Falls Festival Review: Mid stride

After a late night, we woke up to a warmer morning on the third day of the Falls Festival and made our way first to The Village The Dad Horse Experience by Stu Bwhere the intriguingly named Dad Horse Experience were playing. What I expected to be a one man show was a 3 piece complete with banjo and kazoo who played ‘stupid country song[s]’.  Dad‘s banter between songs was endearing and hilarious in it’s raw and honest delivery, the crowd was always chuckling. They whipped out a gospel song, but Dad commented that it’s weird that “gospel is usually about your dead mother and wanting to be in heaven with her”, so they sang an A.P. Carter gospel song, “Will The Circle Be Unbroken” which, by switching from the Banjo to a very beat up mandolin this rendition felt like a fouled up Regurgitator song… But maybe that’s a hangover from the previous night (Regurgitator played Unit in full). For their next song, Dad, in his thick and amusing German accent went on to discuss at length his thoughts on heaven and that “if my mama were dead, if she were in heaven, I wonder what would happen, because if it’s like immigration, they won’t let me in because of ‘all za shit you did’. If it’s the same in heaven, then I won’t see my mama again, and zat is shit”. That thought had inspired the song “Gates of Heaven”, a hilarious hillbilly style gospel lament full of swearing and the catch phrase, “bless this muthaf*cker, but won’t you please let me in.” Turns out it’s never too early in the day for a sing-a-long.

No doubt the whole audience could relate to that experience when you regret what you did the night before and promise never to do it again, only to wake up another morning and realise “oh shit I did it again!”. To the collective laughter, this was the introduction to “Lord Must Fix My Soul”. Dad took the time to teach us the chorus, “Lord must fix my soul, turn the shit in to gold”. The crowd was engaged and keen to sing and clap along. With lyrics like “Mama taught me the bible, well I shot her with my rifle” and a break after each chorus to tell the story relating to each verse, this was the highlight of the set. We had to leave to make it to the next gig, but as we left we could hear the next song ramping up and punters singing along once again.

Lanie Lane by Stu BFriday was the first day that all stages were running, so we hiked it up the massive main arena hill to catch Lanie Lane at The Grand Theatre, a performance I had been hotly anticipating given Lanie‘s catapult to popularity and extensive list of festival performances for 2011. The crowd had assembled early and punters all claimed their seats on the grass eagerly anticipating her sultry tunes. I was amazed to see two kimono clad women distributing Japanese tea to the waiting audience and realised this festival truly has everything! Although Lanie was under the weather, her performance was strong and Stu commented just how well her music translates from recording to stage. There’s nothing more disappointing than loving an artist’s CD only to see them live and be disappointed. Lanie did not disappoint, in fact she wowed the huge crowd, had them all singing along and loving every second of her set. I left her set feeling so fulfilled and it was only the start of the day!

I can’t decide whether French 10 piece Babylon Circus is gypsy enough to include, or ska enough to omit. If you like upbeat jazzy tunes with huge brass sections a little like the Bamboos and the Cat Empire, then check them out, they certainly had the crowd swinging. Sitting watching The Valley Stage meant the sun was blazing down on us, so we quickly moved inside The Grand Theatre to see CANT, the side project of Grizzly Bear‘s Bass Player, Chris Taylor. Backed by a 3 piece band, he struggled through some sound issues and hit the crowd with an echoey pop ballad to open. Full of synth, ethereal meandering and some almost ‘Phill Collins at his best’ sounding moments, CANT provide a full sound experience, but certainly not a mini Grizzly Bear act.

