Words: Jasmine Uitermark-Thaung
Set to be a promising edition to the blossoming life of Fremantle and its surrounding suburbs, Falls Downtown was the first festival Ink Grid attended after ringing in the New Year. Set up in Kings Square Fremantle, the festival intertwined itself amongst heritage listed buildings and brought life.
With our team set for the weekend, disaster struck our Saturday reviewer with gastro and had him down for the count by the evening. Nonetheless, with a line-up as killer as Fall’s Saturday artist bill, we feel it would have been a day to remember just as Sunday faced up to be.
We arrived at the festival a little late but none the merrier as we rushed from Subi amidst train carriages full of Falls goers. A quick stop to The National and one misplaced phone later we arrived at the Falls gates and into a wonderland of colour, sound and many twirling patrons who’d indulged a little too much on the ‘festival experience’.
Rushing over to The Jezabels on the Main Stage, we managed to insert ourselves into the pack as iconic tunes from my ‘teenagerdom’ rung out over a sweaty crowd. Pumping out tracks from their well-known Prisoner album and newer tracks the crowd were equally pleased which left lead vocalist, Hayley Mary, a force to be reckoned with as she moved about on stage. Falls goers went wild as the Sydney band pumped out a cover of Tina Turner’s iconic tune, The Best as friends clustered into tiny groups towards the back of the crowd and started miming and singing ‘you’re simply the best, better than all the rest.’ The mood turned a tad sour as the band departed from their set after a clumsy crowd surf on their final track. Hayley Mary, clearly disenchanted, reached out to the crowd to impart some wisdom in our constantly changing technological age, telling the crowd that crowd surfing was a lot easier before when patrons weren’t trying to film the moment on their phones. She made a valid point too! How do you hold someone up if you’re concentrating on something else. It’s actually becoming pretty dangerous for musicians.
My friends and I decided it was time to disembark for some festival eats as Ball Park Music came on stage, She Only Loves Me When I’m There played out as the soundtrack to accompany us devouring our delicious burgers and downing some well-deserved drinks. Nutrition was key to surviving mosh pits and the endless back and forth between stages.
Making our way down into the Danceteria in the MANY Freo building was certainly an experience, dark and pulsing you’d expect a rave to remember instead the seedy vibes had us scrambling for the escalator back upstairs. A great idea but in execution I just wasn’t ready to be groped by roaming hands. Like all the bad parts of dingey club combined, these people will always exist. It just sucked that five minutes into this great atmosphere someone felt the need to make another Falls goer uncomfortable.
Trekking over to the Alleyway Stage to catch DMA’s, we made our way through stragglers at the back and tried to get as close as possible. I was left a little bit disheartened by the stage set-up of Falls Downtown as crowds were left stretching further and further back due to the narrow expanse patrons were given to gather. It became more of a problem as the day went on with more and more people left trying to see artists on stage between shoulder gaps due to the stages not being as elevated as you’d expect for such a large festival. Nonetheless, getting amongst the DMA’s crowd you couldn’t help being enveloped by nostalgia as Delete was sung out by the crowd with increasing vigour and festival goers made friends in the mosh pit linking arms when Lay Down echoed over the cheery crowd.
The highlight of Falls Downtown on the Sunday for me was the absolute party Broods brought. Playing hits from their 2016 album, Conscious, Full Blown Love had everyone in the crowd dancing, twirling around and singing out the lyrics with their friends. Any disappointment I’d had with the day earlier lifted as just like everyone else, I got caught up in the moment, Broods’ tunes always seem to bring. The energy amongst everyone was ecstatic before heading over to London Grammar.
Greeting an expansive crowd at London Grammar, stragglers attempted to weave their way forward inevitably blocking off the view some patrons had staked out. As lead vocalist, Hannah Reid’s voice echoed out across the crowd phone torches and swaying punters sung the group’s newest track Rooting For You, I was disappointed to see the space left for this bloke in a wheelchair (so he didn’t have to spend the set looking at some chick’s shoulders) had been occupied by a group of girls, probably a little too drunk to realise why that gap they’d taken had been left free. I was happy to see that despite it all he still bopped his head along to the mellow set-list of tunes London Grammar had procured. With such a tranquil mood to end the weekend on, Strong resonated amongst the crowd and whilst there weren’t as many uplifting tracks as you’d expect from a traditional headliner it left Falls Downtown to end on a positive note.
For a first time festival down in the heart of Freo, Falls Downtown has the potential to be great with a little more emphasis on crowd access.