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an experience like no other

January 3rd, 2024

In partnership with Beyond The Valley

In the blink of an eye, 2023 has come to a close and we’re finally in the opening days of 2024. It’s a bittersweet feeling – while we’re incredibly excited for what the new year has to offer, stepping into 2024 means we have to sadly bid farewell to Beyond The Valley 2023.

All good things must come to an end, and rather than wallow in a severe case of post-festival depression, we’re choosing to channel the positive energy and good vibes that we absorbed over the weekend – and remembering the best parts of Beyond The Valley 2023 as we manifest even more greatness for 2024.

Across the massive Barunah Plains, Beyond The Valley ran for four – three, if you’re considering that the bulk of the festivities only kicked off on day two – glorious days with a feast for the eyes, ears and soul.

Beyond The Valley 2023 was an experience that has to be lived to be believed. Here are the biggest highlights from the camping and music festival’s four-day extravaganza.

December 29: a strong start

The Dance Dome at Beyond The Valley 2023. Credit: Beyond The Valley

In 2022, Beyond The Valley ventured out onto Barunah Plains, on the lands of the Wadawurrung and Eastern Maar Peoples, in Victoria for the first time. In 2023, it was notable that BTV seemed to be operating like a well-oiled machine that’s been based here for decades. Everything – from entry into the festival, to the ease of setting up camp, to assistance and accessibility and even the punctuality of performances – ran like clockwork.

This being the first full day of the festival, punters knew they had to make a good first impression and flooded the fields of Barunah Plains in their brightest, sparkliest outfits with colourful and creative doof sticks in hand.

But as great as Beyond The Valley’s side offerings are, its greatest strength has and always will be its music line-up. To kick off the festival proper, NME began with a 1pm set from Melbourne trio Blusher, who graced the Valley Stage with such synchronicity, you’d think the group have been together for decades longer than their two years.

Next, we headed over to the second largest stage of the festival, Dance Dome, to witness the Welcome To Country ceremony. The Dance Dome fully popped off after that, as Dameeeela delivered a tantalising hour-long set that took punters on a journey through a seemingly never-ending plethora of dance music genres.

The Welcome To Country ceremony at Beyond The Valley 2023. Credit: Beyond The Valley

Back at the Valley Stage, festivalgoers were being treated to the sweet sounds of Yolŋu surf rock with King Stingray. While criminally short, their 45-minute set consisted of their greatest hits like ‘Lookin’ Out’ and ‘Raypirri’, and a glorious cover of Coldplay’s ‘Yellow’.

G Flip then blessed the stage with an enthralling set at 8pm – a slot far earlier than they should’ve played, given their sheer star power. Though feeling a little under the weather, they made the most of their 45-minute set, ripping out guitar and drum solos, leading singalongs and starting mosh pits.

RÜFÜS DU SOL’s Tyrone Lindqvist. Credit: Beyond The Valley.

Headliners RÜFÜS DU SOL commanded the largest crowd of the day, packing out the Valley Stage right before midnight. The electronic trio left those in attendance speechless with their ethereal beats and entrancing lightshow, complete with a setlist for the ages that ended with the trio performing ‘Innerbloom’, ‘Treat You Better’ and ‘No Place’.

To close out the night, Beyond The Valley booked a secret set over at Dr Dans. As throngs of punters braved brisk winds, a large crowd gathered around the smallest of the festival’s three stages, all to see What So Not drop banger after banger after banger.

December 30: rap reigns supreme 

Central Cee headlines night 3 of Beyond The Valley 2023. Credit: Beyond The Valley/Mitch Lowe
Central Cee headlines night 3 of Beyond The Valley 2023. Credit: Beyond The Valley/Mitch Lowe

Day three of Beyond The Valley was its chilliest, as people abandoned their tank tops and bikinis in favour of hoodies, puffer jackets and baggy sweatpants. Despite everyone looking their best the day prior, their attire here just felt appropriate for the night that was to follow.

One of the standouts of the weekend, Miss Kaninna turned what started off as a mellow R&B set into a fiery peace rally as she rapped about racial profiling and discrimination, police brutality and called for a ceasefire in the Israel-Palestine conflict.

Over at the Dance Dome, the vast majority of the festival’s attendees buzzed in anticipation as they awaited the arrival of the first of two secret performers – the first of whom was Beyond The Valley’s 2022 headliner, Dom Dolla.

Dom Dolla performs a secret set at the Dance Dome stage at Beyond The Valley 2023. Credit: Beyond The Valley

Coming off a major year in 2023, Dom Dolla – who recently won an ARIA for Best Dance/Electronic Release with MK for their hit ‘Rhyme Dust’ – the DJ and producer cheekily popped out his head from the side of the stage to wild applause before taking over the decks for the most hyped performance of the weekend so far. This also makes Dom the first artist ever to perform at all eight editions of the festival.

