With no let-up in sight on Australia’s strict social distancing rules and tough quarantine measures expected to hold firm for months, festival organizers Down Under are playing the long game. And they’re returning to a vintage formula: all-local lineups.
Falls Festival, one of Australia’s biggest annual touring fests, this week announced its next event will feature a limited edition, all Australian lineup.
It’s a glimpse at a “bright side” coming out of these “strange times,” reads an open letter from Falls Festival producers Jess Ducrou and Paul Piticco.
As Australia inches towards “the recovery phase of COVID-19,” the statement reads, “we have decided to move forward with optimism, and work towards presenting our Dec. 2020-Jan. 2021 event in a way that will best bolster Australia’s live music industry.”
The special “home grown” edition of Falls will also “ensure that money stays in our local economy, providing maximum financial benefit for the Australian music community — artists, management, crew, agents, roadies, production etc — as well as the thousands of contractors and suppliers who rely on our events for their income.”
It’s a return to a tried-and-tested model, which Homebake made its own during its heyday from the late ‘90s until the early 2010s.
Falls isn’t the first to stay local post-coronavirus, and it likely won’t be the last. UNIFY Gathering recently announced its 2021 event would go ahead with a homegrown bill. The hard rock and metal-edged fest launched in 2015 with entirely of Australasian artists.
“Now we want to invite all of them back for a celebration of this community and everything it provides,” reads a statement issued in April.
Australia’s live sector has been crushed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Performers can’t easily enter the country, and if they could, there’s nowhere to play.
Currently, all touring musicians arriving at Australia’s borders would be legally required to self-isolate for 14 days, with few exceptions. If an artist was fine with that, they’d still be playing to empty houses. All public performance spaces are currently in lockdown.
According to I Lost My Gig, event cancellations and postponements have cost the domestic industry A$340 million ($220 million).
Performers have not yet been announced for the next edition of Falls which, organizers say, will raise funds for Support Act, the charitable organization which provides essential services to music industry workers.
Falls is one of the hottest tickets on the calendar, and is typically held during the Christmas and New Year period, with legs in Lorne (Victoria), Marion Bay (Tasmania), Byron Bay (New South Wales) and Fremantle (Western Australia).
Part of the Live Nation Australia suite of brands, the most recent Falls featured internationals Halsey, Vampire Weekend, Disclosure and many more.