Falls Festival Day Three, Lorne (31/12/2012)
As the sun rose over the rainforest for the third and final day of Falls Festival, those not nursing bruises from Flume’s packed-out set the night before were treated to a mellow morning of music. Melbourne’s prog-folk balladeer Hayden Calnin found himself performing to a well-situated audience: emotionally and physically fatigued after two solid days, but still enthusiastic enough to have made it to the valley for 11.30am. Those in attendance were just the right kind of vulnerable and with their resistance worn thin, Calnin’s artful and emotional songwriting was able to work its way through even the surliest of hangovers.
On what would prove to be a slow-starting Monday, many chose to retreat to The Village. For those who had the stamina (and physical fortitude) to kick on post-Hot Chip the night prior, the festival’s sideshow cul-de-sac had provided a wealth of carnivalesque oddities from one-man oddball blues band Made for Chickens by Robots to the erotic finger puppet show When Claude Met Roxy. The Village good times rolled on early on Monday morning as Cactus Channel demonstrated with absolute clarity why they are moving from strength to strength, delivering a solid set of funk instrumentals.
Another consistent strong point of The Village was its lineup of comedy acts. Highlights included Perth native Xavier Michelides charismatic, self-deprecating Sunday afternoon set and Madeleine Tucker’s confronting anti-humour show. These small-scale comedy sets played out in stark contrast to those taking place on the Grand Theatre stage. A programming quirk more or less peculiar to Falls the success of the big stage comedy slot invariably hinges on the quality of the performers themselves. Monday’s run of Jason Byrne, Ronny Chieng and Nazeem Hussain ultimately failed to meet the standard set by The Village’s lower-key acts. Byrne in particular underscored the difference between the two with his largely uniform approach of “piss and shit” shouty jokes missing the mark.
Crowds flooded the valley in anticipation of a late afternoon set from Matt Corby. Enthusiasm for the triple j favourite was overwhelming, with lines backing up at the bag check points throughout his set and the reception for his hit ‘Brother’ nothing short of rapturous.
The crowd filed out post-Corby en masse leaving a relatively scant assembly to witness one of the finest sets of the festival; a brief but powerful performance from Willis Earl Beal. Having already played the two previous days, it was surprising that word of mouth hadn’t garnered the singer more of an audience. Expressing a certain artful weirdness as much in the vein of Daniel Johnston as Tom Waits, Beal performed for a mere twenty-five minutes, singing and gyrating to a reel-to-reel backing tape. Passing unnoticed by the greater part of the Falls crowd, those who caught any of Beal’s sets over the weekend will be sure to recall them with great fondness.
The arrival of Hilltop Hoods to the main stage marked the exact point at which New Year’s Eve (and the Falls crowd) began to get loose. The atmosphere in the valley got noticeably more rowdy, though far from unpleasant. The energy front and centre at Hilltop’s set was extremely positive; a sea of heads and hands moving in hive-mind unison. Further back, however, the crowd was showing patchy signs of restiveness: there were never any truly bad vibes but there was an increasingly frequent tendency for punters to drunkenly tread on the toes of those around just for something to do. The situation wasn’t helped by the un-engaging Sampology Anniversary Show, an overlong AV mashup of Falls Festival moments from throughout the years.
When Two Door Cinema Club hit the stage, any remaining boredom-induced tension quickly dissipated. Playing an extended set, it was TDCC’s duty to take Falls into midnight and conduct the ceremonial countdown.
Some particularly tenacious individuals made it down to The Village post-midnight and Coolio’s lacklustre set for the cheesy-pastiche of Sex on Toast, for most however, the New Year had been satisfactorily brought in – the pack-up and drive home they faced in the morning was a long one, and the 20th anniversary Falls Festival weekend had reached its end.