FALLS Downtown Festival, in its WA debut on the weekend, felt like a festival that had been in Fremantle for a long, long time.
Embracing Kings Square and appropriating buildings such as St John’s Anglican Church and the old Myer building – and aided by the gorgeous Fremantle weather – the festival made a strong impression on attendees on both days.
Parquet Courts was the first standout on Saturday, riling up the crowd at the Alley Stage and doing “pretty well for a bunch of Seppos” as they claimed.
The next to take the stage was AlunaGeorge, a personal favourite of the day who owned the stage with such authority that everyone was dancing in the same direction just to witness them.
Stalwarts of the WA party, music, festival and all round good-times scenes Camp Doogs, The Community, Pilerats and Fungle Club kept the Danceteria stage pumping throughout Saturday.
At any given point, music lovers could find hip-hop, jazz, techno, house and everything really – with genres fluidly melding within each group’s set.
The old Myer building basement, Success, felt like a niche club located within a festival, and with the line to get in growing towards the evening this only added to the club vibe and the desire to check it out.
While ILLY solidly delivered his style of hip-hop to the appreciative crowd at the Downtown Stage, Grandmaster Flash was performing a bizarre set with too many starts/stops to songs, jarring jumps from genre to genre and even repeating an entire DMX song 5 minutes after playing it.
The crowd did power through and kept the intensity high for the following sets from Booker Shade and All Day.
Big name acts Golden Features and Ta-Ku kept the main stage dancing and swaying through the afternoon before King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard and Violent Soho closed out the evening, turning the main stage in to an explosive rock concert that the crowd flocked to.
On Sunday, Shura wooed the crowd early in the afternoon on the Downtown Stage with her sultry vocals and infectious beats.
On the Alley Stage, RY X seemed genuinely appreciative of the chance to play on the west coast for the first time as his melodic electronica was the perfect antidote to the warm afternoon sun.
Ball Park Music was the first band to genuinely rock the crowd at the Downtown Stage, with a packed house and plenty of people jumping and singing along.
It’s Nice to Be Alive may be one of the happiest singalong songs ever created – and hearing an entire crowd belt out the chorus gave you the feeling that it really was, in fact, nice to be alive.
For a change of pace, comedian Gen Fricker entertained the crowd inside St John’s Anglican Church – in what must have been the most irreverent show to take place in that church ever.
Gen’s mix of comedy and music was hilarious and just what the crowd needed before heading back out into the fray.
The twin highlights of Matt Corby’s set were his rendition of Tina Arena’s Chains and his hugely popular single Brother.
Avalanches’ set was absolutely flawless. Kicking off with the opening two tracks off their long-awaited second album Wildflower, the live set provided the perfect mix of old and new tracks.
The older songs fitted in seamlessly with the newer material – but the crowd response for tracks like Frontier Psychiatrist and Since I Left You proved that the hits from their debut album were the ones that mattered most.
Broods’ bass-heavy style of electronica translated perfectly to their live performance. It was hard not to be swept up in the enthusiasm and energy singer Georgia Nott brought to the Alley Stage and the audience responded accordingly.
It was fitting that the Downtown Stage was situated next to the church, given the ethereal sounds of the magnificent headliners London Grammar.
From the moment the trio arrived onstage, singer Hannah Reid’s voice commanded attention. Her vocal range was enough to send chills on numerous occasions throughout the set.
The UK band worked through a number of songs from their debut album, including Hey Now, Stay Awake, Wasting My Young Years and Nightcall.
But it was the recently-released single Rooting For You that really wowed the crowd, with fans in no doubt that the long-awaited follow-up album is set to be pretty special.
Falls Downtown should be a blueprint for all other festival promoters on running a successful event in Perth.
The layout, setup, sound engineering and general feel from the festival made it one of the best this reviewer has attended.
Here’s to Falls Downtown 2018.