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Best Fests of 2019: Fresh Music Freaks Yearbook

by Fresh Music Freaks Staff

From the Party Olympics on a speedway to self-discovery in the magic woods; from Techno Christmas to headbangers’ Holy Land, and even a pilgrimage to the fabled festival Mecca in Belgium – 2019 brought us incredible adventure, and here we share our favorite memories from the year while exploring what made each fest so special.

Valedictorian | EDC Las Vegas

Cosmic Meadow stage seen from the bleachers | Photo via Insomniac

EDC Las Vegas is a phantasmagoric wonderland I can’t wait to return to!

Tigerlily
Bird’s eye view of EDC Las Vegas | Photo via Insomniac

On a whim, I hopped on a ferry to Ibiza in 2000, and ever since, not a single festival could measure up to the pageantry: the stages, theatrics, performers, and of course, the incomparable artists that left me in awe. Nothing rocked my world like Ibiza until my first vision of Electric Daisy Carnival Las Vegas. A sumptuous feast of the senses, Insomniac transforms the speedway into a sea of lights, colors, carnival rides, and beats as far as the eye can see and the ear can hear. I wasn’t the only one ooohing and aaahing as I descended the steps with thousands of festival-goers all wondering what we were going to do first in this amusement park for adults.

Due to the sheer number of stupendous artists from around the world, you simply can’t see everyone you want. Instead, I chose a few must-sees and then left the rest to fate. Night One favorites were Giuseppe Ottaviani‘s live set and Green Velvet’s old school House enhanced by a live singer. Night Two, that rapacious Captain Hook’d me, yet again, on his captivating style of Psytrance and the tribal feel of Black Coffee’s House woke me up and got me shaking my hips. Night Three was death by Techno with ANNA’s subtle melodies killing me slowly and Adam Beyer’s relentless beats dancing me right into the grave. Hands down, my ultimate set was ARTBAT. Their sound rests between the dark of Techno and the brilliance of Trance with bittersweet melodies and thought-provoking lyrics that left me wishing they’d played until sunrise.

Though it was difficult to pull myself away from the enormous, extravagant stages and gifted artists, wandering around EDC LV was what truly made the festival special. Performers like fire dancers and aerialists graced the stages, and mimes and stilt walkers could be found cruising the carnival. I often found myself gawking and forgetting what I saw saying mid-sentence. I found a “Mini Bar” where little people dressed as celebrities were singing karaoke and serving drinks, a chapel where couples were exchanging Kandi and vows, fully immersive light installations, and of course, the rides. There was a thrilling rollercoaster at sunset and a spinning vortex of nausea that nevertheless had me giggling long after I stumbled away.

If you’re like me and never want to grow up, then EDC LV is your Neverland too. I’m already counting down the days, and this time I’ll be RV camping for the fully immersed experience. There will be special sunrise sets, yoga, a pool, and so much more. Fly with me to EDC where dreams come alive before your very eyes!

Sandra Huitt | Editor in Chief

Oregon

Sandra's beautiful bootay
EDC Las Vegas | Photo via Sandra Huitt Fresh Music Freaks
The trance stage, Quantum Valley | Photo via Insomniac
Read our recap of EDC Las Vegas 2019 here!

Most Likely to Wear all Black | Movement

Movement
Movement | Photo via Stephen Bondio Photography

Black shirts, black souls…. find me in the underground.

Aimee Rivas
Orbital at Movement
Fresh Music Freaks Interviews Orbital | Movement Festival

One of my favorite events this year would have to be Movement Electronic Music Festival. Techno fans from all over the world make the trek to Detroit for Memorial Day weekend. The city is filled with activity and the energy is amazing. The festival is just one of the events happening during Detroit Techno Week; there are also club shows everywhere you turn and the city is abuzz with excitement!

The lineup this year was stacked and featured Josh Wink, Charlotte de Witte, Orbital, ANNA, Get Real, J. Phlip, Stephan Bodzin, and many others. My favorite set from the weekend was Amelie Lens. This chick is a master behind the decks and the energy she brings is astounding. One of the many highlights of the weekend was being able to assist in interviewing Electronic Music legends Orbital. They were extremely nice guys and they hadn’t played in The States in over a decade. The interview went off without a hitch and their set later that evening was phenomenal.

