As August rolls around and festival season draws dreadfully closer to its end, many electronic music fans find themselves packing their last available weekends with as many events as they can to get their fix before the end of Summer. Although there are countless festivals to choose from, there are few that stick out against the grain. One of our personal favorites here at Independent Philly is Moonrise Festival. Moonrise Festival has been thriving as one of the East Coast’s biggest events in the Summer for the past several years. Spearheaded by promotion giant Steez Promo, the festival takes place at the famous Pimlico Race Course, just a few miles outside of Baltimore, Maryland. This year, the lineup on August 12-13, was stacked with an incredible amount of heavy hitters from all walks of EDM life. Whether you arrived for the heaviest bass music or the most melodic emotional tunes, there was something for everyone at Moonrise Festival in 2017.
Moonrise left a bit of a bad taste in some people’s mouths after the 2016 edition, when many fans complained about shady and unprofessional practices by the hired security at the festival. We are here to happily report to you that any and all issues that seemed to plague attendees last year, were gracefully handled and no longer present in 2017. From our observations, it seemed that hiring the security team from Echostage, one of the top venues for electronic music in the world, was the source of the positive reviews for the event from fans this year about security. The Washington D.C. team brought to the event a perfect balance of intensity and fun to their work. Gleefully impressed from the moment we entered the gates on day one, this allowed us to move past the unfortunate stories of last year and dive deep into all the moving pieces of the event.
Starting with the music, we were overjoyed to witness a large array of exciting, diverse, and unexpected sets from many of the DJ’s who graced Moonrise’s stages over the two-day span of the festival. Out of all the acts performing, it was no surprise that arguably the biggest name on the lineup was the one, in our opinion, that brought the highest ‘A game’ of all the acts playing: Pretty Lights. Pretty Lights and his live band took to the main stage as the final act of the festival to a massive crowd filled with some fans who had never had the chance to witness Derek do his thing on stage, and simultaneously, a large percentage of the East Coast Pretty Lights Family, who have seen the show more times than many can count. Fusing together a blend of Jam Band, Hip-Hop, and Electronic sounds, the band found a way to tap into fans from all sides of the spectrum and turned Moonrise into one big free-flowing, united audience, moving and shaking as if it was a choreographed dance. Whether the band held us up with intense and high energy jams, or brought us down and into ourselves with some of the more galactic parts of the set, we left the performance and the festival completely speechless, with our jaws on the floor.
While the highlight of the festival, Pretty Lights, happened in the final moments of Moonrise Festival, the hours beforehand held many handfuls of wonder, joy, and ecstasy. Other musical acts who boasted awe-inspiring performances include Madeon, Joyryde, Midnight Tyrannosaurus, Gramatik, Zomboy, and so many others. While dangerous thunderstorms forced the promoters to evacuate fans and shut down the event for a few hours on Day 1, they managed to do it in a very safe and professional manner, and the headliners were still able to perform on Saturday night when the gates re-opened around 9 pm.
Although the rain came down heavily on Day 1, leading to large amounts of mud on Day 2, the aforementioned acts were still able to bring the crowds at Moonrise alive, regardless of the stage that they played or the time that they performed. A major reason for this was that the fans that graced Pimlico this year included some of the best festival friends we have had the chance to meet. We saw massive dance battles break out, brand new friends sharing water and food with one another, security laughing with attendees, artists interacting with crowds in the most positive of manners, and so much more during our weekend in Maryland. Mud parties were inspired by heavy beats, as were mosh pits and headbang circles alike. It almost felt as if all of these new friendships that were blooming had been present for years in the past. This was quite overwhelming at Porter Robinson’s set as we lost count of the number of crying attendees holding one another, embracing their emotions and each other simultaneously.
If you haven’t had the chance to attend Moonrise yet, we highly suggest circling the second weekend in August for 2018. This festival seems to get the short end of the stick when it comes to rumors but we have never had anything but a wonderful time at Pimlico Race Course while attending Moonrise. The food is always delicious, the crowds cheerful, and the music diverse and unmatched for other events here on the East Coast.
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[Photos by C2H2 Photo]
[Article by Adam Leopold]
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