Beyond the Valley threw open its gates on Friday December 28, inviting punters to set up and settle in the day before the music really kicked off. It was a rainy welcome, one which was to endure throughout much of the three-day festival, but it did little to dampen the enthusiasm of revellers.
Day one got rolling at around midday, which was a nice change to the early set times of many other festivals. It meant you could actually get a decent sleep in – particularly necessary for those who’d checked out the dance tent DJs the night before.
Wandering up to the mainstage to catch Alex Ivy, it was clear Lardner Park was no sprawling playground. The main site was fairly compact, but this meant you could jump from stage to stage with ease, and never had to wander too far for a bite or a bev.
There was a decent crowd gathered on the hill despite the grizzly weather, which grew in size once Winston Surfshirt started playing. Their mellow tunes were welcomed warmly by punters, some of whom were already waving their doof sticks wildly in the air, while others opted for spots on the soggy grass.
Next up was Late Nite Tuff Guy, replacing CC:DISCO! who’d had to cancel her performance due to flight issues. It was a bit disappointing, but Late Nite Tuff Guy well and truly made up for her absence, laying down banger after banger for his massive two-hour set. He was followed by Client Liaison, and eventually Joey Bada$$, although some technical difficulties meant the American MC had his set pushed back. It took a while to get everything running again, but some friends said his performance was well worth the wait.
Day two brought more rain and grey skies, which was even more miserable when paired with a hangover. Luckily, Alex Lahey brought everyone back to life, with her comically relatable lyrics about being a messed up 20-something. She made way for DZ Deathrays, who were fresh from a show on the Gold Coast and running on four hours sleep. You wouldn’t have picked it though, and the boys gave it their all for the BTV crowd. It was a stark contrast to the angelic Vera Blue, who enchanted the audience with her stunning vocals and captivating stage presence.
Everyone was geared up for The Jungle Giants that night, but their set was actually rather disappointing. They’re usually amazing live, so it was a shame that they didn’t quite hit the mark this time around. Safia on the other hand exceeded all expectations. Operatic vocals, theatrical lighting and spine-tingling bass drops made them a day two highlight, and an overall BTV standout.
For those not ready to call it a night, Dr Dan’s Electric Psychedelic Pussycat Swingers Club was the place to be. Morning Maxwell had a crowd of dancers absolutely enthralled, throwing down an eclectic mix of disco beats until the early hours of the morning.
As day three dawned and the end of BTV neared, everyone seemed to be riding a new wave of energy, ready for those New Year’s Eve celebrations. Much of the action was taking place in the dance tent on the final day, kicking off with the baby-faced producer Bontan. The sun was finally out and brought beach party vibes, as revellers decked in mesh, Hawaiian shirts and all kinds of quirky sunglasses boogied away on the sand covered dance floor. Bonobo kept the beats going over at the main stage, before Duke Dumont took over while the day turned to dusk.
The Kooks were a welcome respite from the resounding dance tunes, providing nostalgic singalongs like ‘Seaside’, ‘Junk Of The Heart (Happy)’ and, of course, ‘Naïve’. Once the indie-rockers wrapped up it was time for PNAU – the final act for 2018.
The New Year’s countdown was somewhat uneventful; a rushed, ten-second warning before the sky exploded with confetti, everyone cheered, and then the band were onto the next song. The night wasn’t over yet though, with Yotto and Dom Dolla providing killer closing sets before things officially wrapped up.
As the brainchild of the team behind XE54, it’s fair to say that Beyond the Valley excelled in the dance music aspect. While indie fans were also catered to, the festival’s focus on guest DJ’s and producers are what gave BTV it’s edge.
Keen to see what they have in store for us next year.
Highlight: Safia’s set was amazing, and Dom Dolla killed it in the dance tent.
Lowlight: Having to drive around for an hour and a half before being allocated a camp site. Maybe need to work on a better camp site system.
Crowd Favourite: Hard to say. Probably when Late Nite Tuff Guy whipped out a sample of Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Dreams.’