Days Downtown: Falls Festival review

Article & Images by Jackson Lavell-Lee

Disclaimer: If you suffer from FOMO look away now.

Day 1

The day had arrived, Falls Festival, after making its way around the east coast countryside it had come to the port city of Fremantle for the 2018 edition of Falls Downtown. You could feel the excitement in the air, glitter covered smiling faces, hip flasks were sneakily stashed anywhere and everywhere and the topic on everyone’s tongue at “pres” around Perth was who are you going to see? No one however was ready for the solitary entrance which forced a massive line to grow from Parry street to the Fremantle courthouse 300 metres down the road. Once the patient patrons had entered they were greeted by a massive white tent with tap services appropriately named the watering hole.

Two stages had been set in the centre of Fremantle Oval and as Daryl Braithwaite took to the stage early the crowd belted out his uplifting and often cringe-worthy track Horses at the top of their collective lungs. The third “valley stage” was relegated to outside the oval gates in the carpark. It was a slight inconvenience with many people having to double back to get around the old limestone wall to arrive at the Thundamentals set.

The Thunda boys quickly made up for the detour with a highly energetic feel good set promoting peace, love and contempt for your boss. There were many Sally’s in the crowd who couldn’t dance but damn, they sure looked fly trying it out. I made a mad scramble from Thundamentals to the main stage for Smith Street Band where Will Wagner sang his heart out in his trademark rough voice and commiserated the death of Passiona (R.I.P. you sweet, sweet passion-fruity goodness). Then the lads were collectively condemned to death by the largest jury I’ve ever seen as everyone sang along to the newest Australian anthem.

Local bass lords Slumberjack then turned up the volume with a huge set of FIL-FY drops. By this time there were a lot of gnashing jaws and gnawing faces in the crowd. Glass Animals blended electronic dance music and exquisite guitar to deliver an amazing set. This was an absolute highlight for me but then again, I do get a little gooey when they perform. Their cover of Gnarls Barkley’s Crazy sent people insane with lust. Flume headlined day one and had the crowd mesmerized, perfectly mixing all his hits while creating a bit of spontaneity with his drum pad. This was the last of 150 shows in his world tour and he left it with a bang, each drop was greeted with exultant cheers, the lights enhanced this euphoria as massive pupiled eyes bulged from sockets of entranced rinsers.

Beautiful people were dazed and confused after the Flume set but there were several establishments open to house the sea of scattered minds, everyone was in such a loving and social mood. The atmosphere was incredible outside of the regular drunken disorderly douchebags and white-girl wasted princesses, now freezing due to barely dressing for maximum attention. Lessons learnt, ecstasy, excitement and revelry depleted people made the tough journey home or to kick on. We would live to party another day.

Day 2

Needless to say, most people were a little crusty on Sunday morning. In true Hunter S. Thompson style, though, people reached into their suitcases of goodies to find the right balance of dopamine enhancing fruits; enabling another amazing day of sunshine and music. Is this bat country? Struggle town had a population of several thousand but it seemed everyone was still in good spirits when Everything Everything graced the main stage. Jonathan Higgs voice was pitch perfect and each great guitar solo picking impressive. Can you take me to the not so distant past to re-live that set? That’s what I desire.

Vince Staples then turned up the gangster on stage two, the sober Long Beach rapper was spitting bars more complex than Snoop Dogg’s murder trial. I ain’t never run from nothing but the Po-lice. The bass heavy set was smoother than Blue Suede, as everyone grooved to this new big fish of the international hip hop scene. The iconic and outspoken, ex Oasis lead singer, Liam Gallagher brought 90s rock back in a big way as the crowd delighted in Oasis tracks such as Cigarettes and Alcohol and Wonderwall; but also sang along to a lot of his solo music including For What It’s Worth and I Never Wanna Be Like You.

Foster The People played a blend of old and new stuff with Pumped Up Kicks sending the crowd into hysterics, but Peking Duk stole the show. They began with hilarious pre-show visuals, before shirtless djing, acoustic guitar riffs, guest appearances and most of all some deliciously dirty drops. The Kooks then followed, which for any other act would have been difficult but, as one of the greatest bands of the naughties, they had no issues stealing back the spotlight. They played all their classics, always pitch perfect and the guitar and drum solos were indicative of classily trained professional musicians. I fell in love with the seaside once more and like a Naïve school girl each singalong was angelic, regardless of my broken and hoarse voice.

Run The Jewels ended the weekend in style as Killer Mike produced a heartfelt fist in the air salute to those who have struggled with depression and suicide. RTJ owned the headline set with an encore, went hard on the mic and DJ Shadow produced some incredible scratch work to send the crowd into a frenzy. They wanted to run the jewels fast but we all wished that moment would be frozen in time.

All Staff involved in the day were incredible, if only a little delirious from working so many hours in the sun. A giant thank-you to everyone who made such an amazing weekend possible. I hope you enjoyed the best music of 2017 performed live as much as I did.

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