After 21 years, there’s no denying that Falls Festival is the event of choice for music lovers to see in the new year and 2013’s event in Lorne, the festival’s original and spiritual home, was no exception. 16,000 fans descended to enjoy the amazing lineup, get messy with mates and celebrate the dawning of 2014.

With the first day of the festival falling on a Saturday this year, my convoy decided to join the long line of cars heading west from Melbourne bright and early. Heading out on the Princes Highway, it was great fun just looking into other people’s cars to work out if they too were heading where we were, or if they were just escaping the city for the weekend. At the turnoff for the Great Ocean Road it became even more obvious who was part of the Falls traffic and who was insane enough to take the scenic road at new year’s.

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After setting up camp and watching those around us pitch their tents (with varying degrees of success) we decided it was time to head to the Grand Theatre for Boogie Nights. Legs Akimbo were back and bringing the party with them through their weird ability to be totally crap but entertaining at the same time, although perhaps that comes from the alcohol people had already consumed. The theme for the dress up party was ‘Intergalactic’ and plenty of people were getting very into it, with hundreds of half-arsed costumes everywhere and, very rarely, something good. A large group of friends had collaborated to bring to life a fair bit of the Star Wars universe while I spotted a few pairs of Beastie Boys in the outfits from the ‘Intergalactic’ clip. I’m not sure if they had deliberately left out the third member, but I’d like to think it was done in honour of MCA’s passing.

Clairy Browne and The Bangin’ Rackettes were the first band I got to see grace the stage at Falls and as she walked out, she seemed a little disappointed with the lacklustre showing, the relaxed nature of Boogie Nights meant not many punters were around early and half of them were outside on the hill enjoying the evening sun. By the time Hot Dub Time Machine’s set was done though the balance had certainly shifted. With no room to move in the tent it was the perfect opportunity, or so DJ Tom Loud must have thought, to drop the ‘Harlem Shake’, a phenomenon which I was sure was well and truly done with. Mountain Mocha Kilimanjaro’s uniquely Japanese funk stylings were well received with the crowd before Late Nite Tuff Guy brought the party to an epic close.

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Following the Welcome to Country, Little Bastard opened up the first official day of the festival with a full on country hoedown before The Murlocs woke up the sleepy Valley Stage crowd with their dirty rhythm and blues sound and Ambrose Kenny-Smith’s fantastic vocals. It was The Smith Street Band though that really started to pack the crowd in and get things a bit rowdy, within their first three songs the first crowd surfers of the day were already up. Tom Odell brought a change of pace, wooing the crowd with his piano driven pop tunes and getting the crowd ready for Owl Eyes who were not only excited to be making their Falls debut, but also that their set was being recorded for Triple J’s Live at the Wireless.

I figured it seemed like a good enough time to head down to The Village for a change of scenery. I knew I’d made a good decision when I arrived and was greeted by the sounds of Deep Vein Trombosis blaring their all-horn version of of Beyoncé’s ‘Crazy in Love’. For those not interested in the bands at the main stage, the arts, activities and pedal powered games made for a great distraction.

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I initially hadn’t planned on seeing London Grammar but I was starting to sense the excitement for them so headed back to the Valley Stage. Walking in I could see the crowd was already huge and still building. I had no idea of their popularity and, evidently, neither did singer Hannah Reid who was briefly overcome with emotion as she took the stage and was confronted with a seemingly unending ocean of people. Towards the end of the set multi-instrumentalist Dot Major summed up the band’s feelings, proclaiming “This will always be the first show we’ve played in Australia, and it’ll always be one of our best ever shows.” The crowd literally didn’t let them leave the stage, calling them back for an encore and they didn’t disappoint, pulling out an unrehearsed and brilliant version of Chris Isaak’s ‘Wicked Game’.

Solange was up next and her unique pop stylings went down a treat with the crowd before Flight Facilities enlisted the help of Owl Eyes to keep the crowd warm while the mercury dropped. By the time MGMT took the stage the arena was packed with people jostling to get as close as possible and while their opening track ‘Flash Delirium’ didn’t hit the mark with the crowd, the opening keyboards of their second song ‘Time To Pretend’ certainly did and, throughout the set, the songs off their debut album were by far their most popular.

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The Roots closed out the first night and Questlove and co quickly took the party crowd into overdrive, busting out grooves and jams that kept every body in the place moving well into the cold night. The crowd were obviously waiting for it, enjoying every hip-hop song the between set DJs dropped on them in the lead up and as I overheard a drunk guy later on saying “They were so tight, but so loose,” I realised that there was no way I could review them better than that.

Wes Fahey

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