TomorrowWorld: The Ultimate Music Review
On September 26-29, TomorrowWorld sought to bring to the US a new kind of festival, one that focused on production quality, that created a completely unique experience, and that made the DJ/musician one small component in a great web of artistry. And they were successful. One comment that many of the DJs that performed on the mainstage made was, “I felt so tiny!” While the heart of all festivals revolves around music, the bones, muscle, and flesh of a festival are in the stages, the community, and the environment. At TomorrowWorld, no detail was spared and every festival-goer felt that their experience was unique and their money well spent.
How could such an epic festival come into being? The festival took 4 weeks to build and it is projected that it will take 3 weeks to clean up (TomorrowWorld is committed to returning the site in Chattahoochee Hills, GA to it’s original condition). The stages, food vendor facades, and decorations were shipped by sea over the summer from it’s (older) sister festival TomorrowLand, which typically calls Belgium its home. (You can read more about the history of TomorrowLand here.) 100,000 square feet of wood flooring was custom built and shipped as well (they had trouble finding someone to do the job here in America because it’s not something traditionally done at festivals– this detail definitely set TomorrowWorld apart!).
Doing the Dreamville package is totally worth it. I personally am a huge fan of camping at festivals: camping reinforces the sense of community and connectedness everyone has at the festival. About 25,000 people camped in Dreamville, making it one hell of a party. Access to Dreamville also allowed you to arrive at the festival one day early and leave one day later, making the whole experience last 5 days. Buying Dreamville only was $50-70 more (depending on if you bought it with your 3 day pass, or purchased it after), so you were only paying about $10 per day to camp.
Arriving one day early also gave you access to the “pre-party,” known as The Gathering, which consisted of 2 stages in the main TomorrowWorld area. Everyone eagerly crossed from Dreamville to the festival, crossing a big lake with fountains filled with lights and cut by lasers and giant fish that sporadically spouted fire. The air was simply buzzing with excitement as people crossed into the festival, the first people in the world to catch a glimpse of TomorrowWorld.
Most people did not have the lineup for the pre-party on them and they weren’t available at the festival, so who was performing next became much of a guessing game. But truthfully, everyone was just so excited to see the stages and get a taste of the epic weekend to come that it didn’t necessarily matter if you knew what DJ was playing. The two stages you had access to on the first day didn’t have names, but on the other days they were the Deep End/Fool’s Gold/Mad Decent stage and the Dim Mak/All Your Bass/OWSLA tent. The back stage was open air with a ton of LED screens that had very realistic 3D images on them, making the stage look like the outside of a castle. The portion where the DJ performed resembled something like a spacecraft:
On top of the hill was the back tent. On the inside was a ton of hanging flowers and butterflies (a butterfly with an eye is they symbol of TomorrowWorld). This made for some really cool photography since there were a ton of layers inside the then. The featured music in this tent was more of the hard-style electronic music; as a result, the enclosed space played well with the hard-hitting bass:
The whole pre-party was organized by CounterPoint, a festival held on the same grounds one year ago (read about that festival here). I liked the concept of a festival within a festival and I think they could have promoted that much more, since the concept is pretty unique. If there had been a stage area in Dreamville for the pre-festival party and all weekend long as a late night stage, that would have made it doubly amazing. Here was the lineup for Thursday night (left is the stage, right is the tent):
Friday launched off with a tour for press and media. What I love about this festival and what set it apart from pretty much every festival I’ve been to is that they were keen to really show how much work they put into it. By taking the time to show the media what to expect, it also showed a level of respect for the work we put into this festival and it made us really feel like we were valued members of the staff here. That tone of respect really trickled down to the rest of the festival.
Let me give you a tour of the festival. I already mentioned stage #1 and stage #2, which from now on I’ll call the back stage and the back tent. Stage #3 was a really cool stage that kind of resembled a neon Buddhist temple with multiple Buddha statues around. Therefore, we will call it the Buddha Stage:
You then walk towards the bridge to across the lake and on your right you’ll pass a really beautiful and sizable log cabin. The cabin is actually belongs to the owner of the land (who, by pure coincidence, is originally from Belgium– where the festival also originated). All weekend long you could catch their kids with their friends, who were all twenty-somethings. You cross over the lake and into the woods where you walk along a path towards the other end of the festival.