Grouplove by Stu BNext Grouplove took to The Valley Stage with a huge, excited crowd just ready to burst at the seams. Their opening number sounded almost like an Irish pub rock ballad with the ukulele strumming and sheer enthusiasm from the 5 piece. Followed by “Lovely Cup” had the crowd keeping time. Grouplove are synonymous with their clapping introduction to the huge hit “Itchin’ On A Photograph” that just two beats in, the crowd recognised and were clapping in time while, over the top of the crowds clapping, Hannah explained that the band had painted the back drop for the day an hoped the audience loved it as much as they did. It was pretty cool and the audience sure let them know it. Next up they played “Love Will Save Your Soul” with the trilling intro chords revving the audience up. After the applause had died down, Christian confided that Australia  was the bands favorite place to play and they were so excited to be back. Grouplove are a fantastic festival act, I can only imagine what their sideshows with The Head and the Heart would have been like!

The Jezabels by Stu BAfter a bit of a non-folk interlude, The Jezabels brought a new vibe to The Valley Stage. With the main arena covered top to bottom in revelers, the crowd erupted as they came onstage. Their thumping bass, drums and synth keys took precedence as their hit “Endless Summer” rolled out across the valley, much to the audience’s delight. The drum heavy opening to the slower ballad “Easy To Love” caressed the crowd as Hayley’s voice transcended the octaves and floated up the valley. Their set was solid from start to end, treating the ecstatic crowd to a cross section of their folk-rock back catalogue including “A Little Piece” and “Deep Wide Ocean”. With the audience moving as one and the blistering sun shining down on bare arms, backs and faces, it was clear The Jezabels were both a hit and having a great time on stage. Hayley went on to thank the crowd and tell them how great the looked. She said “Last year we played in The Grand Theatre, this is way better!” to which the crowd erupted and the set continued.

Fleet Foxes by Stu BAfter another brief folky lull in the line up, the crowd reformed for the much anticipated Fleet Foxes on The Valley Stage. Having not seen Fleet Foxes, and hardly having a chance to digest their back catalogue, even the sound check had me excited for what was to come. They took to the stage and in a humble tone, lead singer Robin said “Thanks so much for coming to watch us, we’re very happy to be back” and they were as equally happily received by the crowd. With a gentle demeanor and humility in their performance, their chords struck out across the crowd and wrapt each listener up within their stories. Their music is honest and subtle, even live on stage. And without lifting much of a finger, their calm and often still stature on stage still managed to deliver far more emotion and energy than anticipated to a very happy crowd.

Tim Finn by Stu BAs another chilly night set in, Tim Finn took over The Valley Stage like an esteemed gentleman with a point to make and a story to tell. A mellow start to the set with the Split Endz classic “Poor Boy” but an upbeat bridge gave him opportunity to take in the entire stage like a young lead singer or any other band of the day. Clearly those at the front were core fans, singing along with full gusto. Tim‘s voice isn’t what it used to be, but like a wise man with a glimmer in his eye, a cheeky tale and more spirit than any young upstart with attitude, he sang comfortably through “Made My Day”. Animatedly he announced he would pull one from  Woodface and the crowd pleaser “Only Natural” echoed out from his enigmatic smile. On a roll, Finn wooed the crowds further with “Persuasion” followed by a hugely popular and rousing performance that had the entire valley singing along, word for word, to “Weather With You”. You’d think that would be the end of such a set, but Finn continued the crowd high with “Six Months In A Leaky Boat”. We were flagging but the crowd wasn’t. As we headed off, the valley continued to sing along and Finn mastered the stage like a King watching over his court. Truly an inspired performance.

Read our feature reviews of Lanie Lane and Fleet Foxes from the day. Otherwise read the rest of our three part review, with opening piece In The Beginning and look out for our final installment The Countdown.

4 Comments

  1. January 13, 2012 at 14:18

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  2. January 17, 2012 at 08:32

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  3. January 17, 2012 at 10:01

    […] the rest of our Falls Festival reviews, part 1 In The Beginning, part 2 Mid Stride and part 3 where Emma was featured, The Countdown. Advertisement GA_googleAddAttr("AdOpt", "1"); […]

  4. January 17, 2012 at 11:32

    […] our other Falls Festival reviews, part 1 In The Beginning and part 2 Mid Stride, also take a look at our feature reviews from The Countdown, Kim Churchill and Emma Louise. […]


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