Are you going to the Falls Festival? Are you, like so many others, in a total quandary over which bands to see, which to flag and which to not miss come hell, high water or Judgement Day itself?
With every festival lineup there are three primary categories of acts: the headliners, the secondaries and the who-the-hell-are-theys – those acts that speak for themselves, the ones who are options if nothing better is on and the ones you’ve just never even heard of.
Pros and cons are thrown out by every lineup. Those empty spaces in your timetable can sometimes see you finding the best acts of the festival that you never knew existed, sometimes you’ll swing punches and camp out early to get a place for a big name only to find that they serve you a bitter slice of disappointment pie and don’t even play that one track of theirs that you love oh-so-much. Going in with a rough idea, rather than a fixed schedule, is always the most productive way to wing it and so, as a public service and a little bit of education and enlightenment for all of you Falling your way through the holidays, here are eight acts that may well give you some sweet surprises:
Best Potential Movie Soundtrack – Big Scary
Big Scary are – big, though thankfully they aren’t in the least bit scary. They have that sound that evokes images of full-moon road trips, stormy seas viewed from cliff top sanctuary and trailing hands through the long grass of sunlit pastures. Their earlier material is simple-fun-folk, rich but delicate, confident but naive. With their latest album, Not Art, Big Scary have busted the budget on production. More rounded, more mature, they’ve prewritten the soundtrack for the next Crash, Magnolia or Vanilla Sky. Prepare to be moved.
Your first little movement > BIG SCARY – “Twin Rivers”
Best Disco Big Beats – Hermitude
Big festivals mean big days, big nights and all too often big, big hangovers. Hermitude is the pep in your step, the spice in your life and the groove that you get on. Hermitude‘s jumped up, pumped up kicks will give you muscular tourette’s, beats to which you couldn’t stand still to if you stapled your pinkies to the floor. Even if you’re an electronic non-believer, their infectious tunes will seep through your pores, penetrate into your soul and get snuggly with your urge to boogie. Go on, let go, give in and who knows? You might actually enjoy yourself.
A taste of things to come > HERMITUDE – “Speak Of The Devil”
Best Goosebump Inducer – James Vincent McMorrow
Although his songs don’t actually sound too similar, there’s something Bon Iver-ish about James Vincent McMorrow. Middle America trickles through whispy vocals that will put the hairs on your arms on end. But don’t be lulled into a false state of comatose tranquility. Although many of his melodies are best served seated and shared with lovers, there’s a bit of fire in this young man’s belly that pulls you back to your feet with a short, sharp, very pleasant tug. James Vincent McMorrow is like chili chocolate ice cream – think that out for a while…
Licks with kicks > James Vincent McMorrow – “From The Woods!!”
Best Ethereal Chillout – London Grammar
London Grammar make time stand still. Their music is minimalistic instrumentally, looped beats and repeated melodies serving only as a cohesive framework for lead singer Hannah Reid to take you on a haunting journey through your inner psyche. Well that all sounds like a bunch of pretentious bullshit! The music’s gorgeous, so is Hannah and both are well worth staring at for an hour and a half. Think The XX spliced with Florence & The Machine with a light dusting of Kate Bush and you’ll be in the ballpark.
A return ticket into yourself > LONDON GRAMMAR – “Wasting My Young Years”
Best Summer Day Soul Sista – Solange
Solange is sass on steroids. She’s like Beyoncé’s funked up, souled out sista, a glimmer of pop scattered through a gospel-soul dance feel – girl’s got class. Although she might be all just a bit too popped for some, she’s got a presence that’ll keep you transfixed and she’s sure to throw down a killer performance that’ll be the talk of the Falls. More likely appealing to a younger crowd of the feminine kind – hideously biased stereotyping noted – Solange is definitely worth a quick peek to all but the most die-hard rocksters.
Your nice, hot cup of funk tea, sir > SOLANGE – “Lovers in the Parking Lot”
Best Funk Soul Rock Throwback Mashup – The Preatures
I’m sure The Preatures have fit into a musical mould at some stage, but then they kind of swelled, expanded and oozed gently over the sides to create something that, while you can see some of the original shape, has become a form all of its own. The Kings of Leon would have to be The Preatures‘ closest living relative, but that’s a little like comparing a chihuahua to a rottweiler and saying they’re siblings. The Preatures‘ vibrant, ’70s-esque chilled-rock sound will have your cheek muscles aching through endless smiles and your feet itching to twitch.
Get your groove on > THE PREATURES – “Take A Card”
Best Act To Steal Your Girlfriend – Tom Odell
Tom Odell scares the hell out of me. He’s talented, cute, charismatic and famous. With a man like this running around the world being popular and crooning to the masses, we mere male mortals don’t stand a single chance at getting a date or keeping a girlfriend ever again. A Coldplay influence comes through the solid, piano-rich tunes, Tom Odell‘s excellent voice conveying the lyrical stories buried in his songs with power and passion. There’s not much to fault about Tom Odell, from his shiver-inducing songs to his perfect, floppy, blond fringe – yeah guys, we’re screwed.
Don’t show your girlfriend this video > TOM ODELL – “I Know”
Best Way to Contract a Scorching Case of Disco Fever – Touch Sensitive
Touch Sensitive‘s synth-pop vibe warrants a glitter ball so big it has it’s own weather system and gravitational field. On that multi-faceted, shiny orb lives a race of beings clad in silver jumpsuits and platform shoes who naturally walk to the beat, strut with big steps wherever they go and throw down Saturday Night Fever moves in the Post Office queue. These people never buy their own food, just cheekily steel french fries from each other before pointing skyward and pirouetting. And they all have afros.
I hope you’ve had your fever shots > TOUCH SENSITIVE – “Body Stop”
– This article first appeared on Common Ground Australia on Dec 19, 2013