On your right will be stage #4, or the Liv Stage. This was a really trippy stage featuring giant mushrooms that flanked the stage and the visualizer showing psychedelic mirror images of mushrooms. At the back end of the stage there is actually a pool “club” which you could access for $150 (also hosted by the Las Vegas nightclub Liv).
If you continue walking on, you’ll pass the Kitsune stage on your right. This stage was a pretty tiny one, but once again the attention to detail is stunning. The stage had a “Candy Land” theme, with lollypops and candy canes that resembled mushrooms and flowers.
If you took the path to the left, you would then end up at the Q-Dance Stage, which was a giant scorpion (really cool, but also kind of creepy):
Instead of going left after Kitsune, if you had turned to the right you would have seen the Pond Stage. This stage was literally built over a small pond and the stage floor was cut out so that from the sky it made the TomorrowWorld symbol, which I thought was really clever. I was pretty surprised at first that they didn’t have fencing or anything, but then I envisioned disaster as people dancing like crazy got tossed into the pond. The pond was pretty shallow (and dirty) so people would just jump on in, but it didn’t seem like anyone was getting pushed in. Every time I passed this stage there was a massive dance party going on; you could walk all the way around the stage and therefore easily see the faces of the people at the front of the crowd raging on (usually you only catch the back of people as they’re dancing).
Then, just behind you, is the Main Stage, or the Book of Wisdom. This stage literally dwarfed any DJ performing and, again, the attention to detail was unbelievable: each book had unique titles and designs, there were small stages for actors to come out and pretend to be tidying up the books, and the computer generated 3D face (which talked) never failed to impress (though sometimes you wished she would talk a little less between sets). If you paid extra, you could get into a “comfort” area hosted by the other famous Las Vegas nightclub, XS (I’ve been there– great club!), which had a view of the Main Stage. If you were really living life to the max, they had a separate, more exclusive club area attached to the comfort area that had cool couches and bottle service, as well as a sick view of the stage. If you really were ballin’ out, there was the Liv Sky Lofts which had you front and center at the Main Stage.
As a point of reference, to get from the Main Stage to the back stage and tent took about 15 minutes. It definitely became a factor in deciding which sets I ended up seeing; it can get pretty tiring walking back and forth all day! To get around, the staff had bikes that were sponsored by Google, which I thought was pretty clever and awesome– plus, they were painted in the cool, bright colors found in the Google logo.
The festival’s app included a map, schedule, and artist description, all conveniently updated and right in your phone. It was invaluable for figuring out where each stage was (since they kept changing the names of the stages on us), who was playing when, and customizing your own lineup. A tip in general for festivals: create a list of your favorite artists using the app, but don’t be afraid to ask people who they like and add those to the list too. Be sure to stay at a stage if you’re loving the music, even if that means missing a little of another set you wanted to see. Finally, if you have downtime between two set you want to see, go explore and check out new artists. Festivals are not only great places to hear the music you love, but also to learn about great new music! And with over 300 artists on the bill at TomorrowWorld, there is plenty of exploring you can do!
Day 1: Friday
GLAdiator was a great set on the Buddha Stage (AKA the Trap Stage on Friday). They did a fantastic job transitioning between tracks and throwing down hard trap while also pulling back at all the right moments and playing trance to get people jumping up and down– all without making the music seem random.
