Festival Review : Falls Music and Arts Festival

January 27, 2011

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FALLS MUSIC AND ARTS FESTIVAL

MARION BAY, TASMANIA

DEC 29 TO JAN 1

This was the 8th year of Falls at Marion Bay, the setting is really epic almost taking the best place for a event, with mountains on one side and the soft sands of the beach on the other. The festival boasts 3 awards for the Greener Festival. You defiantly know its pretty green when you come up against the drop dunnies after there  first hour of usage, don’t forget the cold showers as you start weighing the pros n cons of keeping the sweaty dirt layer you’ve produced for a speedy half assed wash! The festival gives you all the ups and downs you need in an all natural way, you can start with yoga, have a dance in the mosh pit and then to save some energy there is a great lounge in the village to just chill out, as well as taking some time to visit the always good shopping/food stalls. At the opening of the festival it was said, “If anyone sees anyone go down, fly to their assistance, take care of each other and have a fucking good time!” and that’s what we did.

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Marion Bay has a new owner now and he has provided a permanent stage leading you to believe that Marion Bay Festival will be continuing to run for a good many years and finally giving the Falls goers somewhere to call home and base many memories to come. On the first day it was interesting to watch them frantically transform this tin shed (stage) into a performance stage. In the frantic run around which they call Falls, they had forgotten that tin plus a million speakers n subs equals major distortion and vibrations, so began the race to pack out that sucker to make sure the sound was great. Now, if you get in early, you can apply to work at the festival and along with all the volunteers I strongly recommend it, 12 hours work equals one ticket in. The jobs vary from gate watching, rubbish removal, car searching or serving the booze. And for the volunteers, you are allowed to rock up a day early to settle in, warm showers in your own camp site. And to make the volunteers clean up easier, Falls arranged for the general admission to fill a bag of cans to get 2 cans free. Also there is a major after party for all staff and volunteers where the alcohol that had been confiscated gets ‘donated to a chariot’ for hard working partiers.

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The village at Falls is a tripper scene with their crazy carnival like stage. If you weren’t feeling the music there were comedians, and art activities to keep you occupied. Or you could take yourself to the shipping container for a lock in with 15 mins of DJ time. You could also listen to those bands that were there to be discovered by you.

Like all Festivals there is music for everyone, the craziness of the head bangers to the mellow sounds from some of the lady singers, a mixed bag for all. Here are the ones that did it for me and some that just left an impression.

CLOUD CONTROL were tops to start the festival, they set the mood for what Marion Bay is all about. Being first up there was only a few thousand folk around to listen to their psychodelic beat. The smaller crowd made listening to their harmonies all the better, apart from the mosh crowd they were perfect to listen to at the new Valley Stage.

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DAARA J FAMILY are a pure blend of Reggae beats and amazing Hip Hop if the god himself Bob Marley was still around and had moved into the hip hop world this would be it. If you think you have seen energy on the stage, think again, these boys are wild they took energy to a new level, those others are really just chillin’ on a couch on stage in comparison. Without preaching, these guys send out heaps of love and care to the crowd, Daara J Family took everyone there to Africa in there set and had you really thinking about what is important in life. At one stage the sound system failed, the drummer just picked up a beat and started a little African jam out. Nothing could stop them, Amazing!!

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THE BEAUTIFUL GIRLS were the first of the big names to play and it was a stampede to the field stage to hear them. You could not find a better backdrop to listen to them play, mountains and beach and in the middle, The Beautiful Girls, the old coastal chill out. This wasn’t a set for moshing or heavy dancing, this was for lazing on the grass under the sun and taking in the sounds of the acoustic guitar. Absolute Bliss! One of Matt’s closest friend had passed away recently and he dedicated a song to his memory, it was heart touching to hear.

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LADYHAWKE hit the spot in my trippy heart. Being a long time fan, it was amazing to sit back in the Marion Bay landscape and listen to Pip Brown and her crew bend the minds of the crowd into a trippy, trippy state. It is easy to see why Ladyhawke walked away with 2 Arias last year.

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THE LIVING END your classic rockabilly punk boys. They are a life style band all grown up. Well almost grown up, the bass player checked his luggage in, decided to have a quick ciggie, missed his plane with the band on it, being new years there where no other planes to Hobart, so only thing to do was a flight into Launceston solo and next thing you know, ROADTRIP to Hobart!!!. These boys don’t talk on stage just full on Punkout! This was the set that left the crowd without voices and muscles that could tell you stories.  Of course no set is complete until the bass player mounts the shoulders of his double bass and plays and this time it was a duet with the lead singer joining in. When the boys let rip with “Prisoner of Society” the crowd went wild and tore the stars from the sky with the energy that left the Valley. This was an hour of all out punking that left you sweating like a bitch!

