By Wanda Hill
Photo (Bernard Fanning playing at Falls Festival 2016 – Lorne) by Ruby Boland
Falls Festival Byron Bay – Day 3
Searing heat and a dry dusty walk into the festival site felt like a pilgrimage to a holy land where hardship must first be endured to prepare the mind for revelation. Seeing people with various states of epic sunburn prepared me for what would be my skins fate at the end of this 3rd and final day of Falls festival.
Festivals are a great way to tick off all those new years resolutions in one big sweep – dance more, sing more, spend more time with friends, see live music and have more fun. The vibe was palpable happy and totally up. So many energized smiling faces, people dressed and ready for the final day of reveling in the kind of freedom only a music festival can provide.
The Falls layout makes great use of the North Byron Parklands natural beauty. Love the hilltop bars, the big shady trees and vista over the lily pad covered dam. A great carnival atmosphere has been created with artistic installations, a Ferris wheel and circus tents. Heaps of delicious food stalls line the walkways providing something for every one, even the most fussiest of eaters. Pop up performances from acts like The Cassettes, Dustyesky and the Low Down Riders keep the streets alive between venues.
Even though some of the worlds most beautiful beaches are just a short $10 bus ride away, festival designers have created the Palm Springs water park right in the middle of the festival. With an imported beach, umbrellas and heaps of pop up pools you can cool off without having to leave the festival site and remain in ear shot of the music. They really need to add an Aloe Vera jelly wrestling pool to this set up next year.
The scorching heat sent everybody in search of shade and space under trees was at a premium, yet thousands braved the sun and danced with out a care at the Amphitheatre Stage. Fat Freddy’s Drop created the ultimate chill and groove with seriously fat beats, big brass and bass with soothing vocals. Everything I want from a festival was happening right here. Beautiful music that grabs all of you, takes over your body, opens your heart and soothes your soul. Fat Freddy’s Drop signature songs Shiverman and Blackbird will be playing in my head for weeks after this gig.
I followed a flow of people amidst the rising dust over to the Forest Stage to find a massive crowd waiting with anticipation for DMA’s. Just waiting around watching people modeling their costume changes for the big night ahead was fun. The guys dressed as storm troopers were really popular with photo opportunist’s. DMA’s blazed onto the stage with a roar from the crowd. A festival highlight for many for sure.
Back at the Amphitheatre Bernard Fanning had the crowd singing along with his ever popular tunes. The festival had about 16,000 punters all up and it was noticeably easy to get around to see different acts. The sound engineers at all venues had the sound up to the perfect level and organisation in general at Falls was right on the mark.
Craving a good dance, I headed back to the Forest Stage to catch an brilliant set by Golden Features where patrons were going off! Such good vibes, good beats bringing the party higher. A dancer in the audience really captured the escalating moment by setting off a red flare, illuminating their circle of friend’s enjoyment. By this time a storm was brewing and the air cooling off, a very welcome change, adding to all the dancer’s energy.
With the storm imminent a dedicated crowd of thousands remained in front of the Amphitheatre Stage waiting for Catfish and the Bottlemen. The sky exploded into a cracking storm with a downpour that lasted hours. Amazing what a plastic poncho and an akubra can protect you from. This seriously tough crowd waited for well over an hour in the pouring rain for technical difficulties to be resolved so that Catfish and the Bottlemen could grace the stage. Remarkably, peoples’ spirits were not dampened by any of this and Catfish and the Bottlemen finally came out to a very welcoming crowd who had not stopped dancing in the rain while waiting for this awesome band to arrive.
Feeling pretty saturated and bedraggled, by now the car was looking warm and appealing, so I headed down what had been a dusty track, now full of mud and puddles. Perfect timing to pick up the tractor cart shuttle back to the car park. As a load of us completely drenched festival goers disembarked from the trailer a new group of dry freshly arrived patrons hopped on board excited to get on site and see London Grammar close the festival… till next year.
Event: FALLS FESTIVAL 2016 http://fallsfestival.com/
Venue: Byron Bay, NSW
Date: 2 January 2017
Photographer: Ruby Boland Photography