Review: Falls Festival Downtown 2020

John Farnham-17

Photos by Stuart Bucknell Photography

For years, the Timber and Steel team have headed to the Falls Festival – hallowed ground for the annual New Years Eve Revelry. We’ve been to Lorne, Marion Bay and Byron. Ever since the festival branched out and added a fourth show to the tour, the team have been keen to head to Fremantle, WA to check out the latest iteration.

Falls Downtown is a whole other world from the East Coast festivals – the theme and look is the same but the vibe is different, unique to it’s location and style. Paired down to a two-day festival, set at an oval in the midst of a tourist town, it felt like a relaxed Big Day Out or summer stadium festival, with the enthusiasm and energy of a dance party.

Since it was not a camping event, patrons were more able to fully express themselves and their festival style. People would pop back to their accommodation between sets, or take some downtime when the schedule allowed, or nip back to make that all important costume change from day festival, to night fabulous. We can only imagine the crazy sunburn lines people were sporting after some revealing and eye catching outfits sparkled through the oval.

Jack Davies and the Bush Chooks-1

We kicked off the weekend with the stylings of local Jack Davies and the Bush Chooks (and a local tip, turns out ‘Bush Chook’ is the nickname for the local brew, Emu Export). It’s always tough to be one of the first acts to open at a festival, but Jack and crew had their fans in tow and a growing crowd lifting their already excellent set. Kicking off with a ballad steeped in folky know how, a great meld of acoustic guitar and violin with a lash of electric to straddle the genre threshold. Their set rambled through a perfect collection of larrikin lyrical, slyly local, Australiana laced, satirically soaked tunes working through a range of styles and tempos. Who knew that the very first act of the festival would stand out as one of our favourites of the whole festival? We won’t be surprised if we see Jack Davies on larger folkier festival lines ups in the very near future.

We caught Vera Blue opening her set with haunting lyrically driven tones, melding acoustic prowess into poppy beats, carrying the crowd on an emphatic journey. As far as festival line ups go, Blue clearly attracted crowd to arrive in time for her set, and programmatically her performance was a perfect bridge from Baker Boy‘s hip-hop energy to John Farnham’s nostalgia, while recognising a powerhouse talent in her own right.

John Farnham-7John Farnham, what can we say? He does still have it, and we were delightfully surprised at just how many people of all ages not only knew, but sang along emphatically to his epic back catalogue that both transported us back in time, but was also poignant and timely for the current political climate. Favourites abound, Age of Reason, Chain Reaction, Touch of Paradise, Two Strong Hearts, Sadie the Cleaning Lady, That’s Freedom all rolled across the stadium to collective delight. A fantastic line up of backing singers made for glorious harmonies, and Farnham’s fine voice and high spirits showcased his huge personality. And of course, You’re The Voice was THE anthem of the stadium, sung wholeheartedly, in unison. A defining moment of Falls Downtown.

Milky Chance delivered a moody and emotive set with a deep rhythm that had the power to move your body from within. Earthy xylophone melded with a solid beat, and sheer joy. They delivered the perfect set for a summer evening, punctuated with their own panache. Any act that can use a harmonica as a rhythmic sound deserves to have the crowds dancing and singing along word for word.

Of Monsters and Men had the crowd singing and dancing along instantly, with favourite hooks and big faves ringing out across a rambunctious crowd. Followed closely by Lime Cordiale whose brassy and bold musical statements had us all hooked, lapping up their infectious vibes that had an air of The Cat Empire, and delivered a whole lot of fun.

Of Monsters and Men-6

Parcels was fun to catch with harmonised, mysterious opening to their set, that gave way to an 80s pop vibes, laden with funk and escalating their synched harmonies. Vocally moving into a higher register, a comforting melody emerged that was easy to lose yourself within.

Sunday’s line up was as exciting as the Saturday, and the festival’s adaptability was on show as the venue layout had been tweaked overnight, providing a better experience for punters, relieving a key bottleneck and allowing better flow for excited crowds to move between stages.

The Japanese House-3

The final day of the Falls Tour cruised in to hearts and minds thank to The Japanese House. Their smooth harmonies and soaring synth delivered a cruisey pop melody to get everyone in the right mood.

We know him from his duo outfit with his sister, but Angus Stone’s Dope Lemon was a highlight for the team where musically we’ve reached new terrain – not folk, not country, not blues, and not pop, but a soothing balm of them all in just the right blend lingering on a sunny afternoon over an eager crowd. A modern day Woodstock vibe ensued.

Hitting our stride with a definite theme for the day – relaxed and chilled – #1 Dads didn’t fail to deliver with strummy chilled goodness, reminiscent of an evening on the beach with a hint of Beach Boys. The indie vibes were strong and the crowd was committed to enjoy every ‘holiday-like’ moment of the set. A mix of old favourites, and new tunes to test, it was a set not to be missed.

