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Beyond The Valley 2017 was a diverse thing of beauty

Beyond The Valley lets you do you. The four-day music festival in the rolling hills of Lardner, just an hour and a half southeast of Melbourne, offers all the options a punter needs to make the festival their own.

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Country Rock Shotz

From optional levels of camping comfort to a diverse lineup spanning hip hop, rock and in-between, to food options to suit any diet or fad – Beyond The Valley has you covered.

But of course, it’s the music that takes pride of place. Having only had its inaugural year in 2014, it’s truly incredible to see how the lineup has continued to go from strength to strength each year. There’s always an overtone of hip-hop, dance and electronic acts to keep punters moving, this year being no different seeing the likes of Stormzy, Schoolboy Q, PNAU, Hayden James and more taking to the stage. But Beyond The Valley does well to pepper through some smaller names too, as well as acts that cross through alt-rock and folk genres. Ruby Fields, Meg Mac, Jack River and Matt Corby were particular highlights in this space, but more on them later.

It must be said that in a similar way to how the storm of BTV2016 wreaked havoc on punters clothes and campsites, the weather had a similar affect at the 2017 instalment. There were all seasons over the four-day event – from heat and sunburn on day one, to absolute downpour on day two, cold winds on day three and a healthy in-between on day four. There were a few sad looking campsites around and definitely some punters surprised that they hadn’t packed appropriately for the cold and rain (ahem, me) but overall, none of this could get in the way of the blissful array of sets that Beyond The Valley had on offer.

Now back to the music. Kicking off early Friday afternoon was newcomer Ruby Fields, who treated early birds to some exceptional wit and banter between her punchy, story-like tunes that any 20-something can relate to with ease. Fields is an effortlessly cool musician, wise beyond her years, and a definite new fave of mine. I’m putting it out there that she’ll have a massive 2018 that will see her continue to grace lineups around the country.

Dean Lewis followed with a set that he laughed was only full of really sad songs. This didn’t detract from his glorious musicianship – in fact, the crowd fully embraced his slower pace and adored his chart-topping song, ‘Waves’ played stripped back with only Dean on keys. Things took a turn when Skeggs jumped on stage, the crowd quickly turning into a messy, rowdy mosh who loved every minute of the boys' noise. There was a questionable guitar solo, but overall the crowd was unfazed due to Skeggs’ undying high energy.

It was later on Friday night that BTV delivered the most blistering energy punters could have asked for. PNAU held down an incredible hour-long set at the Main Stage where there wasn’t a moment left untouched by the groups’ pulsing work. Crowd favourite tracks ‘Embrace’, ‘Chameleon’ and ‘GoBang’ were met with such excitement from the mosh, that, along with an electrifying stage presence from Nick Littlemore and accompanying vocalist, Kira Divine, this was an absolute highlight.

Stormzy kept the energy rolling – grime fans and those potentially a little unfamiliar with the genre all embraced this artists’ lovable stage presence. He did an excellent job at explaining the origins of grime to his crowd, his undying South-London pride proving to be one of the most endearing parts of his set.

Hot Dub Time Machine rounded out Friday night and got anyone that may have had energy to spare boogieing along. In a spectacular set, Hot Dub took us all the way back to the ‘50s, playing through some of the biggest tracks from across the decades. Big-name tracks from the likes of The Beatles, The Jackson 5, Blur, Nirvana, Eminem, Destiny’s Child, House of Pain and Flume all featured. There are too many memorable tracks to mention but it should be known that this set was full of good vibes and had everyone singing at the top of their lungs.

Come Saturday, Beyond The Valley offered a delicious selection of diverse artists that made it hard to move away from the stage. From indie-folk beauty Jack River playing through her gorgeous Highway Songs No. 2 EP and even dropping a much-appreciated cover of Tal Bachman’s ‘She’sSoHigh’, to electronic/pop darlings Cub Sport absolutely stopping the crowd with their beautiful live version of ‘O Lord’, Saturday arvo was a truly beautiful time.

Meg Mac continued this with her standout performance, garnering her a ‘Voice Of The Festival’ commendation from me thanks to her absolutely incredible pipes. Not only this but Mac is so obviously down-to-earth and has a style that oozes elegance, that she is a true pleasure to watch perform.

Matt Corby also offered his blissful vocals to a vast crowd, who were eager to chant along to his soulful tunes. Hayden James quickly changed the mood of the crowd thereafter with his pulsing DJ set that got everyone incredibly hyped, particularly when that dirty beat in ‘NUMB’ dropped.

Later in the night, it was another round of big-name hip-hop artists, this time Schoolboy Q. While he was a massive drawcard for the bill, unfortunately, this set fell a little flat. It seemed that by the time he came on at midnight, the crowd wasn’t in a position to appreciate and engage with the intense themes of his rapping in the way that he wanted, overall resulting in a slightly off vibe. This didn’t completely ruin his set, although it probably left Saturday night feeling a little less impactful.

Sunday provided something for everyone. FKJ was an absolute standout of the afternoon – I happened to be having a cheeky burger break at the time of his set when an intoxicating sax solo blasted across the field, stopping me dead in my (Royal Stacks) tracks. Even though my fourth Royal Stacks burg for the event was pulling me one way – FKJ was doing a mighty fine job at pulling me in the other with his glorious sound.

Later on in the arvo, Mallrat held down the Dance Tent. The Brisbane teenager doesn’t yet have a whole load of original material to work with so the set was filled out with a handful of covers that unfortunately felt like a bit of a let down. However, her standout singles ‘Better’ and ‘Uninvited’ absolutely went off.

Back on the Main Stage in the lead up to the NYE countdown, DMA’s did a solid job at getting everyone truly pumped up. The Presets then took the helm of the festival to round out 2017, playing with insane energy before confetti canons went off at midnight and they dropped ‘MyPeople’in the very first seconds of the New Year. It was an absolutely glorious start to 2018.