Independence Day (and the week or so preceding it) is always a busy time here in Philadelphia. While we were happy to head to the beach on Friday to avoid the massive crowds that flock to the parkway on the 4th of July, we were equally excited to stick around town on July 3rd for the first annual Big Liberty festival.
Big Liberty was held both inside and outside of Lit Ultra Bar. It featured two areas of music inside the venue, as well as a stage (with a sweet video wall) and silent disco outside. There were several bars (for those 21+), vendors, a huge inflatable water-slide, a bouncy house, a food truck, and a body painting tent.
The roster of talent performing was vastly different from the cookie cutter line-ups that seem to be recycled throughout festival season and offered fans a wide array of electronic genres to listen to at any given moment.
The doors opened at 530pm and shortly thereafter it looked as if a violent line of thunderstorms would threaten the outside portion of the event. However, the storm moved through quickly and aside from a brief shower later in the night, the weather decided to cooperate. Once the rain had come and gone, the fans streamed into LiT for what would prove to be a fantastic event.
We were very excited about this line-up when we first laid eyes on it. We grew up listening to many of these guys in the late 90’s and turn of the century and have also become big fans of many of the more recent players on the scene. We moved around the venue as much as possible to catch bits and pieces of as many sets as possible.
While we enjoyed everything we heard, the first set that really grabbed us by the ears and made us not want to leave for even one track came from Proxxy & Lantern. Their set, on the outdoor stage, blew us away. It was a genre bending, eclectic mix of old and new tracks that we didn’t want to end.
Once in did end, we caught the majority of another fantastic set, cultivated by Tittsworth. Everything this guy touches seems to turn to gold and the decks in LiT’s DJ booth were no exception. It was no surprise to see the creators of Moombaholics (who played the silent disco) rocking out on the dance-floor along with numerous other fans.
For the rest of the night the crowd sizes fluctuated inside and out (depending on whom was playing at that time) but there was always a captive audience for each DJ no matter where you moved. Some of our other favorite sets from Big Liberty Festival included Adrock, Reaktor, 2RIP, Rene Lavice, and Liquid Stranger.
When Wildstylez hit the outdoor stage at 130am, there was a special buzz in the air. Philly has a strong love for Hardstyle and Wildstylez set was one of the most anticipated of the night. The Dutch DJ/producer did not disappoint and thrilled the crowd with a heavy dose of kick drums and 150 BPM.
Our night concluded with two guys who helped mold our love for electronic music, Frankie Bones and X-Dream. We’d be lying if we said we didn’t have several mix-tapes from both of these guys laying around the Independent Philly office.
Another thing that really amped up the vibe at Big Liberty Festival was the fact that the DJs were so accessible to fans. When not performing, most of them were just hanging out like everyone else, having a drink, and catching their peers rock the decks. It’s always nice to see the talent and the fans mingling throughout an event.
The mix of old school DJs & new school DJs, indoor areas and outdoor areas, and the older generation of electronic music fans with today’s EDM crowd, made Big Liberty Festival a very special event (and hands down the best time we’ve ever had at LiT Ultra Bar. We can’t wait to see how the event grows and expands in 2015.
[Photo credit: D. Jacob Miller Photography]
[Article by David J. Miller]
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