Day Two (or three if you count New Years, but we’re only counting days we can remember), brought with it some more steamy lineup and a whole bunch of great acts on the Forest Stage. That meant permeating heat, sweat and plenty of smoke.
Glass Animals took to the heat like seasoned pros, showing why they’d chosen tropical designs for their album and stage designs. The new band has found more favour here in Australia than anywhere else, and they were clearly taken aback by the adoration that they received from the Byron crowd that was spilling out of the tent. For a band with only one album they managed a set jam-packed full of gems. Gooey was an obvious crowd pleaser but it was the more upbeat closer, Pools, that impressed the most. Australian audiences love tropical percussion at the best of times and Glass Animals brought that aplenty. A cover of Kanye West’s Love Lockdown saw lead-singer Dave Bayley, balancing on the rails, surrounding himself with the audience. The band looks as if they’re straight from a Topshop commercial but they put on a lively show which is hard to criticize.
Scott Hansen aka. Tycho was next up, with much of the crowd leaving for Milky Chance. Milky Chance will no doubt be fleeting and it’s likely that should the two acts visit again in 12 months, Tycho will be the far more popular choice. His 2014 record, Awake, was a brilliant combustion of ambient and post-rock genres and in the live arena it expanded. His soundscapes were rich and kept the crowd mesmerised throughout a near perfect set. It’s probably music best enjoyed in a dimly-lit environment but he adapted it well to daylight.
Somebody who probably also would’ve benefitted from a night time slot was German DJ, Tensnake. He released his debut album, Glow, last year, boasting collaborations with the likes of Nile Rodgers and MNEK. His set at Falls fell oddly in between a live set, with occasional vocals from Fiora, and a DJ set. With his closing track, See Right Through, going off we couldn’t help but think he’d be better off doing the whole record live. As a DJ set it felt a little lazy, as if we were at Marco Polo at The Ivy.
Maybe Tensnake should take a few cues from SBTRKT, who arrived on the Valley Stage with a stage-full of instruments. His set up is phenomenal and he really does a lot to prove to doubters that electronica is more than just somebody standing behind decks. Opening with Hold On from his debut record, the British producer performed a short set with only a smattering of songs from his second record, Wonder Where We Land. New Dorp, New York off that album, sounded brilliant with Ezra Koenig’s vocals creating space in an otherwise packed amphitheatre. The visuals behind him were also stunning. Unfortunately the set was somewhat ruined by a number of punters who obviously thought they were on the lineup. Shirtless guys stood on shoulders, chanting over much of what was happening on stage (my goodness, we sound old. No?). They quietened up for the brilliant, Wildfire, but became more and more restless each time SBTRKT crafted an extended outro. As much as SBTRKT is a mastermind, a wide-eyed festival crowd is perhaps not his best audience.
We’re going to contradict ourselves once more and say that electronica is something that can be executed brilliantly behind decks. Case in point:
Jamie xx. The brains behind the xx, creates an after-dark, strobing atmosphere like no other, taking you on an emotional journey with his DJ set. He moves from introverted club music to hands-in-the-air, gospel flavoured music, making sure that he earned every last drip of sweat that dropped from the punters. Short samples of Feel Better and the xx’s VCR, stirred excitement but at the end of the day it didn’t really matter if you knew what they hell he was playing. He was the master of puppets and was commanding the crowd to do whatever he wanted them
As the end of Falls drew near, the sadness was setting in. Once again, the festival was brilliantly organised and for the most part drew a crowd that was passionate and friendly amongst strangers. As many of them ascended up that hill once more for Alt-J, there was really only one man capable of curing that end of Falls depression – Todd Terje. The Norwegian producer drew a small but happy crowd as worked away on his keyboard. Terje’s It’s Album Time! is without a doubt one of the best albums of the year and worked into an hour-plus set, it sounded even better. He started with a moody, brooding selection, bookmarked by Delorean Dynamite, before moving into his more light-hearted tunes. At one point during Oh Joy, the crowd, waiting for a drop, crouched down on the ground, however, after two minutes, it became apparent that Guetta-style drop wasn’t going to come. Terje seemed to appreciate the sentiment anyway. Two fools also stormed the stage trying to take some of his attention but Terje gracefully switched off the music and ushered them to the side. That act garnered a huge cheer, with the excitement continuing into Inspector Norse. A remix of Whitney Houston’s I Wanna Dance WIth Somebody made it easy to squeeze out those final dance moves from a weary body. Well done, Mr. Terje. We’re now considering replacing 12am on our watch with album time, in your honour.