31 December 2017
FALLS FESTIVAL LORNEby MATT CHARLESWORTH
Driving through the front gate of Falls Festival is like entering a little bubble that’s completely isolated from the outside world. Things that may seem unusual in day to day life, suddenly become commonplace in the festival grounds. Glitter, matching outfits, hippie clothes, bare feet… you name it, anything goes. It’s amazing how music has that effect on us; social norms are flipped upside-down in a raw display of self-expression & emotion.
2017 marked the 25th anniversary of Falls and the line-up sure reflected the occasion. We set up camp amongst the trees of the Otways, threw some ice on the Esky and mingled with those we’d call neighbours for the next four days. We soon settled into the relaxed but vibing feel of the place.
Music began on the evening of day one, we highlighted all our must-sees from the lineup and found a designated meeting spot (I knew I was going to need it). To our surprise, the most entertaining performance came on day three when we stumbled across DRAM. DRAM is an African-American rapper with a strong accent and a “straight from the hood” way of speaking. DRAM strolled out on stage and welcomed the crowd a little something like this: “This is my first time Down Under, but we goin’ do dis the same way that we do dis back home! SPREAD LOVE EVERYBODY”. In true falls spirit, the crowd responded with a huge SPREAD LOVE. The set was simply unforgettable, he brought so much energy to the arena. People were dancing about and rapping along, not even Daryl Braithwaite’s special 10-minute rendition of “Horses” was topping this one.
The big music acts attracted the most attention but the happenings in “Rancho Relaxo” and “The Village” were the cherry on top for me. “The Village” is an alternative space with real carnival vibes. There was only one entrance, a hollow shipping container beneath a large “PLEASURE” sign. It was very intriguing… we had to see what was inside. Immediately we were ushered into a red & white tent by the ringmaster to view a comedy act. It was such a laugh-out-loud that we stuck around for another performance and returned every day after to see what other wacky and wild activities “The Village” had to offer. Life-sized board games, 10-minute rave sessions, arts & crafts, market stalls and many music performances. A personal favourite of mine was Vanderaa, a duo from Darwin who “VanLife” around the country playing feel-good indie music. “Rancho Relaxo” produced a real mix bag of entertainment. On the morning of New Year's Eve, my partner and I dragged ourselves out of our tent for a 9 AM yoga session. To you, that probably doesn’t sound too early; but, let me inform you that the silent disco from the night before ran right through till sunrise… do you get the picture? Falls is like one huge party!
Falls Festival is becoming a ritual for us. I just can’t choose a better way to send off the year and welcome another. This was our 2nd Falls experience and although the line-up changes each year there are a few things that stay the same. There’s a wide variety of food and it’s delicious! You must try the Gozleme. It’s a savoury crepe-like bread stuffed with feta cheese and spinach… YUM. Another delight is just how friendly and inviting the atmosphere is. Camping in close quarters with thousands of others is an experience in itself. I now know every camper within a 50m radius of our tent better than my neighbours at home… okay, that’s an over exaggeration but you get the picture. It’s a real community, everyone socialises and looks out for one another.
Falls Festival plays out in other locations across the country but the iconic Great Ocean Road position, just minutes from the coast and a stone throw from Erskine Falls, to me, it’s a no-brainer. Falls Festival, bye for now; I will see you again next year!