Carnage performed at the Liv Stage, and, right before his set, when people asked, “Who are you most excited to see today?” the response I heard most was “Carnage. I cannot miss Carnage.” Needless to say, Carnage had the entire crowd going insane and, in the “backstage” area, several other artists popped in to have a listen and even dance a little (something very surprising for artists backstage to do). The energy in the air from Carnage was palpable. Here’s a taste of the set:
After that, I caught the end of Ghost Beach at the Kitsune stage and I’m glad I did. There was practically no one there, but Ghost Beach was doing great. The New York-based duo is self-proclaimed “tropical grit pop,” and their music is just as flavorful as their title. The group had a cool MGMT hits-esque feel that was a different vibe I didn’t catch anywhere else in the festival. I would definitely encourage you to check them out, though they aren’t currently on tour (but try to catch their upcoming show on October 18 in NYC).
Finally, The Knocks were on. The Knocks is another electro-duo from NYC, though at TomorrowWorld only half of the duo performed: JPatt. The set was full of amazing nu-disco, which I personally love. The crowd filled in a lot more for The Knocks’ set and the ambiance of the Kitsune stage, with all the funny candy, was perfect for the funky-ness of the disco. My notes from this set are literally: “So awesome, so fun. Everyone is dancing soooooo hard! Fun stage too. Great disco DJ; just so fun you can’t stop!” I think I might have had fun at that stage, thought I’m not sure if I was totally clear on that.
MTV made a little clip with Ghost Beach and The Knocks asking them about the Kitsune brand/stage, which you might find interesting:
After getting my electro-pop and disco on, I headed to check out Mimosa on the Trap/Buddha Stage and this is where things got crazy. I was invited to go “backstage” (really backstage is the side of the stage) and next thing I know its me and half a dozen big dudes watching Mimosa on the side, everyone just standing around watching people rage to Mimosa. I couldn’t take it any more and had to break the silence — I just started dancing like crazy and having fun. Next thing I knew, a bunch of guys were dancing along side of me, throwing down real hard. Mimosa himself was having a blast and at one point event grabbed his decks and stood on the DJ booth and proceeded to throw down (with decks in hand). Everyone was going nuts! I’ve seen Mimosa a few times but his TomorrowWorld set was definitely my favorite. Before trap, Mimosa kind of floated around in the bro-step category, kind of playing a little trap when it didn’t really have a nitch yet. Now, he has a genre he can really move around in and you can tell he’s really taking off with it and having the time of his life. Catching him backstage, Mimosa seemed (surprisingly) subdued but definitely happy with his set; I think he laid it all out there for us and he was taking a moment to recover with friends. I felt really privileged to sneak a peek at one of these laid back moments with an artist.
I was ready to head to Art Department when I was stopped by Bro Safari, who had started up after Mimosa. Bro Safari did an epic job of throwing down some sick trap beats. For some reason, I wasn’t expecting to really enjoy his set, but I’m really glad I caught it! I caught the first half hour of his set and then pulled myself away because I did NOT want to miss Art Department.
I’ve always wanted to see Art Department, so I was really excited to see that he was on the lineup. When I arrived to the back stage, the dance floor was practically empty. Art Department is really famous in the deep house scene and I felt a little bad that not many people showed up. As I was walking there, the fireworks shot up at Art Department’s stage. I thought it was a little different that the stage with so few people at it ended up being the one with the fireworks. However, for his fans this meant a TON of dancing room, so everyone there was sure to take full advantage. Art Department’s set was the kind of set that is so good, you can’t stop smiling and looking around at the people dancing nearest to you and hollering, “THIS IS SO GOOD!” Seriously, one of the best sets of the night. Because there was so much space and the vibes were so awesome, I instantly became friends with everyone around me. It was easy to start conversation: we kept talking about how amazing Art Department was. I had really wanted to see Dirtyphonics, which was just a few hundred feet away in the back tent, and then finish off at Gigamesh at the Kitsune stage, but I simply couldn’t pull myself away (that is how good this was). Art Department’s set was just beautiful; an example of exactly what the perfect set (in my opinion at least) should be.
