Our Top 10 Performances From Mysteryland 2016!
Mysteryland 2016 was definitely a festival for the history books. In its first year as a three day event, Mysteryland proved once and for all that there is no better electronic music festival in the Empire State. Over the three days of bliss and revelry, Bethel Woods played host to one of the most well-run festivals I have ever attended. From world class performers to the breathtaking scenery and stellar crowd, Mysteryland was a glorious adventure from start to finish.
With a diverse lineup that could pique the interest of any electronic music aficionado, Mysteryland captivated the crowds shuffling in the Big Top, head banging at The Boat and grooving at main stage. Mysteryland’s seamless transitions between genres and sonic textures, created an atmosphere of wonder and constant stimulation. While every performance I witnessed certainly left a lasting memory, there were a few artists who really took their sets to another level. Here are my top ten performances of Mysteryland 2016. All of our awesome photos come courtesy of Tony Colasurdo Photography, check out his full album here!
10. Rezz Kicked Things Off With A Bang!
While only at the tender age of 20 years old, Deadmau5 protégé Rezz has taken the scene by storm. The talented DJ/producer found inspiration to begin creating music after attending a music festival back in 2013. Now Rezz can be found on the opposite side of the DJ booth slaying massive crowds with her radically experimental and creative sets. Upon arriving at Mysteryland on Friday the first show I caught was Rezz’s adrenaline fueled masterpiece which set the perfect tone for the weekend. With an almost youthful brashness Rezz dove into her performance with a wild sense of recklessness. By playing a block of classic bangers that included Pretty Light’s “I Know The Truth” and Bassnectar’s “Basshead” and “Ping Pong“, Rezz left the crowd assembled at main stage slack jawed and bewildered. However Rezz didn’t rely on other producers’ hits throughout her entire set, opting to unleash a torrent of original tracks that oozed with industrialized bass and hard hitting percussion. Rezz displayed her unique blend of dubstep, techno and garage with a swagger far beyond her age. Closing out her performance with a menacing rampage of Neuro, Rezz pressed her indelible stamp on Mysteryland 2016 and kicked the party off in fantastic fashion.
9. G Jones Rippinig It At The Boat
As a three year Mysteryland veteran, I am well aware of the storied legacy of The Boat stage. A haven for low end tunes and a sanctuary for bass heads, The Boat stage has a reputation for bringing together the freshest acts in bass music. So naturally, dubstep phenom G Jones was right at home atop the nautical throne. With massive tunes like his remix of Bassnectar’s “Don’t Hate The 808” and “Mystery Spot,” G Jones savaged the crowd at the Boat Stage in his relentless style. G Jones put together the performance that most completely embodied the essence of The Boat stage with gusto. While other artists came with their own flair and skill, G Jones showed exactly why he’s one of the dopest names in bass music at the moment.
8. GRiZ and His Ballistic Bag Of Tricks
Whenever GRiZ hits the stage you know you’re in for a wild time. The saxophone wielding wild man is always ready for a party and he brought his A-game to Mysteryland. With a slew of new tracks that ranged from skull-spitting ragers to jazzy ballads meant for grooving to, GRiZ showed off his talent for moving a crowd. Fan favorites like “Smash The Funk,” “A Fine Way To Die” and “Get Down” had festival revelers showing off their funkiest moves and by the end of GRiZ’s set, the crowd’s energy was sky high.
7. The Floozies’ Funk Party At Main Stage
GRiZ wasn’t the only funk maestro to make his way to Bethel Woods last weekend. Brothers Mark and Matt Hill, a.k.a. The Floozies, brought their intriguing blend of blues, funk, jazz and bass music to Mysteryland’s main stage with a devilish swagger. Plucky guitar licks and jazzy overtones combined with reggae infused elements creating a delightful gumbo of musical dialects. The crowd went wild for funked up remixes of hip-hop classics like “Pimp Juice” and “So Fresh and So Clean.” The entire hill was transformed into funky dance party, reminiscent of a summer family cookout setting the perfect mood for a gorgeous Saturday on the Woodstock grounds.
6. Zeds Dead Setting Bethel Woods Ablaze
Whenever I see Zeds Dead perform, I am always blown away. Not just by their immense bone rattling bass, but for their ability to add intelligent musicianship into their vicious sets. Glorious uplifting builds gave way to punishing drops, creating the perfect balance of aggression and sophistication. The duo inspired the crowd with classic hits like Jimmy Hendrix’s “Purple Haze” and Bill Withers’ immortal tunes “Ain’t No Sunshine When She’s Gone” and “Just The Two Of Us.” After a perfectly composed set that danced between uproarious and angelic, Zeds Dead closed out with a new unreleased collaboration with Diplo and Elliphant that sent the crowd to cloud nine.
5. Claude VonStroke Bringing His Dirtybird Vibes To The Big Top
Claude VonStroke, the head-honcho of the infamous Dirtybird label, turned up the heat on Mysteryland’s final night. A huge crowd flocked to the Big Top tent to get down and dirty to Claude’s sweltering tracks. Like a master puppeteer, Claude pulled the strings perfectly mesmerizing the horde of house fiends with the utmost class and mastery. With tracks like VonStroke’s “Make A Cake,” “The Rain Break” and Get Real’s “Mind Yo Business,” Claude absolutely crushed his two hour performance, reaffirming the fact that he is one of dance music’s foremost taste makers. Similar to the unbelievably positive vibes found at Claude’s Dirtybird BBQ’s, the Big Top was full of infectious, kinetic energy. Whenever Claude hits stage it’s absolutely impossible to resist his delectable beats, and the close confines of the tent made for the perfect, raucous setting.
