Each year a variety of individuals head to Falls Festival to enjoy the music and lap up the customary alcoholic indulgence on New Year’s Eve. This year, for the first time ever, Byron Bay joined in on the fun.
Home to rolling hills, a natural amphitheatre, colourful stalls, and an impenetrable forest as the backdrop, the North Byron Parklands was a picturesque sight on the first day of the festival. Given that day one was New Year’s Eve, campers saw this as an opportunity to drink away the afternoon at their respective camp spots. Thus, most of the afternoon artists played to small numbers.
First up was Australian DJ Late Nite Tuff Guy who performed on the Amphitheatre Stage. The electronic style of the show made for a typical DJ set: pleasant, but not overly memorable.
By the time nightfall came around, the site was packed with festival-heads decorated in tin foil hats, neon face paint, and other bizarre accessories in honour of the ‘intergalactic’ theme of Boogie Nights.
Over at the Jack Daniel’s Barrel House, local Byron Bay band Tora played a strong set. Their fusion of angular guitar work, sensual vocals, and dreamy synths were an unexpected hit.
Back at the amphitheatre, time-travelling DJ Tom Loud, aka Hot Dub Time Machine, attracted a large crowd eager to revel in nostalgia. In spite of some minor inaccuracies (‘Seven Nation Army’ came out in 2003, not 2005), the 50-minute set, with music that spanned seven decades, was hard not to enjoy. The inclusion of retro hits from The Beatles and The Jackson 5 through to the hard rock of Rage Against The Machine ensured that there was something for everyone – excluding metalheads and bluegrass fans, that is.
Whether you’re a fan of hip hop, Jimmy Fallon, or you just wanted the bragging rights to say you rang in the New Year with a highly acclaimed Grammy-winning group, The Roots were the one band everyone was looking forward to seeing at Byron on New Year’s Eve. Whilst the Philadelphian act’s opening numbers showed off their dynamism and musical proficiency, unfortunately Black Thought’s spoken word vocals and their neo-soul infused jams became indistinguishable as their set went on.
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The band included covers of Guns N’ Roses’ ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’ and Daft Punk’s smash hit ‘Get Lucky’. While these may have seemed like good choices, the renditions were awkwardly sandwiched between the New Year’s countdown.
On a more positive note, ‘The Seed’ was a definite highlight – as was the impressive drum duel between Questlove and percussionist Frank Knuckles. Overall, however, the set didn’t seem to captivate the crowd.
With two days to go, Falls Festival had plenty of time to make up for day one.