This year was my second time attending Movement and I always say the second time attending any fest is the best. You know what to expect, the lay of the land and what to do and not to do. This year at Movement was no exception. I had a blast!

I got introduced to new artists, heard some amazing music and made some new friends along the way. Detroit will always have a piece of my heart and I can’t wait for my next adventure at Techno Christmas. If you haven’t had a chance to check out Movement for yourselves, put it on your to-do list for 2020.

Aimee Rivas | Team Lead Editor

Texas

Jt and Aimee
Movement | Photo via Aimee Rivas
Listen to our interview with Orbital
Read our recap of Movement 2019 here!

Most Likely to Change Lives | Electric Forest

Fan-favorite Forest creatures the Curious Kukuricoos | Photo via Alex Lamb

Magic is very real all throughout Electric Forest – and it will set you free.

Alex Lamb
Into the Forest I go, to lose my mind and free my soul | Photo via Alex Lamb

During my third trip through the fantastical Neverland of Electric Forest, seeds of self-actualization I planted there last year came into full bloom and I discovered greater magic than ever before as I focused on adventure, exploration, and connection more than the music. Photographing the vibrant beauty of this place and the eclectic attendees who bring it to life gave me a resounding appreciation for all the extraordinary work that goes into creating its otherworldly, artistic environment – and how free people feel while immersing themselves within it.

I exuded that spirit by fully transforming into my vivacious, dazzlingly LED-clad alter ego there, consequently attracting and interacting with a record number of new people as well as catching up with tons of established friends. I got to come home to my happiest place and bask in the love of the Forest Family, simultaneously spreading that love and wonder to everyone I could.

After a year of envisioning it, my ultimate moment of manifestation came as I organically assembled my League of Extraordinary Dancers with five other illuminated superheroes, taking command of the dancefloor at Black Tiger Sex Machine. Seeing ODESZA with one of my closest friends (at her first Forest) provided catharsis so deep that I finally started to get in touch with my emotions and open my heart.

The breathtaking art installations opened the gateway to a mystically stunning dimension that I never quite left. Completing the scavenger hunt was a personal achievement that consumed a lot of time but stands as one of my most memorable Sherwood side-quests. And then there was the historic Bassnectar set, where the bass legend unleashed a jaw-dropping mix of rare and righteous tracks that carried the crowd into transcendental territory.

Electric Forest has a special way of revitalizing the soul, and this year it didn’t just inspire me creatively – it pushed me to express that creativity in profound ways that unlocked my higher potential as a festgoer and as an artist/writer.

Alex Lamb | Editor at Large

Colorado

Read our recap of Electric Forest 2019 here!

Our Electric Forest experience in 2019 was breathtaking. Did you secure your tickets for 2020? We cannot wait to reunite with all your beautiful faces! #HappyForest

Posted by freshmusicfreaks.com on Thursday, December 5, 2019
Click here to view our Electric Forest 2019 photo gallery
League of Extraordinary Dancers Electric Forest
Catwoman, Doctor StrangeLamb, Thor, Black Panther, Green Lantern and Deadpool assemble as the League of Extraordinary Dancers | Photo via Alex Lamb

Most Likely to Make You Want to Become a Canadian Citizen | Bass Coast

Bass Coast 2019
Bass Coast Slay Bay | Photo via Bass Coast

I now know why Bass Coast earned it’s name “Babe Coast”

Darby Rayanne
Bass Coast Music Festival
Live Boiler Room Set | Photo via Bass Coast

Every inch of Bass Coast is a layer of creativity and expression. This could be found while wandering through the immersive art installations carefully crafted by the loving hands of an artist. The art isn’t just in the form of installations, each of the four stages has been hand-crafted into a visual masterpiece. Bass Coast’s standard of curation, production, and execution is something that I have never seen at a festival before. 

Bass Coast made Canadian Electronic Music history this year. For the first time ever, Boiler Room streamed live in Canada, which is such a huge feat for this fest and the small town of Merritt, BC to host this massive, international streaming platform. The vibes during the Boiler Room sets were unmatched, the energy pulsed through the artists, the crowd, and I’m sure to the people watching at home. It has always been on my bucket list to attend a Boiler Room set. Bass Coast made my dreams come true. Not only did I get to experience the wicked vibe that Boiler Room brings, but I also got to witness The Librarian (Bass Coast’s Co-Founder) in her element during her Boiler Room debut; it gave me goosebumps. 