I honestly was not familiar with Jamie Jones and had zero intention of seeing him, but everyone around me at Art Department insisted I stay, and since I had such a hell of a good time rocking out to Art Department, I decided to check it out. By now the crowd had thickened a bit, which made me feel better (such epic music should not go so unnoticed!). The transition from Art Department to Jamie Jones was flawless and I just keep grooving. Jamie played more deep house that I was really feeling. The lasers and visualizer were really cool at this stage and for Jamie Jones, they seemed to up the ante with denser, flatter lasers that glittered or looked like water. Confetti and streamers shot up into the sky and glittered in the light of the lasers. The lasers were so clean you reached up to try and touch them.
Walking back to Dreamville I caught the end of Flosstradamus, the trap powerhouse. The entire space in front of the trap stage was flooded with a mob of raging fans and the crowd’s silhouette was spiked with totems. The whole scene reminded me of a crazy Bassnectar show and it was definitely just as wild!
If I could have been in two places at once, I would have also tried to check out: (in no particular order) Soul Clap, Audien, Brillz, Chuckie, Benny Benassi, Moska, Dirtyphonics, and Gigamesh
Day 2: Saturday
The Chainsmokers was the first set I caught on Saturday shortly after noon. This duo from New York City had everyone raging hard, despite the early set time. The group’s great sense of humor (on their Facebook page they list their genre as “Feel Good and Rub Yourself Music”) comes through in their set, which is easy and exciting. This video does them absolutely no justice, but it at least shows the number of people that came in to check them out and boogie (if you’re familiar with festivals, then you know how hard it is to get people to those early sets):
You can listen to the full set here:
Suddenly during The Chainsmokers’ set I felt nauseous– I had to zip back to my tent to rest and rehydrate. The weather was surprisingly hot and every day was a clear, sunny day with no breeze and often little to no shade around. It is really important during festivals like these to be sure to stay hydrated, rest up, and eat right, or you risk dehydration/general sickness. Fortunately, I didn’t hear too many stories of people passing out (Bonnaroo is notorious for this).
I wasn’t able to get back to the music until halfway through Breach‘s set at the Liv Stage. I missed “Jack,” which I am eternally devastated about. Nevertheless, Breach’s set was still epic and I am certain that he made eye contact with me when I started spazzing out thinking I heard him tease “Jack” (I wish he had played it twice in his set!). He definitely promptly laughed at me. Breach played some excellent heavy deep house beats (there was one “Dance” song that was particularly awesome) and at one point he segued into a jazzy track that equally epic and notable.
After Breach’s set, I stayed to watch Joris Voorn. Voorn, who is originally from the Netherlands, began DJing house & techno in 1997 (which for most of us twenty-somethings is when we were still in grade school). Voorn was another great tech-house set that I’m really glad I stumbled on; his whole set was clean and really reflected the decade and a half of experience under his belt. The visualizer at this stage is also just so awesome: the stage is flanked with giant mushrooms and the visualizers show trippy images of more mushrooms and colors mirrored onto each other.
Next, I headed over to Le Castle Vania. Le Castle Vania recently released a great new EP on Mau5trap Records called Prophication in September (check out his Soundcloud to listen to the EP as well as download some free songs!), so I was pretty excited to see his set. Well, he killed it. Seriously, the energy in his set was so awesome. At one point he had everyone raise their hands in the air during a build and cut it out to call someone out on not putting their hands up. I’m not even sure there really was a person he was pointing to, but needless to say it got everyone crazy and had everyone doubly thrusting their hands up and excitedly check to see that everyone else had their hands up too. The build from this had my heart racing with excitement. I’m getting excited again just thinking about it. His music is also really fun for me because it has a punk-rock- or metal-rock-meets-electro feel which brings me right back to my headbanging days; headbanging meets raging! What is even better is Le Castle Vania was so pumped the whole time, non-stop smiling, engaged with the crowd (while not talking too much), and even showed his goofy side when he played a Daft Punk remix and turned his head phones over his eyes and did robot moves. Awesome, just so awesome. Be sure to check out his remaining tour dates here.
I migrated to Zomboy in the back dance tent. Today the tent was the dubstep tent (it was literally called “All Your Bass Are Belong To Us;” it’s an internet meme thing) and Zomboy threw down some dirty dubstep beats. I’d heard that Zomboy was “okay” but his set at TomorrowWorld was straight fire (presuming you like dubstep). It was the kind of set that your abs and back hurt after from thrusting forward and back so much and my wrist hurt a little from giggling it to the wobble.
