Bringing thousands into a new year, Beyond The Valley (BTV) supplied us with an array of superstars like Jamie XX, RL Grime, Snakehips, and local artists, Flight Facilities, Jakubi and Running Touch to sweep the valley. Shifting location, far more inland from the previous year situated on Philip Island, the usually lacklustre Lardner found itself hosting the three-day blowout. Each day brought new surprises and stronger smells from both the attendees and the facilities – gross! But hey, it wouldn’t be a festival without everyone trying to figure out if the fun outweighs the misery and deciding whether they’ll be back the following year. Of course they will, but that’s what it’s all about, right?
Hoping for lazy security and a convenient campsite, everyone piled into their cars/shaggin’ waggin’s, and headed to the dusty open field for a less than luxurious getaway. With a report making it seem as if an air conditioner was a survival tool, the near 40 degrees weather to come made for crucial survival plans among each and every campsite.
Leaving later than originally planned, our convoy charged our way down the M1 for a very short road trip only to discover to find we were a little less dedicated to the early arrival times of others. This ended up being the greatest mistake of the trip as we smoothly entered the camp’s grounds, with a short 45 minute line up and possibly the best location allocated to us (we were located just 120 metres from both our cars and the entrance to the main grounds).
Now to the music: to ease everyone into the festival spirit, Day One consisted of plenty of feverish club bangers pumping from The Pavilion, a.k.a. “Dust Tent”, with Aussie dance legend Spacey Space really raising the roof with his quirky white-guy dance moves really adding to the entertaining and outstanding tunes.
Highlight artist of the day was undoubtedly Running Touch, offering up a refreshing change of pace amongst all the DJ’s. He not only retained the energy and flow of the others, but took it to another level; capturing the attention of many who seemingly were hearing the excellence that is Running Touch for the first time. Playing some released and plenty of unreleased material, those who were prior fans of the young producer were treated to their favourites to chant alongside his soft airy vocals, in the likes of, ‘What’s Best For You‘ and a few others.
Guitar, vocals, keys, and drum pads made for an impressive one man show, keeping those who were keen for some more interactive acts happy, or at the very least, relieved to see an actual instrument in the hands of someone on stage. With that said, Running Touch seemed to fit the BTV sound perfectly, keeping the weekly city clubbers happy with the thumping bass, and those looking for a little more show than just a couple of DJ decks. Finishing up just a little after midnight, most headed back to their sites to continue the party with their less than adequate iPod speakers and consuming their smuggled goods, gearing up for everything to kick into fifth gear.
As the sun arose, tents slowly began to turn to saunas, forcing everyone to an earlier than desired rise. Those who found themselves in all sorts post Day One festivities, they had me wondering how on earth they were gonna make it another three days before they’d be back home in bed to recover.
Opening up the day with a Trio of young home grown talent, E^ST, Jakubi, and Joy. all took to the main stage, supporting for the much anticipated Jamie XX. Unfortunately, the heat was a little too much for many to bear as the frontman of Jakubi, Jerome Farah, worked non-stop to get the crowd moving. With the heat only rising in the lead up to Jamie XX, many were still getting around the hype for the solo performance, branched from the world star status of the indie pop group, The XX.
The show kicked off with some down-tempo dance, easing into a couple of songs from his 2015 album, In Colour, whilst many were just waiting around for his most popular single, ‘I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times)’. Unfortunately for them, it was a no show, ending his set with a funk/soul influenced Jamie XX style instead (which I’m hoping we hear more of on his next release). This made the phrase, “Well that was s**t” very popular for a brief moment as I heard the whispers by what seemed like every other person at the main stage. This was probably due to the lack of actual fans, with very few actually knowing what style of sound Jamie XX offers up. As a big fan, I was quite entertained and not at all disappointed.
Shortly after Jamie XX, Client Liason hit the stage, and the crowd was not disappointed with the Australian rock legend, Daryl Braithwaite, joining them for a stunning collaboration of his anthem ‘Horses’. Ta-ku then leapt into the powerhouse of Australian talents in The Pavilion, grabbing the mic and showing us what a talent he truly is. Inviting Wafia on stage to cover the R&B pop hit, ‘American Boy’ by Estelle featuring Kanye. ‘American Girl’ is one amazing work of art that anyone who is a fan of any of these artists should check out:
Highlight of day two was the British duo Snakehips, delivering their hip hop beats, hidden beneath their pop house tunes. Somewhat reluctantly rocking up on a couple of recommendations, I was certainly surprised as they filled The Pavilion with their unique remixes and array of original tracks, Snakehips are certainly an essential to any party playlist. Closing off the set with their latest top 10 hit, ‘All My Friends’, the crowd was chanting along regardless of whether they had heard it before or not; the energy was captivating as the mosh swayed as one, to send off the momentary hour long set. Keeping in mind I was unable to catch everyone’s set, Snakehips takes the crown for my favourite act, capturing the audience and holding them as they moved in unison, for the entire hour.
The night ended with an array of talent, from Boyz Noize, Hayden James, RL Grime, Crooked Colours, Anna Lunoe, and Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs. There was plenty of energy to be found in the underdog Crooked Colours as they blasted their heavy electronic sound from what looked like a semi-traditional band setup. Day Two was one to remember, all the while the big day was about to spring.
The day everyone was excited for and dreading simultaneously. Everyone fearing what would seem like near third degree burns just from standing in the sun for just a few minutes, many were lazing in the shade of their campsites to recharge for the massive night ahead. Unfortunately, for those performing around lunchtime, they didn’t get much of an audience as the sun tore through the energy tanks of each and every person attempting to enjoy the atmosphere. None the less, a world-class line up was to take the thousands of attendees into a brand new 2016.
As the sun begun descend from the sky, the festival grounds started to fill for indie rock Aussie’s, San Cisco. As much enjoyed change of pace, their alternative pop rock sound injected some chilling vibes to scale the hills of the valley. Not ignoring the crowd, they busted out all their hits, keeping everyone happy and satisfied with what felt like a pretty perfect set.
With an intense build up, the celebrations really kick-started as the clock struck 12:00am, and Flight Facilities busted out onstage in front of a sea of affectionate partiers. With the prime-time slot, they were a guarantee winner, summing up the sound and memories everyone shared, making Flight Facilities the highlight of the final day. Opening up with their funky crowd favourite, ‘Sunshine’, the audience was hooked. Euphoric vocals from Owl Eyes later followed, as they sung out their collaboration on the song ‘Heart Attack’, followed a couple of surprise tracks. Eventually closing out the set as the confetti canons blasted, all were left satisfied by the captivating experience that was their intro to 2016.
Transporting masses to the New Year is never an easy task, but for those who did enjoy the artists that entertained us for three days and nights, BTV 2015 was one to remember. Unfortunately, many found themselves heading into the event completely clueless of who was even headlining, leaving some wanting more. I discovered many new acts, both international and local, which have just added at least one new fan to their audience. I hope this is the main takeaway from anyone planning on heading to a music festival – be open to new artists and give them a chance to captivate you. All it takes is one song to make you their number one fan.
All images by Rob Tran Photography.