Beyond the Valley: the virgin New Years’ festival that promised a smaller crowd, picturesque venue, flat campgrounds and killer lineup. Hosted only an hour and a half out of Melbourne, it was a great way to ring in the New Year.
Although advertised as being only two days, festival goers were given the opportunity to arrive a day earlier for a better camping spot and an extra night of music. My friends and I jumped at the chance and so on 29th January we packed up our cars and headed to Philip Island.
Despite our excitement, our arrival was somewhat dismal thanks to what must have most definitely been 150km per hour winds that were hindering our attempts at setting up tents, marquees and games of beer pong. We soon forgot about all that when we got to Central Park – the stage set up for the evening. Located in the middle of the campsite, with tables, food, hammocks and seats set up, it had the feel of a renegade stage. It was a clever and unique idea that provided a venue to chill-out in that was close and convenient. Despite the hideous weather the atmosphere was electric. As the night went on the music progressed from tropical house, to heavier beats. The night finished around midnight on a high with a remix of Franz Ferdinand‘s ‘Take Me Out’ – a surprising oldie to bring out but a classic nonetheless. Finally, the song that’s made a comeback since Peking Duks‘ stunt at Stereosonic: Sandstorm by Darude. It was a great way to kick off the festival and the ‘Early Settlers Pass’ was definitely worth it.
The first morning the weather hadn’t improved at all: with a storm raging outside, no breakfast stalls, very few toilets and nasty hangovers, we were all feeling pretty sorry for ourselves. The day turned around at midday when the main stage opened and we were able to fill our bellies with delicious breakfast burritos. Simultaneously, the rain cleared up and it looked like BTV had finally decided to welcome us to its bosom.
The main stage was slightly delayed in getting going because of the weather, but the set times soon worked themselves out and in a single day (!) we got to see The Preatures, Ball Park Music, Kaytranada, Hermitude, AlunaGeorge, Dillon Francis and Pleasurekraft. Although The Preatures and Ball Park Music are great bands in their own right, their genre was not well suited to the sound of the rest of the lineup. Special mentions go out to Kaytranada: for picking up the mood and delivering a high energy, fell-good set. Hermitude: for always being a great festival banger, bringing new material and a real development in their sound. But the act of the night was at the Pavilion where Pleasurekraft played. Their grungy deep house was perfectly suited to the late – night feel and kept me going when I otherwise thought I would need to go to bed.
On New Years Eve we woke to sunshine, an abundance of food stalls and a ripper lineup. We couldn’t have asked for better festival conditions. The main acts that we were keen to see didn’t come on until later that afternoon, so we had the whole day to chill-out, nurse our hangovers and then get back on the horse. As an avid follower of Thomas Jack‘s mixtapes I couldn’t be more excited to see him play. Unfortunately I was a little let down by his set. It lacked his trademark tropical feel, nor the smooth transitions from song to song. If anything it felt a bit like a filler between acts. Despite this I did find a pork belly and cous-cous salad that was to die for, and a pulled pork bun that was gastronomically magnificent. So the afternoon wasn’t a total bust.
The higlight of the entire festival, and one of the best live acts I’ve seen for some time, was Bakermat. The weather was perfect, the sun was setting, the sound was superb and the crowd was going off. It was only up from there. Bag Raiders were another great set, with their newie ‘Snake Charmer’ and finishing off with the old classic ‘Shooting Star’.
RÜFÜS was a great choice to play over New Years. I don’t think they have a single bad tune; all classics that everyone knows and can get groovy to. At midnight RÜFÜS did the countdown – signalling a great year to come. Golden Features followed RÜFÜS. Seeing everyone get down to their cover of ‘Promiscuous Girl’ was a sight to see.
We left Golden Features early to go and catch the tail end of Kant and Motez. The Pavilion was definitely heating up by this point – and although what I saw of Tourist at the main stage had a chilled vibe – the party was definitely elsewhere. Motez brought deep beats and heavy drops that continued on with Friends Within. Although I would have loved to have seen Dom Dolla – my poor little feet and tired body just couldn’t take any more and I had to call it a night.
Overall although Beyond the Valley faced some teething problems, these are a risk one takes when going to a festival in its first year. Despite the bad weather, the ‘Early Settlers Pass’ was definitely worth it thanks to the great setup of Central Park. The second day was a struggle due to the weather – but the acts made up for that. The final day was definitely the best – with this combination of venue, crowd size and lineup, Beyond the Valley was on point. I will definitely be going again.