Last weekend saw The Rubens’ inaugural ValleyWays Festival envelope Camden’s Onslow Oval with the sounds of some of Australia’s finest musical talent.
Envisioned as a way to strengthen the Macarthur region’s live music culture, ValleyWays saw The Ruben’s joined by Australian music heavyweights Spiderbait, Skegss, Middle Kids, Slowly Slowly, and more.
The final slot of the festival lineup was filled by triple j Unearthed competition winners Morgues, a dream pop duo hailing from Canberra and Sydney who were ecstatic to be able to play for their first-ever festival crowd.
To provide Rolling Stone Australia readers insight into his experiences at the Festival, Sam Margin from The Rubens kept a running diary of his experiences at ValleyWays:
Friday, the ninth of September:
It’s the day before the inaugural ValleyWays and we’ve just flown in from spending a few days up at Bigsound, doing a secret show for our label’s 25th bday. We’re all a little tired from the fun in Brisbane but we have a festival to run, so no time to chill.
9am – We’re on site and spend the day putting the finishing touches across the grounds. Our good mate Russ Fitzgbbon who plays in Skeleten did all the branding for ValleyWays so to see it come to life in big blown up banners & decorations is a huge thrill.
7pm – We finish soundcheck and head off home to try and get an early night!
Saturday, the tenth of September:
9am – Show day! There are a few pre-show nerves as we arrive back on site. We can’t help but keep refreshing the BOM app to make sure the forecast is being kind to us and thankfully no rain is on the horizon, which in itself is a huge win.
10am – We do a quick walk thru of site to make sure everything is looking good. We stop by the official merchandise tent & check out the ValleyWays threads.
11:00am – Gates are open!
We’re there to greet the first people through the gate & give them their wristbands. When it comes to festival wristbands the tighter they are and the more arm hair they rip out the better.
11:15am – triple j unearthed band Morgues play their first ever festival. We remember that feeling; excitement, nerves, sheer terror. They nail it.
12pm – We stop by the Big Yellow Umbrella marquee to say g’day. Big Yellow Umbrella are a local youth service we teamed up with to help raise money for them to grow their organisation and make them bigger and better.
We head out into the crowd to see local Camden bands Grace Amos, Dardi Shades and Hollie Col all slay their sets. It being a home town show you can’t take two steps without bumping into a familiar face.
1:30pm: Slowly Slowly rock up to the festival site. We’ve never met them before. They’re a lovely bunch & we get the sense they’ll be a crowd favourite today.
2:25pm – Stevan brings the party vibes & takes things up a level, at one point jumping in amongst the punters. The mood is building, the sun is out.
3pm Glenda Chalker conducts a Welcome to country to officially welcome people to ValleyWays. Becca Hatch is backstage ready to perform. A Campbelltown local who we’re big fans of and very pumped to see her.
3:45pm We meet up with ValleyWays competition winners and invite them backstage to check it out and have a drink with us. We also hook them up with a ValleyWays merch pack, a hoodie & tshirt.
4:12pm Yep we were right. The crowd are going nuts to Slowly Slowly.
4:30pm – We say hi to Morgues and give them one of our gift bags which we’ve put together for all the artists playing. Basically a bag of goodies to make life on the road a little easier.
5pm – We swing by the Middle Kids green room to say hi and they tell us they’ve been working on a new album. Cannot wait to hear new material from them!
5:40pm – Spiderbait hit the stage and the first thing KRAM does is thank us for having them as well as highlighting the importance of regional festivals. The ultimate pro. To have Spiderbait, a band we all love playing at our festival, is an absolute head spin and one of the best sets we’ve probably ever seen.
6:20pm: Almost forgot we are also playing, so we do our pre gig routine and get ready for the show. It’s always a special feeling to play in front of a home crowd!
8pm: Our set complete and obligations over we grabbed a beer and scrambled out to catch Middle Kids stack hit after hit.
9pm: Skegss hit the stage and absolutely nail it. There’s plenty of singing along and plenty more moshing. High energy and a fitting end to ValleyWays #1.
10pm: ValleyWays is done for 2022. After so much planning and a whole lot of nerves it turned out to be a smash hit and the vibe all day was wholesome. Catching up with artists we hadn’t seen in a while as well as meeting others for the first time was special, and to see the crowd go off to each of their sets was a huge pay off.
11pm: We’ve done some initial packing down backstage and before we take off for the night we grab a ValleyWays event team photo. We’ll be back on site at 9am for the final packdown.