With 25,000 punters holding tickets, 20,000 campers toting sleeping bag and pillow and dozens of local and international acts ready to hit the stage, North Byron Parkland’s fifth edition of Falls Festival promises to deliver more fun than a room full of bunnies and puppies.
All that’s left for festival director Brandon Saul to do is look to the skies to see what Ms Nature has in store for the event and find out what audiences today find interesting about an artist who has been performing for five decades.
‘I was looking at the weather forecast this morning and it’s gone from thunder and storm warnings down to a small chance of a shower, which to be honest is probably the ideal weather for a festival.’
With security around end of year celebrations across the country on people’s minds, Saul says a lot of the safety issues come down to common sense but a lot of planning is involved in making the event as safe as possible. ‘I don’t want to go into detail for obvious reasons but it’s safe to say it’s probably one of the safest places to be in the Northern Rivers.’
Brandon says that the festival has a never-ending list of improvements each year and, and though his daughter Milla Grace at 14 years-of-age is still too young to attend the festival, she certainly has input into what happens in the parklands.
‘We are now getting down to the finer details of creature comforts and some of the more creative stuff. We’ve also added some extensions to the sprinklers in the camp ground, so it’s a sprinkler park. Basically we are trying to cater to all parts of the day for everyone and I think we are doing a pretty good job of it.
‘Now I am getting instructions on what she’d like. It seems to be generally, what we are providing is what she’d like in a festival. I’d like to think that when she is of age there will be events like this for her to go to. To have a safe environment like this on New Year’s Eve for young people to celebrate, is an important thing.
With a stellar list too long to mention on the Falls menu, Saul says he must be showing his age because he is looking forward to seeing an Aussie act right out of the 70s. ‘I am curious to see why Daryl Braithwaite is so popular amongst the young generation. I am also looking forward to local act Monkey Monkey Shake Shake, Flume and I think Confidence Man on New Year’s Eve is probably going to rock the house.
Getting set for Falls’ fifth outing Brandon says that the success of Byron Falls is as much about who is not on stage as who is on stage.
‘I think that the audience that we get are probably our greatest asset. The people. I think the difference between a concert and a festival is that, with a concert there is a stage, you look at it, you go home. With a festival you come with a group of friends, you stay for a period of time and you might come to see Flume or Braithwaite or whatever, but you discover all this other stuff. You discover friendships you don’t have, food you didn’t know you liked…
‘I think the great strength of this event is the audience we seem to attract. And I suspect they buy tickets to be with each other as much as coming to the event. I think ultimately we are social beings and we want to hang out with people who will like us.
‘We have a like-minded audience that are ‘Byron’ minded. You know it’s a broad church, but it’s not an urban audience. It’s people who are happy to be camping, happy to get a bit dirty, and they are very relaxed. That’s what I like about Byron, it’s tune in and out at the same time.
Brandon says that there is no shortage of events around the shire to bring in the new year including other events such as Soul Street and First Light and he feels Falls helps cater to all tastes.
‘The thing about New Years in Byron is to embrace everyone and I think this is part of the package that does that.’