Falls Festival returned for it’s second year in the city of Fremantle, and lived up to the reputation of eclectic acts, positive vibes and social awareness. The Falls’ reputation was marred last year after the hospitalisation of 19 people in Lorne from a miniature stampede.
History has shown time and time again that poor organisation can result in the injury or death of festival-goers. The pressure to provide a safe festival atmosphere was high and Falls certainly delivered. The Fremantle oval provided adequate space for attendees, and struck the balance between an over-crowded venue and a bustling atmosphere. However, a minor hiccup did occur on Saturday afternoon with some people waiting over an hour to get in.
Arriving at a modest time of 2pm to see The Jungle Giants start the festivities in a spriteful mood, especially for an early set on the first day. Completing the opening partnership of acts was fellow Australian ensemble Methyl Ethel, with special guest Stella Donnelly making it two of Western Australia’s most prominent products in the past year shredding it to a packed local crowd. After a pulsating start and a scorching sun, it was time to retreat to the stands and recuperate for the evening.
Steering clear of “The Horses” lads and opted for a melodic set by Julia Jacklin at the valley stage, an intimate ‘Stevie-Nicks’ like performance was a good escapism to a roots genre which are harder to come by in mainstream festivals, a clear crowd segregation was felt.
Watching Allday from afar was really quite disappointing, a weak vocal performance was apparent from a distance, showing his vulnerable stage persona which matched his millennial content. Along with 90% of the artists this weekend at Falls, having a spare moment to talk about Women’s rights and sexual assault in crowds was well natured but felt disingenuous as he followed with his popular hit Send Nudes.
It was apparent that the clever staging incorporated with the sloped nature of the venue itself allowed sufficient space for large crowds to see their favourite acts from a distance. The side stage was bumping with hip-hop fans as ‘Big Baby” DRAM hyped to some smooth RnB beats. After all the talk about sexual assault we began to feel like we were in a never ending episode of an after-school special. DRAM’s refreshing set was one of the only to give the crowd a rest from the topic. He managed to be the one of the few artists to discuss sex without demonising it, riffing the crowd with threesome stories between songs.
Glass Animals were a quirky crowd pleaser, followed by folk rockers Fleet foxes who calmed a large crowd with new “Baroque” ballads, also retreating to classics in a short set. A real juxtaposition of artists saw Flume follow on, despite his incredible stage design which swooned a long awaiting crowd we decided to preserve energy and head on home to recharge for the final day of the festival.
Dunerats awoke us from our hangovers with inflated beer cans getting tossed around and bodys flying from all directions. A short cameo from Drapht in the set was appreciated by the “Dunies” collective, but felt a bit out of place.
In reaction to the lack of booking of female artists after a dummyspit at organisers about being moved to a smaller stage at Byron and two men being charged in earlier festivals, Camp Cope had called out artists to wear a shirt with the text “The person wearing this shirt is against sexual assault and demands change”.
The message was reciprocated well with fans and artists alike, deserving an honourable note. But I still decided to watch Jungle over nothing but preference.
Dressed like modern African safari hunters and dripping with sex appeal, they carried out a grandious display of funk and was a definitive festival highlight. Sliding across for a 4pm set the stage was set for Vince Staples with nothing but an orange back drop created epic anticipations for when he greeted the adoring Perth following. An expressive, artistic display of a modern genre was prominent, a lively performance that was backed up with quality production.
Iconic Liam Gallagher did not hiccup or get too hot-headed when he took centre stage. Treating fans to Oasis classics as well as his new work, a Wonderwall reindition was sung more by fans than by himself as he let the song go to the enthusiastic crowd whilst he strummed away to the end of his set.
Foster The People turned the volume up showing off their new look CBGB aesthetic, drawing clear influences from the 70s, they highlighted a memorable performance with a Ramones cover (Blitzkreig Bop).
The Kooks supplied once again a nostalgic breath of air mixing old songs and new content throughout their set, but remained true to the integrity of their breakthrough indie rock sound.
The headliners Killer Mike and EL-P showed the crowd what Run The Jewels was all about with a banging finale to the festival. The experienced duo put on a masterclass, spitting out crowd favourites one after another to a tee. A short interlude had Killer Mike giving an impassioned message on life, death and loving each other and – you guessed it – crowd etiqutte. His focus on treating one another with respect, addressing aggressive or dangerous crowd behaviour in general, and promoting kindness was a well-spoken reprieve after the countless patronising attempts from other artists – who preached “No means no!” and “Keep your hands to yourselves!” to the crowd.
Overall a splendid weekend full of international headliners who delivered on their reputation, the large Perth crowd were well mannered with no major incidents to report.
Day 1 Gallery
Day 2 Gallery
Photos: Ashley Westwood