Brainquility Music Festival makes its debut this April 21, 2018, at the Waterfront Park in Safety Harbor, FL. The single-day festival, hosted by OnTap Music, will feature one stage and six artists, featuring Beats Antique, Lettuce, TAUK, Voodoo Visionary, MZG, and SIDETRAKD. “Brainquility is more than a music festival. It’s a collection of artists exhibiting the best of funk, jazz, and global fusion, bringing big sound sounds and a local artist vibe to Safety Harbor’s Waterfront Park in Tampa, Florida.” General Admission and VIP tickets are currently available in the range of $55-$155.
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It’s 4PM on Day 1 of Sunset Music Festival 2017 and local DJ/producer Christian Alexander has just wrapped up his first set of the weekend: a short set that serves as a precursor to his main performance on the Sunset Stage of Day 2. The 22-year-old artist and resident DJ at The Amphitheatre/The Ritz moved from New Jersey to Florida at the age of 12, where he started playing the piano. His interest in dance music stretches back even further, to about the age of 6, thanks to his two aunts from Miami. He recounts a particular experience when he was at their house in Miami: “They were playing Ultra 2004 the DVD. I was so little at the time, I was like ‘What is this? This is amazing!’ ‘This is Ultra, it happens every March in Miami.’” That was enough to capture Christian’s interest. When he turned 13, his two aunts took him to his first music festival experience. “I loved it. You know, Ultra was all-ages back then, so anybody could go. I guess 13 was an ok age.” He’s careful to point out that the setting was a little bit different back then. “It wasn’t as crazy as it is now. The biggest stage was the main stage, and that is where the live stage is now,” referring to the Bayfront Park Amphitheatre.
Although Christian took an early interest in dance music, he’s quick to point out that punk rock has a big influence on his creative style: “I went to Warped Tour in high school. I loved it,” noting that one of his favorite effects to add to his tracks is a guitar pluck, which he says helps maintain the flow of the track and keep it unique. Some of his biggest influences are Fall Out Boy and Blink 182, with Take Off Your Pants and Jacket being one of his favorite albums. If you catch one of his sets, there’s a good chance you’ll hear a little punk rock thrown in the mix.
While punk rock and the guitar play important roles in his tracks and DJ sets, he’s confident that the piano is the most critical element of his songwriting process. “The first thing I do is write chords for every track on the piano. I write chords, record them into Ableton, and then I’ll build the song out from there. I would say the piano is definitely the biggest part of my creative process.” In addition to Ableton, Christian also mentions how he enjoys working with Sylenth, a virtual analog synthesizer, and Serum, a wavetable synthesizer. However, Christian also notes that he’s been fortunate to work with a local mastering engineer, KC Gilmore. As a result, he’s come to appreciate “that analog sound is very important.” Although digital tools like Ableton, Sylenth, and Serum have had a big impact in shaping his creative process, he adds: “there’s still nothing better than a nice analog studio.”
Christian has been spending time both in his personal studio at his apartment and KC’s home studio in preparation for some new releases, including “Do Not Disturb” ft. Athrs and “I’m Free,” two songs that he debuted at Sunset Music Festival and that will be available on his Soundcloud and Spotify accounts in the near future. He mentions that he’s been hard at work producing new tracks to showcase his production skills, admitting that “one thing I’ve been lacking over the last couple of years has been posting original music on my Soundcloud, which is why I’ve been working so hard in the studio the last couple of months, trying to get music out there for people to realize I’m not just a DJ, I’m a pretty good producer as well. I want to show that.”
On top of his new music releases, you can also hear him live at upcoming shows, including an opening set for ATLiens on July 7 at Myth Nightclub in Jacksonville, FL. This will be Christian’s first Jacksonville show. “I’ve never partied with the Jacksonville people, so I’m excited. I heard they go in.” In addition to his upcoming set at Myth Nightclub, Christian Alexander regularly performs on Saturday nights at The Amphitheatre/The Ritz, while also venturing to Orlando to play at Gilt Nightclub and Miami for Miami Music Week. He’s previously opened for artists like Slander, Shaun Frank, Kygo, Galantis, Tritonal, Jauz, and more.