Lewis Capaldi-43

Golden boy Lewis Capaldi did not disappoint the crowds who gathered with a glint in their eye and the intent for fun. He opened with raucous energy that wowed the crowds, yet managed to tame the wildness and calm the beasts within by moving in to sentimental ballads. A masterful performer, he had the growing audience in the palm of his hand, tantalising and thrilling them with with popular hit after hit, maintaining his stoic charm throughout.

Matt Corby-1

Joining the Falls line up only for the Downtown leg was Matt Corby. We’ve seen him in action many times but Falls seems to be a place of calm joy as his relaxed and confident manner held the crowds transfixed. Pulling glimpses of gospel and flashes of falsetto, his meld of music and stories wound through the audience, drawing them closer and holding them up together until his hits had them enraptured with delight.

We rounded out our Falls with solid festival favourite, Thelma Plum. Her high energy set was packed full of hits laced with her genuine charm and shining with Aussie pride. She delighted throughout her performance, caught off guard when a song ended in spite of being so whisked away with it that she didn’t want to stop. A delectable cover of The Captain felt like Chambers herself could have stepped on to stage to join them, lapping up Plum’s edgy emphatic delivery. Plum’s hits rang out across the oval as the temperatures dropped, the stars came out and the Falls Festival concluded for another year.

Check out our whole gallery of photos by Stuart Bucknell Photography on our Facebook page.

Thelma Plum-1

Artists Announced so Far for WOMADelaide 2017

The East Pointers
Image Courtesy of The East Pointers

Since we went quiet for a couple of months world music festival WOMADelaide has dropped two lineup announcements and we’re pretty excited about the artists that have been announced so far.

WOMADelaide is pretty ecelectic in its genre selection given the huge umbrella that encompasses “world music” but they always offer up a bunch of great folk leaning acts to sink your teeth into.

2017 is no different with the likes of 9Bach, Archie Roach, Brushy One String, Dope Lemon, The East Pointers (above), Gawurra, Hanoi Masters, Nattali Rize, Oki Dub Ainu Band, The Waifs, Wawsaw Village Band, William Crighton and many more.

WOMADelaide takes place in the Botanic Park, Adelaide on the 10th to 13th March. For more information on the full lineup and how to get your hands on tickets check out the official site here.

Thank Folk It’s Friday – 27th May


This Week in Folk

All the News From The Week That Was

– Indie-folk duo Oh Pep! released two new tracks, “Doctor Doctor” and “Bushwick”. Details here

– Alice Springs based singer-songwriter Colin Lillie released his new single “Renegade”. Details here

– This Saturday some of Sydney’s finest folkies are coming together for the Get Folked Mini Festival at the Gasoline Pony. Details here

– Indie-folk band Forest Falls released their new video “Archipelago Heart”. Details here

– Sydney indie-folk night Little Features celebrates its fourth birthday this Saturday with performances from Em George, Liam Gale, Maia Marsh and Lacey Cole and The Lazy Colts. Details here

– The new Angus Stone project Dope Lemon released a new video “Uptown Folks”. Details here

– Hunter Valley Americana festival Dashville Skyline has announced its return in 2016. Details here

– Singer-songwriter Woody Pitney returns home to Melbourne in June announcing a residency at The Workers Club. Details here

– We premiered the self titled debut EP from Sydney singer-songwriter Em George. Details here

Releases This Week

Em George
Em GeorgeEm George


Timber and Steel Recommends – Go To This Gig

Get Folked Mini Festival

Button Collective

For just $25 Sydney will be treated to some of the best local folk artists, across two stages for an entire day of music. Get down to Get Folked for the likes of The Button Collective, The Low Down Riders, Steve Wernick, Shelley’s Murder Boys, Black Vat Trio, The Villebillies, Andy Baylor, Brother Jimmy, Queen Porter Stomp, Tawny Owl String Band, Bleeding Gums Murphy, The Marrickville Shanty Club and many more.

Saturday 28th May – Gasoline Pony, Sydney, NSW

Gigs Next Week

Bob Dylan 75th Birthday Bash feat. Al Grigg, Ben Horder, Brian Campeau, Cameron James Henderson, Chris Porter, Christine Jane, Gabby Huber, Georgia Mooney, Hollie Matthew, Maia Marsh, Max S. Porter, Maxine Kauter, Richard Cuthbert, Ross Tipper, Sam Newton, Tom Hume
Sunday 29th May – Union Hotel, Sydney, NSW

Bon Iver
Friday 27th May – Sydney Opera House, Sydney, NSW
Saturday 28th May – Sydney Opera House, Sydney, NSW
Sunday 29th May – Sydney Opera House, Sydney, NSW
Monday 30th May – Sydney Opera House, Sydney, NSW

