These days, it seems as though a new festival is popping up every other weekend, with most of their lineups consisting of bland Big Room artists, and no real distinguishing features. However, this past weekend, ClubGlow and SteezPromo set the bar for how a midsize festival should be run.
I set out towards Baltimore around 10 AM in the morning, accompanied by our photographer Jordan. It took us the better part of two hours to reach our destination, but thankfully the festival did not open until 11am anyways. Moonrise partnered with Uber to allow a $20 discount to everyone at the festival. This small detail already put a good impression of the festival in my mind before we even arrived. For those of you concerned with security at festivals, the search at Moonrise was one of the most thorough I have yet to experience: we were even told to take our shoes off.
Once we were through security, we made our way into the festival. We immediately stocked up on water bottles (a true blessing, especially considering the sun was relentless Sunday), before making our way over to the Dance Tent, one of the 4 stages at Moonrise. As we entered, I noticed that tower speakers and subs were positioned all the way around the perimeter of the Dance Tent, so I rushed towards the dead middle of the tent. Immediately I was greeted with the thump of a nice warm kick and sub straight into my chest. I was lucky enough to get to the Dance Tent just in time to see an act I had been dying to see (and one that I had missed at Mysteryland), LetsBeFriends, a trio from the UK that makes a variety of genres, whose sound I can only compare to Knife Party.
Mixing everything from Rap, Electro House, Dubstep, Progressive House, Bigroom, Hardstyle, and even drum and bass, LetsBeFriends threw down a set that blew me away. If you ever get the chance to see them live, you simply MUST. Props to ClubGlow and SteezPromo for booking them.
After the LetsBeFriends set had finished, I made my way over to check out the Stellar (Main) stage, which was conveniently located next to the Dance Tent. I walked directly dead center in front of the sound booth to test how the Main stage sounded, and I was thoroughly impressed. The kick felt warm and punchy as it should, and the sub had just the right amount of boom hitting you in the chest, yet the mids and highs were not distorted at all. Again, I added this to my mental checklist of all the positive aspects of this festival, which was increasingly growing as the day went on. Setting out to explore further, I headed towards the back of main stage to the “Misting Tent”, a spacious tent to keep festival goers out of the sun, lined with a plethora of misters spraying refreshing cold mist. It was the attention to little details like this that really began to set Moonrise apart from most of the festivals I have attended.
At this point it was almost 3:30 in the afternoon and I didn’t care to see anyone until 5, so I decided to grab something to eat. Now, I have an extremely sensitive stomach, so one can only imagine how festival food settles for me. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the variety of food that was present, with most of them being local vendors from the DC and Baltimore areas. I decided to go with the chicken on a stick from the Chinese food booth. After I eat it and didn’t immediately double over in agony, I went to the Media tent to hangout until 5.
Once the clock struck 5, I rushed to Main Stage to see an artist I had been dying to see for the past two years, trance superstar Orjan Nilsen. As expected, Orjan threw down an electrifying set of hard hitting and uplifting trance.
But what really got me about Orjan’s set was the passion he showed behind the boards while he was spinning. It was if the music was flowing through him before it hit the crowd. It was truly a site to behold. After Orjan’s set, I briefly stayed for Dannic before moving back towards the Media tent to wait until 7 to see an artist I never thought I would see live: Waka Flocka Flame.
If the Dance Tent had been rowdy before, than it was near absolute chaos during Waka’s set. Mosh pits were forming everywhere, and people were going absolutely “HAM”, as Waka played through newer songs such as “Wild Out”, while still managing to mix in older tunes such as “Hard In The Paint”. He even played new tunes off his upcoming EDM-Inspired Album, which is set to release sometime later this year. Once his set had ended and I was able to escape the madness of that stage, I made my way back to Main Stage to catch Sander Van Doorn.
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Although my interview with Sander had been cancelled due to his flight delay, he more than made up for it with the booming set he laid down on Main Stage while the sun was setting. He played a variety of progressive house tracks, such as Arty’s remix of “Lionhearted”, while still playing crowd favorites such as his banger “Guitar Track”. Sander also dropped his newest tune, “Get Enough”, a techno-esque track with one of the fattest kicks I have yet to hear.Even though I was enjoying Sander, I had to make my way over to the smallest stage at the festival to catch the act I had been waiting to see all day; Tchami.
I arrived at the Celestial Garden stage at at 9pm, right when Tchami was scheduled to play. As he took to the boards, there was no cheesy introduction. No annoying MC screaming at you. No annoying CO2 that deafens you. Just Tchami preparing to take you deep. The entire crowd, which was by far the smallest I had been in all day, was there for one reason; to move to the groove of Tchami. And groove we did. Tchami’s set was an hour of pure bliss, as he played everything ranging from lesser known deep house tunes, to more of his style of “future house”, such as his remixes of “Go Deep”, “MYB”, and “You Know You Like It”, as well as Don Diablo’s new future house banger “Anytime”.[
Once Tchami had ended, we made our way towards the exit. I managed to catch a bit of Bassnectar, and while I appreciate his music, it just really isn’t my style. Just as it had been easy to get an Uber Taxi to the festival, it was just as easy to get one out of the festival. And with that, Moonrise was over.
As I rode the Taxi home, I tried picking out things that were wrong with the festival for the purpose of this narrative, but alas I could not. Security was well run, and the workers seemed to genuinely care about the safety of the festival goers. Another huge upside, one that I didn’t realize until we left, was the amount of space I had during the day. I never once felt crowded or squished, even inside the Dance tent. I was always able to find a spot to dance or relax, whichever I needed at that moment, and these days, finding space to do ANYTHING at a Main Stage is a luxury.
If I had to have a top 3 sets of the day, it would have to have been Tchami, LetsBeFriends, and Orjan Nilsen, in that order. All in all, ClubGlow and SteezPromo demonstrated their ability to execute a festival perfectly. Its all in the details, people.
Keep on Grooving,