When asked what draws him to Tampa, he emphatically says: “The people. There’s nothing like Tampa people. They go in. It can be the slowest house show ever—there will still be 1000 people there jamming no matter what.” That connection to the people is the same aspect that he enjoys about playing at a club like The Amp or Gilt. Compared to playing the main stage at a major festival like Sunset Music Festival, he says: “I really like the intimacy of the club vibe, you’re right there, you kind of hear them yelling sometimes, but you know, nothing beats a good festival crowd.” The intimacy is particularly evident in Orlando: “At Gilt, I’m 4 feet away at the most, right behind the subwoofers. So the crowd is right there. They’re a very educated scene. Every time I play in Orlando, I prepare a lot for that set, making sure that I’m opening correctly for the artist.”
Just like the proximity and connection to the crowd holds Christian accountable while he’s performing, the modern age of social media reinforces an artist’s connection to listeners, presenting benefits and challenges to succeeding. “I think one of the biggest challenges is being a musician and a marketing specialist, because you have to use social media 24/7.” It’s an added challenge for an artist like Christian, who already has his hands full as he works towards completing his undergraduate degree from the University of South Florida Tampa in Biomedical Sciences. He would have already completed his degree, but decided to pursue an additional minor in Biomedial Physics, which he will complete in December 2017.
He balances his workload with a strict time management regimen using his calendar on his phone. “Everything by day is broken down by time.” He breaks down his days between studio time, homework assignments, live performances, class, and everything else that comes his way. “That list is my life. I stick to it, I don’t deviate from it, and if it wasn’t for that, or just having time management skills, I would get lost in everything. I would have flunked out of school, maybe would have been lazy with my music.” With his schooling almost complete, Christian will have more time to focus on his music, where he hopes to expand his reach. Some festivals on his radar that he would like to perform at include Imagine Music Festival in Atlanta, GA and Okeechobee Music Festival in Okeechobee, FL, two independent music festivals that put a heavy emphasis on visual and performance art, and supporting local talent.
The sun has set on another successful Sunset Music Festival, which boasted increased stage production, a world-class lineup, and upcoming local talent like Christian Alexander. If you missed Christian at Sunset Music Festival, you can catch him playing regularly in the South Florida area and beyond as he expands his reach.
Sunset Music Festival takes places this Memorial Day Weekend at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, FL, May 27-28, 2017. If you haven’t purchased tickets yet, single-day and weekend GA passes are still available, however, VIP passes are now sold out. As you gear up for Sunset Music Festival, check out some of the artists we are excited to see.
A multi-instrumentalist originally from Massachusetts, Josh Legg is an LA-based songwriter and producer performing under the alias Goldroom. He credits his inspiration to his childhood, where he spent countless hours sailing around New England with his dad, listening to music. As a result, his style is serene, yet energetic. He performs on Sunday, May 29 from 11:00PM-12:00AM at the Horizon Stage.
This duo hailing from London began performing under the name Dusky in 2011. Since first breaking into the underground UK music scene, the duo has pushed their sound forward, becoming a household name. Their wide-ranging musical influences include everything from Polish orchestral music, to soulful jazz, French house, and everything in between. They perform Sunday, May 29 from 9:30-10:45PM at the Horizon Stage.
This California native has been crushing the bass music scene lately, having opened for and collaborated with artists like Bassnectar. He credits his growth and influence to the bustling music scene of the internet. His style can be described as dark genre-bending bass music. G Jones plays on Saturday May 28 from 7:30-8:30PM at the Eclipse Stage.
This talented artist from Helsinki, Finland has music in his blood, having started his musical career at the age of 12. The son of an ex-rocker, he grew up listening to blues, classic rock, and disco. He lists his inspirations as artists like Moby, The Chemical Brothers, John Digweed, Royksopp, and more. Yotto will be playing on Sunday, May 29 from 7:00-8:15PM on the Horizon Stage.
This Dutch songwriter/producer refined his craft at Rotterdam University, where he studied guitar and music production. In addition to his San Holo music, Sander van Dijck also runs the record label and artist project, bitbird. 26-year-old San Holo has been injecting the dance world with his unique brand of uplifting music. He will be performing Saturday, May 28 from 6:30-7:30 at the Eclipse Stage.
While we’re particularly excited to catch these five artists, Sunset Music Festival features a full lineup of great musical talent that you don’t want to miss. As you prepare for the festival, make sure to check out the festival guide, wristband information, and schedule.
