[FESTIVAL/PHOTO RECAP] Mysteryland USA Returns To Bethel Bigger And Better In 2015

[FESTIVAL/PHOTO RECAP] Mysteryland USA Returns To Bethel Bigger And Better In 2015

[FESTIVAL/PHOTO RECAP] Mysteryland USA Returns To Bethel Bigger And Better In 2015



“Join our onesie parade!”

said our camp neighbor in a fluffy pink cow suit. “If you don’t have a onesie, then bring your good vibes. If you don’t bring your vibes, come naked.”

And that, my friends, was the first of the many unforgettable encounters I’ve had at this year’s Mysteryland USA.
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Taking place once again at the site of the 1969 Woodstock Festival in Bethel, NY, Mysteryland 2015 was graced with the locations’ priceless heritage as well as the bubbling spirits of 50,000 passionate attendees. According to one local I bumped into, the town of Bethel is usually skeptical when festival scouters ask to use their premises. More often than not, they refuse. But Mysteryland? They welcomed with open arms. And after my incredible experience last weekend, it’s pretty damn clear why this festival is the rare exception.

While the world-renowned headliners and its 22-year-old legacy are distinguishing elements, the true beauty of Mysteryland lies in the details. From the carefully curated, amphitheater-like stages to the art installations that clutter the paths between arenas, it was obvious that a tremendous amount of planning has gone into the production of this event. Not a single sound, light, or soul was out of place—everything was right where it belonged.
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Trek to the Holy Grounds

It’s a fact of life: camping makes the festival experience exponentially more memorable. The fumbling of lawn chairs and sweaty tent mornings are totally worth the bonds you create with your campmates and neighbors. Mysteryland was well aware of this, and dedicated all of Friday evening to the nomads in the Holy Ground campgrounds. It was a pretty big hassle getting in—dragging camping equipment to the grounds, the long security lines—but it was all just a minor kink in the big picture. The grounds were equipped with hot showers, free red-bull, three exclusive camping stages, and a giant inflatable pineapple. No wonder camping sold out at 10,000 with a 35% increase from last year’s MLUSA.
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Friday’s, Holy Ground-only experience also extended into the main grounds at The Big Top stage, with artists like Tropkillaz, GTA, A-Track, Maceo Plex, and Richie Hawtin churning the tent. My favorite warehouse party hosts, BangOn! NYC, had their own stage back at the Holy Grounds. Even though the temperature dipped down to some ungodly, below-freezing number that night, their silent disco arena was full to the brim with restless campers from 2am till sunrise.
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The Saturday Experience

Not sure how it all started but I found myself in sea of gyrating butts early Saturday afternoon, orchestrated by none other than Brooklyn’s Space Jesus at The Boat — a stage shaped like an actual boat with steam pouring out of it. Despite the early time set, this long-haired, low-end messiah got every single person dancing hard.
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The next up was the duo of Ricoshëi at the main stage, who brought a much softer yet just as danceable sound to the grounds. The crowd was a little sparse but those who were there enjoyed every “sepia-tinged” beat that was thrown their way, including Fantasy and their newest track, Tokubetsu.

Although there was some distance and a lot of hills between each stage, there were plenty of beautiful people and interactive exhibits to experience on the way. My personal favorites? The giant teddy bear, the Incendia fire dome, and the ball pit square. I almost missed out on Madeon because I was having too much playing at that ball pit with a group of totem bearing strangers.
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But thankfully I didn’t, because this 20-year-old genius threw down a fantastic set, dropping tracks like Botnek’s Remix of Easy by Porter Robinson, Wave Racer’s Remix of Always by Classixx, and of course, tracks from his latest album Adventure, which was released earlier this April.
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Robin Schulz and Kygo followed after Madeon with their soothing deep and tropical house music, peppered in with some pyro and a few bangs of the confetti cannons. But those craving something a little more peculiar crowded around The Boat stage for Beats Antique. There was no live band, just David Satori and Sidecar Tommy at the dj booth with Zoe Jakes manning the MPC drums. But as always, the sound they produced for the crowd was incredibly kinetic and mind warping.