Following Dom Dolla’s set, the Dance Dome was set to host another secret set. But who else could top Dolla? Only RÜFÜS DU SOL. Following their astonishing headlining set the night before, RÜFÜS DU SOL turned up the heat to give punters a different taste from what they’d heard less than 24 hours prior.

RÜFÜS DU SOL perform a surprise set at the Dance Dome at Beyond The Valley day 3. Credit: Beyond The Valley/Mitch Lowe

While their headlining set was ethereal and mesmerising, they went grimy at the Dance Dome – throwing down the sickest dance tracks, albeit with their signature sound woven in.

But there was one more surprise in store, as Dom Dolla joined RÜFÜS DU SOL on the decks for the first time ever to perform his remix of the group’s ‘Make It Happen’.

Dom Dolla and presenters of RÜFÜS DU SOL embrace at Beyond The Valley 2023. Credit: Beyond The Valley

Up next, the talented Romy treated fans to an eclectic mix of hits from her band The xx’s beloved discography, as well as tracks from her recently released debut solo album, ‘Mid Air’, closing her set with her rightfully viral Fred Again.. collaboration, ‘Strong’.

The charismatic Channel Tres made his grand return to Australia with a seductive set on the Valley Stage, pulling out his biggest tracks to date like ‘Controller’, ‘Acid In My Blood’ and ‘Sexy Black Timberlake’. He also road-tested out music with an unreleased track.

DMA’S perform at Beyond The Valley 2023. Credit: Beyond The Valley/Mitch Lowe

Afterwards, DMA’S played their first Aussie show since their UK tour to a packed crowd who clung onto every note they played and sang nearly every song with them. To sweeten the deal, the trio whipped out their cover of Cher’s ‘Believe’ that scored them the weekend’s loudest singalong yet and a tear-jerking ovation.

And then, Beyond The Valley brought out the big guns. After two days of pop, indie, and electronic performances, it was finally time for hip-hop to take center stage for the weekend. A$AP Ferg delivered a cold-blooded set of hard East Coast rap and a career-spanning setlist that included fan favourites like ‘New Level’, ‘Mo Bamba’, ‘Yamborghini High’ and ‘Plain Jane’ – and began to lose his voice at the first performance of his Australia tour.

Central Cee closed out the night with a short but stacked set, as the Australian audience sang every word back to him. Running through iconic cuts like ‘A Day In The Life’ and ‘Sprinter’ to name a few, the London rapper ended his gripping set with two back-to-back performances of the viral hit, ‘Doja’.

December 31: it’s party time

Beyond The Valley’s Valley Stage. Credit: Beyond The Valley/Mitch Lowe

The final – and perhaps most vital – day of Beyond The Valley was a celebration of music, love, endings and new beginnings. The busiest day of the weekend, punters gave the day their all, feeding artists unrivaled amounts of energy, dressing to the nines and spreading love with strangers.

Gold Fang kicked things off at the Valley Stage with a markedly different vibe. While past performers in the early slots kept things fast paced, the Trinidadian dancehall artist slowed things down to a light, bouncy pace that attendees – including those sitting at the dining hall – could vibe to.

Over at the Dance Dome, Salute drew out one of the largest daytime crowds of the weekend with a genre-blending mix that captivated and swayed audiences for a solid 90 minutes. Not one to be confined to genres, the DJ kept ravers on their toes with an unpredictable set that included tracks from nearly every sound in the dance music spectrum.

Big Wett’s triumphant debut at Beyond The Valley was the wildest performance of the weekend. The “slut-pop” provocateur thrilled audiences with her over-the-top performance and bombastic lyrics. Big Wett’s set was by far the most freeing and fun of the weekend – giving us great energy to great a new year with.

Flight Facilities. Credit: Beyond The Valley/Alex Drewniak

Flight Facilities started the New Year’s celebrations early with a set that evoked nostalgia and reflection. The duo’s popular Decades set – which celebrates the best music from past decades – was a much needed communal dance and karaoke session which allowed everyone to shed their last bit of worries for the year. From ’60s pop to ’90s R&B and everything in between, Flight Facilities were the perfect soundtrack to get you in the mood for the new year.

And then, it was time. With a minute on the countdown clock, Peggy Gou took the stage to rile up the crowd, counting down from 10 until the clock struck midnight and 2023 faded into 2024. Streamers were fired and pyrotechnics blasted off to joyous cheers and well-wishes between friends and strangers alike while Gou kicked off an incredible two-hour set that grew stronger and stronger, climaxing with the biggest dance song of 2023, ‘Na Na Na’.

Want more? Relive Beyond The Valley 2023 with our recaps of days two, three and four and find out more about the festival on its official website

This content was originally sourced and posted at NME »
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