Independent Philly

Scene, Not Herd

Nightmare Festival 2016

Where can you find a T-Rex, a ballerina, Thai food, and a compilation of some of the most gory moments in cinema history set to brutal dubstep? At the one and only Nightmare Festival. Scary and spooky characters came from all over to attend this annual Halloween festival, filling the campgrounds of Camp Ramblewood for a sold out weekend.  The fourth year of this growing festival was the best yet, with performances from big names such as Figure, Liquid Stranger, and Crizzly, and enough local talent to keep everyone moving the whole weekend.

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As we arrived to the campgrounds (and promptly lost all cell service), the volunteers corralled the cars into an open lot and queued everyone into a line to pay for parking. Once we got out of the car we could immediately hear a DJ throwing down at the outdoor stage. We walked past the rows of tents and cabins and arrived at a small stage called ‘Area 51’. This was where the local talent was allowed to shine, and none of them held back, playing predominately dubstep, which the crowd was eating up. This was also the spot where we witnessed one of the funniest sights we’ve ever seen: two people wearing inflatable T-Rex costumes, head-banging in the middle of the crowd along with everyone else, and no one was phased by it. Despite the temperature dropping by the minute, many festival goers donned costumes of all types, including mermaids, cartoon characters, giant babies, and more onesie pajamas than we’ve ever seen in one place.

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We explored the grounds and made our way to the main stage, titled ‘The Void’, located in a warehouse. While sound didn’t travel to the back of the warehouse very well, most of the time the building was not packed so it was not difficult to get close enough to hear everything clearly and have a good view. We arrived in time for Bleep Bloop’s set, where he provided everyone with his wonky style of trap music, a unique sound that he has mastered. He struck a chord with the audience when he played a remix of the theme song from universally loved 90’s film ‘Space Jam’, and even though the movie was released twenty years ago, everyone still knew all of the words. Once Bleep Bloop concluded his set, there was a buzz in the air because we knew we were about to be graced with the presence of Ganja White Night. These masters of wobble dubstep wore track jackets with “Mr. Wobble” on the back, the name of their latest album, and immediately from the start of their set had control of the whole warehouse. These guys did not disappoint, playing an energy packed set that had the audience dancing and head banging the entire time, while the front railing rocked back and forth, as security looked on wearily. As Ganja White Night played one of their newest tracks, Mr. Wobble, the crowd began to really rock the railing back and forth, less concerned for the integrity of the railing and more focused on the energy evoked from this song.

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Eventually, Ganja White Night’s set came to an end, and Dubloadz stepped onto the stage, and once his set started the railing didn’t stand a chance. He started throwing down with such heavy dubstep that the railing rocked so hard that the zip ties holding it together began to snap, and security did their best to zip tie it back together while trying to control the crowd. It’s quite a sight to see Harley Quinn, the Cheshire Cat, Mario, a walrus, and Waldo rocking a railing so hard that a security guard approached us to say that the railing was close to flipping completely over. To be honest though, we’re not sure who had more fun, the crowd, or Dubloadz himself. Somehow, we made our way out of this rowdy crowd to explore the grounds at night, and next to the barn was a small carnival that had been set up complete with entertainment. We walked up as a woman was twirling batons that had been lit on fire, and this was followed by a man juggling fire torches. These were definitely things we had not expected to see at a music festival, but it was nice that Nightmare had provided entertainment as exciting (and dangerous) as fire twirling and juggling. We stopped into the barn for a moment of Flamingosis’s set, then made our way out of the grounds for the night.

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Day two of Nightmare Festival was already warmer than the first, and the campers were already up and ready to go by the time we got back to Camp Ramblewood. Local talent was already controlling the Area 51 stage, and while we waited for Squnto to come on in the warehouse, we visited the merchandise and food vendors. This was where we met some of the nicest volunteers, at the liquor tent, who provided us with hot apple cider with Fireball whiskey in it. Mmmm, the perfect drink for a cold day, and we may have visited them several times throughout the rest of the afternoon.

