A stack of fierce artists boomed forth from Fremantle Oval at this year’s Falls Festival (5-6 January).
Australians such as Mallrat, Odette, Amy Shark, Jack River, Carla Geneve, Kota Banks, Hatchie, Eves Karydas, Tia Gostelow, Alice Skye, and Tkay Maidza, who whipped crowds in to a frenzy.
Overseas extraordinaires such as Bishop Briggs, Soccer Mommy, LPX and Chvrches had crowds jumping and swaying, as did Hilltop Hoods, Dean Lewis, Vance Joy, Dizzee Rascal, Anderson .Paak and legends of the game, Toto.
Day one opener on the big stage, Carla Geneve revved up the crowd with her honest lyrics, striking sounds and bold vocals, adding that priceless West Aussie flavour known across the nation to a line-up steered towards east coast and international acts.
Closing with her hit song for 2018, ‘Greg’s Discount Chemist’, Carla left her mark, thanking the crowd as she left.
Around the corner at Valley stage two, Alice Skye’s flawless voice and entrancing spirit, endeared the crowd into a dreamy lull. With a resonance that proved beyond her years, and having already achieved much across the country, and releasing her debut album ‘Friends With Feelings', there’s little doubt there is more to come from this soulful, young Weregaia woman.
Eves Karydas - image © Elliot Cahill
Eves Karydas’ sweet mix of electronic-pop sounds had a light, yet fiercely purposeful sound that echoed across the green.
Entertaining the crowd with songs such as ‘There For You’ and 'Damn Loyal’, Fremantle were treated to an artist who has already supported the likes of Dua Lipa and Cub Sport. If you missed seeing Eves in action, she’ll be performing in Perth at Jack Rabbit Slims (14 February).
From the US, and for the first time in Perth, indie rock, pop artist Soccer Mommy played her brutally honest and dreamy songs such as ‘Try’ and ‘Your Dog’, from her album ‘Clean’. Unpretentious and forthright, Soccer Mommy reminded me of local artists Denise le Menice and Kaitlin Keegan.
Soccer Mommy - image © Elliot Cahill
Fresh off the back of his latest release ‘Be Alright’, which has already attracted 320 million streams in just a few months, Aussie Dean Lewis held the crowd in the palm of his hands.
As he performed fresh material – such as ‘Stay Awake’ to favourites ‘Waves’, ‘Chemicals’, and ‘Need You Now’ as well as ‘Be Alright’ – Dean’s down-to-earth nature shone during ‘Half A Man’ – “this is the song that got me a record deal,” he said.
Dean Lewis - image © Elliot Cahill
The recent winner of ARIA’s Album Of The Year, Best Female, and Pop Work Of The Year, Amy Shark brought her loveable, organic sounds and lyrics that we’ve come to expect from the humble and highly successful artist.
She performed crowd favourites like ‘Weekends’ with the crowd unified in song, atop shoulders, hands in the air. Causing a bunch of laughs across the crowd, she announced: “I wrote this song about my ex-boyfriend,” as she began to sing 'The Idiot'.
Amy Shark - image © Elliot Cahill
A stand-out act of the festival, Mallrat delivered song after song, the crowd gushing at each quiet moment.
The love was undeniable and Mallrat embellished their love with more music, such as ‘Better’ and ‘Uninvited’ that created a frenzy throughout the tent of Valley stage one; the sound of the crowd almost taking the roof off, singing: “Get me off the list, get me off the list.”
‘Groceries’, ‘UFO’ – the hits just kept coming, and there’s no doubt the west awaits Mallrat’s return.
Mallrat - image © Elliot Cahill
Lighting up the night, Sydney group Heaps Gay DJs gave an energetic performance, from giant tutus to giant, inflatable legs adorned with high heels floating up from the stage, the group put on a non-stop dance show and had the crowd jumping.
On the Valley stage beside, Jack River, wearing a stunning pink, shimmering jumpsuit, guitar in hand and backed by her band, had the crowd singing and dancing to favourites ‘Ballroom’, her latest release ‘Limo Song’, and ‘Talk Like That’: “This is about walking around Sydney and wanting to be yourself,” she said.
Dizzee Rascal and Chvrches, on opposite sides of the oval, kept the thousands jumping into the night.
Dizzee opened his heavy beat set with ‘Space’, sending fans into a frenzy, several festival goers even climbing the scaffolding inside the tent [Ed's note: Play safe guys and respect the space of others and those there to protect your well-being]
waving their arms about at the top, in time to the music, until being spotlighted and ordered down by security.
Dizzee also performed his latest release ‘Don’t Gas Me’, as he later posted on his Instagram: 'Expect a very mental music video for this song soon…'.