4. Mr. Carmack and His Hip-Hop Angst
As a huge fan of Mr. Carmack, I was ecstatic to see that the innovative beat-smith was slated for a performance on Mysteryland’s elegant and awe-inspiring main stage. Every time I’ve seen Mr. Carmack perform so far he’s been shunted to a smaller stage not fit for an artist of his caliber. So needless to say I couldn’t wait to see the San Francisco native stretch his legs in front of the thousands assembled on Mysteryland’s expansive Main Stage hill. To say that Carmack threw down would be an understatement. Perhaps one of the most composed and silky sets of the weekend, Mr. Carmack took fans on an eclectic voyage spanning a wide spectrum of genres. With his trademark low-end style, Carmack set ravers into a frenzy with tracks like “Pay For What” and “Look At Me Know.” While cotton candy clouds drifted in the sky above Mr. Carmack expertly melded hip-hop tunes like “If I Ruled The World” and “m.A.A.d City,” with futuristic break beat elements. What I loved most about Mr. Carmack’s set was his ability to reveal his personality to the crowd. Carmack gave a soulful salute to the late great Prince by dropping the classic tune “Musicology” before throwing down scintillating remixes of Kanye West’s “Ultra Light Beam” and “Heartless.” In the end it was one of the best sets I’ve ever seen at a festival and solidified my admiration for one of electronic music’s most talented innovators.
3. Skrillex Losing His Mind
Every once in a while you find yourself at a show that is so truly surreal and uncanny that the normal laws of life and logic simply fade away. More often than not Sonny Moore has the capability to create that exact atmosphere. I have been a Skrillex fan for years, but ever since the OWSLA label head attained super stardom status, I have found his sets lacking in genuine creativity and quite frankly too poppy for my taste. Last Saturday, Skrillex reminded me exactly why I fell in love with his insane antics to begin with. With a mix of old classics like his “Promises” remix and “Breaking A Sweat,” coupled with some otherworldly new tracks, Skrillex absolutely decimated Mysteryland’s Main Stage.
From the very start, Skrillex ripped into his performance at full tilt, assaulting the Mysteryland mob with a slew of spine rattling bangers. Sonny’s unique mixing style was on full display, teasing in popular tunes to quicken the crowd’s collective heart beat, before unleashing a left field bass explosion to drop our jaws. Skrillex’s ability to keep his audience constantly guessing and off balance, only adds to the thrill of his live performances, but what really makes him such an exceptional act is his capacity to connect with his fans. By constantly yelling absurdities into the crowd and conversing with his devotees, Skrillex is able to make a potent and tangible impact on every single person who watches him perform. The height of Skrillex’s insanity was exemplified by his decision to play Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” for about six solid minutes, a stunt that few DJs would ever consider let alone execute. At the end of his set Sonny brought up a lucky fan from the front rail and coaxed the entire hill to sing him happy birthday. In what was truly an unforgettable performance, Skrillex proved that he hasn’t lost a step.
2. Emancipator’s Majestic Voyage On The Boat
One of the best performances of the weekend was bereft of a flashy light show or over the top bass drops. Emancipator, a.k.a Doug Appling, is a genius of crafting absolutely gorgeous soundscapes and riveting melodies. Accompanied as always by his skillful violinist, Ilya Goldberg, Emancipator set sail on The Boat stage, taking the crowd on a glorious voyage of heart warming ballads. In a stark contrast to The Boat Stage’s typically raucous environment, Emancipator hypnotized the audience into a dreamlike trance. By mixing in some liquid drum and bass with his airy melodies, Emancipator’s set smoldered with a frenetic sophistication that few other artists could hope to replicate. Groups of friends huddled together on the grassy hill swaying their heads from side to side with their eyes closed, soaking in every sublime chord. During Emancipator’s serene performance, festival goers could feel the true essence of Mysteryland; togetherness, joy and positivity. As the sun set over Bethel Woods, I couldn’t envisage a more appropriate performance to set my soul at peace.
1. ODESZA In All Their Glory
Many artists would love to attain the meteoric rise that ODESZA has enjoyed in the last two years. The Seattle-based duo, has become one of the most raved about acts in the world of electronic music since the release of their album In Return. A few months ago ODESZA’s name could be found on the third or fourth line of a festival lineup poster. Now this amazing twosome is proving that they are most certainly headliner material. Last Friday ODESZA brought their majestic live performance to Mysteryland’s Main Stage, and it was, in my opinion, the best set of the festival. What sets ODESZA apart from all other acts is the fact that they simply do not play a bad song. They don’t even play a mediocre song. Every track is spellbinding. Every note is on point and their uncanny unity on stage makes their live show a wonder to behold. Facing back to back while playing in perfect unison all while putting their own personal flair on each track, ODESZA’s production goes far beyond anything I’ve ever witnessed. From gorgeous ballads like “How Did I Get Here” to raucous bangers like “My Friends Never Die,” ODESZA’s performance ebbed and flowed with a grace and majesty that simply can’t be matched. Every new track that the duo played was met with wide-eyed wonder and from start to finish, the crowd was utterly captivated and entranced. A dazzling fireworks displayed capped off ODESZA’s Friday night closing set in the most appropriate manner possible.
Honorable Mention: Bassnectar’s Ambient Escapade
I would be remiss to leave Bassnectar out of this article simply because he did put together a very memorable performance. However, as someone who has seen Lorin play over a dozen times I have to admit I was slightly disappointed in his Mysteryland closing set. Perhaps I was hyped and ready for a ridiculous headbanging throwdown from him, and that’s why his set felt rather flat to me. I appreciate what he did musically, and I can see the direction that he is going in with his latest tracks “Music Is The Drug” and “Reaching Out.” In the end it just didn’t make my top ten. I’m certainly curious to see how the rest of his stacked summer performances play out.