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Review: 25th annual Falls Festival sets up a glittering start to the new year

Erskine Falls, Lorne
December 28-31

Despite not releasing a hit song since the early `90s, 68-year-old Daryl Braithwaite wowed a glitter-drenched crowd in their early 20s on the opening night of the annual Falls Festival in Lorne. 

Millennials had come prepared for the four-day festival, which began on Thursday, December 28, with horse hats, onesies and horse motif T-shirts in abundance. The wave of "Daryl" and "horses" chants rolled over the crowd. His One Summer was a crowd favourite, as was Howzat, but nothing compared to his extended rendition of The Horses. He let the crowd, many who weren't born when the song was released, sing the chorus, while he hit high notes with precision. Braithwaite, the former frontman of '70s pop band Sherbet,  even donned a horse mask at one stage, smashing any age and musical barriers.

Just a few hours into the event at Erskine Falls, two fans were already enjoying the end-of-year mood, swaying on shoulders for Melbourne favourites Total Giovanni in the Grand Theatre.

Four-piece pop band the Jungle Giants from Brisbane were another opening night highlight, while Blue Mountains hip-hop crew Thundamentals had the crowd bouncing as the foggy night air was flooded with a soft pink hue from the stage lights.

On Friday, despite a midday set and a smaller gathering, Aussie rapper Manu Crook$ lit up the smaller Valley Stage as though it were a packed crowd, and US popsters Foster the People farewelled 2017 as a "bad year for their country" with their first single Pumped up Kicks and a joyful crowd.


Flume, a festival-favourite since he first played at Falls in 2012, surprised festival-goers with a mid-set fumble, restarting Never Be Like You and proving that live DJ sets can be less than faultless.

On Saturday, British electro act Jungle's smooth and polished sounds swelled as bodies again swayed in the crowd, and Australian rapper AllDay, who shot to fame through uploading his music free online, pulled a younger crowd but didn't always hit the right notes.

The 25th annual Falls was a year for big hits - Saturday night featuring former Oasis frontman Liam Gallagher, who only recently released solo album As You Were. Still the rock star, Gallagher constantly checked in with the sound desk, playfully heckled a Manchester United fan and dedicated a song to Albert Einstein. As night fell, he tightened the hood of his parka around his face and kept his sunglasses firmly in place.

Gallagher didn't disappoint, as lighters flickered in the cool night air, and punters rose onto friends' shoulders during a spine-tingling acoustic version of Oasis hit Wonderwall

Grammy-nominated Fleet Foxes' folky hits created a far more chilled vibe before the Kooks delivered a wholesome, upbeat and polished set. This was their second time at Falls and lead singer Luke Pritchard's banter tickled the crowd in a different way to Gallagher's. 

On New Year's Eve glitter tribes and teens in see-through mesh flocked to the main stage as Castlemaine-native D. D Dumbo performed Walrus, while Angus & Julia Stone dropped a few Dope Lemon tracks but mainly played it safe.

After English indie rockers Glass Animals and US hip hop duo Run the Jewels, it was Californian rapper Vince Staples who kept the festival rocking into the early hours of 2018.