I am already ecstatic about returning next year as a member of the Bass Coast Street Team and representing Fresh Music Freaks! July can’t come fast enough.

Darby Rayanne | Team Lead Editor

Canada

Bass Coast
Bass Coast | Photo via Darby Rayanne
Read our recap of Bass Coast 2019 here!

Prom King and Queen | Tomorrowland Belgium

tomorrowland 2019
Tomorrowland Belgium 2019 | Photo via Tomorrowland

This pre-mid-life fest-crisis is getting out of hand.

Jennifer Fall
USA Tomorrowland
Tomorrowland USA Meetup | Photo via Rudgr.com

This year was an incredible journey of festing, and no journey would be complete without attending your number one bucket-list festival. Tomorrowland has always been on my radar as the dream festival. Every year I tried and failed to get tickets through the general on-sale, and every year I continued to put it off with the age-old “next year” adage. With the 15-year anniversary celebration looming overhead, I started saving, planning, and coordinating for two years to attend the most prestigious electronic music festival in the world. 

You know what they say… buy the ticket, take the ride? Well, Tomorrowland is more than just a ride. It is literally the place that dreams are made of. So much more than solely about the music (although every single set was stellar, even the Mainstage artists) Tomorrowland is an all-encompassing event that blends every culture in the world together united for their love for music. Everything from the stages, performers, set and sound quality, the restaurants, the clientele, activities, and camping is built to please every desire. 

Coupling Tomorrowland with a two-week-long Euro-trip to England to visit Stonehenge, London, and Brighton, and then to Spain for Barcelona and Ibiza, brought new and old friends together, further cementing its place in my heart and position as my favorite festival trip of all time. I feel so blessed to have shared the experience with so many beautiful people.

Jennifer Fall | Managing Director | FMF Rave Mom

Indiana

Tomorrowland 2019
Photo of Jennifer Fall and Valerie White at Tomorrowland | Photo via Fresh Music Freaks
Read our recap of Tomorrowland 2019 here!

Most Likely to Join a Cult | Group Therapy Weekender

ABGT Weekender Sunset
ABGT Weekender Sunset | Image Via @JodyWisternoff

Wherever Anjuna Family is, that’s where I feel at home!

Tanya Rincon
Group Therapy Weekender
Group Therapy Weekender | Photo via Alive Coverage

I had my very first Gorge experience this summer attending Above & Beyond: Group Therapy Weekender. This was absolutely the musical highlight of my entire year! Start to end, my Weekender experience was nothing short of incredible. I have never had the opportunity to attend a Group Therapy event and connect with a lot of people I have become friends with through various online Anjuna groups over the years. Meeting internet friends in real life was so fucking awesome!!! I am an active member of the Anjuna Angels group and meeting some of the wonderful Angels made the weekend so special! The vibe at the campsites was beyond relaxing. I spent the weekend camping with a huge group of Anjuna lovers just like me!!! Walking among the campsites and hearing nothing but beautiful Anjuna tunes made me feel like I had finally found my true musical tribe.

The lineup was SUCH an excellent selection of everything the label has to offer, new and old. Day one Andrew Bayer treated us to an incredible hour of sunset music that I am sure I will not be soon forgetting. Of course, the boys of Above & Beyond completely killed their set. Jono and Tony were there that night behind the deck which was a little disappointing to not have all three of them, BUT! Paavo was actually in the crowd dancing so we had the whole trio after all! Looking back on the massive hill that is the Gorge and seeing it filled with beautiful Anjuna Fam grooving along was something else.

Day two was DEEP DAY!!! Now, don’t get me wrong, I love AnjunaBeats, but AnjunaDeep vibes just get me tearing up a dance floor! Seeing Ben Böhmer live was truly a treat. I had poured over so much of his music leading up to the event so I was absolutely ready for his set. My day two highlight was that crazy deep-set Yotto threw down to close out the whole festival weekend. Yotto puts out a certain type of energy that is so indescribable. All I can say is I did not leave the dance floor for a single moment. When the boys of Above & Beyond came out at the end of Yotto’s set and announced we would be returning to the Gorge in 2021, I felt a huge wave of relief. I always get fest withdrawals when I realize the weekend is almost over, but this announcement definitely took the edge off that. You can bet your sweet ass I’ll be right back there in 2021 with my hula hoop!!

