"The idea for us is to become that destination event where people from all over are coming to us."
"The wind was just so crazy. I remember we were on the main stage and we were just with our production manager, site manager, the head of security - we're just assessing the situation, like, how long are we gonna need to delay opening the main stage? And working out little ways to kinda fix everything and, as we were talking, the wind got so strong that I started blowing away a little bit. So the security guard had to put his hand on my shoulder - he's a big guy - and he went, 'Dude, you're gonna fly away'," Nicholas Greco, Beyond The Valley Owner/Director, laughs before clarifying, "We were on the edge of the stage." It all worked out okay in the end, though, Greco confirms. "What we did was we moved the first two acts from the main stage to the pavilion, the dance tent, so no one really missed out on anything."
Still, the inclement weather conditions on Phillip Island during Beyond The Valley's inaugural festival were enough to make Greco and co reconsider their choice of site. "When we were driving back from the main stage and the wind was rattling the car," is when Greco says discussions about finding a new site began. "You put so much into it and to have 30 minutes of wind potentially ruin it all is too much."
So how did team Beyond The Valley go about searching for a new home? "We went and checked out heaps of different sites and we spent a lot of time just on Google maps usually going around and checking for big spots," Greco enlightens. After checking out "heaps of different sites", they discovered the Gippsland Parklands in Lardner, which is only about 90 minutes from Melbourne. "It was just perfect - green pastures, rolling hills, a really cool lake..." Although Beyond The Valley will be the first music event to be held on this land, Greco offers, "But they've done quite large farming events". "Everyone was just really supportive and wanting to have this event there, which is cool. It helps," Greco shares on the Lardner massive. "We've been kind of lucky in that regard. I think if you try to bring something to the community as well - so, wherever we can, we try to use local vendors and the artist catering is all run by a local team as well, the plumbing is a local company. So I think by involving the community in any way you can it kinda helps to make it feel like community there, which is one of the goals."
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Plans were underway for Beyond The Valley the sequel pretty much a week after cleaners picked up the last tinnie or glow stick from the Phillip Island site - particularly in terms of booking artists - and Greco stresses, "We get straight into it 'cause you don't wanna miss out on the artists. It's a very full-on process, especially with the internationals, 'cause you just have to - I was waking up at, you know, 2am for different things." Negotiating time differences is all in a day's work for Greco when he has his 'Festival Booker' cap on, which sees him perched over a crystal ball (figuratively) predicting "what is gonna be cool". As well as pot luck, Greco puts his success as a booker down to "listening to a lot of radio, reading a lot of different articles about artists and just really staying on social media as well". "We've done a lot through artist Facebook pages," he continues. "You can kind of tell whether an artist's gonna be received really well or might fall flat by just how [far] their reach is and how strong that is; it's about the music just as much, as well... In the end it's about the live show - how it's gonna go down. You get that breakout artist that really just does something different, that becomes a really strong talking point, which for us [last year], I guess, was probably Bakermat and the live saxophone at sunset really nailed the crowd."
A video of a girl identified as Ebony Rosenberg dancing, which was filmed during Bakermat's set, actually went viral. "It was just someone's iPhone video," Greco shares, "and it got posted to all these DJ Mag pages... and I think Lil Jon posted the video as well! So we saw, yeah, our stats went up by about 20,000 likes on Facebook, but all from other countries. So we had all these people from the US or Singapore or Brazil - everywhere - just inbox the page and they started asking us, 'When is it back on again?' So we think we got a little bit of overseas love from that video." Some tickets for the forthcoming, sold out Beyond The Valley were actually purchased from overseas. "There's some from, like, Singapore, America - I'm just watching the different stats and it's cool to see our reach go out to somewhere like the US... The idea for us is to become that destination event where people from all over are coming to us."
So when can we expect to clap eyes on Greco pulling shapes on the Beyond The Valley d-floor this year? "I'm quite excited for Flight Facilities doing the countdown... for them it was a really big deal to be able to put something special on for it so there's been a lot of production meetings and planning just around that one set to make sure it's very, very special."