Falls Festival Day Three, Lorne (30/12/2011)

The Grand Theatre had reopened and the early acts were drawing a modest head count on Day Three at Falls Festival. Lanie Lane demonstrated why she is become something of an ‘it girl’, delivering a solid set of retro pop, country and blues and occasionally throwing in some Amy Winehouse-esq soul. Chains on drums made for a rattling cool What Do I Do? and one of her Jack White collaborations, My Man, showed why the White Stripes front man would have wanted her voice; the fact she was fending off a cold made it only more impressive.

An early surprise set came next (after the first horrible round of comedy care of Mo Elleissy and Josh Thomas), with Grizzly Bear’s Chris Taylor performing his CANT project. Seemingly an underdog in terms of crowd numbers, CANT quickly confirmed those not in the tent were missing out, as Taylor’s voice gleamed through the set’s synth-laden lounge pop and the front man stalked around the stage in his own possessed world.

Back out into the sunshine and Grouplove were living up to their name, drawing the first sizeable afternoon throng to sing and dance. Their attitude on stage was purely joyous, and their final couple of tracks, most notably Tongue Tied, simply went off. Metronomy kept the vibe going next, proving to be equal parts amusing to watch and fun to dance to. Their nerd pop included everything from robot dance moves to mini-saxophone and had everyone sweating their way from Heartbreaker to A Thing For Me.

If there was going to be a local hype band for the year, it looked like it was The Jezebels, and this proved more than true as the numbers in the Valley swelled for their arrival. Fittingly, Endless Summer kicked things off, with Hayley Mary’s vocals soaring from there to the end of the set until a mass exodus from the loved up crowd.

The exit of the masses did mean that there was plenty of dance space for the next act, who would double as both the token main stage hip hop inclusion and the day’s novelty. It was time for Young MC, his ridiculously short set, and that one hit wonder, Bust A Move, which was released before a substantial percentage of the crowd were even born. Sporting a Socceroos top and throwing an “Aussie Aussie Aussie” out, Young MC won favour and busted that move like it was 1989.

Party time over for the time being, the twilight set was up and Seattle’s Fleet Foxes were quick to win everyone over. Having seen the band at Falls three years ago, and having also seen Grizzly Bear fill a similar slot two years ago, Fleet Foxes ran a risky ship with their far more subdued sounds. Thankfully their new found popularity meant the crowd lapped up every moment. The harmonies were gorgeous the whole way through, and there was a real joy throughout the festival as they made their way to their final track, Helplessness Blues, drawing more and more ears closer to the stage.

There was another surprising dwindling of numbers before the next act, and Tim Finn came out to strangely low capacity. This was to change by the end of his set, but even for the first half those that had left were truly missing out. With so much material to draw from, Finn’s set was an absolute delight to witness; the performance naturally making its way through Crowded House’s It’s Only Natural, Split Enz’s My Mistake (with many chanting the rock chorus of “that was my mistake”) and solo material like Persuasion. Finn’s set was engrossing and it was so great to see the man’s evolution through the set, beginning as a real folkie; moving to be a party starter with huge sing alongs during Weather With You and Six Months In A Leaky Boat; and finally rocking out with the full bodied audience on I See Red.

The Kooks didn’t seem to need to win anyone over, with the Valley jam packed well in advance for the night’s headliners. Luke Pritchard came out firing, bolting across the stage to rile the crowd for Always Where I Need To Be. From then on he managed to have almost everyone in the palm of his hand, no more evident than when he had many thousand voices sing Seaside with him alone on stage. Kooks favourites like Sofa Song, Sway and Naive all went down very well with everyone wanting to throw a limb or two about.

Another live return was to be had to finish off the third day of Falls, with PNAU coming back to get the late night party going. Fleshing themselves out into a bigger band, ditching the giant fruit costumes and taming (somewhat) Nick Littlemore’s God-complex all added to a new kind of PNAU. What hadn’t changed, however, was the group’s knack for varied and damn fun dance tracks, and song by song a new favourite would re-emerge to have the Valley jump. The biggest delights of the set were Embrace, which had hands outstretched all round, and the fact that Littlemore now allows for more music and less self-appreciation. An optimistic look at the new PNAU, and one sweaty way to end the day.