Halsey, Vampire Weekend, Disclosure + more: Learnings from Falls' 2019/2020 lineup
The incoming Falls Festival boasts one of their best lineups yet, but let's go a little deeper than that.
After the demise of some of Australia's biggest festivals (Big Day Out namely), Falls Festival have really stepped it up to blossom from a once-niche boutique festival to a much larger force; their lineups growing side-by-side to their growing list of locations (it began just in Lorne, before adding dates in Marion Bay, Byron Bay and Fremantle over the years). Throughout the past four years, for example, they've combined some of music's biggest talents - Foals, Bloc Party, Childish Gambino, London Grammar, Flume, Fleet Foxes, Anderson .Paak and Catfish & The Bottlemen - and run them alongside the best talent Australia has to offer; spotlighting local acts while highlighting the best of the larger international world with little restriction to genre or sound.
In their 2019/2020 event, announcing their lineup today, Falls Festival's open-armed approach to their lineups feels more realised than ever. Their three headliners are distinctly different and come from completely different backgrounds to one another - Halsey, a relatively new-rising popstar who operates largely in the alt-pop world; Vampire Weekend, a long-time indie-pop favourite; Disclosure, house kings who are back after headlining the festival in 2015 - showcasing that Falls isn't a lineup that feels restricted by sound, nor image (Halsey, for example, is biracial and bisexual woman, the first time a festival headliner as been an LGBT woman of colour as far as we can remember). Also amongst the international listings, are Of Monsters & Man, Lewis Capaldi, Milky Chance, BANKS and Yungblud.
Then, there are the Australians. While other festivals (particularly those in the dance/rap intersection), prioritise rare internationals and festival exclusives, Falls Festival - like Splendour in the Grass, its winter sister festival - always seems to highlight what's happening here at home. It's a good thing, considering the endless strength Australian music has to offer. This year, Falls have nabbed Peking Duk, PNAU, John Farnham (lol), Dope Lemon, Vera Blue, Crooked Colours, Parcels and a list that seems to grow as the lineup deepens, while each of the locations also feature a big-scale special guest: Tash Sultana, What So Not, Wolfmother and Matt Corby in Byron Bay, Lorne, Marion Bay and Fremantle respectively.
Dive into the full lineup below, then underneath, read our takeaways on the Falls Festival 2019/2020 lineup as we go a bit deeper into this year's lineup. This year's VISA Checkout Pre-Sale commences Monday, August 12th at 9AM local time, with general release on sale Wednesday, August 14th at 9AM local time.
1. Like years before, Falls Festival will link the past with the future.
Over the last few Falls Festivals, we've always come back thinking about how the festival does a remarkable job at linking together nostalgia with acts more forward-thinking and modern. While sometimes it comes across as somewhat meme-y (g'day Toto, Daryl Braithwaite), the fusion of acts like Fleet Foxes, The Kooks and Foster the People with the next generation of Australian music and beyond - Camp Cope, Methyl Ethel, Confidence Man - hits both spots while highlighting the sharing bond between them, like how Confidence Man's disco-funk sprawl wouldn't feel too out of place in the 70s disco explosion. Last year, however, felt more-so like "a crystal ball look into the future of Australian music", combining acts like Interpol and Catfish - both with new music, mind you - alongside acts like Tkay Maidza and Mallrat.
This year, that divide - yet also its similarities and tried-and-tested success - feels as evident as ever. While Halsey has been an underground favourite in pop music for years, her break-out glow-up have only been concentrated to the last 24/36 months, while Vampire Weekend and Disclosure have both blossomed into festival favourites over much of the last decade. Further down, there are a few old favourites - Of Monsters & Men (returning with new music), BANKS (also with her new album, III), #1 Dads - mixed with Australian artists (predominately) that are obviously what's bound to triumph in the years ahead, like G Flip and Baker Boy and on an international level, unexpected break-out Lewis Capaldi.
