is probably is the main reason why I consider Foals to be my favourite band, ever. The only downfall I can think from this set is the exclusion of “Birch Tree” (my favourite track from What Went Down) and “Blue Blood” (my favourite Foals track) but that’s me being picky. The UK outfit still kicked ass with crowd pleasers “My Number”, “Inhaler”, “Spanish Sahara” and of course, “What Went Down”. Plus, an epic midnight countdown with the fellas from The Maccabees joining in on “Two Steps, Twice”.
For me, there was literally no better way to end what has been the greatest year of my life with who I consider the greatest band out there and I’m already itching to do it all again at their Falls sideshow next week in Melbourne. Foals forever.
Ok, what the actual hell. This girl absolutely blew my mind and I feel way privileged to have witnessed her first ever Australian show. Regarded as one of the biggest breakthrough artists of 2015, I knew the hype was there but holy guacamole, to say she had the substance to match would be an understatement and a half.
Firstly, she’s quite obviously a mega babe and her stage presence is mesmerising. Secondly, girl can sing. “Hold Me Down” and “New Americana” were clear stand outs for me. Finally, despite the huge international traction she has gained since the release of her Badlands album in August, her genuine joy and disbelief at the crowd singing along was just such a refreshing thing to see. She was SO stoked to be there and her good vibes were contagious. That, alongside the video posted online of her reaction after the set (“OMG THAT WAS THE COOLEST SHOW EVER!”) really cements herself as a truly humble artist.
Out of all the artists and even with Foals headlining, Meg Mac was the one that I was most excited to see. Despite living in the same city, I have just never been able to catch the singer songwriter live, so this was basically a non-negotiable. Having chatted to her pre-performance, it was so intriguing to learn of her shy character when off duty and then witnessing first-hand the way in which she turns into such a commanding force on stage. Alongside her utterly sharp vocals, I just could not take my eyes off the soulful songstress as she slinked around, often swaying alongside her backup singers (one being her sister Hannah).
A truly striking individual, I’ll make it a New Year’s Resolution to catch Meg Mac again ASAP and I think her debut album will definitely be one of the most anticipated releases of 2016.
Another artist that I just could not miss, I’ve kept a close tab on Cooper since the release of his haunting debut “The Art of Escape” and his set in the Grand Theatre was the perfect hangover cure for many punters on Day Three. With some really friendly and casual banter (he likes dogs more than cats, FYI) and his first live show with a band, Cooper perfectly translated his debut EP through this festival setting with his stunningly smooth vocals (totally got some Jeff Buckley vibes) and acoustic sensibilities. A very promising indie pop artist who I would have no hesitation in seeing again.
Having first seen these guys live at BIGSOUND back in September, I already knew before the festival even started that they would make this list. Opening with “Impossible Like You”, it was unfortunate that their 3pm time slot on New Years Eve turned out to be the hottest of the day so crowd numbers were not huge, but this did not deter the duo from putting on a stellar set full of emotion and charisma. Their live arrangement is so unbelievably polished – from Tim Carroll’s vocals to Oscar Dawson’s killer guitar solos and of course, the intensity of Ryan Strathie’s drum work. Utterly professional, utterly captivating, Holy Holy are an all-round stellar live act that I could happily watch over and over again.