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10 Things We Learnt At The Falls Music & Arts Festival, Byron Bay

Falls Festival 15-16 AAA

From bringing in 2016 dowsed in champagne to enjoying the very pink wildlife at ‘Palm Springs’, here’s the top 10 things we learnt after a couple of days living in paradise at Byron’s Falls Festival.

1. New Years Eve goes off!

Falls really knows how to put on a party! The final day of 2015 saw the aptly named ‘Boogie Nights’ bring the goods. The diverse line up had us treated to the likes of chaotic rockers Wavves, nostalgia x banger makersFleetmac Wood, and local favourites Art vs Science. But the party was just warming up, as Peking Duk threw down their smash hits and included a mid-set rendition of Circle of Life, a special moment! Hilltop Hoods had the crowd bouncing to Cosby Sweater and Nosebleed Section before The Wombats played the final set of 2015.

We saw out 2015 with Greek Tragedy and brought in 2016 with a premature champagne pop (thanks to bassist, Tord Øverland Knudsen), before breaking into Let’s Dance to Joy Division, the absolute perfect start to a new year! With the whole crowd were chanting it’s chorus “we’re so happy” at the top of their lungs “… well we really were so happy we were there!

2. The Brits are invading

Everywhere you look on the line up were Brits. They absolutely dominated the festival bringing some of the best performances. The Wombats, Foals, Disclosure, Bloc Party, Django Django, The Maccabees, and Oh Wonder all showed us why we love British music.

3. …but we still love our own!

The Australian contingent was strong. Actually it was really strong! Some of the hottest acts in the country right now delivered incredibly memorable sets. From Peking Duk, Rufus, Courtney Barnett, and Birds of Tokyoto the smaller, yet just as incredible, Little May, Seth Sentry, Meg Mac, Gang of Youths and so many more! They all did us proud and pulled huge crowds. We’re a patriotic bunch! Straya!

4. Never underestimate the early sets

Sometimes people disregard the opening acts of the day or merely miss them due to a few too many cheeky bevvies the night before. But a word of advice: always catch the early sets! Festivals can be times to discover your new favourite act and this year there were plenty of finds! Local Brisbanite, Banff brought the feels, Jesse Davidson had us grooving, while Irish prodigy, Soak had our spines tingling. Our find of the festival though would have to be the London based Oh Wonder. With a unique brand of heartbreaking emotive tunes we fell in love straight away. Don’t ‘wonder’ any longer, go check them out and thank me later! (not even sorry for the Dad joke)

5. Paul Kelly still makes great gravy*

A veteran act always seems to find its way onto Falls lineups and this year was no different. One of Australia’s greatest songwriters, Paul Kelly brought us his Merri Soul Sessions which featured an array of guests including Clairy Browne and Dan Sultan. Kelly performed a range of new songs as well as classics Dumb Things andHow to Make Gravy, and absolutely nailed it. Paul Kelly for PM!

*By the way, to make the gravy Paul said to “Just add flour, salt, a little red wine, and don’t forget a dollop of tomato sauce for sweetness and the extra tang” – You could even buy a tea towel from the merch tent with a recipe, cheers for that Paul!

6. Gang of Youths are the best live Australian band right now

Two words – holy shit! Geez can these boys can perform! With a 3:00pm set on the final day of the festival, Gang of Youths somehow managed to find all the remaining energy in the exhausted crowd and deliver arguably the performance on the festival. The Sydney lads put their all into the performance and the crowd gave its all back. Featuring crowd surfing, circle pits, beach balls, a dust storm, sweat, and a hell of a lot of love, the set closed with chaotic anthem Magnolia, leaving everyone speechless and in euphoria.

7. The arts are not lost

The age of music-only festivals are long gone. More and more festivals are putting a bigger emphasis on the arts and Falls is doing it right. The Village area had an eclectic range of arts offerings that included unique dancing displays, quirky physical comedy acts, and improvised musical making opportunities. While over at the Forest Stage we were blessed with Hip-Hop yoga, daily comedy, and a movie screenings that included a live soundtrack. If you didn’t catch any of the arts, you sorely missed out!

8. Keeping our cool

The 2014/15 instalment of Falls was an absolute scorcher and there weren’t many places to hide from the elements or cool down. After many complaints Falls listened and implemented some great additions to the Byron site. In addition to a misting tunnel there was a tropical oasis, ‘Palm Springs’, smack bang in the middle of the festival. With a massive blue side, multiple pools, and friggin’ Flamingos, there was finally a place to wind down and keep cool!

9. Dust > Mud

The Byron Bay leg of Falls shares its home with Splendour in the Grass at the North Byron Parklands (which is arguably the best festival site in Australia). However, this years Splendour turned the site into a muddy wasteland. Gumboots were essential and staying clean was never going to happen. The 2015/16 Falls Festival however was thankfully dry which resulted in a more enjoyable experience as dust replaced mud, which everyone was totally okay with that. Give me dust over mud any day!

10. The festival community is strong

The beautiful thing about Falls is that everyone (most) that goes are like minded individuals who are all there for the same reason: to have fun and experience the amazing music and arts on offer. You do get the occasional dickhead, but the majority of punters are some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet. You help each other out wherever and in whichever way you can; you meet people from all over the world (we camped next to a bunch of Kiwis who made the trek to Australia just for the festival!); you make best friends in the mosh (Hey Beeno and the boys if you’re reading this!), and have the time of your life with complete strangers (whom you may never see again). There’s something special about that!