Tanya Rincon | Team Lead Editor

Arizona

Group Therapy Weekender
Group Therapy Weekender | Photo via Tanya Rincon
Sunset at the Gorge | Photo via Alive Coverage
Read our recap of Group Therapy Weekender 2019 here!

Most Likely to Succeed | Moonrise

Moonrise Festival
Moonrise Festival

I’ll always cherish the out of this world memories I’ve created with my Mooncrew!

Megan Bailey
Moonrise
Moonrise | Photo via Moonrise

Moonrise Festival, which celebrated its sixth birthday this year, holds such a special place in my heart because it was the first festival I ever went to. This year, I got to be a part of the powerhouse team that runs it. While ravers danced the night away under fireworks and lasers without a care in the world, I was backstage scouring the make-shift offices to look for a lost PS4 controller for Slushii’s meet and greet, running to Target last minute to purchase a table for a vendor booth, and sprinting across the festival to relieve a worn-out worker whose replacement never showed up.

To most, this wouldn’t sound fun at all. I only saw a total of three-and-a-half sets the entire weekend and had very little time to be with my friends. For me, though, the experience was something that felt life-changing. It helped completely renew my appreciation of the EDM community and gave me a deeper understanding of just how much blood, sweat and tears it takes to put a festival together. Working 12 hours a day to make sure things went off without a hitch – so that each raver could have a special and positive experience – solidified how much I want to continue to be a part of this industry. I was incredibly honored to give back to a festival that has given me so much, and can’t wait to see what the 2020 festival has in store.

Megan Bailey | Social Media Editor

Virginia

MOONRISE FESTIVAL – DAY TWO – RECAP!

Mooncrew! Your Day Two Recap has arrived! Thank you so much for joining us to make Moonrise Festival 2019 at Pimlico Race Course absolutely mind-blowing! Thank you so much to all the fans, friends, artists, and staff who came together to make this year truly magical! 🚀👽👨🏿‍🚀🌙✨

Posted by Moonrise Festival on Monday, August 12, 2019
Megan at Moonrise Festival 2019
Meeting i_o at Moonrise | Photo via Megan Bailey

Most Likely to Shuffle | Electric Island

Electric Island
Electric Island | Photo via Wes C

When I’m out here, it’s just electric!

Hannah Berney

Electric Island
Electric Island | Photo via Electric Island

My favorite festival for 2019 was most definitely Electric Island, specifically the last two stops in August and September. Electric Island is a Summer series of four to five concerts in Toronto that regularly features some of the best house and techno acts to come through the city.

The August Edition was held in Toronto’s Woodbine Park, and it was like summer personified. As the sun beat down my friends and I lounged in oversized lawn chairs, ate ourselves silly from the multiple food stands set up, and purchased awesome merch from the Sub Label clothing booth (a brand I would later write about). True to their form they had two different stages, and switching back and forth between the two is always a fun adventure. Relaxing in the grass surrounded by trees and watching the sun set as I listened to the likes of Lee Foss, Dusky, and Hot Since 82 made a strong case for every future summer festival to be held in a park like Woodbine.

The September edition of Electric Island was hosted at West Island. West Island is a man-made island on the southern waterfront of Toronto, and the venue was very large. They had a large space for MainStage, and winding tunnels to explore that would take you to the smaller Moog Audio stage, a cute hidden market with clothes and accessories for sale, and a food truck bazaar. The production value was the best I had seen in years, with none of the usual pratfalls of it being hosted on the island- no big lines for drinks or washrooms, and no mad dash for the exit when it was all over. Plus, dancing my heart out to Claude Vonstroke while surrounded by my best friends was a fantastic way to close out the summer.

Hannah Berney | Assistant Team Lead Editor

Canada

Electric Island
Electric Island | Photo via Kurt Hoop
Read our recap of Electric Island 2019 here!

