Glass Animals steal the night and Dune Rats get muddy for day two of the Falls Festival Byron Bay.
It was a sluggish morning as the summer sun began its eventual attempts to dry the fields from the following night’s rain. The camp grounds from across the Byron Shire sprouted slow starters like weeds in damp soil. After the feed was gorged, the coffees drained and the odd bevy nursed, North Byron Festival Fields welcomed the early birds as Bugs – Triple J’s Unearthed Winner – opened the Falls Festival’s second day with a wide smile.
The Forest Stage is primed as Waax follows Bugs who is then followed by rock-chick Alex Lahey. The tent erupts as Lahey enters the stage to the warmth of yellow lights, the crowd is sweating in the humidity of the crammed space yet there’s no stopping a hoard of hungry music lovers who are waiting for their serving. Roaring as she and her bandmates nail their set with vivacious attitude, there’s no denying there’s a synergy between the young Aussie’s and it ripples from the stage in a cacophony of applause. Smashing crowd faves like Everyday’s the Weekend and You Don’t Like People Like Me (not to mention a sly cover of Torn) Alex Lahey and company set themselves up with a memorable Falls Festival close.
Over in the Galaxy tent the Melbournian all-female band Camp Cope acknowledge the traditional owners of the land to an over-filling crowd. Bales of hay are used as step-ups for back-dwellers to get a better look at the opening track.
Georgia Maq nods the count and Jet Fuel Can’t Melt Steel Beams shatters the air. Known for her openly vocaled views of sexism in the music industry Georgia Maq – Camp Cope’s front woman – closes with a heartfelt, and widely emotional, speech on assault before explaining the truth to the recent single the Opener. The entire tent sings the lyrics to the 2017 track and as a final farewell to Byron Bay Georgia swaps out lines of the song to align with her more recent, relevant beliefs.
“Another man telling us we can’t fill up the tent, another festival that only books nine women.” – Camp Cope
The first half of the day has woken the rest of the festival goers and they’re all in for a killer arvo. After an unexpected swapsy between Alice Ivey and Luca Brasi, there’re two fronts inbound to the untouched Valley stage. The first front is the herd of people marching in a characteristically frantic fashion to meet the stage in time for Allday’s set, the second front won’t be seen – or even acknowledged – until Allday’s curtains have fallen.
The Brisbane rapper drew the first fleet of punters to the Valley, a natural, basin-like theatre with a stage as it’s plug, and brought enough energy to wake the dust from the valley floor. It was after the dust had settled, and patrons beat their chest in glee, that the announcement of the second front came.
“Ladies and gentlemen, we’ve just been informed that there is a bit of wet weather on the way, a little bit of wind and a lot of rain.” – Falls Festival Announcement
The Valley filled with dry, and somewhat clean, people frothing for some Dune tunes. The basin was filling, the head count growing. An inflatable Dune Rats jumping-castle-esque banner was pumped up, inclusive of caricatures of the Dunie fellas fit to match the blow up rocking fork fingers. Thousands are in attendance as the evening wanes, and thousands break out into an uproar as Danny Beusaraus, BC Michaels and Brett Jansch flaunt the stage.
The iconic thrash rock of the Dune Rats breaks the mosh into a sweat pit of smashing fists and violent circles of bombarding flesh. The party was on and the bangers were lining up and while Scott Green, Braindead and Dalai Lama, Big Banana, Marijuana were expected crowd pleasers, the second front of the day was an overwhelming knockout. The rain fell and the rain fell hard. Thick, unsettling drops drenched the Valley turning the punters into drowned rats.
It was when the storm front had settled in and the Valley began to pool that the mudslides began. Tunnelled by overarching arms, patrons ran with enough momentum to slide over thirty metres down the slopes of the Valley. The mud was slick, far-spread and enveloping everyone within eyesight, inclusive of Dunies drummer Michaels. Beusaraus points and pulls someone from the crowd, saving them from the rain, pulling them onto the stage, his face lights up as he’s given a pair of drum sticks and Michaels sprints for the mudslide. Too bad that the back-up drummer takes the seat behind the drum kit before the fan does, it doesn’t stop him from at least having a jam alongside the fellas. Michaels finished the rained-out set full of mud, yet it only encouraged the rowdy crowd in a way that only Dune Rats can.
The high of Dune Rats didn’t fade for long. Byron were over-joyed when the rain passed and the ponchos could be removed. Despite the damp grounds and mud aplenty, it didn’t stop a single soul from remaining stagnant until the night dropped. The darkness spread across the land like a blanket to a flame. The Valley dulled, and the random chatter splintered from bar to stage. It was a long time coming for a lot of the fans, but Glass Animals broke the night with a lightshow welcoming them to Byron Bay Falls Fest.
Opening with Life First Glass Animals front-man Dave Bayley brought the thunder from the Dune Rats’ storm. The energy was intense as he bounced from one side of the stage to the other in an infectious buzz of ecstasy. Bayley nailed every note, bringing his UK wit to the mic between songs. With an unrivalled lightshow, with shades from every moody red to the most vibrant of yellows, the atmosphere lit up to steal the awe from everyone’s clutches.
When an international act performs an extraordinary show with an audacious approach and bats a six, the love radiates from your skin along with the sweat the dancing has you secreting. The Glass Animals were a weight that not even the gods of Falls fest could have pulled them from their throne; you’d be spewin’ if you missed them.
With too many acts to hit on an overwhelming abundance of world class performers, there’s no denying those left out are of an abnormally talented calibre. Julia Jacklin mellowed the tent, encouraging a remedy of swaying arms; D. D. Dumbo blew the roof off with a quirky aura and collection of wind instruments; Everything Everything had the fists flaring while Jungle got the blood pumping and hips gyrating; Cosmos Midnight took everyone back by banging out a few sneaky classics… Say My Name anyone?; Basenji rivalled Run the Jewels and, boy, were the score cards stiff splittings; while who could forget the international sensation of Fleet Foxes as their humble melodies waded through the hills of the Valley grounds. Day Two brought heavy hitters, though at least the rest of the evening was starved of rain.
Published by Rabbit Radio