Woodstock. I don’t think there’s any member of society who can hear or see those 9 letters and not instantly have some sort of imagery come to mind. Whether that imagery is a bunch of hippies dancing in the rain, flower power clad Volkswagen buses, or Jimi Hendrix’s legendary rendition of the Star Spangled Banner, there’s no denying that Woodstock was a monumental event with wide-reaching cultural implications. Woodstock served as a capstone to the counterculture movement of the 60s, and is widely viewed as one of the greatest rock festivals ever. And now 46 years later, just as 400,000 people descended on Bethel Woods in August of 1969, 20,000 of this generation’s crop of free spirits will make the journey to the same “Holy Grounds” in 8 short days.
Mysteryland has been on my festival bucket list since its announcement way back in August 2013. If you’re not familiar with the Mysteryland brand, they’re actually the world’s longest-running electronic music festival. Promoters tried for 40 years to convince New York officials that they could put on a festival worthy of the Woodstock grounds, but all were denied – until Mysteryland came around. Their events in the Netherlands and Chile are consistently rated among the best in the world, with a unique focus on the integration of art with music. When you throw in the fact that Mysteryland is run by ID&T, the same company who puts on Tomorrowland and Sensation, it’s no surprise that the inaugural edition last year drew rave reviews.
At this point in my festival career I’m way more about the overall experience than just the music, and if there’s one thing ID&T knows how to provide, it is a festival experience. I was absolutely blown away by the Dreamville experience at Tomorrowland last year, and it’s looking like I’m going to have an even better experience on the Holy Grounds next weekend. Seriously, look at these photos from last year and tell me this festival does not look absolutely gorgeous.
Details on the exact camping experience are a little sparse, but I have faith in ID&T. They’ve invested more than $500k over the last year on improving the facilities and infrastructure, and I’m excited to see what they have in store. The official camping theme is “Camp DoYaWannaDance,” featuring everything from hamster ball soccer to deep house yoga classes. Smorgasburg, described by chef Mario Batali as “the single greatest thing I’ve ever seen gastronomically in New York City,” is even throwing a food festival at the festival. And, when you combine the 21+ age requirement with EDCNY being the same weekend, I have a feeling the crowd is going to be among the best I’ve ever been a part of.
All that and we haven’t even gotten to the music yet! When the lineup was revealed back in March, passive aggressive tweets declaring a lack of big names were flying left and right. Fine by me, as this lineup is simply stacked. Can’t say I’m at all surprised, because one of the biggest selling points of Mysteryland is that all the stages are specifically curated by some of the most renowned names in dance music.
Friday kicks things off with a bang for those of us fortunate enough to be camping out all weekend. Headlining the Beatport Big Top tent are vinyl master A-Trak and techno legend Richie Hawtin, with solid support from fellow legend Maceo Plex, label boss Josh Wink, GTA, and the Tropkillaz. The BangOn! NYC bus has a full lineup as well, and more importantly are providing the late night silent disco vibes. There’s also Pineapple Paradise, a stage I know absolutely nothing about, yet could not be more excited for. My DC friends tell me that Brunch Bounce puts on one unbelievable party, so their pineapple-themed stage should be nothing short of incredible.
Saturday I’ll definitely be starting my morning off at The Breakfast Club, brought to you by Saved By the 90’s, and from there we’ll see where the day goes. Main stage is looking phenomenal, with Madeon, Robin Schulz, Kygo, Porter Robinson, and Empire of the Sun all catching my eye. Over at The Boat, Space Jesus, Savoy, Gramatik, Griz, (and the inevitable Grizmatik) will be throwing down some bass. While I’m not too well versed in the underground scene, Verboten’s clearly bringing their “A” game to the Woodstock grounds, with Kill Frenzy, Benoit & Sergio, Lee Foss, Skream, Damian Lazarus, and Lee Burridge all playing on Saturday. Verboten resident Matthew Dear also has his own stage for Saturday, and I’m curious to check out some of his hand-picked selections like Matador, Maya Jane Coles, and Paco Osuna. Then, of course, hardstyle fans will have plenty to stomp to over in Q-dance land, featuring Frontliner, Noisecontrollers, Bass Modulators, Audiofreq, and Mekanikal.
Sunday I’m probably going to live over at Webster Hall’s stage. Anna Lunoe, Nora en Pure, Sweater Beats, Goldroom, Klingande, Bakermat are you kidding me?? I’ll have to make it over to the main stage for The M Machine and Netsky though, and I’m sure Diplo and Dillon Francis are going to close things out in style. I still have never seen TJR, so I’m stoked to finally bounce (hit play above if you haven’t already) around The Boat. That stage also features Etc! Etc!, ILoveMakonnen, and Bro Safari ending the evening with a special closing set – “The Boat Raid.” Adam Beyer is bringing the techno party to the Beatport stage, with Nicole Moudaber, Ida Engberg, Alan Fitzpatrick, Paul Ritch, and Bart Skils representing the Drumcode imprint. Not to be outdone, Verboten is bringing Agoria, Perseus, and Moon Boots to the Zeitgeist Presents French Express stage, with Guti, Martin Buttrich, Audiofly, and The Martinez Brothers ending things over at Flying Circus.
Needless to say, I am unbelievably excited to get to the Holy Grounds. While I don’t think Mysteryland USA will ever be the 400,000-person juggernaut that Woodstock ’69 was, that doesn’t mean something special isn’t about to go down. The setting looks absolutely spectacular, the organizers are the best in the business, the artistic/cultural element brings so much to the table, and, as I just declared, the lineup is ridiculous. I still really have no idea what to expect, a feeling I haven’t felt since heading to Belgium for Tomorrowland last summer, but I’m confident I’m about to have one of the best experiences of my life.
Tickets are still on sale here – see you there!
Photography by Whitmore Studios, Pearcey Proper, Andrew Rauner, Heidie Duteweert, Jackie Lee, Joey Timmer, and Ronnie Corado.
Just FYI…do NOT miss Psychemagik, Saturday 5PM @ Zeitgeist. Guaranteed one of the best sets from an artist you probably haven’t heard before