Milly Bannister | 08 January 2016

Check out all the mayhem from The Falls Music & Arts Festival with the Snapshot Gallery here.

ABOUT THE WRITER: Milly Bannister loves her journalism and her music live and loud.

Rounding up the last of 2015 and carrying us through to 2016, The Falls Music & Arts Festival in Byron Bay kicked off with a killer lineup, promising to be one hell of a party. The highly anticipated summer festival brings keen travellers from near and far to the humble parklands of North Byron Parklands to enjoy a global ensemble of artists. This year was no exception, bringing almost 80 artists, heavy hitters and official sideshows, over a spectacular few days. It was a whirlwind smorgasbord of sights and sounds.

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The 2015 escapade began leisurely with some taking their camp setups quite seriously. All the better to prepare for a wonderful few days in creating the best memories. It’s certainly a great way to unwind, relax and get loose with friends and hundreds of other hyper-friendly acquaintances. The scene was set with a tent-style afternoon session, as the first acts of the lineup warmed up for a big night. The crowds dressed in everything but the expected: if it was fluoro, shiny or naked, it was acceptable.

The festival programmes running from beginning to end allowed ample opportunity for everyone to be immersed in the culture. Losing groups of friends brought strangers together, while day-time adventures also did the trick with festival co-curricular hobbies of art camp or the fiesta ‘crafternoons’ as well as village entertainment. The sideshows consisted of an array of acts, welcoming small crowds and the intimacy of awesome jam sessions and comedy acts. It took some serious time management and organisational skills to ensure our attention was divided discerningly across artists. 

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NYE however, meant an epic line-up. The crowds buzzed around the amphitheatre of the Valley Stage all the way from midday to midnight. The stunning and atmospheric electric violinist as part of The Imprint duo was a drawcard from the Valley Road to the Village, as well as The Scrimshaw Four, The Button Collective and Merryn Jeann - all ushering in emotional uplift and hard-core dance moves, even amidst sun-baked sobriety. Particular highlights from the ampitheatre were Wavve’s lively punk-rock attitude, commanding participation from the crowd with their chaotic melody and caterwauling guitars. They were intensely enjoyable. Art VS Science hyped up the crowd with a steady beat as the countdown for 2015 made its way out. "Parlez-vous Français”was a massive hit with the gathering of excited punters, but they were yet to hear the masters of the party Peking Duk, and get crazy. For a simple Canberra-bred duo, two-time ARIA winners, Hyde and Styles smashed out a well-received 50-minute set, covering global favourites as well as their own singles. After that, all stood hilltop for Hilltop Hoods to recite the words to ‘Nosebleed Section’, ‘The Hard Road’, ‘Cosby Sweater’ and grooved hip-hop style while getting ever so close to the New Year.

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Night Two could have cut some slack and been a little more low-key to give our souls a break from the tunes and our feet a break from dancing, but alas: it was not. We were serenaded by global sensations and national up-and-comers. The first day of 2016 started out slow yet promising, while we got to know our neighbours and our way around the sanctuary. We scooted our butts into the Forest Stage for a bit of Banff, Bootleg Rascal and Meg Mac action - all strongly-anticipated Aussie acts ready to blow the hats off our sun-scorched heads. And boy did they deliver. From songwriter Banff and his soul-drenched indie pop, Bootleg’s ghetto dubstep sonic explorations to Meg Mac’s thrilling voice, it was a big deal. The crowds enjoyed the sunny afternoon of quality entertainment before the highly anticipated Birds of Tokyo set that was not to be missed. The five-piece alternative rock band is doing it large at the moment and delivered their set with passion and intimacy through every note. Vocalist Ian Kenny’s notable and iconic pipes were an unreal live sound, enthralling the entire ampitheatre of delighted spectators.

2015 up-and-comer Jarryd James conveyed his hit ‘Do You Remember’ with conviction, leaving everything else a little more questionable in terms of passion and engagement. From the Forest Stage, The Maccabees, Alpine and Miami Horror knocked our socks off us their fresh, live vibrancy. An even more exciting aura exploded with the sound of Rüfüs and Bloc Party to close the night. As one of the hottest bands in Australia right now, Rüfüs, produced an electrifying atmosphere with the bouncing mosh’s favourite Rüfüs bangers: ‘Take Me’, ‘Sundream’ and ‘You Were Right’.

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Riding steadily on a wave of utter elation and little to no sleep, we embarked on our final jaunt in the form of hot and sweaty Day Three, where Disclosure marked the close of the festival. We also got to enjoy a little hip hop yoga, a little comedy, a little Børns and a Little May. From LA prodigy to Aussie folk trio, it was all about dancing the night away to cool, refreshing melodic sensibilities. From the Valley Stage, Gang of Youths were comparable to the rock-folk feel of Bruce Springsteen as they smashed out their ballads. Mac Demarco’s falsetto dazzled the crowd and tided us over until Halsey cracked the whip with some intense renditions of her latest global hits. She pushed emotional commitment and audience engagement to the next level. After a huge-impact powerfully eccentric set from Foals, Disclosure took to the stage to chart through an intensely enjoyable set of their greatest hits. One after the after, there was no rest for the weak. It was a great culmination of the festival seeing the international power duo in action on Aussie territory. Leaving the best until last, Disclosure’s global phenomenon ‘Latch’ paid homage to a great Falls where we said goodbye for another year to Byron Bay Parkland’s most exciting visitors. 

Photographer: The Photo Journo

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