Renown Skream performed for nearly two hours at the Zeitgeist stage. Diverting from his dubstep roots, Oliver Jones gave us an eclectic mix of house, techno, and disco, featuring his latest track Still Lemonade, out on Crosstown Rebels.
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Meanwhile Gramatik, with the help of Gibbz and Russ Liquid, melted many faces back at the Boat Stage. Performing his own tracks as well as sampling tunes from artists like Justice, Flume, and C2C, Gramatik once again delivered everything his fans wished for and more.

The next and final stop for Saturday was Porter Robinson at the main stage. Though I have witnessed the Worlds tour twice before, I was still unsure of what to expect. For me, each Worlds experience—whether I’m listening to the album or dancing at the live show— is an entirely different phenomenon. So I wasn’t sure if I would laugh or cry or quietly stand in awe at this time around. Turns out, it was all of the above. Heart wrenching tracks like Fellow Feeling were balanced with high-spirited tunes such as Lionhearted and Years of War. Porter also pitched in his own voice and MPC drumming throughout the show. No track was played in full. Rather, there were cut up and arranged to create this unpredictably breathtaking collage of sounds. This fragmented audio was carefully matched with skitzoid anime graphics—in the end I felt like I lived through a glitched up version of a Myazaki film.
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The Sunday Experience

While the few brave attendees made the trek out to Deep House Yoga at 1pm, the reset of us were struggling to recover back at our campsites. Those who pushed through the slump to head to Zeitgeist stage were well rewarded with Bulgarian producer KINK’s live techno set.
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Next up on the Main Stage was the attractive new wave synth-pop group, Tesla Boy. The tall, dark, and very handsome trio spun out a slew of groovy beats from their growing collection of singles and EPs. When an ecstatic group of ladies near the barricade requested the song Spirit of the Night towards the end, frontman Anton Sevidov kindly granted the track as a mini-encore.

The next few sets were centered on the Label Tent, which was curated by NYC’s one and only Webster Hall (which yours truly frequents more often than she would like to admit). The giant “Girls +Boys” visuals made me feel like I was back at the beer-soaked floors of Webster’s Grand Ballroom again. And I’m not gonna lie — it felt oddly comforting. First up was OSLWA’s newbie Mija. The eccentric, genre-less dj spun out a great blend of beats before b2b-ing a bit with Antonio Cuna of Sweater Beats, who took over next. Attendees were spilling out of the sides of the Label Tent for Klingande’s set later that night, whose deep house set featured a couple toots from his shiny saxophone.
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Netsky’s drum-and-bass/ hardstyle frenzy at the Main Stage stood out from the sea of techno and house acts at MLUSA. You’d think that an hour of dancing at 160+bpm would tire some out, but thanks to the help of a rowdy MC yelling things like, “WHEN I SAY NETSKY YOU SAY YOOOO!”, a break was the last thing on anyone’s mind.
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The prize for the biggest-crowd-of-MLUSA goes to Sunday’s headliner Diplo. This set was a definitely a one to remember, not only for the sheer size of the crowd, but also because it was first time Diplo closed out a US festival. He made sure the booty-poppin’ crowd left with something to remember as he laid down a medley of Diplo/Major Lazer/Jack Ü tracks as well as a bunch of crowd pleasers such as I Can’t Stop by Flux Pavilion.
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With one last firework show, Mysteryland literally went out with a bang. The time seemed to go by way too quickly this time around—though I’ve been scampering around all weekend, but I still feel like I haven’t experienced all of what Mysteryland had to offer. But hey, at least there will be a next year, and the next, and the next one after that, ‘cuz there’s no doubt that Mysteryland USA is here to stay for a very long time.
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