Sunset Music Festival returns to Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, FL this May 27-28, 2017. The lineup includes artists like Major Lazer, RL Grime, Above & Beyond, Zeds Dead, Cedric Gervais, Dusky, Gareth Emery, G Jones, San Holo, MaRLo, Slander, SNAILS, Aly & Fila, Kill the Noise, Louis the Child, Yellow Claw, and many more. Tickets are currently available with 2-day GA tickets going for $159.95 (plus fees) and 2-day VIP tickets for $259.95 (plus fees). Included on the ticketing website are various other merchandise and offers, including locker rentals. Make sure to also check out SMF’s info pages, including their guide, safety, and location information.
Last weekend, approximately 30,000 patrons per day took over Raymond James Stadium in Tampa for Sunset Music Festival, leaving behind the bitter-sweet memories of a weekend packed full of music and dancing.
When Sunset’s lineup was released, I was a little disappointed to see that there were a lot of repeat artists. However, I think I was a little quick to judge, because once I got into the festival, I was reminded of why I always have so much fun at SMF: carefully crafted stages that cater to different styles of music. SMF is by no means the only festival that does this; they just seem to do a particularly good job of balancing the stages with great headlining artists for specific styles of music. On both days, the main stage naturally attracted the more popular and mainstream styles of dance music, artists that are more likely to be played on the radio. Over the weekend, the main stage had performances including 3LAU, Hardwell, Galantis, Borgeous, Jack U, The Chainsmokers, Cash Cash, Jauz, Marshmello, and others. Regardless of your tastes in music, it’s healthy to see big names like this at a festival like Sunset. The big names attract a large crowd and allow promoters to make the entire event a much bigger spectacle. There’s a trickle-down effect, so that when patrons pay to see big names at a festival, the other stages that showcase less-popular, but still immensely talented artists, benefit. Speaking for my own personal preferences, this is something that I love to see. Even though I don’t spend much time at the main stage, I still appreciate the presence, because that means I can spend my days and nights dancing and marveling at the side stages.
Day One of the Eclipse Stage targeted the trance crowd with artists like Pierce Fulton, Andrew Bayer, Ilan Bluestone, Tritonal, Ferry Corsten, and Seven Lions. It’s always a pleasure to see veterans like Ferry Corsten. He put on a spectacular show, and his decades of experience as a DJ and producer were evident with the way he captivated the Eclipse Stage.
Day One of the Horizon Stage targeted House and Techno fans with artists like Rezz, Shaun Frank, J.Phlip, Mija, Justin Martin, and Claude VonStroke. I was not previously familiar with Rezz (shame on me), but she was the first artist I caught a glimpse of at the Horizon Stage. It’s been a while since I walked onto a dance floor and been completely caught off guard with the music, but Rezz did just that, in the best way possible. Rezz’s take on music feels a little dark. She blends different genres together, with the core element of her music seeming to be bass. Transitioning between dubstep-ish and bass-heavy house music with thumping beats, Rezz throws down tracks that sound like they come from an earlier, less pop-influenced time of dance music. Originally from Niagara Falls, Ontario, and with releases on deadmau5’s label, mau5trap, Rezz showed her support for a fellow Canadian producer by throwing in some older deadmau5 tracks like Right This Second and Raise Your Weapon; the nostalgia in me was giddy with joy.
As Rezz’s set came to a close, Shaun Frank took the stage and put down some more upbeat tracks with his signature wobbly house sound. The Tampa Bay area is no stranger to Shaun Frank, as he performed last summer at Shephard’s in Clearwater. It was nice seeing him back in the area in front of a larger crowd. After Shaun Frank, J.Phlip took over with some alien-sounding house music, which was followed by another female DJ, Mija. Mija had a great performance at SMF last year, so it was cool to see her progression as an artist, with her set being scheduled for later in the evening this year. It’s refreshing to see artists like Rezz, J.Phlip, and Mija, three females that have a fresh take on dance music, commanding the stage for a good period of time. I took a short break from the Horizon Stage to catch some other artists, but made sure to get back for Claude VonStroke. I had high expectations for this veteran, and I was not let down. His mastery of the DJ decks was evident as he closed out the Horizon Stage.