Chvrches - image © Elliot Cahill
On the main stage, Chvrches resonated across the green with their electro pop. With Lauren Mayberry at the helm, swooning in her full-length tulle skirt, Dr. Martins and black singlet, her eyes adorned with striking blue, face art, her powerful, angel-like voice transcended into the night.
As they performed songs such as ‘We Sink’ and ‘The Mother We Share’, the Scottish group held the crowd and made their mark. No tokens here. Just sheer art.
Day two brought a mass of genuinely fierce, non-stop, crowd-pumping sounds from all four stages, many hitting the stage before 2pm.
There was no time to stop. With artists such as Bishop Briggs, Odette, Kota Banks, Hatchie, Cub Sport and Tia Gostelow, there was plenty for a girl to glean a stack of inspiration from.
West Aussie band Spacey Jane opened the day, hitting the main stage playing a solid set and closing with their high energy, indie-rock track 'Thrills'. The group, who had a huge 2018, are set to perform at Perth Festival, supporting Nothing But Thieves.
Around the corner at Valley stage one, Kota Banks, having supported the likes of Duckwrth and Nina Las Vegas, danced across the stage with her electro-pop set, her female DJ at the helm.
She pumped out lyrics “aaayyyyy, I love myself and that’s not cocky, aaaayyyy that’s self help, the world should copy” during ‘I’m It’; it's a catchy tune that leaves you hanging for the next verse. Switching up the pace, and a personal favourite song of the festival, to a dancehall flavour, Kota’s ‘Zoom’ had the crowd dancing.
With an eye-catching heart tee, perhaps fitting with the heart behind her music, Queenslander Hatchie played new music from her recent EP and forthcoming album including ‘Sure’ – airy and graceful, garage pop at its best.
About to embark on a UK tour, Hatchie will be returning to the west for A Day On The Green in March. “This is the last Falls show for us, thanks for making it special,” she said as she and her band began ‘Bad Guy’, with delightfully, sway-worthy pop feels.
In the Valley stage tent, Brisbane-based artist Tia Gostelow said: “It’s my first time in Perth, thanks for having us,” as she and her band played tracks such as ‘Hey Friends’, a slow, indie-rock tune from her debut album released in 2018 called ‘Thick Skin’.
Bishop Briggs - image © Elliot Cahill
On the main stage, the fierce, yet silken voice of Bishop Briggs played an unforgettable set. With tracks such as ‘HiLo’, ‘Baby’ and ‘River’, which has exploded to a phenomenal 170 million global streams, her powerful presence, reminiscent of Sinead O’Connor in looks and sound, had the packed crowd jumping and chanting.
Leaving me in awe of her sound and powerful presence, Bishop was my favourite artist of the festival.
Then just when I thought I’d heard it all, there was Odette. Valley stage one. Keyboard at the mic, her powerful voice electrifying the audience. A crowd favourite, Odette’s fans sang along to tracks such as ‘Fractured Glass’, which starts soft and slow at the keyboard and builds into an explosion of electronic dance themes.
Odette - image © Elliot Cahill
As she began playing ‘Watch Me Read You’ she said: “I’m going to play the first song I ever released.” To her credit, Odette played through the intrusive sounds of Tired Lion on the adjacent Valley stage, who persisted with a soundcheck during her set.
Rising above the interruption, she brought the crowd to its feet leaving them crying for more as she left the stage thanking everyone.
Opening their set with the pure, vocal harmonies of ‘O Lord’, the crowd screamed as Cub Sport broke into song, lead singer Tim Nelson’s vocals undeniably reminiscent of George Michael. Both Tim and the group’s stage presence between one another and the crowd was beautifully orchestrated, and a great anchor in their performance.
Cub Sport - image © Elliot Cahill
After the outpouring of femme and multi-layered sounds and spirit, the afternoon crowd gravitated towards Toto and Hilltop Hoods' phenomenal sets, both unforgettable for the sheer size of the crowds gathered.
Thousands of people of all ages were simultaneously singing and jumping along to classics, new and old. “The first show we ever did outside of Adelaide was Perth and we have a special relationship with Perth, you guys brought the love!” Hilltop Hoods said.
Hilltop Hoods - image © Elliot Cahill
“This is our last Australian tour,” Joseph from Toto said as they played classic hits such as ‘Rosanna’, ‘Hold The Line’ and ‘Africa’, the crowd roaring.
Toto - image © Elliot Cahill
Vance Joy followed, playing a string of hits: ‘Mass Is One’, ‘Fire And The Flood’, 'Lay It On Me’, ‘Riptide’ and ‘Take Your Time’ – “a song about a couple who decided to turn off their phones for five minutes and dance in the kitchen,” Vance said.
Vance Joy - image © Elliot Cahill
Followed by Norwegian DJ Cashmere Cat and schmick rock group Interpol, the festival ended with the glorious sounds of Swedish group First Aid Kit.