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Live Review: The Falls Music & Arts Festival

7 January 2014 | 8:53 am | Lorin Reid

A reverie of wistful pop, sweat, fresh coconuts, faux hippies and the wedding of two giant skeletons, the first ever Falls Fest in Byron Bay was extraordinary.

Day one of Byron's Falls Fest was quiet and perfect for discovering local bands like the funk/soul outfit Mr Speaker & The People Party, who brought breakdancing to the table, and folk duo Siskin River, who had a huge crowd going crazy for their Teenage Dirtbag cover.
New Year's Eve was all about Hot Dub Time Machine's classic countdown from the 1960s to 2014. But his set was a couple of hours too early and hip hop royalty The Roots, who played through midnight, were almost too smooth and rather lacking in the celebration department.
Another line-up mishap was putting headliners MGMT after The Wombats – the latter rocked out and dedicated one song to a passing cricket, while the former were subdued in unflattering contrast.
From there on in, it was smooth sailing – R&B soulstress Solange inspired a proper dance party, Tom Thum beatboxed from his nose and Chet Faker's excellence forced everyone up early on New Year's Day.
Best reception award goes to London Grammar, who played to their biggest crowd ever. Heavenly vocalist Hannah Reid was in shock when the house lights went up revealing the expanse of people crammed into the valley.
Unforgettable moments included the must-see show from The Cat Empire, which was full of instrumental solos, improvised detours and their rousing finale, The Chariot, and the preppy wonder-lyricists Vampire Weekend, complete with Ezra Koenig's record-ready vocals, bassist Chris Baio, who can pop his hips like nobody's business and an encore of the unlikely anthem, Walcott.
James Vincent McMorrow was that blessed hidden gem who stole the show. His gentle intensity and cinematic flow invited one of those reflective moments when you look around at all the happy, fed, exhausted, unified people and realise that music is a pretty darn amazing thing.
A reverie of wistful pop, sweat, fresh coconuts, faux hippies and the wedding of two giant skeletons, the first ever Falls Fest in Byron Bay was extraordinary.