How will I spend New Years? Every 365 days this question cycles back around and sits in the back of our heads, ringing up the anxiety of making the wrong choice and train-tracked next to the excitement of finding the right option. What do I want to do? Where do I want to go? Who do I want to be with? While the answer to that last question will always be the most important, we might just have the solution to the other two.

Marion Bay is tucked away down where the east coast of Tasmania finishes; a small township irrigated into farmland, hidden amongst rolling hills of bush and baled hay that caps in a crescent beachhead of diced islands, powdered sand and rippling blues.  Undeniably beautiful, the natural landscape is enough of an excuse to take the trip down south. But for those who need a bit more bite in their getaway plans, every year Marion Bay kicks into seventh gear by hosting Falls Festival in their runaway oasis. We were there to grab the highlights.

There Is No Stopping Confidence Man

According to the colourful brochures being handed out at the gate, Friday night was set up to be the baby brother of the weekend – a slimmer line-up chalked with homegrown talent and resuscitated nostalgia acts. Fortunately, even with a tighter selection, there were bands ready to bring the business. Jungle Giants managed to shrug off old claims of lazy song-writing and sleepy performances with an outstanding hour drenched in tracks from their latest record ‘Quiet Ferocity’; the shoulder to shoulder lead in leaving Australia’s own post-grunge Grinspoon with an oversized pair of Doc Martins to fill.

And while the Friday highlight may have been Daryl Braithwaite’s breathless happiness at “Horses” still having the ability to fill amphitheatres, no other act would bring the same start to finish heat that pounded through Confidence Man’s set. Now, don’t get it wrong, Confidence Man isn’t a genre-shattering meeting of musical geniuses. In fact, you could easily get away with saying the opposite when those Barbie Girl bangers slammed out from Valley Stage’s Funktion Ones. But while Australia’s own pop-electronica quartet isn’t going to be taking home any ARIAs, the earworm ease of every track and Janet Planet’s Discovery Channel wriggling made it impossible for Friday’s audience to spit out the bubblegum.

D.D Dumbo Has Grown Into His Wings

D.D Dumbo had a late afternoon slot on Falls’ Field stage, a mid-sized affair tucked behind the crashed space-alien artefact and a watchtower turned flying-fox. With Angus & Julia Stone already crooning the main stage towards their anthemic hit “Big Jet Plane”, it seemed unlikely that our Aussie lovechild of Sting and the Talking Heads would be netting the audience he deserved. Luckily, looks were deceiving. Even before his band found their positions a huge crowd had migrated to the side stage, ready to wander through Dumbo’s utopia with him. Backed by a drummer and killer percussionist, D.D Dumbo twanged his twelve-string alongside a multi-instrumentalist who helped the collective reach new heights with a rarely sighted bass clarinet. “Cortisol” and “Walrus” both sent the crowd into a frenzy, and when “Satan” revealed itself there wasn’t a single onlooker who could keep still. The fans, like D.D Dumbo, are here to stay.

Nobody Speak, Nobody Gets Choked

There aren’t many rap groups able to stay so globally enjoyable and cleverly political at the same time. Lyrically easy to follow but multilayered upon investigation, EL-P and Killer Mike know how to straddle the border between pop irrelevancy and artistic obscurity. The pair came on after Glass Animals and, considering the Triple J play time the Oxford foursome has gotten these last couple years, did a great job of keeping the crowd. ‘RTJ2’ and ‘RTJ3’ were each excavated liberally, the albums’ heaviest hitters raising both dust and heart rates as the night went on. Run The Jewels closed their set with their DJ Shadow collab, “Nobody Speak”, and everyone from the barrier-crushing hardcore to the hilltop swayers got involved, rapping along with Killer Mike.

Marion Bay Entered 2018 With A Side Of Peking Duk

It’s no secret that I don’t like Peking Duk. A hot mix of under-produced EDM bangers spliced with pop hits and online culture, their whole shtick is unrewarding – like starting a video game on ‘Very Easy’ and then bragging to your mates about how quickly you finished it. But even I have to concede that there is a time and a place for what Peking Duk have cooking, and ringing in the New Year was it. They still boiled the now three-day fried crowd in their regular meme stew, but as each trap re-remix (complete with airhorn drops) was spewed over the audience, excitement mounted. People were going absolutely insane trying to jump to the syncopated beats and garbled wobbles, hugging friends and grinding against their soon-to-be lovers.

By the time main stage saw the countdown dripping from its screens, Peking Duk had transitioned into a mellower set list of homebrewed creations, performing them live in a trifecta of drums, guitar and bass. We all rode into the New Year with Peking’s very own “High”, echoing the sentiments gathered around the dusty field. The queued pop of confetti soon settled, and our natives made way for The Kooks. It was frontman Luke Pritchard who kept the party rolling with quips at the Tasmanian throng, pulling out everyone’s last reserves before they would wander burnt and battered back to their campsites.

Photo by Nikki Williams.