At 7am like clockwork the sun came up over the hills with the subtlety of a brick.
There’s a decent queue to enter the festival grounds as we finally arrive on site, but given the new location in Lardner is only 90 minutes out of Melbourne it’s a fair trade off.
After a quick set up we’re off to scout out the grounds, get our bearings, and prepare for some tunes. The beautiful lake surrounded by rolling hills is the perfect setting, and the main stage is positioned right in front of the sunset. The feather motif from last year’s main stage has been adapted to include a huge owls face overlooking the crowd, and the disjointed flower side screens make for a trippy, but incredible view.
Wandering into the Pavilion tent, Spacey Space is already pumping out some heavy tunes. Plenty of those that opted for the extra day pass are making the most of it and are already pretty loose. But for those of us who are aren’t keen for some thumping bass just yet, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and Mean Girls are screening on the main stage and provide a great way to unwind before hitting the hay.
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The sun makes its way over the hills just past 7am, converting tents to saunas, a rude awakening especially the more hungover of punters. With the music not kicking off for another few hours some activities or entertainment wouldn’t have gone astray, but instead we’re forced to make use of the little shade available and socialize with tent neighbours.
Midday finally rolls around and E^ST kicks off the main stage to a modest sized crowd. Her chilled, melodic style is an interesting choice to kick off the day, but it’s a nice way to easy into things given it’s already hit 30 degrees.
Jakubi take the stage next and amp things right up. Their funky take on Spanish, reggae and swing inspired tracks draw even the most lethargic punters out of the shade for a boogie. It’s obvious the Broady five-piece are related (two brothers two cousins, and a best mate) as their interaction and stage presence are infectious. It’s hard not to get caught up in their grooves, and before long energy conservation is out the window.
We return to the main stage after a quick trip back to camp for some extra sunscreen and hydration to catch the end of Joy.’s set, as the talented young singer remixes one of her own tracks, yielding to the crowd’s desire for more upbeat tunes.
English producer Jamie xx gives the main stage their first DJ set of the main stage. Virtually everyone in attendance has turned up for the would-be headliner, and he delivers a chilled out dance set, seamlessly transitioning old favourites into recent hits from 2015 Grammy award winning album In Colour. Though for those of us with a clearly planned out day, it’s a good time to find some shade and relax.
Some inventive punters have fashioned a slip’n’slide on the hill with a tarp and some bottles of water.
The inflatable playground (equipped with bubble soccer and giant slides) is a baron wasteland in the heat. There’s nothing less appealing in this heat than playing on melting plastic, but some more inventive punters have fashioned a slip’n’slide on the hill with a tarp and some bottles of water and the rest of us watch on in hysterics as they bowl each other over and race to the end.
Queensland dance rockers Last Dinosaurs are up next, and despite the allure of the shaded tent and Nico Ghost over at the pavilion, their bouncing pop rock tracks are more than enough to keep us in the sun. Crowd favorites Zoom and Andy send us into a frenzy.
The sun has finally descended behind the main stage, providing just enough shade to take refuge in. Security look like they’re having a ball spraying everyone with cold water, and we’re just as appreciative. Main stage is decked out with giant cut-outs of the Aussie coat of arms and all sorts of local flora as Client Liaison burst out. Clearly not bothered in the heat, the duo (joined by live guitar and bass) are impeccably dressed, as always, in matching orange floral suits. The fashion choice embodies their '80s synth meets disco beats tunes, and the crowd is lapping it up! Frontman Monte Morgan’s dance moves are both hilarious and inspiring, while partner in crime Harvey Miller is just as lively behind the decks – this is a fucking show! We boogie through every synth-pop track from their self titles debut EP, before they’re joined on stage first by vocalist Simone Page Jones for a duet of Foreign Affair, then shortly after by a stage invader dressed as a Power Ranger (who evades security’s attention for some time due to the insanity on stage). But that’s all foreplay compared to the coup de grâce – a guest appearance by Daryl Braithwaite for a very special Client Liaison version of Horses. Morgan returns to the stage after a quick costume change, only to throw a can of Fosters to a (lucky?) punter (which is ceremoniously skulled atop his mates shoulders), before breaking into a cover of INXS’s One Of My Kind. Surely, this will go down as one of the most epic festival sets of all time!
But that’s all foreplay compared to a guest appearance by Daryl Braithwaite for a very special Client Liaison version of Horses.
We’re still trying to come to terms with what we’ve just witnessed when Miami Horror take the stage. It’s a tough act to follow, but the hometown new wave pop rockers are more than up to the task. The sunset provides an amazing backdrop, but as it disappears on the horizon we’ve given our first taste of the amazing BTV main stage light show. They open with crowd favourite I Look At You, which we meet with poor attempts to replicate frontman Josh Moriarty’s falsetto. The boys kick the on-stage antics up a notch, with Moriarty and fellow vocalist Aaron Shanahan taking turns climbing atop the truss at the top and side of the stage, swinging on lighting - Management are probably having a heart attack! Collaborator Cleopold joins them on stage for Colours In The Sky, before Shanahan dives in with us to surf atop the crowd and round the set out with Forever Ever?. Can this night get any better?!
