[FESTIVAL REVIEW] Imagine 2023 Raises The Bar For Camping Festivals Worldwide
Following two major festival debacles in the beginning of September, the pressure was on for Imagine 2023 to go down without a hitch. While Electric Zoo was a logistical disaster that had booked top-tier talent, Burning Man was unfortunately less experimental than usual due to severe weather conditions.
The forecast looked great throughout Kingston Downs in Rome, Georgia, going into the weekend of Imagine. Additionally, the day-to-day roster of artists was looked as appetizing as ever. All that was left to take care of was a solid venue, pleasant staff, immersive production, and well-planned logistical details, such as entry and exit.
Once arriving on Friday and setting up our campsite, we beelined it to the festival entrance. On our way over, we passed a wide variety of cool vendors and even some small campground stages, hosting DJs mixing bass music. Imagine passed its first test with flying colors as we quickly strolled through the gates without any delay.
Getting in a bit late on Day 1, we went straight to the Oceania Stage, aka the main stage. Many festival goers immediately noticed that they had placed this stage exactly where the Disco Inferno stage was last year.
This was an incredibly smart move by Imagine that proves their willingness to adapt and make improvements year after year. The Oceania Stage now had the most space by far when compared to the others, giving ravers enough room to dance freely and see the stage from much farther away.
Upon reaching Oceania, MARAUDA was assaulting the crowd with a barrage of heavy riddim and devilish visuals.
Next up was arguably the most anticipated set of the weekend: DIESEL b2b NGHTMRE.
Their set had turned the crowd into a mad house. DIESEL (Shaq) hopped on the mic a number of times to get the crowd fired up and call out his signature hype catchphrase, “WHERE'S MY MOSH PIT!”. Everyone collectively lost their minds when the pair queued up “BANG YOUR HEAD” one of the most thrilling anthems from DIESEL's recently debut album, GORILLA WARFARE.
Halfway through the set, we were gassed from all the headbanging and had earned a well-deserved break. Trekking over to the Disco Inferno stage, Elderbrook's soothing melodies and breathtaking vocals rang out.
This infectious deep house artist showcased that he is clearly a mixed bag of talent. Between his stunning singing, rhythmic live drum padding, and piano mastery, Elderbrook exemplified that he is a multitasking machine. By the end of his performance, attendees were swept off their feet.
Closing out Friday was the lethal duo of Subtronics and Ganja White Night, who held nothing back in their inaugural performance together. Mr. Wobble made multiple appearances on screen, with the visuals being absolutely stunning and crystal clear.
As expected, the three bassheads played their debut collaborative single, Womp Portal, along with some brand-new IDs they had unitedly cooked up.
Dombresky's alias, Disco Dom headlined Saturday's pool party. Judging by the photos and videos taken there, it looked like a tidal wave of retro house delight.
However, a fortunate group of Imagineers began Day 2 over at the Aeria Stage, where the mysterious artist Modapit graced us with his unique genre-bending style of mainly house and techno. Since launching his project this past January, the anonymous DJ-producer hybrid has already amassed a large dedicated following and even dropped an introspective and cinematic LP, Devotion.
Heading down the hill to Oceania, a portion of the Aeria group were just in time for Dom Dolla's sunset performance, which encompassed funky tech house beats that resulted in shufflers having a field day.
Next, over at Disco Inferno, Cassian, held it down for the minority of melodic techno lovers at Imagine. He instantly attracted bassheads and tech house fanatics as well; no one could resist his hypnotic basslines and ethereal effects.
Proceeding Cassian, we made the long journey to the Amazonia stage, located on the complete opposite side of the venue. The hike was more than worth it, considering we were there to see the one-of-a-kind audiovisual experience that is Jade Cicada. His insect-like bass-fueled progressions ignited stank faces throughout the crowd, for his original tunes were overwhelmingly disgusting (the good kind, obviously).
We wrapped up Saturday with by witnessing a legendary performance from party animal John Summit. He had the Disco Inferno stage packed in as he showered everyone with a melting pot of house, techno, and even some dubstep bangers.
Consistent with his usual antics, he shouted “where are f*cking afters at” at the end of his set, or so we thought. He then psyched out the walking-away crowd and played “What A Life”, leading most attendees to sprint back to the stage and sing-a-long to the feel-good summer anthem. Post-song, he grabbed the mic and yelled, “Ok, now where are the f*cking afters at!”
Sunday was going to be tough a day to get through, being that it was the last leg of Imagine's raving marathon. Not so shockingly, the outstanding performances made the day fly by in a breeze.
We kicked off Day 3 with Boombox Cartel at the main stage. He was an absolute blast and played an assortment of high-energy remixes.
Then at the Amazonia stage, The Floozies had the crowd vibing to their live music. It was a euphoric blend of funk, wubz, and a variety of other genres.Making the long trip once again, we were hyped up for the entirety of Matroda's set at Disco Inferno. He seamlessly mixed his Matrodasound-backed tunes, consisting of edits and house heaters from his new Jack The House 4 EP.
We heard the echoes of Chris Lake putting on a show at the Ocean stage as we made our way back to Amazonia for SVDDEN DEATH: INTO THE INFERNO. There was a line of gifted painters making live masterpieces on the top of the hill before we hobbled down into the pit.
It was my first time seeing him after being a huge fan since I got into riddim two years ago, and he did not disappoint. SVDDEN DEATH executed a chaotic sequence of deafening drops and bone-rattling bass, accompanied by hell-raised visuals.
As deep as we were entranced into his set, our rave squad pulled ourselves out from under SVDDEN DEATH's spell to finish off the weekend with the bass queen.
In typical Rezz fashion, her visuals and unrivaled hypnosis-inspired beats were something out of another dimension.
Fire erupted into the night sky while Rezz captivated thousands with some of her recent releases and mind-bending hits. One of them was “Signal”, a thrilling blend of punk rock and spellbinding grimy dubstep.
Imagine 2023 was everything a raver could fantasize of and more. Refusing to listen to the wishes of my bank account, I will definitely be back next year for a three-peat.
Photos Courtesy of Imagine Music Festival // Don Idio (@divisuals) // DVPhotoVideo.