REVIEW: Falls Festival, Byron Bay, NSW Australia

31 December 2015 - 3 January 2016

From Edinburgh to the world… this is FreshAir!

While New Year’s Eve 2014 saw me boogying away to a set from Aussie DJ Tom Loud (aka Hot Dub Time Machine) on the majestic slopes of Edinburgh’s Mound precinct at Hogmanay, New Year’s Eve 2015 saw me singing my heart out to a set from Liverpool boys “The Wombats” in a hidden valley just north of Australia’s spectacular Byron Bay at Falls Festival.

Falls Festival is a multi-day festival which takes place at three locations in Australia (Lorne in Victoria, Marion Bay in Tasmania and Byron Bay in New South Wales) and showcases a smorgasbord of Australian and international music acts along with comedy, art and cabaret. Falls was founded in 1993 and started out at the Lorne site, however it has continued to grow, with Byron Bay the most recent site to be added to the lineup in 2013.

Hosting a festival during the peak of the Australian summer is not without its risks and this year the Lorne leg had to change sight due to the risk of bushfires. However, the Byron Bay leg proceeded smoothly and we were blessed with beautiful clear days to recover from afternoons and evenings full of dancing. The festival featured two main stages which made it relatively easy to move between acts.

Particular highlights included: - A killer set from Courtney Barnett who has had an absolutely stellar 2015 which included a Grammy nomination for Best New Artist and two ARIA awards. CB rocked the stage and wrapped up her set with a furious rendition of “Pickles from the Jar” - A soulful performance from music legend Paul Kelly and his Merri Soul Sessions (featuring Dan Sultan, Clairy Browne, Kira Puru, Linda Bull & Vika Bull). Renditions of ‘How to make Gravy’ and ‘Meet me in the Middle of the Air’ were particularly special - Captivating vocals from US act BØRNS (whose album “Dopamine” has featured extensively on my 2016 playlists since the set) - A slick performance from Meg Mac who is definitely an artist to watch - And funky, sexy and perfectly delivered guitar playing from Gary Clark Jr who absolutely steamed up the stage with his smokin’ performance.

The performances from Foals, Art vs Science, Gang of Youths and the Wombats also rate a mention, as does the funky remix of Adele’s “Hello” which was brought to the Falls audience by Peking Duk.

A low-light of the festival was the performance from Weird Al Yankovic. While highly anticipated, his set failed to deliver with the “weirdness” perhaps dialled up to too high a notch and lengthy costume changes between numbers detracting from the set. However, a disappointing set provides the perfect excuse to check out the many beverage and dining options which were on offer at the festival. Just as the musical smorgasbord of the line up had something for everybody, the array of food trucks and vendors also provided a host of options for punters.

If Freshair.org.uk listeners fancy a change from the traditional Hogmanay ceilidhs and renditions of ‘Auld Lang Syne’ to welcome in the new year, I wholeheartedly recommend a trip downunder to attend Falls Festival. Follow @fallsofficial on Twitter for Festival updates and to be the first in the know about the 2016 lineup.

Falls Festival Poster

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