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Festival Review: Falls Festival Byron Bay 2015 - Day Three

Bleary eyes blinked from all angles as the sun dawned on 2015 and day three of Falls Festival Byron Bay. Wind might have not been in everybody’s sails on this New Year’s morning but live music waits for no punter as the festival energy got turned up to eleven.

I started the day off right with the rap styling’s of pint sized Adelaide MC Tkay Maidza. The rapper was obviously channeling the feel of the crowd as she exclaimed “hands up if you died last night and came back to life just now, cause I sure know I have”. Tkay roamed around the stage with more swagger than any 18 year old should have and brought the crowd out of their hangovers with her ripper of a trick Chitty Bang.

Tkay Maidza, Photo: Dean Swindell

In an attempt to avoid the blistering midday sun the crowds moved swiftly over to the forest tent where Canberra electronic trio SAFIA was about to hit the stage.  These guys have blown up since supporting Lorde on her Australian run earlier in the year and the boost of confidence has definitely worked in their favor. SAFIA made their set an interactive experience with vocalist Ben Woolner taking the audience through a number of sweat inducing activities until legs and arms were flying all over the tent. Woolner’s voice is a revelation, not faltering even once during the seemingly impossible falsettos that features on so many tracks. Single Listen To Soul, Listen To Blues sent the crowd into convulsions by the time of its magnificent drop before the band transported them to a high plane with their otherworldly cover of James Vincent McMorrow’s Caviler. SAFIA was definitely the surprise highlight of the whole festival.

Jumping over to catch the second half of Vance Joy’s afternoon set the crowd seemed a bit subdued to Joy’s acoustic tunes. Perfectly relaxing but a little blasé the sizeable audience perked right up for megahit Riptide which included a massive crowd sing along an a very impressive successful Mexican wave.

California natives Cold Way Kids took the stage next, foolishly clad in black skinny jeans and leather jackets, the band was dripping in sweat two minutes into 2013 single Miracle Mile. Despite these physical limitations Cold War Kids delivered an intense set with a pleasant mix of older tracks and songs off their new album Hold My Home. Although the crowd was appreciative of the newer tracks, it was older tracks like Hang Me Out To Dry and Audience. Wrapping up set with fan favorite Hospital Beds the band gave it everything they had and got a hearty response from the crowd.

Cold War Kids, Photo: Dean Swindell

I was most excited to catch English crooner George Ezra’s set just to get conformation that such a spectacularly low and bluesy voice can come out of such an unassuming package. It turns out Ezra’s voice is 100% him as he toured the crowd through his fantastic bluesy/pop debut album Wanted On Voyage.  Not only did he nail all of his musical cues but he was also the biggest sweetheart, repeatedly thanking the audience and explaining that while he was boiling hot he remained in jeans because “My legs haven’t seen sun in 18 months and I look like Napoleon Dynamite.” His number 1 track Budapest enticed a humungous sing-a-long from the audience and left everyone with warm-fuzzies long after Ezra left the stage.

The Temper Trap have been a little under the radar since they released their self-titled album back in 2012 but the quartet proved that they have not missed a beat with their Falls set. They opened with the emotionally raw Rabbit Hole following it up with the uplifting Love Lost (complemented by its terrific film clip) and Trembling Hands. Unleashing some new material, the crowd was encouraging of every new song with possible single So Much Sky even getting its own sing-a-long despite it being the first time the audience had heard it. The band finished up on hit Sweet Disposition and if the audiences reaction is anything to go by then there is some very exciting things from The Temper Trap coming in 2015.

Festival favorites Empire Of The Sun closed out the night with their usual showboating theatrics. Elaborate costumes, colorful light shows and light up air guitars accompanied the boy’s electronic thumper hits. As front man Luke Steele signaled the end of the set with a very dignified guitar smash the crowd went wild and flooded out of the amphitheater presumably to do some more dancing before the pingers wore off. That was a wrap on the first day of 2015!

Empire Of The Sun, Photo: Markus Ravik

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