Day Two of the Eclipse Stage showcased bass-heavy artists like Team EZY, Party Favor, Funtcase, Bro Safari, Snails, Zomboy, and Borgore. Team EZY played a nice blend of Hip-Hop and electronic music. I really appreciated that at an early slot like 3PM, he played music that was upbeat enough to get the crowd dancing, but not so heavy that it wore the crowd out early in the day, a trait that other opening artists could take notes from. He fills the opening set appropriately, but with his technical skills, it’s clear that he is destined for bigger sets as his music gains in popularity.
Day Two of the Horizon Stage had a mix of Bass music early in the day with House music later in the night. Louis the Child, like Team EZY, injects a bit of Hip-Hop into their productions and sets. Throwing in some old-school Kid Cudi was a pleasant surprise. After Louis the Child, Jai Wolf took the stage and graced the dance floor with his cerebral sound. As the sun dropped lower in the sky, Jai Wolf transitioned into more appropriately rowdy music.
After Jai Wolf, I made my way to main stage to catch a little bit of Anna Lunoe and Marshmello. Anna Lunoe was the fourth and final female artist to perform at SMF, and like the three that came before her, she did a stellar job. With the sun low in the sky, she played suitably groovy music to close out her set. Marshmello was up next. Although he produces some great music and can play a fun show, his set seemed far too similar to another Tampa set that he played at the Amp in Ybor in December 2015.
Back at the Horizon Stage, Lane 8 was playing his signature feel-good tunes that seem to cross between Progressive Trance and House. As he played “Midnight” with the sun beaming through the partly-covered Horizon Stage, I couldn’t help grinning ear to ear, knowing that the song was just getting me primed for the sun to go down and the music to kick it up a notch. Thomas Jack took the stage next and boy did he put on a show! Thomas Jack knows how to read a crowd and smoothly mix together a nice blend of Tropical House and House music, sure to get your feet moving. His complementary light setup is one that sets the mood through subtlety. Sam Feldt came up next, closing out the night at the Horizon Stage. Although his transitions are a little less subtle than that of Thomas Jack, he has a ton of fun with the crowd. He also brought along his live saxophone player, Justin Ward, which was a pleasant surprise as the sounds of the sax closed the night.
Unfortunately, SMF was not fun-filled for everyone. Tampa police said they made 25 felony arrests and 8 misdemeanor arrests. Additionally, 57 people were hospitalized, and two tragically passed away. 21-year-old Katie Bermudez of Kissimmee and 22-year-old Alex Haynes of Melbourne were both hospitalized, but ultimately perished. Toxicology reports have not been released yet, but heat was undoubtedly a contributing factor, as temperatures reached 93°F, with no relief from any rain this year. It’s always unfortunate to hear about deaths like these. An event like this should serve as an opportunity to educate patrons and improve the experience in the future. Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn hopes that this spells the end for Sunset Music Festival, but ending Sunset Music Festival is a seemingly simple solution for a complex problem. It may be the politically expedient thing to do, but it’s not any kind of long-term solution that would do anything to end drug-related injuries or deaths, and ultimately results in events going underground, where rules and regulations do not apply.
Tragedies like this should act as a reminder that the best way to address drug-related deaths are through education and promoting safety and harm-reduction. Unfortunately, the 2003 RAVE Act makes it very difficult for promoters and venues to educate the public, out of fear that they would be punished harshly. Due to the language of the law, promoters fear being prosecuted if their venue appears to condone drug use by providing cool-down rooms, free water, glowsticks, drug testing, or other amenities that are sometimes associated with drug use. Oftentimes, drug-related deaths at large events like SMF are a result of patrons unknowingly buying and using adulterated drugs, a problem that could easily be mitigated by allowing on-site drug testing. On-site drug testing should not be seen as condoning or encouraging drug use, but instead, it is a realistic attitude that encourages patrons to be as safe as possible. The majority of Americans believe that the most effect approach to sex education is to realize that adolescents are going to have sex, so the best way to address the issue is to ensure that they are properly educated and have the tools so that they do it in the safest way possible. Why would we not take this same approach with drug use?