Most Down-to-Earth Vibes | Imagine

ATL HOE fan Atlanta
The rallying cry: ATL HOE | Photo via Alex Lamb

Imagine 2019: Lost phones and Horchata sex fantasies. Never Forget!

Kelly Fresh
Imagine 2019
Imagine 2019 crew | Photo via Kelly Fresh

Without a doubt, 2019 has been a year of huge transformation and growth for me. Multiple major life transitions saw me pick up and start fresh in Brooklyn and in the midst of it all, I rediscovered my love of raving and myself as a raver! A big part of that was Imagine Music Festival in Atlanta. It was my first time going to the bass-heavy fest at the Atlanta Motor Speedway and walking into the speedway that first night, with the stands rattling me to my core and huge flames shooting out of the Disco Inferno stage is something I will always remember.

The stage production was amazing and Cherub played a set so good, it may have helped change my life! I got to spend time with old friends and rave fam and added a whole gang of new friends to my life as well. The crowd was amazing. We danced our asses off to the Dirtybird Players then washed our asses off in the huge speedway shower houses. We overcame obstacles. Things were lost and then found. We laughed, we cried, we drank horchata. Imagine 2019 – we owned it!

Kelly Fresh | Editor at Large

New York City

Read our recap of Imagine 2019 here!

Warm up from the cold with our blazing gallery from Imagine Festival!

Posted by freshmusicfreaks.com on Sunday, December 22, 2019
Click here to view our Imagine 2019 photo gallery

Most Likely to Headbang | Lost Lands

headbangers
Headbangers | Photo via divisuals

Lost Lands was Bass Heaven in Legend Valley!

RiMo
Pyrotechnics fire on the front of the Wompy Woods
Photo via Fadedwoodlive

Attending Lost Lands Music Festival was life-changing for me. In fact, I haven’t stopped thinking about this festival since I left it. I was blown away by the effort that Excision took to make sure the festival had top-notch artists, was well organized, safe, and ensured that all attendees had a good time. With all the fun of going to see the dinosaurs, light shows, and music, they also focused on wellness and a wonderful sense of community of headbangers that I loved, and still love.

I made so many friends and discovered so many things about myself and I am a better person for it. I would go so far as to say that the Lost Land Organizers’ main objective was to spread happiness into the world.

Why was this festival so important to me? It was the level of acceptance and exploration that was presented in a way that I had not experienced before. Lost Lands cared about their attendees and it showed. If you are looking for a unique festival experience with more than just music, then Lost Lands is the event for you. It was pure magic and I love that I had the opportunity to be there. 

RiMo | Editor At Large

New York City

Another legendary year in Lost Lands history 🌋 We're already counting the days until we're reunited once again 💚 🎥@brxvn & The Lost Lands Media Team

Posted by Lost Lands Music Festival on Wednesday, October 2, 2019
Lost Lands 2019 stage shot in color
Lost Lands 2019 | via Jake West Photos
Read our recaps of Lost Lands 2019 here!

Most School Spirit | Dirtybird Campout West Coast

Double dutch jumprope
Double dutch jump rope | Photo via Alex Lamb

Dirtybird, where your inner child gets to play by adult rules. Get dirty, get weird, let your freak flag fly!

Haley Wood
Vibeapple Dirty Vibird Dirtybird Campout 2019
Vibeapple becomes the Dirty Vibird | Photo via Alex Lamb

Hands down my favorite festival of 2019 was Dirtybird Campout West Coast. This was my second year returning to campout’s new home at Modesto Reservoir and I have to say, I might be hooked for life! As someone who is an avid ship attendee (Holy Ship! and Friendship), this is the next best thing and the closest to ship vibes I’ve found thus far.

We all get brought back to our childhood with summer-camp feels and ramp up some competitive nature as we all get placed on four different teams by day one. Randomly assigned red, orange, green and purple teams, artists and attendees alike, compete against one another to rack in enough points from all the events to win bragging rights of that year’s campout. There are so many different ways to fill your day-to-day including tournaments, field games, reservoir activities, craftopia and of course, never-ending beats.

