Another hot weekend in January—surely it was time for Falls Festival in Fremantle. Just like the previous year, it was a weekend of eccentric outfits, an overload of glitter and some cracking tunes.
This year’s festival placed a heavy focus on drug use and had countless warnings about pills, and reminders to stay hydrated and to take care of your friends. Seeking medical assistance if necessary was encouraged—signs promised that staff would not tell police or parents.
There was sure to be something for everyone with the interesting mix of names like Catfish and the Bottlemen, Interpol and Toto on the line-up. And if whatever was playing wasn’t your cup of tea, there was a chill out zone and a Nintendo set up on a giant screen.
The harsh sun was beating down on everyone’s backs as they waited for Hockey Dad to take to the stage. The surf-rock boys kicked off their set with one of their more popular tracks, Homely Feeling. People were cheering, singing and grooving straight from the get-go. They smashed out all the favourites: I Need A Woman, My Stride, Disappoint Me, Sweet Release, and even performed a new track for their listeners.
Dean Lewis provided punters with the dreamy melodic relief they were craving. People climbed onto each other’s shoulders as they swayed and sung along to Lewis’ more well-known tracks: Lose My Mind, Need You Now, Be Alright, as well as a couple of tracks quite a few people didn’t seem to know.
New, unknown tunes seemed to be in the air this Falls Fest. Lewis ended with Waves, which was the clear crowd favourite (noticeable by the hair-raising volume of people shouting his lyrics), and what everyone had been waiting for.
Catfish and the Bottlemen pulled the biggest crowd of the day that I had seen so far, and punters were chanting for them well before they took to the stage. The band had such an immense amount of energy they put into their performance, especially by front man Van McCann, that it was impossible to not be completely captivated by their set.
The hour flew by as they smashed through Kathleen, Soundcheck, Pacifier, 7 and more, and even slipped in a performance of their new track, Fluctuate. Before we all knew it, they were closing their set with a bang, with the crowd shouting along to the lyrics of Tyrants: “Tyrants help build us / They won’t mind throwin’ us away…”
Scottish synth-pop band CHVRCHES did not pull as big a crowd as I thought they would, since they clashed with Dizzee Rascal, but the turn out did not diminish their performance in the slightest. Punters were all smiles as they grooved along to tracks like Get Out, Bury It, Never Say Die and the obvious crowd favourites, Leave a Trace and The Mother We Share.
Choosing between King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard, and Anderson .Paak (accompanied by The Free Nationals) was difficult, but the international act made the cut, and there were no regrets with that decision.
Anderson .Paak put on one hell of a show and was an amazing headliner. The visuals on screen were mesmerising and combined with the flashing lights, they put on an entrancing performance.
Anderson .Paak and The Free Nationals oozed charisma and coolness on stage and the energy the crowd sent back to them was insane. The set took a more upbeat turn when it stepped onto a groovier path with songs like Come Down, Tints, and Am I Wrong, closing with a tribute to Mac Miller with Dang!, which was adored by the crowd.
After lots of food, water and as much sleep as possible we were back for day two.
The Vaccines were who I was most looking forward to, and although the crowd was small, they put on one hell of a show. The English indie-rock group kicked off their set with a more recent track Your Love Is My Favourite Band, and set the tone for a fun-filled day. They smashed through all the classics, like Norgaard, Wetsuit, Teenage Icon, I Always Knew and Post Break-Up Sex, and left fans, particularly myself, feeling very satisfied with the charismatic performance they witnessed—despite the fact we were all sweating buckets the entire time.
Ocean Alley’s groovy tunes provided mellow background music for those taking a break in the shade (which was much needed until the breeze kicked in). The crowd swayed and sung along under the blazing sun to popular tracks of Knees, The Comedown, and Confidence, as well as the band’s Like a Version cover of Baby Come Back.
Next up was DMA’s, a highly anticipated act within my friend group. DMA’s kicked off their set with Play It Out, a track from their first EP. The sun was at its harshest while they played and we all ended up sunburnt, but the band provided an unforgettable 60 minutes. They worked through a good mix of older tracks like Lay Down and the crowd favourite Delete, as well as songs off the new album like In The Air and Dawning. They closed their set with a banging performance of Tape Deck Sick, but left fans feeling a bit disappointed that they didn’t hear Step Up The Morphine.
Aussie hip-hop group Hilltop Hoods pulled an impressively large crowd that spanned both stages for their performance. They pumped out fun tracks that were easy to dance and bounce along to regardless of whether you knew them or not. The group finished with Cosby Sweater, a song everyone remembers bopping to in high-school.
As the sun began to set, Vance Joy ran out onstage with his guitar in hand. The crowd seemed to appreciate the change of pace and swayed along happily to the beautiful melancholy of Vance Joy.
Who doesn’t appreciate a good love song? To no one’s surprise, Riptide was the favourite of the set and everyone’s face lit up the second he strummed his guitar to those familiar chords.
Golden Features provided one hell of a finale for Freo’s Falls Festival. The crowd went so far back it seemed as if the entire festival was waiting for him to come on stage, and I wouldn’t have been surprised if they were, because he absolutely killed it. The cheering began as soon as the golden beetle was illuminated on stage and didn’t stop until well after the lights had dimmed and blackened.
Golden Features provided a smooth performance with such seamless transitions between his tracks that it seemed as if the whole hour was one long song. Punters were captivated by his set, which was accompanied by mesmerising on-screen visuals and an aesthetically pleasing stage set-up.
Golden Features’ dance music was the perfect end to a killer day. We left sunburnt, dehydrated and ready for bed, but we were satisfied and we’d gladly do it all over again.
You did well, Falls.