2. Australian music feels exciting as ever - and it's being recognised.
While it would be nice to have a strong, Australian headliner at this year's Falls Festival (like they did the year before last, with Flume), it's hard to deny that beyond this year's headliners, the true excitement stands within the Australian contingent and the diversity you can find within it. While John Farnham is an interesting throw-in for this year's meme-y nostalgia act, acts like Peking Duk and PNAU are obviously at the forefront of our electronic scene, and acts like the aforementioned G Flip, Vera Blue and Parcels are pushing it internationally. There's also Dope Lemon, Crooked Colours, Thelma Plum and WAAX, alongside acts just bustling on the edge of something big: CXLOE, Totty, Good Doogs and more included.
"It was admittedly a safe, triple j-friendly lineup but it showcased a collection of artists among Australia's most exciting - some already blossoming into leaders internationally (Cub Sport, Ruel, Hatchie) and some well on the path to doing so (Kota Banks, Carla Geneve) - and that's something the festival should hold close to them and continue to boast and allow flourish into the future years ahead," is how we closed our review of the 2018/2019 festival, and this year, it looks like they're doing it.
3. Could new Disclosure be on the way?
It's been a while since we've heard something bigger from Disclosure, with the notorious UK house duo popping up for a quick run of club cuts last year - including Moodlight and Funky Sensation - and to collaborate with Khalid on his chart-crushing Talk. Their last record, Caracal, was four years ago now (and the time between Settle and Caracal was only two), so it feels like a new album should be incoming any day now. Falls Festival might just hold the key, as their return to the live show isn't something they're really doing at the moment while they focus on their next record, and considering they toured Caracal here already, it would make sense for there to be new music before they return, right? Right?
Also, expect to see new Halsey, Of Monsters & Men, PNAU, Vera Blue, G Flip and a couple of other surprises pop up between now and Falls Festival. Oh, and the Vampire Weekend official taco - that kinda counts.
4. With a couple of curveballs, Falls Festival's lineup stands out in uniqueness.
Last year, we cross-analysed Australia's biggest festival lineups to work out whether the long-standing call of them all being "boring" and "same-same" actually had any weight, and it turned out it did. On average, the only festivals pushing over 50% lineup uniqueness were either niche, genre-specific lineups - Good Things Festival, R&B Fridays, Bluesfest - or those that were more widely-recognised for being boundary-pushing, such as Meredith, Laneway and FOMO. Falls Festival fell somewhere between 40% - 50% lineup uniqueness for their 2018/2019 lineup, and although this year includes a bunch of Australian favourites - Peking Duk, G Flip and Dope Lemon the most obvious - there's a couple of lineup additions which add a bit of a curveball, and make us think that this year's lineup may be a bit more unique.
The headliners, for example - Halsey, Vampire Weekend and Disclosure - are unlikely to perform at any other Australian festival this year, there's a couple of others which we can see pushing that uniqueness up. A lot of them are international acts - Lewis Capaldi, Of Monsters & Men, BANKS - but #1 Dads is a nice little nod to an old favourite who hasn't done a show in a while (instead focusing on No Mono, in which he makes one-half of), as are The Japanese House and Pink Sweat$, two acts overlooked by festival bookers over the last twelve months.
5. In saying that, gender diversity is down from last year.
Over the last two years, we've also cross-analysed Australia's biggest festival lineups to determine their diversity in both gender and race, often finding that a lot of festivals failed to hit 50% in both - especially when it comes to gender. In 2017/2018, the year they were called out by Camp Cope, they had one of the lowest diversity levels of Australian festivals, with their lineup being only 28% female or non-binary-including - just over 25%. Last year, there was a big improvement as they climbed up to 46% female - almost half-half, and amongst Australia's most gender-diverse lineups for the year (above Listen Out, Splendour In The Grass, Laneway and the general Australian Festival Average of 39%).
This year, things are unfortunately down. Including location-specific special guests, this year's Falls Festival is only 39% female, trans or non-binary-including - a massive improvement on when they were called out for their lack of diversity, but a step down from last year. Sure, the entire festival is headlined by an LGBT woman of colour (Halsey), but there's a lot of room to be made, and no doubt they'll even this out a bit in future lineups.
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