By Rashid Lebz
Mysteryland is one of the longest running festivals in the world, but like with most European imports to USA it has been met with skepticism and forced to establish its own place in the festival scene against missives like Ultra, EDC, Coachella, & many others. Mysteryland USA was met with a mixed reception this year; the lineup went in a different direction that last years which was very big room house focused, to a more live electronic and deep house style. Many fans were vocal about their displeasure with the lineup, the birdie bucks system (a cashless program where money was stored on the festival wristbands and cash was not accepted), and the amount of free tickets being given away leading up to the event, but most of those issues were quickly forgotten once attendees experienced the event first hand. The event was held on 2 hilltops on a beautiful mountain backdrop in upstate New York on the same grounds as the original Woodstock festival.
Friday was an exclusive pre-party for the nomad campers, originally scheduled for the campground stage it was eventually upgraded to take place at the venue in the Beatport Big Top. There was a fence guarding the main stage to keep the surprise from being ruined, but the boat and other stages were going full speed until 2am with regional talent trying to make an impression on the festival scene. While not as intense as the official festival nights, it was a nice appetizer for what was still to come as Mysteryland kicked off.
Saturday felt like a day out of a fairy tale, starting off with a warm meal from one of the many food stands in the campground while being serenaded in 90s throwbacks from a pineapple stage made of colorful balloons. The energy in the campground was explosive; the lineup of the day was stacked with Deep House, Electro funk / Future Bass, and Hardstyle, everyone was ecstatic for the venue to open and the day to commence! When the time came and ravers flooded the stages it was clear the day was gonna be one for the books, all the stages were beautifully crafted from the bass heavy boat stage to the majestic dual Trojan horse main stage; every aspect of the event was a treat. Space Jesus opened the Boat with a spectacular set, breaking in the subwoofers for a day full of bone rattling bass, his set made of was 100% original tunes that filled the hill with loyal grassroots fans savoring every moment of his 2pm set. The rest of the day kept getting better from there, every artist brought there A game, by booking a diverse lineup of artists they helped to avoid the common festival problem of hearing the same song being played multiple times in one day. Artists like Manic Focus, Madeon, Griz, Porter Robinson, & Empire of the Sun all put on spectacularly original performances that showed there is more to EDM then button pushers pressing play.
I chose to end my day with Porter Robinson live on the main stage and it was hands down one of the greatest sets I have ever experienced, I followed his career heavily from 2011-2015 and had yet to have a chance to experience his live show yet, so the moment he was at MysteryLand I immediately secured my tickets. The stand out moment of his set was his encore when he played his 2012 hit Language updated in a Worlds style with an explosive fireworks display in the background, you could hear in the crowds applause and cheers that they really loved the show and even Porter thanked the crowd multiple times for the crazy positivity that was radiated that night. Following in European tradition the festival was concluded with a closing ceremony on the main stage with a prerecorded mix of multiple EDM genres with a dramatic voice over about loving neighbors while massive lasers rained over the crowd and fireworks overwhelmed the senses.
Mysteryland was a very well-run and organized festival, it is rare for events to grow as exponentially into the culture as these European events like TomorrowWorld & ML have, but it’s clear the team behind these events takes a lot of time to listen to fans when making changes and upgrades to create the most magical and immersive experience possible. We look forward to see what they will do next year to top the high standards they have set the past 2 years.
All Photos by Rashid Lebz
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