If you’re an avid music lover in Australia, Falls Festival has become one of the only places you would want to spend your New Years. With an impressive curated line up every year, the regional travelling music festival stops off in Lorne, Marion Bay, Byron Bay and Fremantle delivering a mix of Australian favourites and international heavyweights.
With the likes of Childish Gambino, Arctic Monkeys, Flume, Liam Gallagher, Alison Wonderland, Kings Of Leon, The Black Keys, Catfish And The Bottlemen, George Ezra, Solange and Angus And Julia Stone playing over the years, they’ve built quite a name for themselves.
For the class of 2019/2020 they’ve enlisted some huge names like Halsey, Vampire Weekend, Lewis Capaldi, Disclosure, Milky Chance, Banks, John Farnham, Playboy Carti and of Monsters And Men to ring in the start of a new decade.
With the disheartening last minute cancellation of the Lorne edition of Falls Festival due to the devastating bushfires that are affecting Australia currently, all eyes were on the rest of the country to party into the new year as hard as they could while also raising money and awareness of the severity of the crisis that is happening.
Day 2 of the Byron Bay edition fell onto New Years Day, and traditionally January 1st is a bit of a chilled out day with a lot of hangovers making the day a little slower in intensity but in 2020 they had no excuses because the line up was back to back with huge names.
Kicking off the mid-afternoon vibes, CXLOE took to the Jack Daniels Barrel House stage for an intimate performance before her full production show at the Galaxy Stage on Day 3. With the venue reaching capacity before she even stepped foot on stage, her exclusive set saw her performing without a band to just a track but still managing to intensely captivate the audience.
Opening with the unreleased tracks ‘Heavy’ and ‘One And Lonely’ she highlighted to those who are already familiar with her just how strong her songwriting is taking shape and how well her production is being honed. She then got the singalong’s stated with one of the best songs of 2019 ‘I Can’t Have Nice Things’, her slick Gnash collaboration ‘Sick’ and her first ever single ‘Tough Love’.
Testing out another new song in her set, ‘Half Of Me’ is one she teased about releasing very soon and it’s a brooding and moody electronic pop song that has big potential for her as it sonically builds into this really cool moment. Transitioning into the fellow moody recent single ‘Devil You Don’t’ she finished her set on a high with the big singalong’s of ‘Low Blow’ and ‘Show You’.
Without all the bells and whistles and full live band that she usually has, CXLOE still delivered an impressive set that was equally entertaining and special and proved yet again why she is one of Australia’s best newcomers.
Over on the Forest Stage, WAAX erupted with the buzzing of static as they entered with big force. With their tent filling up quickly as they rioted into openers ‘Big Grief’, ‘Same Same’ and ‘FU’, they didn’t hold back from giving the crowd a whole lot of energy.
“Hello Mosh Pitt! Let me just say one thing; look after each other or I will stop this shit” lead singer Maz DeVita addressed at the start of the show, making sure that everyone knew safety and respect came first before continuing the show with ‘Wild & Weak’.
They had also teamed up with Thrills to offer a limited edition Falls exclusive T-shirt that saw all proceeds going to the Bushfire appeal which feels like they’re doing more than our Prime Minster is right now.
Taking the level of angst and energy that WAAX displayed and managing to find a new peak, YUNGBLUD opened the Valley Stage with a ferocious set that was the embodiment of new rock n roll at it’s finest.
Storming the stage wearing a mesh top with a cropped t-shirt over it as well as wearing a skirt, he wasn’t afraid to be authentically himself and the crowd accepted it with open arms. Opening with ‘21st Century Liability’ he started off the set strong with ‘Parents’, ‘I Love You, Will You Mary Me’ and ‘King Charles’ following.
With a humbling huge smile on his face, he was visibly shocked by the massive crowd that came out in support of him and were screaming along the lyrics so passionately back to him. While he kept covering his mouth with pure shock and happiness, he didn’t let the humble appreciativeness stop him from delivering a kick ass set.
From kissing his guitarist, to throwing his guitar and microphone stand off stage, creating circle pits, stomping and jumping his way across the stage and even doing a shoey, his whole set exuberated the bad ass attitude you wanted to witness.
With the big anthemic songs like ‘Anarchist’, ‘Loner’ and ‘Braindead’ filling out his set, he also created some big important social commentary moments with the pro-consent ‘Polygraph Eyes’ and the hope for the future anthem ‘Hope For The Underrated Youth’.
Thanking the crowd for creating a special memory with him, he closed his set with ‘Machine Gun’ and genuinely seemed to struggle to leave the stage because he wanted to keep performing.
One of the most anticipated acts of the festival run was a Scottish singer-songwriter by the name of Lewis Capaldi. He had one of the biggest hits of the year and also had one of the biggest social media engagements with his hilarious meme culture he’s embraced.
Walking out onto the stage with Mr G’s ‘Ecstasy’ blasting through the speakers from Summer Heights High, he immediately had the crowd on side with him. Breaking into ‘Grace’ from his debut album ‘Divinely Uninspired To A Hellish Extent’, he belted out the emotional ‘Forever’, ‘Don’t Get Me Wrong’ and ‘Hollywood’ which the crowd all seemed familiar with.