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We made our way into the warehouse and waited eagerly as Squnto set up a Go-Pro above his mixer to be projected on the screen above him so that we could see his song chopping in action. Unfortunately, they could not get the projection to work, so Squnto began his set without it. We noticed that the zip ties on the railing had been replaced with a strap and a ratchet, since evidently the zip ties were not strong enough. It was a good thing that this replacement had been made, because Squnto had the crowd rocking so hard that security had to stand on the railing to make sure that it didn’t flip over. Reinforcements had to be called, and a security guard that was easily close to seven feet tall walked in, and suddenly the crowd wasn’t so rowdy anymore. Squnto thrilled the audience by playing several of his “Octochops”, playing in and out of eight songs at once, a truly incredible feat. Towards the end of his set, Squnto suggested a wall of death, and the crowd parted like the Red Sea. The song built, and he instructed everyone to hold, then finally the bass dropped and everyone sprinted towards each other. People jumped, and pushed, and possibly a few punches were thrown, but there was a smile on everyone’s face.

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His incredible set finished up and 2RIP, better known as Chad the head honcho of Badass Raves, took to the stage dressed as a priest, with nuns on either side of him. He kept the crowd just as energized as Squnto did, and set the stage for JVST SAY YES. While we all expected the usual genre of future house from JVST SAY YES, he switched things up and transitioned into a predominately dubstep set, which both surprised and delighted us. This change in style of music transitioned perfectly into Liquid Stranger’s set, where he played some of the heaviest music we’ve seen Liquid Stranger play. We were particularly thrilled when we got to hear him play out “Party Like Us”, which is both upbeat and heavy, much like the rest of his dubstep oriented set. The heavy dubstep didn’t stop with Liquid Stranger, with Crizzly taking the stage with his own MC and several boxes of pizza concealed underneath him. Throughout the set, him MC walked about the stage and jumped onto the table that Crizzly was playing on, keeping the crowd rowdy as always, and providing an organic aspect to the trap and dubstep that Crizzly was playing. Towards the end, the boxes of pizza were passed to the crowd, and they lasted approximately ten seconds.

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A highly anticipated aspect to Nightmare Festival finally arrived: Figure with Terrorvision. Crizzly played some transitional songs to keep the audience at bay as Figure faced the same technical problems that Squnto did, and we wondered if we were going to be able to see Terrorvision at all. Eventually, the screen lit up, and we heard, “My name is Figure, and this is Terrorvision.” He started to play, and Terrorvision began, and to be honest, we got about fifteen seconds in until we had to stand somewhere where I couldn’t see the screen. Figure had not held back in the gore aspect of terror, and we saw blood and guts and that was enough for us. However, this gave us a good vantage point of the audience, and we could easily see that everyone was absolutely loving it. Figure was playing extremely heavy dubstep, and the crowd responded by riding the railing and head-banging as hard as they could. We’ll let the photos of Terrorvision speak for themselves, but this mixture of dubstep with old-school gore was an incredibly unique experience, and one hell of a way to end our night.

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If you are looking for a music festival that is unlike any other festival, then Nightmare Festival is the place you need to be. While the biting cold made itself known on the first day, it gave us a perfect opportunity to dance around to the amazing music to warm up. Every act there was heavier than the last, making this festival a dubstep-lovers dream. We saw so many acts that we thoroughly enjoyed. It was refreshing to go to a festival with such a small capacity with such good musical talent, and we will definitely be returning next year to see what they have in store for us. If you can’t wait until next October to head to Nightmare Festival, Dreamscape, the Spring festival equivalent from Badass Raves, takes place at Camp Ramblewood in May.

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[Photo credit: Josh Campbell Photography]

[Article by Emily Holmquist]

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You can view additional photos of the event below (click thumbnails to enlarge):


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