Sunset Music Festival goes to great lengths to ensure the safety of its patrons; they were not negligent in this regard. At check-in, there is police presence, drug-sniffing dogs, and TSA-style searches. Once inside the festival, there are EMS, police, and security patrolling the venue. Additionally, free water is provided throughout the venue, as are cool-down areas. Ryan Raddon, AKA EDM superstar Kaskade said it best: “Clearly, if the US Government hasn’t come up with the magic bullet to quell the problem of drugs in this country, it is not reasonable to expect an event promoter to pull this kind of trick out of his hat either.” Banning EDM events is a short-sighted solution that does a disservice to the public. If we truly want to address drug use in the US and the world, the most effective approach is a realistic one that understands that drug use is a social problem, not a criminal one, which calls for social solutions, like prevention, harm reduction, safety, and education.
The promoters running SMF care about its patrons and the local community. I am confident that if they work with local law enforcement, EMS, and politicians, they can come together to create a solution that allows Sunset Music Festival to continue to spread the joy of music in the area, while also maximizing safety and preventing issues in the future.
Sunset Music Festival is just around the corner (make sure to get your tickets!) and with that in mind, we wanted to let our readers know of artists that we’re excited to see. This year’s lineup is pretty star-studded with the likes of The Chainsmokers, Jack U, Galantis, Hardwell, and other big names. However, we like to shed light on some of the lesser known artists that are busy making fresh waves in the ocean of music. If you don’t already know about these artists, make sure to keep an eye out for them as their following only gets larger.
LA-based Team EZY AKA Drew Gold spent the last five years touring with Skrillex in various management roles. His debut single (Pretty Bye Bye) released earlier this year was a collaboration with Skrillex. Now he’s starting his own artist venture and Sunset Music Festival is one of his first stops. His music style ranges from chill and liquid to hard and raw. The influence from Skrillex and OWSLA on his music style is evident, yet he still brings his own special touch that brings his bass music to life.
This duo consisting of Robert Gainley and Dr. No have been blazing their trail through the dance music scene over the last year, most recently inking a deal with Spinnin’. These make some really fun music and seem like they really know how to have a good time on stage.
Jai Wolf has been making moves in the dance world lately, having done official work for Alesso, Dirty South, ODESZA, and more. His style brings in hip-hop, pop, and bass elements, resulting in some smooth and euphoric tunes that fill the room and capture the moment. His remixes of Miss U, Heroes, and Say My Name are all great examples of his ability to take a popular song and put his unique feel-good spin on it.
British Columbia native Vanic AKA Jesse Hughes has been absolutely crushing the bass music scene. With a wide selection of originals and remixes, his style is a nice balance of rowdy and euphoric. Vanic knows how to bring the party atmosphere, so definitely check out his set at SMF!
Louis the Child
This duo hailing from Chicago says their goal is to make music that makes people happy. With releases on Skrillex’s label OWSLA, the two have enjoyed widespread critical acclaim with their single “It’s Strange” having been featured on popular radio shows like BBC and Triple J. The two set the atmosphere with their chill bass beats.
Bonus: Claude VonStroke
Ok, so Claude VonStroke is not up-and-coming by any means, but he really needed his own little shout-out. He has been a dominate force in the house music scene for over ten years. This is one of those artists that knows how to produce, but if you ask me, he really shines while on the decks. His technical skills when it comes to DJing will leave you floored. His set will undoubtedly get the feet moving!
Sunset Music Festival returns to Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, FL for its fifth year this Memorial Day Weekend (Saturday May 28 to Sunday May 29). This year’s lineup will see some familiar faces like Hardwell, The Chainsmokers, Jack U (Skrillex previously played a solo set last year, but will be joined by Diplo this year for Jack U), Mija, Claptone, Sam Feldt, Thomas Jack, Cash Cash, Borgore, Funtcase, and more. Newer names include Snails, Seven Lions, Vanic, Jai Wolf, Jauz, Matoma, Marshmello, Lane 8, Claude Vonstroke, CID, Louis the Child, and more. Additionally, although this is pure speculation, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to think that Justin Bieber might make an appearance for Jack U, especially considering that he doesn’t appear to have any conflicting events booked for May 29. Check out the full lineup here.
The previous two Sunset Music Festival events drew crowds in the neighborhood of 40,000-50,000, in spite of some of the temporary weather difficulties the festival has faced. Expect this year’s festival to be, at a minimum, on par with previous years in terms of attendance and production value. Tickets are currently on sale with General Admission tickets going for $159 (plus fees), while VIP passes are $234 (plus fees). Make sure to check out Sunset’s information, including their guide, location, and safety. We hope to see you there!