Festival Review: Liam Gallagher, Peking Duk & The Kooks provide a fitting close for Falls Byron Bay

Entering the last day of Falls Festival Byron Bay, you could sense festival fatigue was starting to hit the masses en masse. The campground was quieter for longer in the morning, the toilet blocks were giving off a lovely earthy odour, and security started to be less hands on than they’d been in the previous days. The storm from the previous day slowed us all down a little, with the need to watch exactly where you were walking (so as to avoid mud and puddles) becoming an increased priority. It’s amazing how tiring it can be when you have to concentrate on where you’re placing your foot when walking.

Tiredness aside, the musicians weren’t showing as much fatigue as the crowd, as the day got off to a stellar start with West Thebarton, Wafia and Ecca Vandal getting things moving to what were relatively small crowds. Having been promised rain at some point during the day, the weather gods weren’t messing about and unleashed some serious rain during Winston Surfshirt’s set. It’s hard to judge whether it was the rain or their music that caused the massive crowd, but either way it was a good turn out as the Forest stage tent was at capacity. While it took a while for the band to warm up and get me excited about what they were doing, the closing few tracks definitely hit the spot.

With the rain ceasing for the meantime, the biggest clash of the festival reared its ugly head: The Smith Street Band or Methyl Ethel. Choosing to see the Smithies, it was a justified decision as Wil Wagner and the band absolutely crushed it. Showcasing a heap of songs from their 2017 album More Scored Of You Than You Are Of Me, a real stand out moment came in the form of a cover of The Killers’ “When You Were Young”. It was stadium rock at its finest.

With the rain seemingly setting in once more, Angus & Julia Stone played a set that unfortunately didn’t suit the setting. Through no fault of their own, their soft alt-folk just didn’t do much for the crowd as they continued looking for shelter from the skies. Normally the Stones’ playing this time slot would have been a real treat, but it just wasn’t to be. Audibly they were fine; there just wasn’t any atmosphere in the amphitheatre.

Deciding to stick it out in the amphitheatre, Liam Gallagher went about delivering a surprisingly good set. Admittedly not being the biggest fan of him or his brother, his ability to intertwine Oasis classics with his own solo material made his hour on stage worthwhile. Playing “Some Might Say”, “Morning Glory” and a little song called “Wonderwall”, it appeared as though Gallagher still believes he’s the world’s biggest rock star. Based on this performance, I’m happy to let him be.

With the mud seemingly everywhere and my gumboots back at my tent and not on my feet, the trench foot set in as Peking Duk set the stage alight. Now, if we’re talking about the size of electronic/ dance acts on the bill, Peking Duk are a distant second to Flume. But if we’re talking about electronic/ dance acts that can get the crowd amped for the entirety of their set (through not only their music, but confetti cannons and smoke machines), then Peking Duk are number one. Drawing the biggest crowd of the weekend, the Canberra duo and special guests could not have pulled off their set any better. Playing all their hits (“High”, “Fake Magic”, “Stranger”, “Say My Name”), they could easily headline Australian festivals of this size in the coming summers.

Helping close out the festival were The Kooks. Touring on the back of a best-of release, the British four-piece threw me way back to mid high school, as they opened with “Eddie’s Gun” and continued to blast through a heap of their older tracks. Fan favourites “Seaside”, “Ooh La” and “Sofa Song” all got the oldest of fans moving, while newer track “Be Who You Are” added a roundness to their set. With personal favourite “She Moves In Her Way” played, I’d have happily left there. But with “Naïve” still to come, The Kooks definitely ended the set (and festival) on a fitting note.

It’s clear that Falls Festival is just about near the pinnacle of Australian festivals. Sure, there’s room for improvement across a number of facets, but with twelve months between now and the next instalment, I’m sure the team at Falls will undoubtedly put together another stellar showing.

Photos of artists at Falls Festival Lorne taken by John Goodridge.