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review, Falls Festival 2013, Falls, Festival, 2013, cinema, cinema reviews, music, artist



By Charliedavid Page & James Cerche
8th January 2014

The big day has finally arrived... New Year's Eve. This is what everyone's been waiting for - a massive line-up of the best artists this side of the equator. The SWITCH team was on hand to take in this stellar selection.

This Triple J competition winner, who won her way onto the bill, proceeded to delight the early crowd. Those who managed to stumble from their tents were able to bask, morning juice in hand, in the presence of a staggeringly accomplished young songstress. Sparse electronic beats, a soulful voice and a knack for punchy delivery made Meg Mac a big hit, with comparisons to successful genre acts like James Blake being thrown around deservedly. One to keep an eye on in the year ahead.

Poppy Sydney five piece, The Preatures arrived ready to go and produced an energetic rock 'n' roll set led by Joan Jett channelling front-woman, Isabella Manfredi. The songs are sexy and the performance enthusiastic, making for a very successful early set as punters looked up from their lunches to engage with cool hits like 'Is This How You Feel?' and a furious cover of The Saints' 'Stranded'. The Preatures are a young band who have found a stack of swagger and will only continue to mature and hone their act.

A poorly mixed display of some poorly structured songs left the Born Ruffians sounding limp and difficult to engage with following the consummate display from their predecessors. While the Canadians looked the part of indie heroes, they were unable to convert into anything memorable.

It's a little odd seeing two - yes, just two - people walk on-stage to deliver a live performance. Welcome to Big Scary - the compact unit who pack a sizeable punch. With Tom Iansek on the keyboard and Joanna Syme behind the drum kit, and both belting out the lyrics - it's an unusual dynamic, yet one that works for their brand of largely melancholic music.

Joanna reveal she’s been to Falls at Lorne "8 or 10 times", but never before on stage. Nonetheless, they sound like old pros, with the drum bass and low chords from the keyboard resonating from the Valley Stage. Although their style of music may not be perfect for the festival crowd, it’s ideal mid-afternoon fodder, delivering a solid performance.

In their short career, The Paper Kites have compiled a stunning playlist of warm indie-folk tunes, perfect for the live arena, and the guys certainly delivered. Two songs in, the Grand Theatre was packed, festival-goers intent on hearing these soft, gentle melodies – broken between songs by led singer Sam Bentley’s unexpectedly strong Aussie twang: “Howzit goin?”

They produced a varied set with shades of dark and grey, largely reflecting the feel of the album 'States', with an especially magical performance of ‘Young’. Theirs is the kind of indie pop-folk that leaves you with a warm, fuzzy feeling, perfect for a sunny festival afternoon.

Wolf & Cub are battlers. Putting on a ferocious and accomplished rock show in front of a small but engaged crowd, the band defied the growing heat with their hard rocking psychedelia. Despite the disappointing crowd size, the boys performed with vigour, treating us to sweaty renditions of old favourites 'This Mess' and 'Master' as well as generous dose of 2013's spectacular comeback record, 'Heavy Weight'. Hardworking homegrown rock and the perfect start to the final evening of the festival.


Issuing an intimate performance in a sparse venue, James’ sweet and smooth falsetto seemed more at home in warm, sunny Australia than his native home of Ireland. Transitioning from quiet tunes one minute to boisterous upbeat tracks the next, there was a rollercoaster of mood inside the Grand Theatre.

All other instruments are secondary to James' vocals - they take centre stage; everything else is there to colour and texturise. He may not be an Aussie, but James Vincent McMorrow is welcome back any time.

Emerging to a crowd that didn't increase much following Wolf & Cub, the legendary Smiths guitarist was in spectacular form and dry humour. Clearly, the amount of people who knew who this man was and what he had done for alternative music were in short supply, nonetheless they were most certainly in passionate volume. The religious fervour from those present was something to behold as Marr treated those massed to cuts from his new solo record 'The Messenger' and a collection of perfectly realised classics from one of music's most iconic groups. Deliberately dedicating the hits to the fans rather than the “buggers on the hill”, Marr tore through 'Bigmouth Strikes Again' (an “old Manchester folk song”), also airing 'There Is A Light That Never Goes Out' and the sweeping loner odyssey 'How Soon Is Now?'. Every part rockstar, he struck all the poses and reasserted himself as a virtuoso in a league of his own.

As the afternoon began to advance, Bonobo's set of blissful electronica made for a spectacularly mesmerising experience. Providing for the dancers up the front and the relaxers on the hill in equal parts, Simon Green and his group of musicians and guests lead punters through a swirling amalgamation of the new and old material, blending each phrase and movement perfectly. There were barely any stops in the music that grew and shifted from minimal pulses to vocalised verses and warmly thumping drops. Another for the growing festival highlights reel.

“We recorded this album over 30 years ago,” announced the Violent Femmes' Gordon Gano. Having just come out of hiatus, the presence of this band is a little bit of a mystery considering the crowd demographics. The obvious nostalgia for 'Blister In The Sun' aside, it was all rather confusing. They chugged through their 1982 self-titled record with affection, garnering a respectful attention without creating any particular atmosphere of note. 'Gone Daddy Gone' and a sensational drum solo provided some cool moments without answering any questions.

Since their 2005 debut, The Cat Empire have been a well-loved national party band. Ballsy horn work and Felix Rebel's disarming delivery are hard not to enjoy, and the band have clearly come out to have a good time. These guys have a few records under their belt now and managed to touch on each to good effect. A few sing-alongs and some solo sessions ensured a pleasant, festival atmosphere as the New Year closed in rapidly.

The big one. A chaotic and charming set from the NY four-piece that was ferociously energetic, angelically orchestrated and positively haemorrhaging great songs. Despite a great many in the crowd deciding to spend the set hurling projectiles at frontman Ezra Koenig, the band were in high spirits and good voice.

Bouncing and rollicking through a set spanning all three records, they gave equal voice to the various phases of their career so far. 2013's 'Modern Vampires Of The City' was a remarkable release and the cuts aired here came off a treat. With the newfound darkness and maturity being injected between the earlier buoyant sounds, the band were sounding sonically diverse and capable of almost anything. Be it the Buddy Holly-esque tumble of 'Diane Young', the intricate staccato of 'Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa'' or the punky enthusiasm of 'Cousins', Ezra and co were relaxed and consummate in their performance.

They even managed to keep their cool when a rogue fuckwit threw a lit flare onstage seconds after the midnight countdown, frying thousands of dollars' worth of equipment, killing the fold-back and starting a small fire. Despite this, they carried on like bunch of heroes, and will be likely be remembered as one of Falls' most fearless headliners.

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