Mysteryland USA, the second installment in the American chapter of the popular music festival, was an extravagant weekend full of great music, excellent culture and good vibes. Mysteryland USA 2015 was a festival of exceeded expectations. The lineup was fresh and full of variety, but I wasn’t sure what to make of the impending crowd of nomads and relatively new festival atmosphere at Bethel Woods prior to arrival on Friday, May 22nd.
Despite an impatient entrance into the festival – approximately 3 hours of parking and standing in lines cloaked with camping gear and essentials – Mysteryland was incredibly welcoming and relatively easy to manage once my Holy Ground camp was settled.
The festival grounds opened up for Holy Ground campers and acts such as GTA, A-Trak, and Swizzymack took the stage to kick off the festival. Friday night saw a campground party at the Pineapple Paradise and Bang On! NYC stages, which I was eager to attend to meet some fellow campers as well as catch a potential diamond in the rough behind the decks. I had a great Friday night, getting to meet a lot of very cool people, experiencing the friendly vibes, and finding my late night diamond in the rough, IllegallyFresh, throwing down a hard mixture of dubstep and hip hop at Pineapple Paradise.
Saturday, from start to finish, was a whirlwind of music and coverage. I had the privilege of not only seeing some of my favorite artists, but shooting them on some interesting stage installments. Saturday’s lineup, which consisted of shifting back and forth between the Boat and Main stages, included Space Jesus, Manic Focus, Goldfish, Minnesota, Madeon, Beats Antique, Kygo, Gramatik, and GRiZ.
One aspect I liked about Mysteryland was my ability to shuffle between different stages showcasing different music, while accompanied by the same incredible vibes from the 21+ crowd. The age requirement of the festival was something that I really enjoyed, sorry kids. I interviewed Dom and Dave of Goldfish (interview coming soon), a great live electronic duo featuring a combination of double bass, saxophone, flute and live synths. Their set was very fun and groovy, which led into Madeon and Kygo’s very satisfying sets on the main stage.
Before that, I made sure to see Manic Focus and Beats Antique throw down surprisingly hard and bass-filled sets. Saturday ended with a pair of my absolute favorites, Gramatik and GRiZ.
Gramatik played with Russ Liquid on brass and woodwind and Gibbz on guitar and vocals. Denis hit me right in the gut with a few of my favorite electronic tracks – let alone Gramatik tracks – including “23 Flavors,” “Bluestep”, and “You Don’t Understand”. GRiZ closed out Saturday loudly with a great set that featured an appearance from Orlando Napier singing “A Fine Way To Die” and “Turnin’” off the new ‘Say It Loud’ album. Other new tracks included “The Anthem”, “It’s All Good” and “Need This”.
While I did the majority of my running around on Saturday, Sunday featured some great acts as well. ETC! ETC!, Giraffage, The M Machine, TJR, Netsky, Dillon Francis, and Diplo all represented themselves impressively. I’d seen Giraffage in Philly at Johnny Brenda’s over this past Winter and he brought the post-pop once again to the Webster Hall tent. Netsky incorporated his live band of keyboardist Babl and drummer Michael Schack into what I considered to be my favorite set of the weekend, some great upbeat drum and bass on the main stage at sunset.
And of course, Dillon Francis and Diplo delivered as per usual. Dillon’s set struck my fancy more during the course of the night, but Diplo’s DJ abilities left me with 2 or 3 new songs stuck in my head as I laid down to crash before the 3 hour trip back to Philadelphia on Monday morning.
Diplo’s set ended with a credo from Mysteryland, one that suggested the spread of peace and love garnered on the festival grounds over the course of the weekend. Finally, the main stage – adorned with opposing trojan horses – was depicted as one being light and one dark, a theme explored throughout the festival’s art installations and stages.
Mysteryland USA was an excellent festival, with great people and amazing attractions. Now if we could just figure out that “Birdie Bucks” situation (Mysteryland’s unique and somewhat confusing payment system), we’d be all good.
[Article and photos by Riley Loula Media]
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