A few weeks ago I conquered my first music festival. Ok, that’s a bit of a lie. I mean I’ve done GTM and Laneway before, but that doesn’t even compare to the epic four-day bender that is Falls. Before even consulting any of my mates I spontaneously booked myself a ticket as soon as they went on sale. I knew the line-up was somewhat questionable, especially considering the stellar Splendour lineup which set an exceedingly high standard with acts like Lorde, Kendrick Lamar, and Gang of Youths all making an appearance (I still cry a little at the fact that I missed out on a ticket). But, I didn’t care. I was adamant that this year would be the year that my new years eve didn’t turn to crap. There was absolutely no chance that I’d be seen looking miserable (and far too sober) in the Black Bull at 11:59pm this year. No chance at all.
It probably doesn’t come as much of a surprise to you when I say that Falls isn’t a cheap endeavour. In fact, expenses can add up real quick. But, it’s completely worth it. So, while it may feel like your spending a tonne of money (which you are) on petrol, alcohol, trendy ‘festi’ outfits and of course, snacks, it’s best not to think too much about how far into the negatives you are – at least not until you’re back home and have a comfortable bed to crawl into and weep in for a while.
On that note, time for my first word of advice. Don’t be stingy on the snacks. Believe me, they’re essential, and if you don’t bring enough you’ll be in a world of regret when you return to your campsite at 2am and don’t have a fresh packet of Doritos to sheepishly munch on in your tent.
Continuing on with some words of wisdom, my second piece of advice is this: if you do stop over in a country town on your way to Lorne, such as Ballarat (also known as ‘The Rat’) and you decide to treat yourself to a nice pub meal, for the love of God, DON’T order the exotic pork bao and lentil salad, get a pub meal! Trust me, this is from experience. If you don’t opt for the chicken schnitty that is calling your name from the menu, then you’ll be left feeling unsatisfied and a little disappointed in yourself for being so stupid.
When it comes to arriving at the festival, you’ll want to get there as early as possible, or else you’ll be stuck in an endless queue of cars, and that my friend, is an immediate mood-kill. Following on from that point, another immediate mood-kill is having the majority of your alcohol confiscated at the security checkpoint (which was unfortunately what happened to us). Now, the majority of you will be fine and will get through without too much trouble. Sure, they might find that one bottle of vodka that you were too lazy to hide properly, but after looking at the number of cars that still have to be searched, security will wave you through so that they can get on with the monstrous task that lies ahead of them. However, you could be one of the unlucky ones (like we were) and have an absolute hard-nut of a woman search every single nook and cranny of your car. Honestly, props to her for doing her job so well. No poker face could throw this one off, she was no novice. She knew all our tricks and as soon as she saw our stash of tonic water it was game over.
So, as it was, out went our cases of water (along with several litres of vodka). Out went our cases of soft drink (along with several cans of beer). And out went our boxes of water (along with several bags of goon). I’m not going to lie, it was a truly dismal start to the weekend and I spent the rest of the drive to our campsite questioning my spontaneous decision to purchase a ticket. However, in the scheme of things, there are far worse catastrophe’s currently going on in the world, and after scavenging some alcohol off our very generous friends (who managed to get in virtually unchecked), we were back on track for a good time.
Once you’ve made it through the queue the next important task is finding your campsite. While you may have little control over where this is, you can hope and pray that the officials direct you to a spot that is a comfortable distance from the toilets. Far enough that your campsite isn’t constantly penetrated by the smell of sewage, but not so far away that going to the loo in the middle of the night becomes a near impossible feat. You’d also be hoping that you’re not put at the bottom of a hill, because if you’re blessed with the rains, chances are that you’re campsite is going to be flooded, and that is not something you want, especially when you’re relying on a $12 tent from Kmart to get you through the weekend.
So, finally, we’re in. We’ve set up camp and the time has come to see some live music. While this year’s lineup may have been slightly underwhelming, I can safely say that the performances were consistently good and I found myself pleasantly surprised by the energy that acts like Vance Joy, and Catfish and the Bottleman bought to the stage. Indeed, there were a few standout acts which for me were Cub Sport, Churches, and Jack River. The other huge standout was the $5 slice of pizza served up at one of the food trucks (which I can’t remember the name of for the life of me), but I can recall that it was certainly worth the detour on the way back to camp.
So, there you have it, my Falls experience. Of course, there were plenty of other shenanigans that went on, but if I were to write about all of them you’d be sitting here reading an essay, and no one wants to be doing that. After a few weeks of getting back to normality, there is no doubt in my mind that, unless the lineup is absolutely atrocious, I’ll be back again this year for round two.