Updated: Feb 15
It was my 3rd consecutive time venturing to Lorne for the 26th annual Falls Festival, however, there was something different in the air this time around. With 2018 boasting an overwhelming range of New Year’s festivals, the festival received a whack before it had even begun. There were doubts. However, after finally triumphing the road that never ends in Benwerrin-Mount Sabine Road, those irrational doubts vanished as we reached the campgrounds. Falls Festival proved once again that it is the best possible way to ring in the New Year and celebrate the year that has just been.
The atmosphere is euphoric. After setting up camp Falls boasts many quirky sites to wander with its Rancho Relaxo and The Village. During the day you’ll find yourself spending hours exploring. But at night is when the camp truly turns alive. Silent discos, 10-minute dance parties, karaoke and more.
Despite attempting to save a bit of coin, bringing tons of prepared food and plenty of canned food, you can’t help yourself but splurge on all the food trucks on offer. It’s irresistible. Whatever cuisine you’re after, it’s there. If you have any dietary requirements, even better. The vegan food layout is tremendous. It’s amazing what foods you never knew you were missing in your life.
Continuing on its facilities, Falls takes many environmental initiatives. The festival has eco-composting toilets where you get to do your best Salt Bae impression with the sawdust after you do your business and has banned the selling of plastic from all its vendors. With the bad reputation, festivals have with their clean-up operation comforting to know that this one is attempting to reduce its ecological footprint.
Now to the main drawcard, the music.
We would have to release multiple books to review all the awesome acts that played. Here are just a tiny fraction of the incredible acts that killed their sets:
Anderson. Paak & The Free Nationals were simply breathtaking. It was like feeling the Earth move. Paak firmly established why Falls trusted the widely talented musician and his funky back-up band, The Free Nationals, as the main headliner of the festival. This definitely won’t be the last time we see his raspy voice and killer smile.
The crowd held their breath as the Toto emerged on stage. They looked old. 99% of the audience were a twinkle in an eye when this iconic group formed 40 years ago. Had they lost it? No. Toto proved why they are the bedrock of rock and pop music. The single-note piano percussion to ‘Hold The Line’ and memorable rendition to ‘Africa’ will echo across the festival grounds forever.
Toto wasn’t the only to ones to wind back the clock with Dizzee Rascal transporting us back to the ‘So Fresh’ hits of ’09 and ’10 with grime king-pin leaving the crowd sweaty and satisfied. And of course, national treasures Hilltop Hoods helping us recount hit after hit in Australian music over the past two decades.
Jack River, Ocean Alley, Hockey Dad and Chrvches rounded off their brilliant 2018 campaigns with commanding performances of their own rising hits.
The vast versatility that electronic music has to offer was showcased from Cut Copy’s vintage disco and synth pop to the enigma behind the mask Golden Features’ deep house tracks to moments of pure tranquillity when we flew with Flight Facilities.
Whilst the DMA’s and Vance Joy had the crowd of the Valley Stage turn into a pure singalong from the bottom of the hill all the way up to the Grand Theatre.
The biggest hype of the 4-day festival hung on British rock band Catfish and The Bottlemen. Arguably the most anticipated set of the festival along with bringing in the New Year, there was little wiggle room for error. Catfish played the hysteria off like it was nothing. Despite being evidently cactused, frontman Van McCann effortlessly had everyone under his spell. One of the best live bands in the game. The New Year’s set Lorne has been calling for years.
Yet, despite all that the festival and the artists provide to the event, it is the people that make the festival. Very rarely are you surrounded by thousands of people that are as equally chuffed to be at the same place as you. Every brief encounter with a stranger is always memorable and if you are lucky enough, you will find the legends you always wanted as mates. If you are luckier, they will think the same of you. The campsite yarns evolve into deep and meaningful chats and suddenly you find that you’ve shared more with each other than with your mates back home. Hopefully, you’ll be able to link up beyond the festival to consolidate those magical memories and make more, potentially even at the next Falls Festival with them.
There are very few festivals in Australia that you could do over and over again. Falls Festival is one of them. Falls received a fair bit of heat from the media for reportedly not possessing on paper the lineup it has reeled in previous years. If you’re not in it for the music, apart from a strong recommendation to listen to more music, do it for the people you meet. It’s as if it’s a gathering of all the legends from near and far. It’s an unforgettable experience. Can’t wait for round 4.