I zipped over to the back stage across from the dance tent to check out Treasure Fingers, who was putting on a totally different show than Zomboy. Here was a mix of disco and big room house and I was bopping to it like crazy. Treasure Fingers actually a history that goes back about a decade in the music scene, when he was doing drum & bass with Evol Intent. Knowing that and listening to his set you might be surprised, since you don’t hear the darker and heavier background in his music. However, I think in a way it is reflected in that his tracks comfortably crossed several genres including deep house, funk, and more (though disco/big room was the dominating genre in my opinion). Here’s a clip from the set to see what I mean:
Then I had to go because the one, the only Maya Jane Coles was performing at the Liv Stage. In a scene where there are few female solo acts, this beautiful lady takes off and is a giant in her field. MJC is a famous tech-house and deep house DJ who blew up in 2011 when she was named “Producer of the Year 2011” by DJ Mag and “Best Breakthrough DJ 2011” by Mixmag (MJC actually began producing hiphop when she was just 15 years old!). Her set at TomorrowWorld did not disappoint and set was meticulously executed. There were a lot of beach balls floating around and suddenly one floated over and hit MJC right on the head! She was clearly so into the set (head down and everything) that she was taken by surprise (though she didn’t miss a beat). I don’t know who threw that ball, but that was one major party foul. During her set, the bass was so heavy, my ribs were vibrating and my stomach was churning– so glad I brought my earplugs!
After MJC I hustled back over to the the back stage to catch some Fake Blood, who always bust out a fun set. The visualizer was really cool, with these sort of bold optical illusions that played with your eyes and were the color red (fitting).
Then I headed over to the back tent to see Gramatik, which is a DJ/guitarist duo. I really loved their set at Electric Zoo this year (especially the first half, which was all funk and jazzy) and was eager to see them again. The live guitar gets me swooning over their music so quickly. I love any DJ group that incorporates live sounds, especially when it’s a different instrument (like Big G). Unlike at EZoo, where the first half of the set was just funk/jazz and the second half was dubstep/trap, this set seemed to go back and forth between the two. I have to admit, I really prefer their jazzy/funky side to their dubstep side; I just think they have something really special with the funk portion and the guitar and they shouldn’t try and change that to go with what’s popular (though I’m sure they love dubstep and that’s not at all why they’re doing it, I still feel like their funk side is their “true” side; it just suits them more naturally). At one point they announced “Gibbs” and that word was put on the visualizer and they played some really jazzy and disco-y stuff, though I have no idea what or who Gibbs is (I did a Google search and found nothing). They do a “Grizmatik” set occasionally with Griz, but that wasn’t this, I swear. The visualizer during their whole set was awesome with constantly changing images. Here is a video of the beginning of their set, to give you an idea of the sound that I love and the visualizer:
At this point my feet were killing me (I had now seen well over 20 acts in two full days), but I just couldn’t stay seated for Rusko. He jumped on with the typical energy he always has and that wild blond hair I’ve come to recognize from a mile away and love. Rusko is a legend in the dubstep world, having been on the scene since 2006 when he got his start in England. Even if you’re not into dubstep, you have to respect Rusko for his influence on such a major genre (especially in American dubstep). Rusko is another great DJ for his level of energy during a show, not just musically but also in his body language. At the end of his set he was mopping himself off with a towel, which I can only imagine was totally saturated. Here is another video to give you an idea of the level of energy at this show (don’t worry, it gets blurry for a second, but then it gets back in focus):
I was seriously about to head to my tent after Rusko because my feet were hurting so badly. I figured I would “relax” or something crazy like that. While walking out of the dubstep tent, I passed the back stage and suddenly was dancing like mad. Naturally, I forgot all about my sore feet and my exhaustion and ran down the hill to get closer to the music. RL Grime was playing some really sexy beats, something along the lines of a “chillstep.” Then, he went into some real booty bouncing beats that had all the ladies and gentlemen twerking away. You really couldn’t help yourself but shake your ass and just close your eyes and not care what anyone thought. This set was probably my favorite of the whole day and I was sweating like mad from throwing down my last bits of energy to this top notch trap set. The fireworks shot off and it was just pure madness. Watch the short video I took of the fireworks display to get an idea of how awesome this set is (though this really does no justice to the real show, which had everyone dropping LOW the whole time):
