Memorial Day Weekend weekend was about showing appreciation for those who died to give us the freedoms we have today. One of those freedoms on display during MDW is the freedom to go to festivals and let loose. It was a weekend chock full of choices including Mysteryland, EDC New York, Sunset Music Festival, Counterpoint, and Lightning in a Bottle. We sent our writers far and wide to explore all of these festivals and report back on their experiences. As writers for an EDM blog, most of our explorers have been to numerous dance music festivals already, so we wanted them to discuss a stand out artist they saw for the first time or an artist who they’ve seen before but blew their mind all over again.
Lightning in a Bottle – Bradley, CA
Mysteryland – Bethel Woods, New York
Haris – Mysteryland was incredible. Production was certainly better than last year. One act that I never saw before was the b2b set by Griz & Gramatik (Grizmatik) on Saturday at the Boat Stage. The guys were insane. Having the live keyboard and trumpet playing by Griz with the live sampling and DJing by Gramatik balanced each other perfectly. Having someone else playing an electric guitar as well throughout their set didn’t hurt either. An artist I have seem a lot before and did not disappoint again I’d have to say was Adam Beyer. My friend and I were lucky enough to go backstage and take photos from behind Beyer, Ida Engberg and Paul Ritch. Adam played a beautifully done drum heavy techno set and dropped some unreleased tracks from his label and some of his new music and it was definitely my favorite set of the weekend.
Benjamin – Porter Robinson‘s set at Mysteryland was absolutely stunning. This wasn’t the first time that I’ve seen him, but it was the first time I saw his ‘live’ show since the release of ‘Worlds’. The experiences are completely different. Porter’s live performance was one of the most emotive displays of musical expression that I’ve ever seen at a music festival. His passion, feeling, and heart measures up to some of the industry’s greats, including Above & Beyond, Kaskade, and Taylor Swift (right?). Having the opportunity to eat lunch with some of Porter’s stage crew on Saturday afternoon gave me a unique perspective into the incredible amount of technical work that makes the live performance possible. From drums, to piano, to vocals and synthesizers, Porter Robinson delivers a complete music experience that is second to none.
Sunset Music Festival – Tampa, FL
Austin – I thought Sunset was incredibly impressive, given that its only a three-year old festival. Armin van Buuren and Porter Robinson were two phenomenal sets that I got to experience. Armin surprised everyone by playing a killer trance set to close out the festival (as opposed to the bigroom sets he sometimes plays), and Porter was just as impressive as everyone says, with his live rendition of Worlds including a beautiful light show and spectacular visuals. Besides those two headliners, SNBRN impressed before the (what I thought was well-managed) rain delay.
Scott – For a festival that does not have the big tent branding of an EDC or Mysteryland, Sunset Music Festival can compete in every way with the larger festivals. It offers impressive production provided by V-Squared Labs (who you might know from Ultra) and a really eclectic lineup of future tastemakers instead of stale overdone acts. One artist that I had never seen before and blew me away was Headhunterz. Having explored almost every subgenre of dance music, I had never before experienced any Hardstyle and the energy levels were off the charts. From beginning to end the crowd was going absolutely mental and the set made me realize just how many massive tracks Headhunterz has at his disposal. One artist who I have seen countless times before but continues to blow me away is of course Skrillex. A friend in my group said that it was like Skrillex was controlling his body during that set, and I wouldn’t even call that an exaggeration. He had the entire crowd under his spell and blew minds with tons of unreleased material. Sonny is one of those rare artists that literally always lives up to the hype.
Bridgett – It was my first time seeing SNBRN perform at a festival and in general and he played a great set but unfortunately had to stop playing due to evacuations taking place for approaching thunderstorms. Slander and Don Diablo took it to the next level during the day with their top notch high energy sets that stole the main stage.
Electric Daisy Carnival: New York – Rutherford, NJ
Tyler – Having gone to two of the first three EDC New York’s, I can safely say the fourth edition was the best EDC NY to date by a wide margin. Starting with the obvious, the kinetic Cathedral was an absolutely ridiculous stage design, and I believe the employment of the traveling version of the stage puts every EDC in contention to be near the top of all festivals across the United States every year. One artist I had never even heard of before this weekend that absolutely blew me away is Joseph Capriati. Feeling adventurous, I decided to explore the tech/deep house stage for the first time, and was immediately hooked after Capriati’s first drop. I could not tell you a single thing he played, but there was not a single track that did not have me moving my feet. A duo that I saw for the fourth time that consistently blows me away is Sunnery James and Ryan Marciano. Each time I’ve seen them they have given me something different, and this time was no exception. Going with a set filled with tribal drums and tons of fire, their 3:00pm set was the earliest I had ever seen an entire crowd that jacked up and jumping in unison at every drop.
Daniel – Andrew Rayel is God, and the Carl Cox tent absolutely slayed EDC!!!