Falls Festival Day Two, Lorne (30/12/2012)

Having passed out shivering only to wake up in a tent-sweat, Falls Festival early-risers found the remedy they needed in Fraser A. Gorman. Distinctly hungover and a little worse for wear, Gorman’s bleariness served to complement – rather than detract from – the delivery of his country/folk soul. With his band Big Harvest in tow, the singer’s set perfectly suited the hour while his disheveled state struck a chord with the lethargic crowd.

A second helping of The Bamboos was welcomed by both those who had caught their impressive Boogie Nights set and those that hadn’t. Demonstrating that there’s no such thing as a bad timeslot for super-tight funk/soul, set highlights included an extended break-beat solo and a midset shift of vocal duties to Axolotl’s Ella Thompson, whose comparatively more vulnerable delivery set up an intriguing contrast with that of regular vocalist Kylie Auldist.

As the afternoon advanced, more and more punters began to take advantage of the availability of free beer in exchange for recyclables. At an exchange rate of two beers or spirit tokens to one bag of cans or bottles, the truly energetic and diligent could drink for free all afternoon. As this dawned on increasingly more people, a pattern began to emerge at the end of each set that saw the crowd dispersing to be replaced by a small flock of can collectors looking to earn their drinks for the next band.

Despite SBTRKT finding themselves in a strange afternoon timeslot, the London duo kindled a party spirit in the Falls crowd and had things blazing by the end of their set. Aaron Jerome’s soulful post-dubstep beats went over perfectly with the Valley Stage audience and continued to draw increasingly more people in, right up until the set’s end.

Having been so stirred up SBTRKT’s show the crowd was buzzing and this atmosphere of restless expectation placed an unfortunate burden on Beach House’s set. Throughout the day anticipation of the Baltimore duo’s performance could be heard all over the festival site, and under ordinary circumstances a late afternoon slot would be perfectly suited to their downbeat, dreamy synth-pop. Following on from SBTRKT, however, Beach House constituted too much of a shift down in gear for most. Despite their set being everything it ought to have been, the bulk of the crowd evaporated before it was through.

“Overheard countless times was the invariable conclusion that Flume was going to be sick and that The Flaming Lips – whoever they might be – were probably from the ‘80s.”

Moving into the evening, a fork in the road began to loom by way of a significant set clash. Surely a choice between The Flaming Lips’ world renowned live show and the first opportunity many had to catch Sydney’s uber-hyped boy wonder Flume ought to be a difficult one? As it happened, there was surprisingly little awareness among punters as to who The Lips even were. This was perhaps reflective of the fact that The Falls Festival crowd is almost uniformly young – the kind of young that can make even a 24 year-old feel slightly out of place – but it was nonetheless bizarre. Overheard countless times as groups would huddle around a program to plan their night, was the invariable conclusion that Flume was going to “be sick” and that The Flaming Lips – whoever they might be – were probably from the ‘80s.

The upshot then was that most revelers squeezed in to see Flume. Packed-out well before Harley Streten took the stage, the Grand Theatre tent quickly gave rise to an unruly situation, as the crowd took on a life of its own. Unwary or less-weighty spectators faced being knocked over and partially trampled, or lifted up and carried off by the swirling press. As curiosity was a key factor in the popularity of Streten’s set, at any given time there were just as many people trying to get out of the Grand Theatre tent as there were trying to get in. Pumped out over all this churning humanity, Flume’s cool, clean, radio-friendly productions felt almost incongruous to the situation at hand.

Meanwhile in The Valley, The Flaming Lips were starting to win over the unenlightened. Beginning with a comparatively sparse audience, as the set progressed – in all its confetti, costume and balloon extravagance – the crowd gradually and definitively swelled. Playing predominantly later-era material, the album-origins of individual songs barely mattered as each blended into the greater show on hand with the assistance of video, music and interactive props. Although they didn’t drain the Grand Theatre tent, The Lips certainly poached a chunk of Flume’s audience with their spectacular showmanship.

With the day’s peak having passed, the torch was carried on into the night in workmanlike fashion by Hot Chip. All tunes and no chat, the London five-piece brought some serious dance music to the Valley Stage, though not at the expense of the pop-heart that forms a good part of their appeal. Old favourites as well as newer tracks sat side-by-side and traditionally softer numbers such as ‘Boy from School’ were given a harder, leaner edge for the late night revelers. As was the case with The Hives the night before, Hot Chip’s conclusion marked a spiritual end to the day by virtue of the deadening chill which drew Falls Sunday to a close.

Read Day One Falls Festival review here.