Getting to a festival the day before it 'really' kicks off allows one to beat the traffic, set up camp and test out the strength of one's drugs with no fear of whiting out and missing everyone else's highlight of the entire festival.
After driving through a town called Officer, then by the (dubiously named) Cannibal Creek and Gumbaya Park, we follow the signs to Lardner Park and arrive at Beyond The Valley without delay. Once bags have been slung into tents, chilled tunes lure us into Lakeside Cocktail Bar just before 5pm. A few scattered revellers dance under the shade-cloth construct that houses the DJ console; that's a fine way to shake off the flies. There's a nasty (actual definition) remix of Ace Of Base's All That She Wants ("is another bay-by") with stacks of sax. A sun lounge already finds itself in a broken heap on the grass and there are a few exposed, irresponsibly sunburnt bodies at this early stage. Barbed wire above the fence line reinforces the fact that the lake is a no-go zone for revellers. A few cheeky "Beware Of The Crocodiles" signs drive this point home. Giant mating dragonflies dart by as we ponder the protocol of requesting songs during DJ sets these days.
A pumped crowd has gathered in front of the only stage that's open tonight: Central Park. "Beyond The Valley you're so amazing right now," Spacey Space extols. "Your energy is just beautiful!" All dance to his Empire Of The Sun and London Grammar remixes. And Prince (Erotic City) samples are always welcome.
"At this festival, the word "cunt" is often bandied about as a term of endearment."
Suddenly a gent dressed in all-black with gold mask appears up on stage, then a dude distributes replica masks, which are immediately put on heads, throughout Central Park and set the tone for tonight's mystery DJ: Claptone. Anyone glued to Beyond The Valley's Facebook page would have received a slight heads-up when a clue (featuring Claptone's mask) was posted a couple minutes ago, but we can't believe our luck. A doof stick featuring Ghostface from the Scream movies winds up sporting a Claptone mask and is thrust skyward enthusiastically. Such a promising start! Our dancing feet still remember Claptone's Listen Out sets from early in the year (although there are no accompanying visuals this evening) and when he drops his edit of Summer Breeze (by Golden Summer), which samples Isley Brothers' song of the same name, the Beyond The Valley massive embody these lyrics: "Summer breeze makes me feel fine!" Claptone's white gloves are also utilised to great effect with hand gestures often matching lyrics.
An opportunistic dude sporting a crisp mint-green shirt and white captain's hat wanders around motioning towards a large light box hanging around his neck that reads, "Who's Got Acid?"
There's a lull in the tunes where interest isn't maintained so we catch up on some people-watching. A punter being ushered out by a security guard looks around excitedly, pointing at himself and mouthing, "I'm a bad boy!" to everyone he makes eye contact with. At this festival, the word "cunt" is often bandied about as a term of endearment. We overhear a random's pinger analysis: "They take a while, but when you come up..." Then Claptone closes on a high with his own killer track, No Eyes On Me with segments of You've Got The Love interspersed. Claptone claps us from behind the decks and triumphantly leaves the stage.
As the sun sets in spectacular fashion, we appreciate the Instattractive nature of Beyond The Valley's site. We then spy some mooning photo bombers and it's all getting a l'il loose.
Next up is Decade In Dance (2000 - 2010) and the DJ duo open with Make Luv by Room 5 (feat Oliver Cheatham): "I like to party/Everybody does." It's fun, but a bit like a schoolies soundtrack. A bangin' version of Pink Floyd's Another Brick In The Wall coaxes enthusiastic, "Hey!/Teachers!/Leave those kids alone!" shout-alongs. Daft Punk is dropped at the wrong speed then slows down gradually (but still noticeably). Australian basketballer Liz Cambage and friend invade the stage for a boogie about this time. It's hard to imagine this area shutting down in around half an hour when this DJ set wraps. Lit festivalgoers are loving it! Sneaky Sound System's Pictures goes off and then Heads Will Roll by Yeah Yeah Yeahs finishes us off.
Once back at the tent, an enthusiastic chant-along cuts through the almost-silence we're adjusting to now that the festival's scheduled entertainment has ceased. We identify the song as Hey! Baby. Could this be the same crew we heard hollering this tune at the close of Flume's first Sidney Myer Music Bowl show recently? What are the odds!?