Falls Festival Fremantle 2019: Starting Off The New Year With A Bang
What an absolutely incredible way to reel in the new year — Falls Festival 2019 provided all the goods, from a range of incredible artists and a variety of delicious foods to choose from, to the freedom to wander around the streets of Fremantle in between sets. Last year’s venue was a tad difficult to navigate, but this year’s set-up was more compact, meaning that everyone was able to have a wonderful time easily moving from act to act.
With only one entrance available, one would expect a longer queue to enter Falls this year, however I was surprised to find that most made their way in without issue. The day started off with some chilled out vibes as Soccer Mommy rocked out on the main stage (Stage 1) to a crowd expanding by the minute. Serving similar sounds, Hockey Dad then kicked off next door on Stage 2, playing some of their most popular songs including ‘Join the Club’ and ‘Seaweed’.
Although I’m not personally a fan of Dean Lewis’ music, I appreciated the excited crowd’s reaction as they all sang along to his recent heart-wrenching single ‘Be Alright’, as well as the equally emotional ‘Waves’ — the debut song that kicked off his career in 2016. As the day panned out, the enticing Eat Street was also the place to be with plenty of food options available, including vegan and vegetarian options. (I must say, my burrito from Varsity Street Food was the best meal I’ve had so far this year.) Sitting back, we listened to 88rising from a distance and admittedly, the disappointment lingered due to Joji not being able to perform — although the excitement over Rich Brian was high.
With the searing sun lowering in the sky, Mallrat’s set begun. She appeared a bit shy and withdrawn on stage, but the crowd still got into singing along to her sweet lyrics and catching some shade under the big tents set up for Stages 3 and 4. Songs from her new album, In The Sky, allowed the crowd some time to catch a breather and relax, with ‘Groceries’ being a definite favourite.
Up next were Flight Facilities for a sunset set, with the dynamic duo treating the crowd to danceable tunes including ‘Crave You’ and ‘Clair de Lune’, which had everyone moving on their feet. At the same time, Stage 4 hosted an incredibly fun and inclusive party put on by Heaps Gay DJ’s & Friends, with many well known bangers being played. The performers on stage were engaging and created a lovely, carefree atmosphere for all.
It had already been a long and amazing day, but it was only just the beginning. Jack River performed incredibly live, with ‘Fool’s Gold’, ‘Fault Line’ and ‘Ballroom’ handpicked from her latest album Sugar Mountain. I decided to position myself on the front left side of Stage 3 where Jack River performed in order to be front for Dizzee Rascal, who I had a feeling was going to put on a very entertaining show. As expected, the crowd went absolutely nuts for ‘Bassline Junkie’ and ‘Dance Wiv Me’ — and Dizzee interacted with the audience with a chant of “Aussie, Aussie Aussie, Oi, Oi Oi!” that had everyone very excited. He topped it off with an encore of ‘Bonkers’, which despite being released 10 years ago, remains an absolute favourite. It was an extremely high energy set, and my personal favourite the entirety of Falls.
The moment ‘Bonkers’ finished, I was sprinting back to Stage 1 for the one and only Anderson .Paak & The Free Nationals. With their new third album Oxnard out (produced by none other than Dr. Dre), the crowd was buzzing with anticipation, particularly for the massively successful new singles ‘Bubblin’ and ‘Tints’ (featuring Kendrick Lamar). Paak confidently and flawlessly captivated the audience and was the perfect act to finish off an incredible day of live music. He started off with a bang, performing ‘Who R U?”, and kept the crowd bouncing for the entirety of his set, with hit after hit. Even better, we somehow managed to catch both of Paak’s drum sticks that he threw out into the massive crowd… Honestly, what are the chances!
As I made my way into Falls for a second day of 37 degree heat, a thought dawned upon me. I needed a hat! Incredibly, the Falls team had truly thought of everything this year, so I headed straight over to the market halls into a Salvos store to grab myself a bargain.
Opshop excitement aside, Cub Sport provided a great start to the day with lead singer Tim Nelson showing off some brilliantly controlled vocals and the whole band sounding even better live than in the studio, with 'Come On Mess Me Up’ being a great testament to this. (Another congratulations to bandmates Tim Nelson and Sam Netterfield who recently got married!)
The general vibe of Day 2 was much more laidback than the first day, and so Ocean Alley’s melodic music and reggae sound fit in perfectly with the crowd. ‘Confidence’ from their latest album Chiaroscuro was a crowd anthem, with punters also singing along to every lyric from their older tracks, such as ‘Yellow Mellow’ and ‘Knees’. Playing right after was DMA’s, whose smooth set was similarly apt for the crowd’s energy. Everyone sang and swayed along to ‘Believe’ and ‘In The Air’, and it was evident they thoroughly enjoyed Tommy O’Dell’s vocals.
As the DMA’s set wrapped up, my friend turned over to me and said, “How are Toto going to make Africa last a full 10 minutes?” Yet, we were not disappointed to discover that they were going to pull this off. Other classics including ‘Hold the Line’ and ‘Rosanna’ went down as a a treat, alongside a well-executed cover of Michael Jackson’s ‘Human Nature’. The highlight of the set was of course a 10 (possibly even 15) minute rendition of ‘Africa’ that was so drawn out it was almost hilarious, and overall just a really fun experience.
After expending all of our energy at Toto’s set, my friends and I decided to grab some food and take advantage of the large amount of seating and lovely views up on the grandstands behind Eat Street. From here we listened to Hilltop Hoods’ set and observed the crowd having a proper blast. Hilltop Hoods definitely know how to keep the crowd going, especially with their best-loved tunes ‘1955’ and ‘Cosby Sweater’, as well as their latest release ‘Leave Me Lonely’ sounding positively epic live. Interestingly enough, Hilltop Hoods also performed at Falls a decade ago at the 2009 festival!
Next up was a tie between Vance Joy and Juice WRLD. Vance Joy was terrific live and the crowd was lovely to be apart of, with everyone heavily enjoying themselves. He bestowed upon us ‘Saturday Sun’, ‘Georgia’, ‘Mess is Mine’ and an encore of the well-loved Triple J hottest 100 number 1, ‘Riptide’. As for JUICE WRLD, the feedback was mixed; while good, the rap artist sounded very different and more “rock” live than in studio, with the lack of autotune being evident.
As Vance Joy left the stage, a lot of people appeared to leave the venue altogether. While some may have been taking advantage of the pass-out policy to grab a bite to eat and return later, it seemed like most of the crowd did not actually return. Despite this, Interpol gained a large crowd of fans keen to see some songs from their latest album Marauder, including ‘If You Really Love Nothing’ and ‘The Rover’, performed heavenly live. They were very comfortable on stage, with all components of the American rock band sounding expectedly great live and the stage looking magical lit up at night, even from a distance.
The night finished off with the once unknown Australian deep house DJ/producer, Golden Features (also known as Thomas George Stell). Although the audiovisuals were enticing and I was fond of a few of Stell’s songs, I did find this particular set to be a disappointing way to finish off what was otherwise an incredible weekend. In my opinion, hs new album Sect just doesn’t carry the same unique sound as the songs that initially defined him. Unfortunately, I found myself and others growing a bit bored of the electric monotony about 20 minutes into the set.
Despite that, Falls Festival ticked off many boxes this year — with a huge range of artists spanning from local bands to international artists, a well laid-out venue with plenty of facilities available, and not the mention, the burritos…
The two-day festival was the perfect way to kick off the first weekend of 2019 and from what I gathered, a vast majority of the crowd had shared the same sentiment. A huge thank you to Falls for putting together an incredible festival yet again — we can’t wait for 2020!