After a quick bite and some refreshments, we’re back at main stage for The Kite String Tangle (aka Danny Harley). Some of us are exhausted for spending all day dancing in the heat, so it’s an opportune time to sit down towards the top of the hill and soak up the atmosphere – Harley (joined by live drummer Isaac Cavallaro) thanks us for not melting before his set. The projection system is finally in action and the entire stage is a sight to behold, as are the thousands of punters that have assembled for the show. Harleys’s unique style of down-tempo, melodic house tunes are perfect to sit and bop to, or sway and grove as you please (the majority chose the latter). The live drumming element adds a level of theatricality that’s missing from some DJ sets. We’re treated to not one, but two new tracks (one untitled, the other introduced as Selfish) – which of course sends phones and cameras into the air – and yet another special guest appearance, this time by fellow producer Dustin Tebbit for their collaborative track Illuminate. Harley couldn’t resist but request we all get out our lighters and phones, and we’re all too happy to oblige. After a final group hug among the crowd, and an almighty explosion of confetti (so. much. confetti!), Harley announces they’ll be releasing an album next (this) year. Anticipation level: Extreme!
We stick around for the start of Boys Noize only to realize that the German producer’s hekaz trance beats would be more suited to the Stereosonic main stage – and yet the crowd doesn’t disperse. We head back to camp for a quick break and to escape the thump (impossible), which unfortunately results in an unintentional nap. Sorry RL Grimes and Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs.
Yet again, at 7am like clockwork the sun came up over the hills with the subtlety of a brick to the face (and about as much sting too). It’s 34 degrees by 10am so joining the shower line involves a commitment to missing at least the first few acts – and we’ll be sweaty and dusty in seconds, so whats the point? Thankfully there’s some conveniently placed hose structures which are suitable replacements to cool off and have a quick scrub down (any port in a storm). Chatting with other punters in the breakfast line (almost as bad as the shower lines) reveals that some have come in groups as big as 15 from as far as Cairns – what a testament to the line-up and the festival vibe.
I Know The Chief open the main stage with style. The mercury has risen to 36 by now, and only the hardcore punters are already braving the sweltering heat, so there’s only a handful of us – but the boys appreciate the effort and reciprocate with an performance worthy of a packed pit.
They’re followed shortly by Porsches who’s main lineup take the stage following a solid drum solo. They’ve drawn a respectable crowd given the apparent reluctance for anyone to face the blistering sun. Given it’s their first ever festival performance you can forgive (if not applaud) frontman Carl Fox’s overly energetic performance, throwing his shows and water bottles at band mates, and having his mates storm the stage. Regardless, their Empire Of The Sun-esque electro pop style was a hit.
A huge whirly wind rips through the grounds - RIP about 15 tents.
A well timed food and bev break gives a few of us a great vantage point to see a huge whirly wind rip through the grounds - RIP about 15 tents. There’s also some ridiculous sunburn on show today, and by the looks of those sporting it, it’s only going to get worse.
Northeast Party House take to the mainstage next, and boy did they live up to their name. Not that anything was placed in any particular nautical direction, but with six dudes crowding the stage there was barely enough room for all of their booze. It took until around 3pm but there’s finally a decent sized crowd, and we’re rewarded with a champagne shower from frontman Zach Hamilton-Reeves. Their sound is slightly heavier than what BTV has had on offer so far, but still ridiculously catchy – and anything that can keep us dancing in this heat deserves credit. Guitarist Jack Shoe takes centre stage announcing “New Years is when dreams come true… I’m going to make my own come true!” before breaking into what is the second cover of Blink 182’s Dammit – thought his over-enthusiasm is a little much and his dream becomes a bit of a nightmare for those within audible distance, but fuck it! It’s New Years, have your moment, mate! The band may have gotten some of the crew a little drunk backstage, because there at least 3 confetti bombs and a tonne of smoke jets blasting throughout the set.
There's a bloke sporting a full pirate’s outfit in 36 degree weather proclaiming himself ‘Captain Cooked’.
The Star Wars movie theme blasts over the main stage accompanied by an appropriately designed rolling text video to introduce Melbourne rock outfit Kingswood, but much like half of their set, the beauty of their art is lost on the young, and a little too loose crowd. While the quartet put on a solid performance, it doesn’t quite suit the chilled out, dance-y vibes of the festival. It takes one fanboy sliding face first through the muddy pit and proceeding to brush his teeth while moshing (toothpaste and all) for most to really get into it – but to their credit, the I Can Feel That You Don’t Love Me rockers finished strong, even receiving the only encore chant of the festival.