Now that I was all revved up from RL Grime’s set, I headed back to the dubstep tent to catch some Excision. Years ago, before Excision was big, he played at Webster Hall in NYC and I was exhausted because the night before I had been to see Big G and Break Science and I worked the entire next day. Regrettably, I missed this show and all I heard about for the next week was “how amazing Excision was.” Videos on YouTube made me tear up with remorse for weeks to come. I’ve seen Excision since, but I’ll never forget his huge blow up on the NYC scene. Here, his fans were going wild, some with signs just for this occasion. The visualizer was playing some really awesome geometric visuals but also some scary ones that reminded me a little of visualizers you would expect to see at a metal show. The “scary” visualizer was like a story, similar to a show I saw with the Chemical Brothers, and it was depicting a man in a mental hospital, being prodded by neon sticks and showing his incorrigible mental state records. The music complimented the visualizer in such a way that I began to image a story in my head about what I was seeing, even though they were simply fragmentary images, and the music began to blend with the story.
Finally, it was time for A-Trak. A-Track’s big room set was awesome, which is to be expected. At one point he teased “Heads Will Roll” and the guy next to me started to lose his head. Unfortunately it was only a tease, before dive bombing into a trap song, which I was not the hugest fan of (and the guy next to me who lost his shit promptly got it all back together and was disappointed not to hear more of his favorite track [pun intended]). Someone actually happened to catch the exact moment on video and share it to YouTube, so it’s not the best quality but you can hear exactly what I mean:
Overall though, it was a great dance party and a great way to end the night! You can listen to the first half of the set here:
Saturday’s regrets (in no particular order): Savoy, Nit Grit, Mord Fustang, Pete Tong, the beginning of Breach’s set, Nervo, Shreddie Mercury
Day 3: Sunday
Believe it or not, we are now on the final day of the festival. I went to my friend’s hotel the night before to sleep in a bed and take a shower (I know, what a wimp!). One interesting aspect about TomorrowWorld is that you can choose either to camp or get a hotel. On the one hand, if you do get a hotel, you get to rest in comfort (and take nice showers!). On the other, getting to and from the festival is a pain, whereas if you camp your “bed” is a short walk away at all times. It was nice to freshen up, but getting to and from the festival can be a pain, so be certain to get a shuttle pass in advance or it will take you hours to get home from the festival. You also then have to be sure in the morning to catch a shuttle back to the festival at certain times. So there are definitely pros and cons to whichever you decide.
This was definitely the laid back day, since it was now day 4 for people who had Dreamville passes. In the late afternoon, I headed to Late Night Alumni. On Sunday, the pond stage became the “Trance Addict” stage which played straight trance all day. Late Night Alumni is typically live vocalist Becky Jean Williams with Finn Bjarnson, John Hancock, and Ryan Raddon a.k.a Kaskade, though for their set at TomorrowWorld it was “just” Becky & John. I say “just” because I don’t want you to think that their performance was only “just” okay; it was INCREDIBLE! I think that by the fourth day you also begin to start craving that “live” component to a set, and Becky’s live vocals were so beautiful. Becky thanked the crowd after every song and that kind of gratitude speaks volumes to the kind of group they are. I actually thought they must have been some European old school trance group because of their sound and vibe. After their set, because of the location of the pond stage, there wasn’t some “backstage” area where the artist could hideout after the set, they had to just walk out into the festival grounds and cut across to the main stage to get to an “artist” area. When they stepped down from the stage, they were met with a good number of fans and Becky and John graciously took photos until all the fans had their turn (they were there for at least twenty minutes, if not more). Often festivals set artists on these remote pedestals and it was so beautiful to see a group so dedicated and grateful to their fans.
