The Pimlico Race Track parking lots seemed to be flooded even before gates were scheduled to open for the second annual Moonrise Festival (August 8-9, 2015). The two-day festival was held in the same stomping grounds as the previous year with nearly twice as many people attending in 2015. Gate workers were greeted by thousands of attendees waiting in line patiently (there is always expected to be a long wait at a festival of this size) to see their favorite acts in electronic music. With a Saturday lineup including some amazing artists (playing festivals all over North America this summer), Moonrise has stepped up the east coast festival game. Big Gigantic, Knife Party, 3lau and Bassnectar were some of the top acts performing on none other than 8/08.
Dirtyphonics laid down a signature heavy drum and bass set on the Solar Tent stage, with “Star Team” members running wild in search of more water for the crowd. These fans wanted grimy, heavy bass, and what was up next was sure to satiate them. Cookie Monsta, Funtcase, and Doctor P held a triple back to back to back set to show everyone who was there to #WatchTheMoonrise what Circus Records was made of. The Solar Tent was filled to the brim with fans of all genres, but all left wanting more of the Circus Records magic on stage. We had a chance to talk with the Circus Records guys, and they had nothing but love for Moonrise Festival.
The Celestial Garden housed acts throughout the day such as Dr Fresch, What So Not, and Thomas Jack, who filled the grounds with upbeat summer vibes. Walking through the crowd and stopping to talk to patrons, many had previously attended the festival. After all of the hype and good vibes the festival provided in 2014, fans of electronic music fans needed to feel that festival sense of belonging again. What better than doing it with some of the best electronic acts on 808? It was a dream come true.
Infected Mushroom, known for both their live and DJ sets, blessed Moonrise with a one of a kind Animatronica live show. This set showcased their unique sound and had fans jumping the entire time. Thank you, Israel, for one of the best acts at the festival this year. Coming from Europe the day before, the guys were high off the rush of the touring and sat down with us for a minute to chat following their performance.
Big Gigantic drew fans from all over the country. Many of the people that we talked to were in the double digits of attendance at Big G performances. As the stage was taken over by the live drums and sax, the crowd screamed in excitement for one of their favorite live acts. We even saw a few blow up saxophones, which the attendees pretended to play along on during the set. Special guests Knife Party played a disappointingly electro heavy set, chocked full of big room tracks and generic house music. The crowd ate it up but it was much different than the Knife Party most fans came up on or went to the Stellar Stage to see.
As the lights dimmed and bass drop visuals came onto the screen, Bassnectar fans, who had spent all day on the rail waiting for Lorin Ashton, were soon to be quenched of their Nectar thirst. With the best set of the day, Bassnectar mixed in some of his new music off of ‘Into The Sun’, with heaters such as ‘Sugar Cube’ and ‘Raw Charles’. “Moonrise say whats up to the sky” Bassnectar exclaimed at one point as fans threw their hands into the air. Happy 808 had danced across the screen nearing the end of the set, and what a happy 808 it was.
Sunday, day two of the festival, had cloudy skies that were welcomed with open arms as the patrons got a nice relief from the brutal sun. As people entered, they discussed which headliner they wanted to attend (which was one of the toughest choices we’ve ever had to make): trance legends Above & Beyond, amazing production with The Glitch Mob, or two of the most influential bass producers, Zeds Dead.
The Celestial Garden was overturned into the Twonk stage on Sunday, which grew a huge crowd to see Philly local Dotcom, rising bass artist LAXX (from the UK), and of course the Twonk legend himself, Brillz. You could not go anywhere without seeing a Twonk hat or Twonk apparel. In the Solar Tent, Snails had “vomited” all over the crowd, giving them the dose of vomitstep they needed and craved.
Perhaps the biggest highlight of the weekend was the live set that Die Antwoord graced Moonrise Festival with. It was truly stellar.
Another highlight of the weekend for many festival goers was, without a doubt, Porter Robinson’s live set. (Happy one year anniversary, Worlds!) Teary eyed fans lined up on the railing hoping to meet him or have him sign an item for them after his set. Playing many hits off his Worlds album such as ‘Flicker’ and ‘Sad Machine’, Porter had his fans singing and jumping (when he wanted them to) and hugging each other and crying when he didn’t. If anyone was to hit you “right in the feels” this festival, it was Porter. Ghostdad provided one of a kind visuals for this very special set.
Group Therapy was to commence Sunday evening at the Stellar Stage as headliners Above & Beyond brought nothing short of what was expected of them. The crowd ranged from seasoned veterans to first timers who all came together to feel the love. Seeing flags using the lyrics, “We’re All We Need,” made the festival feel a little more close knit, as we were all there for the love of this music. The Glitch Mob closed out the main stage with their one of a kind sound. Starting with a crowd of only a few hundred fans, soon the stage was swamped with thousands jumping around to the trio’s live bass and killer production. “The Blade” is always a nice touch to The Glitch Mob shows. The family photo was one to be remembered for a while.
Zeds Dead closed out the Solar Tent on Sunday evening with hit after hit, the bass could be heard throughout their set. Fans made no attempt at fitting under the tent, just getting as close as they could to two of the most influential people bass music has seen in recent years. The lasers were amazing and were akin to some of the visuals seen throughout the weekend. DC and Hooks, the creators of old school hits like ‘Rude Boy’ didn’t disappoint by throwing classics into their set, blending perfectly with their new diverse sound.
Moonrise, for the most part, did not disappoint. From the STAR Team, to the vendors, to the music, almost everything was spot on. We did hear several complaints about the length of time it took to enter the festival (especially on Saturday with some fans waiting several hours at the gate), the location and number of bathrooms and water filing stations, and the less-than-knowledgeable staff, but these things can sometimes be expected from a festival that is still in the growing stages. The question is, how will the promoters respond to these issues in 2016? The good definitely outweighed the bad, leaving Moonrise as one of our must-attend festivals for next Summer.
[Photo credit: Dead Philly]
[Article by Alyssa Anderson]
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