Firstly, apologies for the lack of posts over the last month.
I’m back at work now after a wonderful three week holiday and as the dust settles I keep remembering my trip away.
I spent New Year in Byron Bay, Australia and attended the Falls Festival.
It was a great event, although a bit too hot for my liking, the musicians were outstanding and the vibe was wonderful.
So here are my 2014 Falls Festival Byron Bay Awards.
The ‘best of the best’ award:
For the whole hour long set I was in heaven. I never imagined this band could sound quite so good live! I have to admit I thought their voices just wouldn’t compare in real life, I imagined they were rather computerised. Boy was I wrong. Frontman Joe Newman is a singing legend. His tone, pitch, energy and even annunciation were perfect, add into the mix his unique sound and you’ve obviously got a winning combo. His voice echoed across the Valley stage and filled you up with a sense of awe. alt-J rattled through the hits from their first record like Breezeblocks, Matilda, Tessellate and Taro and everyone in the audience was in music heaven. They brought to life every song they played off their new album, Hunger of the Pine was spine-tingling material, Left Hand Free was a massive singalong and Nara was mesmerising. I was completely spell-bound. Newman and his gang were kind performers who had a lovely rapport with the crowd, played the songs everyone wanted to hear in stunning fashion and just generally kicked ass. It was such an amazing concert I still don’t know how to best describe it other than to say it was incredible. If you haven’t seen them live yet, don’t miss tickets to their next show.
The ‘next big thing’ award:
When I took a look around the crowd at his set and saw a mass of people, most of who were singing every word to songs from his debut album Wanted on Voyage it was evident everyone around the world has fallen in love with George Ezra as fast as I have. This was the third time in six months that I had seen Ezra play and in that time he’s already learnt to act like a superstar who’s been performing all his life. He started the set sending shivers down everyone’s spine as he came on stage and sang the intro of Did You Hear The Rain unaccompanied. Ezra sounded as good with no backing as many artists would with a full choir behind them, his voice was simply beautiful. I spent most of the hour dancing to a number of tracks from his album like Blame It On Me, Listen To The Man and Cassy O’, the songs were energetic and upbeat while still being pretty darn breathtaking. Of course hit first single Budapest drew in a big crowd and was very popular, and despite me knowing his album and E.P back to front, he still played new material and it was fantastic, so there’s a lot more to come from him! It is clear watching the 21-year-old that he is going to be around for a long time and is going to go a long way.
The ‘electronica god’ award:
The Icelandic singer-songwriter was such a great act to watch on a sunny afternoon, lazing on the grassy banks of the Forest stage. He started the set slowly, playing some more laid-back tunes which reverberated across the crowd and had everyone toe-tapping and nodding in time with the beat. It was such a relaxing vibe and I was loving it but the best bit came when he stepped it up a notch with a rousing cover of Nirvana’s song Heart Shaped Box. Within minutes the crowd was more attentive and singing along, captivated by his sassy falsettos. Going Home was another highlight while King and Cross blew me away and has been playing on repeat on my iPod ever since. The song was electric, the audience was buzzing and Asgeir absolutely killed it.
The ‘impossibly fun’ award:
This was the well-known Aussie band’s second to last performance ever. They’re heading their separate ways shortly and everyone at Falls knew this was a gig you didn’t want to miss. One thing’s for sure, you’d be kicking yourself if you did. The Sydney boys put on the show of a lifetime. The Forest stage tent became a sweaty pit of people dancing and screaming so hard they looked like they’d faint, I certainly felt that way, but it was worth it because I had so much fun enjoying every minute of their set. They had a contagious energy which spread across the crowd and seemed to take over peoples bodies. Songs like Act Yr Age, Vitriol, Ain’t Telling the Truth and their spaced out cover of Lana Del Rey’s Video Games were all brilliant. The finale of Broken Leg was on a whole other level. It was impossible not to grin with a feverish happiness during the whole hour. I loved it and so did everyone else, the Bluejuice boys were the talk of the festival.
The ‘ones to watch’ award:
This German folk duo was a real joy to watch on stage. Their music is such a fresh sound in a time when a lot of songs sound the same. Singer Clemens Rehbein has a voice like no one else. He croons with a fierce energy and his vocals echoed out across the Falls valley magnificently. He’s supported wonderfully by Philip Dausch whose production cleverly changes the songs from being a laidback acoustic to a more electronica sound which is hard to resist. The pairs tunes are funky numbers, something which seems to stem from their background in jazz music. I highly recommend checking them out.
The ‘surprise superstar’ award:
I’ll admit, La Roux wasn’t exactly on my list of acts I was desperate to see so when my friend and I went to check her out we were quite literally blown away. She was such a great performer. Her stunning voice was pitch perfect, powerful and punchy. She ruled the stage like she’s done it since she was a child. There was not a single person in the audience not dancing and singing up a storm and it was so much fun to experience.
The ‘so good it makes you cry’ award:
John Butler Trio
I don’t know what it is about this man but he has an incredible ability to make me cry. I’ve seen him in concert many a times and he’s a brilliant musician I’ll never tire of seeing. In a set with the John Butler Trio you get a taste of everything a concert should have. The songs so bouncy you can’t physically sit still, the vocals that strike a chord with you, the lyrics that make you laugh as you sing them (or try to keep up with him singing them in his case), the kind of crowd interaction that keeps everyone focused and silent and of course, the mind-blowing guitar playing that brings tears to your eyes. John Butler slowed things down a little mid-set and played Ocean, his twelve minute instrumental on an eleven-string guitar. It’s a song that he adapts slightly each time he plays and there is not a person in the world that wouldn’t be blown away by this song, especially when watching him play it live with such incredible passion. Check out the video below to get some idea of how amazing he is and how perfectly Ocean showcases his talents.