The Falls Music and Arts Festival 2012/2013

IMG_3724This year, one of my many tasks backstage involved decorating this sign.

From Coolio to The Hives, the 2012/2013 Falls Music & Arts Festival boasted a diverse line-up, but the list of artists seemed to be lacking something: a band that I personally love.  Last year we had both The Kooks and the Arctic Monkeys.  At the 2009/2010 festival I got to see both The View and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.  But this year, there was nobody on the line-up who really excited me.  Leading up to the festival, whenever people asked me who was playing, I’d have to pause for a second.  For me, there was just no stand-out act on that list.  Now, I know that this sounds like a very biased preamble, but bear with me here…

Having now attended the festival, I take that statement back.  There were two stand-out acts at Falls 2012/2013: The Hives and Hot Chip.  I should give an honorary mention to Ball Park Music, too, as they had the crowd eating out of the palms of their hands, despite a fairly early slot.  But, let me get back to The Hives.  December 30th was a very cold and windy night, and despite my jeans, scarf, coat and beanie, I was bloody cold.  Despite my overall grumpiness, and the fact that I really just wanted to go to bed, I found The Hives’ set to be the best performance of the entire festival.  Firstly, Howlin’ Pete Almqvist and Nicholaus Arson are both completely and utterly mad.  This, of course, adds to their brilliance.  The Hives kept the audience captivated [and confused], and seemed to play for quite a bit longer than their allocated set time.

Hot Chip also had the post-midnight timeslot [it seems that this is the time that they allocate for all the good bands now], and were a great start to the new year.  I really love that part of the first couple of hours of 2013 was spent singing and dancing to the best cover of Prince’s “1999” that I’ve ever heard.  While a good portion of their set came from their new album [which I’ve not yet listened to], Hot Chip proved to be a very strong live act.

December 30th.
IMG_3726
Matt Corby.

As Glenn and I were working the “morning” shift, we didn’t really get to see bands until the late afternoon/early evening.  I caught a little bit of First Aid Kit from backstage, and although I’m not too into their brand of folk music, they performed a brilliant cover of Simon and Garfunkel’s “America”.  Matt Corby had all the young hipster girls swooning.  After my shift, I managed to catch most of Lisa Mitchell‘s set, and was quite impressed by how much she’s grown since I last saw her perform [at Falls 2009/2010].  Some of her new tracks have vocals reminiscent of Martha Wainwright, and it’s nice to hear something a little less twee.  I noticed that she didn’t play “Coin Laundry”, thereby preventing herself from being pelted with $1 coins.

I caught a tiny bit of San Cisco, who’d gathered quite a crowd at the Field Stage.  Glenn and I then took a bit of a walk, returning for Coolio.  My expectations were probably a little too high for his performance, but the fact that the crowd only wanted to hear one song didn’t really help.  The Field Stage was crowded, and everybody was talking throughout almost the whole set.  While Coolio was rocking out with his saxophone on stage [seriously], I was struggling to hear the music over people’s conversations.  Also, the crowd were quite tall, and I couldn’t see anything without jumping.  It was rather frustrating.  Eventually he played “Gangsta’s Paradise” and everybody rapped along.  Then people began to leave, and Coolio’s attempts to do a call-and-response thing with the crowd fell very flat.  It was quite sad.

Maximo Park were great, and I only wish that more people knew who they were.  For a band playing an evening slot on the main stage, their crowd was pretty small.  Two Door Cinema Club kept everyone happy, and I imagine that they would have done a very good job ringing in the new year at Lorne.  One performance on the 30th that I found really disappointing, however, was Sampology.  After getting my first taste of audio-visual DJing from DJ Yoda at the previous Falls festival, I was expecting Sampology’s Falls retrospective to be something pretty special, and it wasn’t.  It didn’t help that most of the footage came from Lorne, but most of the “mixing” involved playing videos and scratching over them.  There were a couple of okay moments, but for the most part it was actually quite boring.

But, as I said earlier, the absolute stand out act of the first night [and the festival overall] was The Hives.  Everything’s better with a Swedish accent, it seems.

December 31st.
IMG_3792Ball Park Music.

I was lucky to catch a tiny bit of Ball Park Music from the side of the stage.  They had one of the biggest crowds that I’d seen all day.  I just have one question, however: why does vocalist Sam Cromack wear a backpack when he performs?  I don’t understand.

After our shift ended, Glenn and I were lucky enough to watch Django Django‘s set from up high.  Their use of percussion was impressive to watch – there were points where no band member was playing a tuned instrument.  The Vaccines rocked, as expected.  Boy & Bear didn’t disappoint either.

One band who did disappoint me, however, was The Flaming Lips.  I’m not sure what Wayne Coyne was on, but I was nowhere near intoxicated enough to appreciate his performance.  The stage setup was impressive, with lights and glitter cannons.  I’m not sure who or what the side-stage backing dancers were, but they added nothing but confusion.  After a few songs, Glenn, Isaac, Georgie and I retreated to the chai latte tent [where there was a dance party happening], returning to the main stage at a quarter to midnight.  Thankfully this was just in time for the one Flaming Lips song that I really like: “Do You Realise”, which they played before the midnight countdown.

Once the clock struck 2013, however, there was some sort of technical malfunction, and the rest of The Flaming Lips’ set was cut short.  Honestly, it wasn’t a loss.  Hot Chip were up next, and they made up for everything.

IMG_3810Django Django.

This Falls festival may not have had a line-up that excited me like previous ones have, but I still had a great time [despite the cold and the wind].  I guess it just proves that it takes more than just a brilliant line-up to make a good festival.

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