Falls Festival left its camping roots behind this year for a journey to the Big Smoke. The 25th iteration rebranded as Falls Downtown and moved from Lorne to Sidney Myer Music Bowl. The result? A win for punters, a loss for the brand.
Wiggles fans at day one of the Falls Festival at Sidney myer Music Bowl.Credit:Joe Armao
This follows a tumultuous period for the event. In 2015 it shifted the site to Mt Duneed Estate due to bushfires, the following year a sickening crowd crush injured 60 and due to COVID the festival has not taken place since 2019.
The questions on everyone’s minds: what will the vibe be like? Will I miss sleeping in a sauna-like tent? Is showering at home each morning and actually eating a proper breakfast tantamount to cheating on the gritty experience of a three-day bender in the bush with mates? The answers: surprisingly good, sort of and yes.
First though, has the festival sold enough tickets to show that this new venue and format is a sustainable one? Maybe by the end of this weekend we’ll have a more clear sense, although early murmurings from backstage suggest the show was at less than full capacity. Things certainly were less crowded which meant audience experience was more pleasant, with no bottlenecks between stages, no queues for drinks and an overall less chaotic atmosphere.
An anonymous industry insider quipped: “It probably means it’s the last one. The same thing happened when Livid and V Festivals moved sites, it spelled the end.”
A group of Irish and English campaigners saw the smaller crowd numbers as a positive thing. Emma, 26, from County Meath in Ireland was here to see Aminé and the Arctic Monkeys. “Falls is more organised than European festivals. They’ve gotten so popular that if you lose a friend, you’ve lost them for the rest of the night.”
Her friend, Sorcha, 26, from Dublin came for The OG Wiggles and Lil Nas X. “We grew up watching The Wiggles on British TV,” she said. “And I’ve loved Lil Nas X before he was big, I had a dream we’d see him in Australia and then we came here and the tour got announced. We manifested it.”
Emily, 23, and Otilija, 22, both from Canberra came down here to see two acts specifically: “The OG Wiggles and Lil Nas X. He’s so sick,” said Otilija.
Jade, 31, from Hadfield is a pre-school teacher. “I listen to The Wiggles every day, they better do the Tame Impala Elephant cover, that’s what we’re here for. We like this more compared to a camping festival, it’s much more chill”.
The OG Wiggles delight audiences at Falls Downtown.Credit:Joe Armao
Her partner Brock, 34, of Glenroy agrees. “The selling point for us was the Sidney Myer Music Bowl, it was a last-minute decision.”
Both The OG Wiggles and Lil Nas X put on festival set masterclasses. The OG Wiggles played Wake Up Jeff, Hot Potato and their covers of The Chats’ Pub Feed and the Elephant in the room caused mass singalongs. They even interpolated some of Lil Nas X’s hit Old Town Road (surely a no no?) and segued into Big Red Car.
The OG Wiggles segue into a big red car.Credit:Joe Armao
Word came through later that the Grammy-winning American rapper was meant to enter the stage in said scarlet automobile but it fell through. Ethiopian-born Tsehay Hawkins (who replaced Emma Watkins as the new Yellow Wiggle) more than made up for his absence with spirited dance moves.
Lil Nas X gobbled up his headline set, thrusting his impressive torso around with a troupe of choreographed dancers. He sang his hits Montero and Industry Baby under swathes of pink and purple lights, the stage morphing from palatial stairs to ridiculous balconies.
Lil Nas X on stage at the 2022 Falls Festival in Melbourne.Credit:Morgan Hancock/Getty Images
Earlier, Sydney rap outfit 1300 played to a meagre but eager crowd. “We’re doing Naarm-core today,” one member said. They asked fans to start a mosh-pit which didn’t eventuate, more to do with low numbers than the signs stating “NO CROWD SURFING, NO MOSHING.” Genesis Owusu, Dameeeela, MAY-A, Luude and DMAs all aced their slots while DJ Anna Lunoe veered too safe with her bass-heavy cuts.
Day two started brightly in full sunshine but with sparse numbers. Put it down to the tyranny of distance of house-to-’Bowl versus tent-to-stage. “Day for it,” noted Scooter, 33, of Abbotsford.
Emerging First Nations artist and Kaytetye woman RONA. dropped a low-key, high-impact DJ set including her Shazam-friendly banger Feel It Too. Melbourne band Floodlights plied their Paul Kelly meets Eddy Current Suppression Ring rock’n’roll. Tonight, UK’s perennially cool Arctic Monkeys are set to count in the new year for Falls Festival, for perhaps the first and only time at the bowl.
A cultural guide to going out and loving your city. Sign up to our Culture Fix newsletter here.
Most Viewed in Culture
From our partners
Source: Read Full Article