Bringing together eclectic music, extraordinary art installations, and overflowing with positive vibes, Mysteryland USA 2015 smoothed out many hitches from its initial year in Bethel, NY and left attendees with smiles on their faces, candy on their arms, and one of a kind memories in their minds. Mysteryland’s mindful curation and diverse line-up, brought alive by a gregarious, fun-loving crowd, immersed attendees in a fantasy world of their very own. A land of mystery where barriers are broken and magic is not only real, but apparent just about everywhere.
Nearly everyone I spoke to at Mysteryland experienced a moment that sent chills throughout their body, brought on by the spirit of music lovers both now and of the past. Mysteryland USA is held at historic Bethel Woods, home of Woodstock ’69, and the energy from this monumental event remains. To stand atop the rolling hills and farmland that changed music forever is a truly remarkable opportunity. Now home to a gorgeous pavilion with bright green grass marked with colorful Mysteryland flags billowing in the wind, the impact of this history on the overall atmosphere was not taken for granted. The festival grounds of today are minuscule compared to the expansive hill of Woodstock’s past, humbling onlookers, and evoking an immense feeling of gratitude for all that came before. At the same time, this historic site was contrasted with futuristic displays of art, including a giant teddy bear and a life size Mouse Trap game, making you feel like a storybook character straight from a wild fantasy world.
One of my favorite parts of Mysteryland was the extensive variety of artists represented. While many festivals are inclined to a specific genre of music, Mysteryland purposefully showcases an expansive array of music, represented through the different stages, many hosted by notable pioneers of their given genre. For instance, the Boat was hosted by trap powerhouse Bro Safari on Sunday. The boat stage hosted heavy hitters in dubstep, funk, trap, and all things bass, and as a self-proclaimed basshead myself, by the end of the weekend the boat definitely felt like my home away from home. All types of electronic dance music fans were able to find acceptance at the stage of choice, with new and old friends, joined by a common love for music, dancing, and connecting with others. Many displayed their genre of choice with flags or totems of their favorite artist or stage. Notably represented were Q Dance paraphernalia and costumes for the famed hardstyle themed stage on Saturday. For those not inclined to a specific genre, the numerous acts to explore made the festival a smorgasbord of sounds to taste test. The stages were uniquely built to fit to the music played there as well. The gnarly nautical boat was a proper match for bassheads, while the Main Stage, complete with two massive, brightly colored horse heads, matched the degree of talent and larger than life acts which graced the stage. The Main Stage held memorable performances by Dillon Francis, Diplo, Porter Robinson, and Netsky.
Curated by the Brooklyn venue and hosted by THUMP, the Verboten Spiegeltent was held in an enclosed house of mirrors and wooden floors. On Sunday, Verboten presented the notorious Flying Circus party with Ibiza mainstays The Martinez Brothers, Audiofly, and Guti (live) that awed onlookers. Another NYC venue, Webster Hall, hosted a stage on Sunday as well, a favorite location for the heavily New York based crowd. The Owari No Nai stage by Sin Sida was another site to see. Meaning “No Exit” this was a unique party that lived up to its name by enticing individuals with outlandish acts. Complete with geisha girls, dancers, and other performers, I found it beautiful that while some stared at the stage with confusion others found it to be their home for the weekend. There was truly something for everyone.
Space Jesus was the first set on Saturday at the Boat and whoever was able to squad up in time soon found it was worth every effort. Playing at the height of the afternoon, with the sun shining in a cloudless blue sky, Space Jesus took the crowd to space church, tantalizing fans with his signature sounds of bass with heavy hip hop influences. The vibes at this set were unbeatable and he got the crowd jumping and moving in every which way. A notable set and artist to keep your eye on.
Netsky was a highly anticipated set this festival weekend, and although this legend had lofty words to live up to, together with his live band, the drum and bass DJ/producer delivered ten fold to a massive crowd at the main stage on Sunday evening. Live instruments, an energetic MC, and their impeccable drum and bass mastery awed the audience. I enjoyed the end of this set in the front row, and let me tell you, that was an experience I will never forget.
Having seen Beats Antique before I was excited, but thought I knew generally what to expect. Boy was I mistaken. They were relentlessly mind blowing throughout their set, playing an array of beats from tribal to breakbeat to dubstep and more! Their unique style was not lost, but amplified with a fullness and expertise that only Beats can continuously deliver in the way they do. A spectacle to see and hear alike, they blew die hard fans away with their fresh set and gained many new followers.
One of the original dubsteppers and hailing from the UK, Doctor P did not let up for a minute to deliver his heavy hitting baselines, high energy beats, and dirty drops. Everyone went GORILLAS. Nuff said.
SOLVING THE MYSTERY
While I may have got ship wrecked at the boat, I ultimately realized that that is the true beauty of this festival. Everyone finds a home of their own. Everyone enters as nomads and organically makes a family over the weekend. You are able to connect and camp with people from all different places and who may have favorite artists you never even heard of. You are able to see your personal picks while discovering new artists and even new genres all together. Because overall, every single person came together for one underlying reason, the love of music.
The theme of Mysteryland, and slogan “Yesterday is history, today is a gift, tomorrow is a mystery,” was notably strung throughout the festival experience. Attendees were encouraged to be present, cherishing each magical moment and intimate interaction, while keeping in mind that the future is yours and can take you anywhere your heart desires or mind imagines. Overall, I learned the mystery is never completely solved…and that is the beauty of this life.
1.Atmosphere: Danilo Lewis for Mysteryland
2.Teddy Bear: Julian Cassady for Mysteryland
3.Mainstage: tomdoms.com for Mysteryland
4.Space Jesus: Andrew Rauner//@AJR_photos for Mysteryland
5.Netsky: Danilo Lewis for Mysteryland
6.Sign: Julian Cassady for Mysteryland