Our trip to the Lorne Falls festival did not get off to the most perfect of starts as we found ourselves laying under our car in the Mount Gambier Bunnings’ car park with a bag of zip-ties. Whoever said Rav 4’s were unbreakable was sorely mistaken.
Once the underside of the car was securely and professionally repaired we were off – our final destination would be the forests of Lorne. After waiting in the entrance line for what seemed like hours (it was hours) listening to the Australian cricket team capitulate against India to 6 for 130, we finally scooted past the vehicle checking points unscaved and headed towards our camp site.
Sitting atop the hill overlooking the festival grounds and enjoying the fruits of nature, it’s easy to forget where you are - especially as I had slept the majority of the way and had literally no idea where we were or how we got there.
Hockey Dad was first up on our list of bands to see and boy did they put on a show - (judging by the sounds of the crowd as we listened from our campsite). 9/10 (we think).
After setting up camp and soaking in the atmosphere, we headed towards the Grand Theatre stage to see the psychedelic and highly acclaimed Ocean Alley. This was a wise decision as the boys put on one of the most relaxed and vibey performances of the entire lineup. It really is all about confidence baby.
This was followed by the rascal, Dizzee Rascal. Definitely a good move sending Dizzee into bat after Ocean Alley, as he brought a stack of jams that were seemingly impossible not to jive to. This years crowd song was DJ Otzi’s cover of “Hey Baby”, sung in unison by the a crowd of thousands. A site to behold.
Day 2 was set to be a big one with local SA icons West Thebarton kicking things off on the Valley stage and doing the West End proud. Lead singer Ray found himself being mauled by the mosh pit, all while dropping more c-bombs than cartons of red tins sold on doll day. You should have seen it. The ex Brothel Party killed it, they always do.
Next on our list was King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard getting slizzard in a blizzard. Their 70’s style grunge-rock resonated throughout the valley, giving me small glimpses of what Woodstock may have been like. Using a plethora of old funky guitars, over distorted amps and a pair of drum kits, they opened with their 8 minute classic ‘Rattlesnake’ - boy did they shred.. I’m pretty sure they might only be finishing their set now.
Before proceeding, it should be noted that one of my main incentives for attending was to see (and hopefully meet) Anderson Paak. We were lucky enough to do just that. To keep it short, we approached, fan-boyed hard and he agreed to let Sam (This is Radelaide photographer) take some portraits of him in the backstage area. What a bloke.
Soon after this “chance” encounter we had the pleasure of watching him close out the night. I’ve seen many live performances in my time, and Anderson Paak. & The Free Nationals comes second to none. Dance moves that would rival the great MJ were contrasted by ear-shattering drum solos as we were reminded that he is one seriously talented musician.
With an explosion of confetti, Day 2 Was over and what a way to end it.
It was now Day 3 - The half-way point and the effects of having no network coverage was beginning to take its toll on me. I found myself walking aimlessly around the campgrounds asking people for updates of the cricket scores – “Please sir, may I have some hotspot?”.
It isn’t all about the music here though – the “Village” and markets offer a break from the sometimes chaotic music. Clothing stalls run by entrepeneurs who are only too willing to remind you that their clothes are handmade from the most biodegradibal, enviromentally friendly materials. There was also novelty acts including stand up comedy, acrobatics and weddings every 10 minutes. There really is something for everyone here, especially if your skin has adjusted to wearing heshan ponchos and denim overalls recycled from the late 80’s.
Later, we sat on the hill stroking our Barnesy-like 3 day growths (we must have looked like a couple of hobos basking in the winter sun) and awaited the arrival of Interpol to the stage. Their somber but electric performance paired perfectly with a Jack Daniels and cola, while their light show was something to behold. This would prove to be the perfect precursor to the Hilltop Hoods. The boys from the Adelaide hills didn’t get the memo it was a musical performance, not a marathon. Every song was met by a hearty sing- along from the crowd as the boys showed that a little showmanship can go a long way towards keeping the nosebleed section happy. Well played boys.
Day 4 was (by far) the biggest day of the 4 with a list of MASSIVE bands and artist set to take the stage. Triple J Unearthed revelations Bakers Eddy were up first and set the tone for the day with their fast-paced garage rock. The sounds of their whaling guitars could cure the most brutal of hangovers - in fact I frothed it so much that I walked straight over to the merchandise tent after their performance to get me a tee.
There was no shortage of international acts on the final day with the likes of Chvrches, Bishop Briggs, The Vaccines and of course, TOTO. Now, we all know what I’m going to say next so I’ll get it out of the way … Bless the rains down in AFFFFFFFFRICAAAAA!!! It was always going to be big but standing among the twenty-odd thousand festival-goers while everyone sang along was something very special and something we wont be forgetting in a hurry.
We also had Odette, Tkay Maidza, Golden Features and the DMA’s (to name a few). Let’s talk about the DMA’s for a second – these boys look like they’ve come straight off the set of Green Street Hooligans and come out swinging they did. They’ve got a perfect mix of up-beat bangers and sing-along anthems and their cover of “Do you believe” got all the closet Cher fans on their feet.
When I first heard Catfish and the Bottlemen were bringing in the Lorne new years I was, admittedly, a little disappointed. That’s not to say they aren't a great band – I just thought with the blockbuster lineup; that included the likes of Anderson Paak, the DMA’s and Hilltop Hoods; one of these may have been a more exciting way to bring in the New Year. Well, I was wrong. The boys from North Wales hit the nail on the head with their powerful performance and I couldn’t think of a better way to say “Seeya”to 2018.
Time to wrap things up – this year’s Falls Festival had everything from; thunderstorms that tested my swags ability to keep water out (it failed, thanks for asking), to a group of full-grown adults dancing on stage dressed as BBQ utensils. Over the four days we didn’t see a single drama with festival goers (very rare) and from where we sat, everything seemed to go off perfectly. A huge congratulations and thank you to the Falls team for another superb job.
View our full festival gallery HERE
All photos by Sam Dougherty.