Falls Festival Day One
How weird. Joan Jett ringing in a New Year? Considering she was last relevant in music circles in 1982, it was an odd choice for Falls to go with a heritage punk act. The vast majority of the crowd wouldn’t know her, and it’s even more odd when – after a number of false starts and a sound outage onstage – she tried to get Falls to countdown to 2011 three times. Last time I checked, midnight only happens once, no matter if you wrote I Love Rock N Roll. I love sitting on my couch drinking beer in my underpants, but even I can’t change the fundamental rules of time.
Regardless, Falls consistently lives up to its billing as one of the finer ways to ring in the New Year. The wending and winding of The Great Ocean Road gives way to the hills and rainforest beyond Lorne, and driving into the Falls site there’s an idyllic feel that is yet to wane in over a decade of attendance. Each year it serves as a bizarre pocket of strange people from strange places and an overall away-from-it-all happiness that never disappoints and usually makes for a New Year that may not be remembered in any detail, but remains visually and aesthetically pleasing nonetheless. Like Tron: Legacy.
For Falls devotees, the 2010 version of the festival promised much and delivered better than the English ashes squad. Once again it was hotter than the chafed inner thigh of an Australia’s Next Top Model contestant finished working her way through a panel of ‘judges’, but it was moments like Jonathan Boulet being far more bad-arse than expected, and Marina And The Diamonds being far more attractive than expected (leading to too many conversations with one’s better half involving one’s foot being in one’s mouth more often than usual). In fact, it was Marina and her Diamonds that set the party tone for the evening of December 29 (especially when it came to cuts like Shampain and the general marvelling at her amazing voice and pop chops), one that didn’t relent until the wee hours.
That was helped by The Cool Kids’ gleeful vibe, leading to a huge crowd enjoying the duo’s party hip hop which – when it ended in a collective ‘man, we’re all so white, but that was awesome’ euphoria – segued nicely into the soul-rock revue of Dan Sultan (who suddenly had one’s better half suddenly turning the tables in terms of ogling – along with every other lady in the audience). This set off yet another round of delighted dancing amid much appreciation for Sultan’s sultry quasi-The King vocals and impressive biceps.
Honorary Aussie and nominal kiwi Pip Ladyhawke Brown didn’t quite have a burgeoning crowd in such raptures, but without a new album to push and her self-titled debut having already been played out, she was up against it. Yet, after an initial three song downer of an intro, by the time her bigger singles – Paris Is Burning, Back Of The Van and My Delirium – are rolled out, the crowd cottoned on the idea that Ladyhawke can write one helluva pop song, and the appreciation – and, again, dancing… so much dancing – skyrockets.
The Living End have no such problem. From the moment Chris Cheney and his merry band of misfits step onstage, the crowd are enthralled and shouting along with every word of every non-new song. It’s actually strangely off-putting as a generation of music lovers in Australia have actually passed as The Living End have been popular; moments like Second Solution and Prisoner Of Society now take a back seat to the sheer hysteria that greets set-closer White Noise. Still, Roll On and West End Riot and their usual slate of epoch-defining tunes remain evergreen in the audience appreciation stakes. As does Cheney’s donning of a cowboy hat that would make Jake Gyllenhaal blush – which then causes him to berate his bandmates for not telling him he looked like a dick. Well played, all.
It’s up to a pedestrian Peaches DJ set – pedestrian except for her boob-laden outfit – and the typically party-laden Yacht Club DJs to bring the night to heart close.