“How the fuck are we doing” Capaldi asked the crowd before they quickly started chanting for him to do a shoey. He tried to make an excuse about not having any drinks or a shoe to use that wasn’t on his foot before he started being pelted by shoes and alcohol from the crowd. After hilariously doing one, the crowd then decided they wanted him to take his shirt off by singing “tits out for the boys” which he played along but exposing a cheeky nipple for a brief second.
Getting back into the music he brought his short but sweet set home by performing ‘Bruises’, ‘Before You Go’, ‘Hold Me While You Wait’ and the global hit ‘Someone You Loved’.
Lewis Capaldi is the real deal and he may joke that he’s a one hit wonder, but he definitely won’t be because he’s got the raw and captivating talent to continue pushing him upwards.
Waving the flag proudly for Iceland, Of Monsters & Men took to the Valley Stage to deliver their unique blend of indie-pop and folk. With pulsating synths signalling their arrival on stage they dived straight into ‘Alligator’ and Mountain Sound’.
Their live show has come a long way and has transformed through their evolution as a group. Their new show is very bright and commanding in their visual aesthetic and their flow of indie-pop songs backed up this visualisation with ‘King And Lionheart’ and ‘Sleepwalker’ continuing the first impressions.
Over on the Forest Stage, G Flip was ready to give the Falls crowd a taste of her recent headlining tour in this reduced set. Opening with an epic drum solo, ‘About You’ had the singalong’s immediately ignited which rolled into album favourite ‘Lover’.
Well, Holy shit! Byron Fucking Bay!” she exclaimed as she looked out to the packed tent of ecstatic smiling faces that were screaming for her. “This is the first time I’ve ever played a festival at night! I’m getting bigger” she excitingly exclaimed before adding “this is honestly a dream come true, and I’m going to try not cry”.
Performing two new songs including ‘You And I’ and the anthemic ‘Hyperfine’, she showed the crowd a strong glimpse of the continued trajectory she hopes to have in 2020. And with the strong songwriting of both of these tracks, I can safely say she’s going to create some pretty special moments this year.
‘Morning’, ‘Stupid’ and ‘I Am Not Afraid’ ignited the singalong’s again and had the euphoric feeling of the set radiating until the end of ‘Killing My Time’ and ‘Drink Too Much’.
She also took a moment during the set to talk about the current bushfire crisis that is sweeping the nation and announced that she raised around 10 grand the other night at her Melbourne fundraiser that she put on after Lorne got cancelled.
German favourites, Milky Chance, finally returned down under to deliver their energetic set, and to be honest I had no idea that their show was going to be THIS good.
With a production that was very innovative and transported their show into a different realm, they delivered something that felt more than just a festival set. With a backdrop of a mountain with a light up moon hanging from the top of the stage, they were surrounded by neon LED lights, and it all felt very immersive.
‘Cocoon’ and ‘Down By The River’ were the early hits that drew the crowd in and then it was the back catalogue mix of ‘Daydreaming’, ‘Oh Mama’, ‘Shiver’, ‘Flashed Junk Mind’ and ‘Running’ that kept their fans happy.
Predictably closing their set with ‘Stolen Dance’, they had the singalong’s deservingly loud, along with a lot of new fans walking away from that set impressed.
After playing a 2pm slot in 2016, Halsey returned to Falls to rightfully play the coveted headline slot, and she didn’t hold back from giving you one unforgettable show.
Bursting onto the stage with ‘Nightmare’ she threw herself around the stage and really played up to the captivating visuals and spacious stage design that was perfect for her.
Asking the crowd to jump during ‘Castle’ she took a moment to try hype them up because she was ready for Byron Bay to completely obliterate all expectations she had. “That jumping was fucking weak, you look like a bunch of Americans. Let me see you again!” she hilariously demanded mid-song.
Her setlist was compiled of fan favourites as well as the hits that have climbed the charts and made her a household name globally. With ‘Eyes Closed’, ‘Heaven In Hiding’, ‘Die For Me’, ‘Hold Me Down’, ‘Colors’ and ‘Bad At Love’ filling the first half, there was a lot of energy thrown into the set.
Stripping it down for a moment, she confessed that she wanted to make each show on the Falls Festival tour unique and this meant every night got a different setlist. For the Byron Bay edition she exclusively performed ‘Finally // Beautiful Stranger’ from her new album ‘Manic’ which will be released later this month. But she also performed her Chainsmokers collaboration ‘Closer’ for the first time in 2 years which went absolutely off and saw confetti filling the air.
Admitting that it was a lot of fun, she also sadly confessed that she only had a few more songs left. Closing her set with ‘Graveyard’, ‘Gasoline’ and ‘Without Me’, confetti filled the air once again as she belted out the final notes.
Halsey is a headliner. She is a powerhouse entertainer and that set proved why she deservingly had that spot and proved everyone wrong that was unsure if she could pull it off.
There was no better way to kick of 2020 than seeing some of the biggest names in music come together with electric performances and also make their voices heard about the tragedy which is affecting the whole country right now.
Check out the full gallery captured by Kirsten Roe Photography BELOW;
Photos by Kirsten Roe