The Valley filled with dry, and somewhat clean, people frothing for some Dune tunes. The basin was filling, the head count growing. An inflatable Dune Rats jumping-castle-esque banner was pumped up, inclusive of caricatures of the Dunie fellas fit to match the blow up rocking fork fingers. Thousands are in attendance as the evening wanes, and thousands break out into an uproar as Danny Beusaraus, BC Michaels and Brett Jansch flaunt the stage.
The iconic thrash rock of the Dune Rats breaks the mosh into a sweat pit of smashing fists and violent circles of bombarding flesh. The party was on and the bangers were lining up and while Scott Green, Braindead and Dalai Lama, Big Banana, Marijuana were expected crowd pleasers, the second front of the day was an overwhelming knockout. The rain fell and the rain fell hard. Thick, unsettling drops drenched the Valley turning the punters into drowned rats.
It was when the storm front had settled in and the Valley began to pool that the mudslides began. Tunnelled by overarching arms, patrons ran with enough momentum to slide over thirty metres down the slopes of the Valley. The mud was slick, far-spread and enveloping everyone within eyesight, inclusive of Dunies drummer Michaels. Beusaraus points and pulls someone from the crowd, saving them from the rain, pulling them onto the stage, his face lights up as he’s given a pair of drum sticks and Michaels sprints for the mudslide. Too bad that the back-up drummer takes the seat behind the drum kit before the fan does, it doesn’t stop him from at least having a jam alongside the fellas. Michaels finished the rained-out set full of mud, yet it only encouraged the rowdy crowd in a way that only Dune Rats can.
The high of Dune Rats didn’t fade for long. Byron were over-joyed when the rain passed and the ponchos could be removed. Despite the damp grounds and mud aplenty, it didn’t stop a single soul from remaining stagnant until the night dropped. The darkness spread across the land like a blanket to a flame. The Valley dulled, and the random chatter splintered from bar to stage. It was a long time coming for a lot of the fans, but Glass Animals broke the night with a lightshow welcoming them to Byron Bay Falls Fest.
Opening with Life First Glass Animals front-man Dave Bayley brought the thunder from the Dune Rats’ storm. The energy was intense as he bounced from one side of the stage to the other in an infectious buzz of ecstasy. Bayley nailed every note, bringing his UK wit to the mic between songs. With an unrivalled lightshow, with shades from every moody red to the most vibrant of yellows, the atmosphere lit up to steal the awe from everyone’s clutches.
When an international act performs an extraordinary show with an audacious approach and bats a six, the love radiates from your skin along with the sweat the dancing has you secreting. The Glass Animals were a weight that not even the gods of Falls fest could have pulled them from their throne; you’d be spewin’ if you missed them.
With too many acts to hit on an overwhelming abundance of world class performers, there’s no denying those left out are of an abnormally talented calibre. Julia Jacklin mellowed the tent, encouraging a remedy of swaying arms; D. D. Dumbo blew the roof off with a quirky aura and collection of wind instruments; Everything Everything had the fists flaring while Jungle got the blood pumping and hips gyrating; Cosmos Midnight took everyone back by banging out a few sneaky classics… Say My Name anyone?; Basenji rivalled Run the Jewels and, boy, were the score cards stiff splittings; while who could forget the international sensation of Fleet Foxes as their humble melodies waded through the hills of the Valley grounds. Day Two brought heavy hitters, though at least the rest of the evening was starved of rain.
Review by Jake Sandtner
Photography by Jake Sandtner