Clare Bowen
Friday 27th May – Anita’s Theatre, Thirroul, NSW
Saturday 28th May – Metro Theatre, Sydney, NSW
Monday 30th May – The Triffid, Brisbane, QLD
Tuesday 31st May – The Triffid, Brisbane, QLD

Claude Hay
Friday 27th May – The Milk Factory, Brisbane, QLD
Saturday 28th May – Solbar, Maroochydore, QLD

Conal Duffy w/ Fresh Off the Boat
Friday 3rd June – The Gaelic Club, Sydney, NSW

Dr TAOS’ Medicine Show at Lazybones Lounge w/ Hannah Robinson, Taryn La Fauci
Thursday 2nd June – Lazybones Lounge, Sydney, NSW

Get Folked Mini Festival
Saturday 28th May – Gasoline Pony, Sydney, NSW

Hootenanny feat. Crusin’ Deuces
Sunday 29th May – Miss Peaches, Sydney, NSW

Jack Flash
Friday 3rd June – The Beetle Bar, Brisbane, QLD

Jed Rowe
Monday 30th May – The Retreat Hotel, Melbourne, NSW

Joe & Harmony’s Magic Carpet Ride BE-IN feat. The Green Mohair Suits, The Faraway Eyes, Glen and Glenda
Saturday 28th May – Newtown Neighbourhood Centre, Sydney, NSW

Joe Mungovan
Thursday 2nd May – The Exeter Hotel, Adelaide, SA

Josh Pyke
Thursday 2nd June – Waves, Wollongong, NSW
Friday 3rd June – Laycock Theatre, Gosford NSW

Kit & The Cub
Sunday 29th May – The Midnight Special, Sydney, SNW

Little Features feat. Em George, Liam Gale, Maia Marsh, Lacey Cole and The Lazy Colts
Saturday 28th May – Hibernian House, Sydney, NSW

Little May
Friday 27th May – Solbar, Sunshine Coast, QLD
Saturday 28th May – The Zoo, Brisbane, QLD
Sunday 29th May – Studio 56 @ Miami Marketta, Gold Coast QLD

Mark Wilkinson
Friday 27th May – Soundlounge, Gold Coast, QLD
Saturday 28th May – Old Museum, Brisbane, QLD
Sunday 29th May – 5 Church Street, Bellingen, NSW
Wednesday 1st June – Lizotte’s, Newcastle, NSW
Thursday 2nd June – The Oxley Wine Bar, Cowra, NSW
Friday 3rd June – The Street Theatre, Canberra, ACT

Melody Pool
Sunday 29th May – Trinity Sessions, Adelaide, SA

Sahara Beck
Friday 27th May – The Triffid, Brisbane, QLD
Saturday 28th May – Big Pineapple Festival, Sunshine Coast, QLD

Skyscraper Stan
Friday 27th May – Flow Bar, Old Bar, NSW
Saturday 28th May – Roth’s Wine Bar, Mudgee, NSW
Wednesday 1st June – The Cambus Wallace, Gold Coast, QLD
Thursday 2nd June – The Treehouse, Byron Bay, NSW
Friday 3rd June – The Bearded Lady, Brisbane, QLD

Songwriters in the Round feat. Kelly Brouhaha, Forte, Kylie Brice
Friday 27th May – The Bluebee Room, Adelaide, SA

Sundown Sounds feat. Tawny Old String Band, Midnight Run
Saturday 28th May – Evergreen Music, Sydney, NSW

The April Family, Mark Lucas, Andy Gordon, Dear Orphans
Sunday 29th May – The Record Crate Cafe, Sydney, NSW

The Beards
Friday 27th May – SS & A Club, Albury, NSW
Saturday 28th May – The Area Hotel, Griffith, NSW

TinPan Orange
Saturday 28th May – The Railway Club, Darwin, NT

Tiny Ruins
Wednesday 1st June – Sydney Opera House, Sydney, NSW

Wheeze & Suck Band
Sunday 29th June – Petersham Bowling Club, Sydney, NSW

Woody Pitney w/ Royal East
Wednesday 1st June – The Workers Club, Melbourne, VIC

Friday Folk Flashback

“The Darkest Side” – The Middle East

The Middle East seem to be getting a lot of attention from the media this week with interviews and radio features and this sent us down a Youtube rabbit hole.

Watch the New Dope Lemon Video “Uptown Folks”

Dope Lemon
Image Courtesy of Dope Lemon

In case you haven’t heard Angus Stone (Angus & Julia Stone) has a new solo project titled Dope Lemon. There’s an album on the way called Honey Bones (due on the 10th June) and a fuzzy new single titled “Uptown Folks”.

Check out the video for “Uptown Folks” below:

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