The weekend of August 30th and 31st has come and went and the second annual Imagine Music Festival is officially in the books, and what a weekend it was. There was incredible music, amazing vibes, tons of friendship and good times were had by all. I was curious to see how the festival would handle the increase in the crowd’s size that would be inevitable as a result of the stacked lineup, and as a whole it was handled very well. I’ll review all the acts I saw over the course of the weekend as well as the positives and negatives of the festival I experienced (not that there were many negatives but there were a few).
First off a disclaimer to all those reading this: I am a bass head to the core. I live for those gnarly crushing bass lines that smack you in the chest and make your face contort as if it were hit by a sledgehammer. I live for unique and original sounds, concepts, and rhythmic patterns, anything that catches me off guard and keeps me on my toes. So with every festival I attend that’s what I hunt for. If you’re looking for reviews of Morgan Page or Dada Life you can just stop reading this article now. I respect house artists and what they do, but I can listen to approximately 6 seconds of four on the floor music until I’m too bored to deal with it. SO without further ado, my weekend went a little something like this:
We arrived at the festival just in time to catch the up-and-coming melodic bass producer Illenium. I had heard some good things about the young gun so I thought I’d check him out. He wasn’t disappointing necessarily but I was very far from impressed. The all too familiar major chord progressions over basic bass lines left much to be desired. His tunes were pretty, sure, but he didn’t leave a lasting impression on me. Using a drum pad to add some percussive elements to his set was a nice touch, but it wasn’t enough to make it memorable. Followed by Illenium was the trap king Buku. Having opened for Buku myself as well as seeing him at last year’s Imagine Festival, his sound was very familiar to me, yet still very get-down worthy. His fat beats and fun synth lines always make Buku shows a good time and I was not disappointed with what he brought to the table, despite it being an early set.
Then came iLL.Gates vs. KJ Sawka and this is where it starts getting real good. ill.Gates kicked things off with the most absurd mash up I’ve ever heard of, his tune I’m Eel, Ice by Corporate, and a slew of other epic bangers perfectly stitched together to make everyone in the crowd effectively lose their shit. ill.Gates continued to bring massive amounts of heat including his super epic remix of Monkey Crunk by Opiuo, as well as some unreleased bangers that left multiple faces lying in a puddle on the floor. KJ Sawka was decent but trying to battle ill.Gates is like trying to battle Yoda in a light saber battle, you just stand no chance. ill.Gates is a certified Ableton instructor, mentor to Bassnectar, conductor of the fattest beats, and just an overall genius. KJ Sawka is an incredible drummer and as a member of Destroid is the single greatest at what he does, but directly next to ill.Gates his set seemed sloppy and unimpressive. Had he been his own separate set he would have been more appreciated for what he was doing, but side by side with the Phat Conductor just left me feeling like I wanted an all ill.Gates set and KJ Sawka should stick to what he’s best at which is being an epic drummer.
G Jones was nothing short of epic. He was one of my top acts to see and not only did he meet my expectations, he surpassed them. Hearing G Jones on a great sound system really allowed appreciating the genius of the young producer. You could really hear every subtle detail in his productions, the epic vocal panning, and experimentations with reverbs, crazy delays. Despite the speakers only being in front of us, it sounded like his music was coming from every direction. Listening from the mindset of a fellow producer, it really felt like getting to hear a master at work. The future is incredibly bright for G Jones and I can’t wait to see him again. Following G Jones was the always-incredible Griz. With the sun setting in the background lighting up the sky a brilliant orange hue, the moment couldn’t have been more perfect. Griz played the perfect collection of soulful sax-filled tunes and crushing bass bangers that had everyone in the crowd getting their boogie on. It was one of the more magical moments that life has to offer and it was amazing to share it with so many other people.
After Griz ended we made our way over to Shpongle, mostly just in anticipation of Tipper. Despite never really knowing what exactly is going on during a Shpongle set, I enjoyed it nonetheless. The lasers on the Amazonia stage were on point and watching how different people dance to Shpongle is massively entertaining. As Shpongle was coming to a close we steadily crept into an ideal spot for Tipper and Android Jones. If you’ve never heard Tipper’s music on a great sound system before, it’s something you should do if you ever get the opportunity. I truly believe everyone should attend at least one Tipper set in his or her life if anything to appreciate the genius that is Dave Tipper. The man is the king of glitch hop, a sonic wizard. The dude makes sounds that are so out of this world and hearing them on a big sound system really accents all the subtle details that makes his music what it is. Android Jones’ visuals were nothing short of incredible. The man is a true artist and it was a distinct honor to get to experience the combined genius of Tipper and Android Jones to close out day one of the festival.
Day 2 for us started with the representatives from the Pretty Lights Music label Eliot Lipp and Paul Basic. Both playing their signature hip hop beats and original music, which was a great way to get day two started. After Paul Basic, we left for our interview with MartyParty (full interview to come soon) and then rejoined the festivities. Here is one of the few moments in which Imagine could have done better. Lil Jon had to cancel his set due to health concerns and as a result all of the sets on the Oceania stage were moved back an hour and there was no notice whatsoever. There was no email or announcement of any kind informing the patrons of the schedule change and as a result there was massive amounts of confusion. We were very excited to see 12th Planet but thanks to the unannounced schedule his set was moved to the same time as MartyParty’s so we had to skip 12th Planet. Luckily he played at the afterparty so it actually worked out. MartyParty’s set was a great time, playing some of his signature tunes like Greedy and V8 and just slamming the crowd with his crushing bass lines.
Once MartyParty had finished playing he came out into the crowd and jammed out to Papadosio with us. Papadosio absolutely crushed their set. I have seen them a few times before but this was definitely the best Papadosio set I have seen to date. They debuted one of their new songs for us and it was absolutely incredible. I highly recommend seeing Papadosio if you get the chance. Crizzly absolutely blew me away. Another act I’ve seen a few times before but also the best time I’ve seen him. Something about Imagine Festival brings out the best in artists I guess. His mixing skills were so on point and the transitions were flawless. His blend of hip hop and grimy dubstep is unique and satisfying to a wide range of people. Datsik brought the heat too, playing banger after banger to close out the festival. With fireworks shooting off from the main stage and Datsik hitting us with wave after wave of heavy bass music, it was the perfect way to end a perfect weekend.
The only other negative note I have is that the festival ran out of water towards the end of the second day, which obviously posed a huge safety hazard for those in attendance. Hydration is incredibly important and not having water available exposes the festival to potential lawsuits if anyone were to suffer dehydration to the point where hospitalization was necessary. So for next year as long as they ensure they have enough water for everyone and keep those in attendance well informed of any changes in the schedule, I think they’ll have a perfect festival on their hands.