I simply cannot get enough of the around-the-clock house music and absurd renegades you’ll find sprinkled through the campsites.  My absolute favorite moment was being inside a dear friend from Denver’s RV,  watching Justin and Christian Martin slap a filthy Drum’n’Bass set, and realizing that I was the only one inside the RV to witness it. Campout is a place and feeling I could never replace. If you love camping, Dirtybird Records and a splash of mind-bending bass music, I highly suggest you swing by in 2020 to check out what all the birdies are talkin’ about.

Haley Wood | Team Lead Editor

Colorado

Read our recap of Dirtybird Campout West Coast 2019 here!
dirty bird west coast
Dirty Bird West Coast | Photo via Haley Wood

All Birdies Go To Heaven

Posted by freshmusicfreaks.com on Tuesday, December 24, 2019
Click here to view our Dirtybird Campout 2019 photo gallery

Most Musically Diverse | Austin City Limits

Austin City Limits
Austin City Limits | Photo via RadSeason.com

I think my Camelback is almost out of water…. let’s go get beer.

Eric Valencia
Austin City Limits
Austin City Limits | Photo via Eric Rincon

My favorite festival for any year will almost always be one that is eclectic, so for this year it is the Austin City Limits Music Festival (ACL) that really stands out. Held at Zilker Park, there was a little something available for everyone.

Day one brought the bassy, dubby sounds of TroyBoi as well as all the feels that Jai Wolf is known to deliver. The Raconteurs were fun, with Jack White being everything you imagine him to be. The night ended with a two-and-a-half-hour set from Guns N’ Roses that set a bar higher than any other artist was able to meet that weekend. It was one of the longest sets I have ever been to yet somehow didn’t seem long enough.

Day two brought Billie Eilish, the 18-year-old artist who has dominated the pop world for 2019. Her set brought what seemed like nearly every person in the venue to the mainstage. Navigating anywhere closer to the stage than a few hundred feet was met with heavy resistance for those that braved the trek. She was supported by her brother FINNEAS, who had his own solo set earlier that day. Judah & the Lion was a mountain of energy that just never let up, constantly bouncing and sprinting across the stage. The two closers for the night, at the very opposite ends of the park, were The Cure and Childish Gambino. Seeing as I didn’t want to end my night spiraling into an existential crisis, I chose Childish Gambino and was not disappointed.

The final day brought things to a close with the funky beats of GRiZ and the catchy hooks of FISHER. While FISHER played a somewhat predictable set, I am slightly ashamed to admit how much I enjoyed it. Throughout the festival were art installations, a devoted stage for children, an extensive beer garden that helped to rejuvenate you from the sweltering humidity, and a ridiculous amount of free swag from sponsors. ACL lived up to its reputation and is absolutely a festival I will make my way back to someday.

Eric Valencia | Contributor

Arizona

Donald Glover announced ACL was his final performance as Childish Gambino | Photo via Greg Noire for ACL Fest
Austin City Limits
Austin City Limits | Photo via Charles Reagan Hackleman
Read our recap of Austin City Limits 2019 here!

Most Enchanting | EDC Orlando

The illuminated Pixel Forest | Photo via Insomniac

I couldn’t have asked for a better experience to close out my festival season.

Becca Parks
Edc Orlando
EDC Orlando | Photo via Becca Parks

The most memorable festival I went to this year is none other than EDC Orlando. The stage designs were impressive and exciting to watch. There were little pockets of excitement in every inch of the festival from the immersive art experiences to the friends you’d meet sitting under the glowing trees. There were groups of fairies, giant flowers, or acrobats that you would find scurrying past you or flowing in the wind.

Although it rained the first night, the weather for the rest of the weekend was beautiful. I grew up in a tropical climate, so being in the Florida weather felt especially homey to me. The environment and atmosphere were so special that a stacked line-up was just the cherry on top.

My favorite sets from the weekend were Blunts & Blondes, Cray, Nora En Pure, Alison Wonderland, Rezz, and Excision. I also spent close to an hour in the Beyond The Light exhibit. I grew so fond of it that I searched and found the song they used as the soundtrack. I couldn’t have asked for a better experience to close out my festival season.

Becca Parks | Photography Editor

South Carolina

Read our recap of EDC Orlando 2019 here!
EDC Orlando
EDC Orlando | Photo via Becca Parks

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