Fashion choices are on point for New Years Eve. Special mention to the dudes in matching Jamaican Bobsled Team onesies, and the bloke sporting a full pirate’s outfit in 36 degree weather proclaiming himself ‘Captain Cooked’.
The Rubens take the stage to an eruption of applause and it’s clear from how massive the crowd has grown that most of the punters have spent the day hiding in the shade of their camps, waiting for this moment. They kick things off with the captivating Switchblade, but every single song gives us an opportunity to sing along, often to the point where it’s difficult to even hear the band. In fact, some band members spent a decent portion of the set with their back to the crowd, facing their amps hoping to hear themselves. By this point, there are so many people on their mates’ shoulders that security have given up trying to get them down. The three Margin brothers (Sam, Elliott and Zaac) and pals Scott Baldwin and William Zeglis are an extremely polished unit, and you’d be forgiven for mistaking them for a recording if not for the clever melodic vocal liberties and guitar licks interspersed within each song. Frontman Sam Margin seizes an opportunity to crowd surf, while brother Elliott leads us in a “Hell Yeah!” chat while waving our arms in unison. It’s infectious! The set closes with crowd pleaser Hallelujah, to the dismay of many.
Hamburg resident Sebastian ‘Basti’ Doering aka Lovebirds is up next, and while his tunes are fun and bouncy the chilled out, minimalistic, house tunes perhaps didn’t suit the main stage timeslot on NYE. Many punters take the opportunity to grab a drink or a final meal before the chaos of the evening ensues, though some others seem right into it. The accompanying light show deserves a mention as the sun slowly disappears, though Doering himself is quiet and doesn’t utter a word throughout the set.
Thankfully, San Cisco pick up right where The Rubens left off, with a sing-a-long-palooza! Bouncing tunes About Me and Bitter Winter are impossible to keep still during, and Awkward has us all playing along with the dueling vocals between frontman Jordi Davieson and drummer Scarlett Stevens. Unfortunately, despite Davieson’s best efforts, the stage presence is seriously lacking, and for a band that produce such fun, relatable music, their on stage interaction is virtually nonexistent. Regardless, the performance is otherwise a great success, and it’s hard to fault the set list also featuring favorites We Spend Too Much Time Together and closing with earworm Fred Astaire.
Tkay Maizda is only of only a couple of hip hop act to grace the main stage for the entire festival – no small feat considering the pavilion tent was dedicated to electronic and hip hop, featuring artists like Ivan Ooze, Oscar Key Sung, and Remi for the countdown. Rounding out a huge year that saw the recently turned 20 year old tour internationally in support of some huge acts, Maizda has us in the palm of her hand from the get go. There’s an odd division between the badass chick spilling lyrics that have earned praise from icons like Killer Mike (Run The Jewels), and the endearing young woman who giggles and thanks us between tracks – but how can you blame her? She’s younger than most of her fans! The Chitty Bang rapper went all out, even covering Jay Z and Kanye West’s instant classic Ni**as In Paris, to our delight. Surrounded by giant inflatable animals on stage, and joined by DJ Elk, even the most skeptical punters can appreciate the hard work done to get to where she is at her age.
It’s 11.59pm and the anticipation is ridiculous. There’s people as far as the eye can see.
It’s 11.59pm and the anticipation is ridiculous! There’s people as far as the eye can see but everyone still has plenty of room to dance – a welcome change for a festival pit! The countdown begins: 10, 9… but the audio and video are just over a second out of sync, which makes joining in a clusterfuck (especially for those whose minds may not be in their natural state) - but it’s really not important! They both eventually reach zero and it’s officially 2016!
The voice over begins the cabin crews emergency procedure, and it’s clear that we’re clear for takeoff with Flight Facilities. Safety protocol be damned, as flares ignite in the crowd, and the electro-synth duo instruct everyone to jump on someone’s shoulders. The triangular shaped booth is chockas with a drum pad kit, multiple synths, and plenty of fun stuff to keep the duo of Hugo Guzman and James Lyell busy. Their set fluctuates between an 80’s groove vibe, and more recent dance/house beats – some tracks purely instrumental, while others feature guest vocalists Owl Eyes (aka Brooke Addamo) or Kurt Kristen, who took turns belting out vocals and grooving along (joined by live bass and synth guitar). The night built to a crescendo with international hit Crave You evoking a mass sing-a-long, before classic Shine A Light drew a close to the incredible set (though Owl Eye’s amazement that out phones and lighters resembled “fireflies” seemed a little turbulent to those who heard the same line and enthusiasm on their live album). What a way to send off one year and kick off another!
With Dom Dolla yet to see out the final set of the festival, a mass exodus ensues as some of us march like zombies back to our tents to pass out, while others scurry off to kick on with their crew.
With Aussie music festivals dropping like flies throughout 2015, Beyond The Valley has put together another incredible edition of a fun, easy going, and very dance-y festival. There’s more to learn and room to grow, but you get the feeling it’s here to stay!