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MEGAN WASHINGTON who has recovered from her illness that saw her miss Queenscliff Festival was back with a vengeance.  This is a little lady who is all about the music, giving a hair standing set, and as always the voice that is expelled from that tiny little structure is phenomanal. If you saw Megan standing on the side of the stage you could not imagine her ability to transform from a sultry lounge singer to someone who could take on Annie Lennox for the power in her voice.

THE JEZABELS played their timeless tunes down on the field stage. It is always a pleasant surprise to find the sound of violins wafting over the hills. The lead singer Hayley added a peaceful calming moment in time as she sang her songs to the captivated crowd.

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ASH GRUNWALD was playing on the field stage and managed to make his set a personal experience with the crowd. He also showed his dedication to his craft when he ripped his pick nail, tore it off with his teeth and spat it to the stage during his first song. As they say, the show must go on, he managed to get through five, six songs in his hour long soulful bluesy set.

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ANGUS AND JULIA STONE, where do I start! Their stage set up blew everyone else out of the water. The Stones have a presence on stage that is hard to beat. They are able send the crowd into indescribable euphoria reliving your highest highs and your lowest lows of life memories, through their lyrics. This sibling duo have one of the closest bonds I have seen.  Even though they share the band they keep some of there their lyric writing to a solo act. Their songs reflect their own life journeys taking the crowd along for the ride. You can see family love for each other in every movement they make on the stage. Apart from Public Enemy this was what the crowd were here for. It sounds pretty cliché, but the word that comes to mind is the Buddhist word Aum, peace, happiness and tranquilty. All you wanted to do was grab the girl beside you and hug her to bits.

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PUBLIC ENEMY sure know how to get the hype going, just have a 20 minute interval, get the crew to hype the crowd and then dive in on the crowd expectations.

The big entrance by Flava Flav with his dance drill was mint. The energy just continued to rise when Chuck D joined Flav, the ground trembled and the stage shook! With a beat being dropped in the background, Flav egged the crowd on with a game of “copy cat’, but he wouldn’t start the vocals until he amused himself with the crowd. Having been around for years it was great to hear Flav give some big ups to his long time honorary crew.

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A highlight for me was listening to the drummer telling the crowd he loved them, but then asking them not to throw things onto the stage, that meant no cans, shoes, clocks or underwear. Except for heavy metal, this mosh was the most epic I had ever seen with heaps of people being dragged over the bar. It was absolutely mind melting to tear out some moves to one of the most inspirational Hip Hop crew.

PAUL KELLY is an Australian icon of grand proportions. His music has pulled Australia together through some hard times. He is a soulful performer however……… my Mum says if you can’t say something nice, DON’T. It wasn’t Paul’s performance, it was just perhaps the worst concert scheduling ever.  Who in their right mind thought it would be a good idea to put Paul on after Public Enemy.

KLAXON manned the bringing in of the New Year of this festival hidden out in Marion Bay. Once the count down had finished, and according to a bunch of LED’s it was 2011, so they brought the New Year in with a trip. This set couldn’t have been chosen any better, it was such a trippy feeling seeing 2010 go out the window and then Klaxon with their music enhancing the arrival of 2011 with their psychedelic, punk tunes transporting you into a state of mind where nothing seemed to be normal. It was a celebration, but there was none of your standard moshing crowd. Everyone was just in awe of the New Year and its possibilities. It felt as if the stars were rearranging and the stage was some overpowering light show.  No drugs needed.

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PEACHES, never have I seen a DJ have a full on stage show, and this one was a mind blower. Peaches herself was dressed in 100 tits, her stage girl/guys had some guts, dressed in lycra and gas masks and all sorts of scary suffocating outfits. I can’t imagine then having to dance their asses of in stinking hot gear. It had a feeling of S&M, one that really scared those hairs on the back of your neck to a point were they pulled themselves out! At one point the guy on stage tied up in nine sets of underwear started to rub his chest and all of a sudden his chest started to piss blood, everyone in the crowd lost there shit some really freaking out. If you are a DJ enthusiast, make sure you tick Peaches of your list.

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words & photography by Casey Richardson

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