I ended up staying at the same stage for tyDi, whom I had never heard of before. TyDi is a trance DJ who hails all the way from Brisbane, Australia. He busted out so hard, I didn’t see it coming. I had been trying to hoop (I say trying because I was a little rusty from not hooping for a few months and I definitely hit people in the head a few times) during Late Night Alumni, which is a more mellow set, but when tyDi came on I just had to put the hoop down and jump around! At one point he played that Lana Del Ray “Young & Beautiful” song and even though I must have heard this song a million times, when he dropped it, it was as if it were a fresh beat. You know it’s a good DJ when they can drop something pretty tired like that. He’s on a tour right now that bounces back and forth between the US and Australia (I can only imagine how awful that must be for your sleep schedule). So check out if he’s coming to you soon! It’s a really fun show!
Next up was Seven Lions at the “dubstep” (back) tent, who I had actually just recently checked out recently at Webster Hall. I love how Seven Lions takes a genre that is traditionally really dense, grungy, and heavy (dubstep) and makes it something airier and lighter. Such a great set, I highly recommend checking him out when he comes to town!
As it began to get darker, Skream came on at the back stage. Skream swore off performing dubstep this past summer, so his set was really a surprise for me. Skream’s set was an amazing deep house set. A lot of people who remember him as the dubstep legend from Skream & Benga will be confused by his new sets, but you know, this was a great set. I think that in a way dubstep is a very limiting genre in the ways that you can grow and Skream has been playing dubstep for about a decade, so I can understand the desire for a break. I have to mention that Skream dropped Breach’s “Jack” and I lost my mind a little since I had missed Breach playing his own version; Skream’s version of the track at least let me hear my favorite track of the summer.
After Skream came Paper Diamond, probably the best set of the night. I was raging so hard that people around me were definitely staring in amazement. Of course, directly in front of me had to be some artist and his posse, not dancing. In the middle of the dance floor, why wouldn’t you dance? If you’re an artist and you’re too cool to dance, go backstage where no one dances. Their downer vibes were too much for me and I actually had to walk away. Still, they couldn’t detract from Paper Diamond. His set threw down like nobody’s business. Unfortunately I can’t find any semi-decent quality video to share with you. But take my word for it, this was a great set if you like something that’s hits hard and gets you jiving.
My friends dragged me out before the end of Paper Diamond’s set so we could try and catch Chuckie at the Liv Stage, but unfortunately we had already missed him. Cedric Gervais had already started, but I was already pretty tired from the long weekend, so I walked over to the DanceSafe tent to chill out on some of their comfy couches and make friends with Cedric Gervais in the background (read more about DanceSafe at TomorrowWorld here). DanceSafe had a great space where you could come and relax and unwind, complete with ambient lighting, couches, and informational cards on drugs (always a great way to get a conversation going). You can read more about DanceSafe at TomorrowWorld here!
My friends pulled me away from the comfort of the couches to catch Cazzette at the Liv Stage. Cazzette’s set started off with a beautiful intro and dipped into a great mix of Daft Punk’s “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger” launching the set off right. Despite the fatigue, I was dancing like crazy.
