Mysteryland: 10 Memorable Performances
For the second Mysteryland, the festival grounds had to double in size in order to house the ravers, ragers, rockers, hippies, hard steppers, Q-steppers, and EDM Enthusiasts following the successful inaugural event last year. The legendary Woodstock Woods were now serving as residence for surprisingly good smorgasbords of food, more stages (including the Pineapple Paradise stage - a balloon stage made to look like the eponymous fruit, although by the festivals end was an ominous terminator-esque skeleton), and a new and improved VIP campsite that was clearly a gulag.
The improved infrastructure of the festival wasn’t the only impressive facet of the festivities. In the larger space, Mysteryland was able to put added emphasis on the art installations and carnival rides galore including but not limited to a human sized version of Mousetrap - probably the only way you can actually get Mousetrap to work (the memories of plastic pieces untrapped still haunt me). Oftentimes you could find me making the quick jog to the food, art, and carnival activities - a vast improvement to the large desolate treks required to engage in these at last year’s Mysteryland.
So, sure, many crucial aspects of Mysteryland’s sophomore effort were improved upon their freshman year - but how did their big name performances stack up? Read on as we analyze the most memorable performances of the festival.
Madeon spun some of my favorite hits, both new and old, like “Lean On” by Major Lazer, and Daft Punk’s “Aerodynamic,” but that's all he did.
Madeon would drop in a touch of a Daft Punk Medley here or there or a little snippet of a song to stand just at the tip of your tongue before pulling a fast on you with a trap mix of The Beastie Boys' “Sabotage” (Alex Metric Remix), but there was little energy in the crowd to appreciate it.
Madeon's set utilized popular beats. The only problem was that not much was actually done with the tracks, as they grew stagnant. Ironically, even the aforementioned “Pop Culture” was untouched beyond song transitions. I was hoping for a Madeon mix of a Madeon mix, but maybe that’s too meta.
I'm making this set sound worse than it really was, which isn't fair to Madeon, as by the end it he not only played some underrated tracks like “Generate” by Eric Pryde, “Hex” by Tommy Trash and “No Quarter” by Zac Waters, but also did the impossible and made me not hate “Uptown Funk” for once.
Also, it's hard to claim a set was dull when the glitter and ribbon cannons surrounding you blot out the Sun.
9. BEATS ANTIQUE
Starting us off on some funky beats, Beats Antique utilized a worldly sound that was just impossible not to dance to.
Beats Antique transformed the crowd up into a hard-stepping juggernaut. Take a mental step back and suddenly realize you're raging out to some jungle house beats while animal-masked drummers march you out to the frontline of the never ending war against boredom.
KYGO was more visual-heavy, calming the soul with a chill-step beat, rather than powering the invisible machine that converts dancing into awesome. Fortunately, I timed it just right to hear “Stole the Show,” as I danced on the air.
Literally, I chose now to go on the flying chairs ride. And it was glorious.
7. DOCTOR P
Doctor P shocked us all with hard hitting trap sounds, and I just figured out why they call it "Trap" music, that kept the momentum from Bro Safari pumping through our veins to Diplo remixes and the brostep powerhouse, "Bass Cannon,” by Flux Pavilion.
Yes, Brostep is just of one of many Dubstep genres prescribed by Doctor P, whose high energy setting and increasingly chilly venue set an appropriate stage for other Doctor P classics like "Shishkabob" and "Flying Spaghetti Monster.”
The highlight of the set without question however would have to be Doctor P absolutely killing it with “Tetris," ending the night with an aptly untouched rendition of Nero's “Promises."
This was the second time I had seen Gramatik this year, and once again the smooth yet perplexingly sharp beats of the EDM powerhouse didn't disappoint, opening up with my favorite track of theirs, "Illusion of Choice.”
I’m in the thick of Gramatik, eardrums be damned, riddled with tinnitus, yet I am in bliss—separated from the group I came in with, but surrounded by friends.
Around this point in time we bounce back and forward between stages, and I was just having such a blast that I didn't notice where Gramatik ended and Griz began, because the two paired together was one of the best lines ups we could've asked for.
The saxophone filled beats of Griz served as a natural compliment to the funky tunes of Gramatik, and, alliteration aside, I demanded to no one in particular that these two groups headline together forever.
4. PORTER ROBINSON
Porter Robinson entranced us all with ephemeral dream beats and gorgeous anime visuals. The perfect way to end the night, with Porter chilling us out with the cyber ballad “Sad Machine,” only to port us into a laser dance-scape of smoke machines and fireworks to the backbeat of “Divinity.”
TJR just got you fired up and wanting to fist pump and rage and kick yourself for indulging in such fanciful things like "eating food,” “sleeping," and "buying souvenirs for friends and family,” when you could've been raging all day!
TJR unleashed the sort of pure, 120-heart beats per minute rave frenzies with fans climbing flags, flags becoming stripper poles, all set to dirty-good trap beats like "Bounce Generation,” and "Reworking Booyah.”
The highlight of the set sadly came right at the very end, during a thrashing-good throwback to “Shout” where TJR made Electric Owen Wilsons of us all.
At first I'll admit I was hesitant, as the trap beats SWIZZYMACK started out with lost the momentum that had built up during EAUXZOWN, letting the chilling night set into our bones. Fortunately we were up and about at nearly no time at all, as Swizzymack was soon remixing more familiar songs in the most intricate of ways, starting off with Disclosure’s “Latch.”
Suddenly, everyone is throwing gang signs and dropping it to dangerously critical levels. Before you can get tired of the trap though, Swizzymack brings it back with his own version of Zedd's “Clarity.”
As if this all weren't enough, Swizzymack brought it all down to a screeching halt and performed one of the greatest mixes of one of my favorite songs of all time-- “Sweet Nothing” by Calvin Harris before swinging back into a mania with “Heads Will Roll.”
Likewise, Swizzymack may not have been the only DJ there to cover Journey's “Don't Stop Believin’” but he's the only artist I've seen cover it - with an American flag proudly flagging in the audience. Perfect moments like that are why I go to these things.
To walk into Diplo is to walk into madness itself. Everything you are becomes one with the giant twerking obelisk of flesh, as Diplo completes the arcane ritual unleashing the full fury of Mysteryland.
Diplo even played my personal favorite track "Revolusion," better known as the song from that Titanfall commercial. Also played was "Express Yourself,” better known as that song you know you know already.
The patron saint of shaking your derriere even threw out “Hollaback Girl!” If a twerkometer were a real thing, and I had one on me, it would've exploded from the downright twerknificent amount of rump shaking on hand.
Diplo's set would have been the perfect cap to an amazing weekend, if it weren't for his obligatory Jack Ü segment. For those unaware, Jack Ü is a pet project of Skrillex and Diplo, and it's essentially the Ocean's 12 of EDM -- a project that should be good, considering the history and talent shared between the artists that are contributing to it, and yet it's just terrible. Just so bad, I even took the time to generate a meme about it.
So there you have it. Fifteen DJs in three days and a wristband loaded with 22 Birdie bucks strapped to my wrist. While some favorites of the festival may vary depending on who you ask, the true show stealer was the entire chill atmosphere that made you feel right at home, despite being surrounded by strangers who hadn't bathed in over 72 hours. Mysteryland has only become more dope and magical in just a year’s time, here’s to what will surely be another crazy time next year.