As we stumble through the dark, and the dim lights from the tents begin to fade and the echoes of The Kooks final chords stop ringing in our ears, we’re herded like cattle through the dusty gates back into the real world, back into the life we knew before the three days of Falls Festival began.
While your feet drag in the not-quite-mud, your eyes fluttering as the day catches up with you, you can’t help but wander over time.
In your head, reliving the hours before, the lights go out and there’s nothing to the world but the faint flicker of stars out on the Valley stage. The grass under your feet is as familiar to you as the socks you’ve been wearing for three days and the sweat that makes your skin clammy is cooled by the gentle Byron breeze. It’s tranquil, a much needed breather. And then white lights slam into you from the brilliant stage, a backdrop reading The Kooks hosting four silhouettes. Hugh Harris, Max Rafferty, Paul Garred and Luke Pritchard warm the stage with familiar UK suave.
‘Eddie’s Gun’ and ‘Sofa Song’ take you back, back to another time, as the Kooks open with the classics from their debut album ‘Inside In, Inside Out’. Pritchard is all hips and legs. Between wiggles and thrusts, tunes and alt riffs, the fellas from the west have you swaying both in real time and not. ‘Sway’, ‘Seaside’ and ‘Naïve’ are the last three songs that you’ll know this year at Falls, though is there a better way to end?
Throwing out some stellar tracks from the latest record, Gallagher shouts in an outrageous below “Are there any Oasis fans out there?” Amidst the bangers, Gallgher is victim to the rain in more ways than simply getting wet. The mic, as it seems, isn’t up as loud as it could be for Gallgher, and with a few angry hand gestures and classic Liam Gallgher staunch, the mic’s amended – turns out you don’t need Noel to witness a bit of Manchester attitude. ‘Wonderwall’, as expected, envelopes the entire festival. From the Valley stage all the way through to the drink vendors and food stalls, “Babyyyyy…” is on everybody’s lips.
Liam was the one to save us… or so we thought....
The rain wilted after that. Slowed. Stopped and the mud was back (though the temptation to slide down hills died with day two). The Valley fills with a record amount for the weekend. It battls Flume’s crowd for the New Year countdown, though there’s no way to tell.
The back screen suddenly comes to life with an intro from Channel 9’s Richard Wilkins, whom explains his excitement for “Australia’s favourite DJ set.” And just when we thought the epic intros are over, Big Lez from the Big Lez Show jumps on screen after Wilkins also announcing his absolute froth for Peking Duk. Was the double intro necessary? Who the shit cares, there is a lightshow blasting from lasers of all shapes and sizes, dancing all over the Valley. The night was black no more.
Peking Duk are the peak of Falls. How do you overcome something with so much noise? So much oomph? So much… what is it about them that makes them so fun? The DJ set was lively, the instrumental sets were picturesque of a conquered rock set (which meets Flash Gordon’s colour scheme), and the guest appearances only compliment the evening’s summit.
Back in real-time you’ve reached the carpark and the three highlight sets of the third day are still fresh in your mind, though somehow you’re still humming along to ‘Chateau’ from Angus and Julia’s most humbling (yet somehow haunting) set. A. and J. have a religious following who are the perfect combination of your favourite slow bopping riffs and melodic vocals. The totem pole they had on stage with the glowing eyes reminds you of the headlights across from you and you can’t help but smile as you unlock the Holden Astra you’ve come to a stop at.
Without enough time to fall through your entire time at Falls, as you step one tired foot into the car, then the next, you remember the rest of the morning, the goods and the betters. Winston Surfshirt smoking a spliff on stage in-between swigs from a Galliano Sambucca bottle, and Ecca Vandal opening the morning to a swarm of heat. The Smith Street Band as their energetic selves and despite competing with Methyl Ethel – who clashed on the opposite stage - the two Aussie bands both drew like-minded spectators. Vince Staples, Bad Dreems and Slumberjack we’re a whirlwind of energy and it was no wonder you can remember any act all. It’s not every day you drive away from a field full of memories of an all-star artist line-up, yet it is something we do do every god-damn year.
And it’s brilliant.
Review by Jake Sandtner
Photography by Jake Sandtner