Next thing I knew, I was being pulled away again, this time for Armin van Buuren. This was the first set of the whole weekend that I would come to see a full set at the Main Stage. All of the Main Stage live sets were going to be covered on the TomorrowWorld TV channel as well as probably put out for live streaming, so if you’re dissatisfied that I didn’t review these big names, you can just listen to them online. Originally I was hoping to leave TW Sunday night to fly back to NY for work, but I changed my mind and took the day off because of Armin van Buuren. If you’ve never experienced an Armin show, get on that. This Dutch trance/house DJ is the best in the world and there is 100% a reason he was closing out a festival this big. I can’t even articulate to you how amazing it was to be dancing with tens of thousands of people to Armin. At the end of the set, everyone turned away from Armin because up high on a very high pole (I would guess about 100ft up) there was some guy raging! It was actually a little scary (I had no desire to watch someone fall to their death) and confusing (Did he work for the festival as a stunt guy or was he just some random guy?). See what I mean:
You can listen to & download the full Armin set here:
Sunday’s Regrets: NRG, Mr. Skeleton, Kill Paris, RiFF RaFF, Sander van Doorn, Le Youth, Chuckie, Jack Beats, Dillon Francis, Kill the Noise, Diplo, Koan Sound
You’ll notice I barely went to the Main Stage — to make an excellent review and really get you on the ground in ways that the TW TV show couldn’t, I avoided a lot of the big acts, particularly on the Main Stage. I approached this music review as a way to really take you to the festival, so that if you couldn’t make it because of cost, time, distance, or whatever, at least you could be transported there in your mind through my review. It’s definitely no insult to ANY of the artists that I didn’t review their sets, it’s just that you cannot physically be in five places at once. I kept a list of “regrets” for each day to encourage you to check out those artists, even if I didn’t write about them. Nevertheless, you should really check out all of the artists, because they seriously are all amazing and you never know who might just spark something inside of you!
You’ll also notice that in my review I used words like “awesome,” “amazing,” and “incredible” a thousand times. The truth is, there are so many amazing acts at TomorrowWorld, if you’re not enjoying something, turn around and walk away and check out someone else playing at one of the SEVEN other stages! If you have an open mind and love electronic music and dancing, you simply cannot have the most amazing time. TomorrowWorld truly brought in hundreds of the best DJs from around the world, which is amazing!
Finally, I have to admit, before getting to the festival I had my doubts. I figured the festival would be overrun with bros who cared more about getting fucked up on drugs and alcohol than they did about the music. I thought I would be overwhelmed by so much house and trap music and by the second day would need to escape the synthetic noise. Somehow I missed all of the amazing old school trance, deep house, tech-house, nu-disco, and hardstyle artists on the lineup before heading to the festival. Once I was there, I realized that I could legitimately spend the whole weekend not listening to (what I consider) the pop music of electro and what I guess most people call EDM, thus avoiding the “bros.” Also, the really amazing mix of music allowed me to have my dose of contemporary house, trap, and trance from artists at the top of their game and give me a totally new opinion of these styles (you’ve heard that some of my favorite sets at TomorrowWorld were trap, which I never in a million years would have thought I would be saying!).
My only complaint is that every artist was a DJ, with a select few featuring one other artist who did live instrumental/vocals. I think there is a huge segment of the electronic music scene that was not present, mostly the jamtronica scene. I thought this was surprising, given that even Ultra has a Live Stage that highlights some of the best live and instrumental electronica. This stage, for me, is always the highlight of Ultra. However, I recognize that ID&T, the parent company of Sensation White, TomorrowLand, TomorrowWorld, MysteryLand, and many other major festivals, never has live bands at their festivals, so to think that TomorrowWorld would have been different would have been naive. I don’t think they will ever make that change, but if they did I would be glad to see it!
Coming Up: Mysteryland
If you can’t wait for next year’s TomorrowWorld, don’t! Mysteryland is coming to New York on Memorial Day weekend! Though few details have been released so far, it is 100% confirmed that the festival will be held in Bethel Woods (it was even advertised in the TomorrowWorld newspaper that was distributed in Dreamville every day!). The Mysteryland Facebook page recently announced that more event and ticketing details will be released soon (the festival is only 7 months away!) and encourages you to stay up to date by registering for email notifications. Honestly, when I did my research on Tomorrowland for my post on its history (which you can check out here), I noted that I thought Mysteryland actually sounded like a better festival. I also noticed that ID&T was hiring for a production manager for Mysteryland, which at the time I assumed was a cover for TomorrowWorld– apparently I was wrong and they actually were hiring for Mysteryland! Everyone who went to TomorrowWorld is simply buzzing about this new festival coming to the US, so be sure to stayed tuned on more details!