Mt. Duneed Estate became home to thousands of music lovers last week, with the Falls Festival organisers pulling off something akin to a miracle in relocating a whole multi-day event from Lorne over to the site of A Day on the Green. Even now, days after the dust has settled and my umpteenth shower has been had, I still struggle to comprehend just how quickly everything and everyone involved banded together to get the show on the road and deliver another smacked-out-of-the-ballpark quality event. But they did and here we are again, reflecting on the musicians and the content that stood out amongst the rest.
Bridget brought you her particular highlights here, and here are mine.
GANG OF YOUTHS
I feel like I’m beginning to sound like a broken record but fuck, this band has continued to prove its worth with each live show. They had an early set on New Year’s Eve and although it was rocketing toward 40 degrees that day, seeing GOY perform to a passionate and hungry crowd of music lovers was completely worth it. “Magnolia” and “Radioface” soared out over the crowd to great response, powered by the urgency of Dave’s vocals. The band’s cover of LCD Soundsystem’s “All My Friends” went down particularly well too, proving that songs edging over the six minute mark most definitely can exist successfully in a festival environment.
Gang of Youths belong on big stages like these – it’s not hard to see why they’ve become firm favourites with fans around the country, especially when you’ve got the frontman throwing himself around the stage, running through the crowd and emphatically expressing his and the band’s thanks for the crowds’ continued support and love. The dynamic the band is now defined by is as much a crowd-puller as is their music and their Falls Festival set was one that was executed with flair.
Leon Bridges was a Falls artist I knew I’d needed to see. When he and his band emerged on Wednesday afternoon and performed, it was one of few times during the multi-day festival that I actually had chills run down my spine. Bridges’ vocals, the way he felt every lyric he sung…it was all as great as I had been expecting. His backing vocalist was absolutely stunning as well, standing out on her own. The band is a very talented bunch of players and the set fell at a perfect time in the afternoon; we were dancing to those smooth notes as a much welcome change in weather came into effect and the temperature began to drop.
KURT VILE AND THE VIOLATORS
I missed Kurt Vile and co the last time Vile was in the country and had been interested in seeing him this time round – was not disappointed. Such a talented guitarist! Again, the sun was beating down pretty f’ing hard that afternoon, but his tunes took my mind off my sizzling skin (sorry for that image). There’s something unassuming about Kurt, his presence on stage may not be flamboyant or cut from your classic rock star cloth, but he still holds your attention and especially when he’s playing guitar, I couldn’t tear my eyes or ears away from him.
Finally, finally was able to see NGAIIRE perform and fittingly, it was the penultimate day of 2015. Up in the Grand Theatre tent, that massive voice filled up the Big Top, the only downside being that there weren’t many more people there to witness it. NGAIIRE’s set was one of a few that left me disappointed because of the smaller crowd size; there’s so much talent within her live show that isn’t just limited to NGAIIRE herself, it’s always going to be a pity when you can see such quality being doled out to a less than impressive number of people in the audience. But that’s a personal pet hate I have.
In terms of this specific set, NGAIIRE’s music didn’t need to be comically punchy or littered with gimmicks to gain the attention of the people; the beats and bass throbbed and her backing vocalists fucking nailed it, bolstering the massive lead vocal sound that had the spotlight. NGAIIRE is a performer who has been overlooked for too long now and I can’t wait to see where 2016 lands her – girl has all the goods.
GARY CLARK JR
It’d been a few years since I’d last seen old mate Gary do his thing but as soon as he opened his Falls set with that unmistakeable fat guitar sound behind “Bright Lights”, I felt instantly at ease in his presence. I caught his set on my own and I didn’t have one care in the world if I was dancing on my own, probably with some great guitar stank face switched on. The set did his latest album justice, but for those coming to the Gary Clark Jr. show for the first time with this festival, the show was also a great little introductory lesson in one of the best blues and rhythm guitarists in the game right now.
Stay tuned to the AU for more Falls Festival content coming soon!