As we move into the New Year, and resolutions are made… We at Fresh Music Freaks resolve to fest harder, better, faster and stronger… (here’s looking at you Daft Punk) and most notably longer. Our favorite festival of 2018 list will help you make all the festival resolutions you need moving into the new year.
Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be witnessing such a spectacularly all-encompassing set both visually and musically until Creamfields 2018 delivered Eric Prydz’s epic Holo. I legitimately planned my trip in seven days and jumped on a plane to experience the wonder for myself. I endured constant rain, mud up to my knees, miles
Jennifer Fall | Fresh Music Freaks Co-Editor in Chief
Paradiso at the Gorge Amphitheatre
My very first festival was at the Gorge Amphitheatre in 2001 and I’ve gone to so many shows there it feels like my vacation home. So Paradiso easily took the cup for my festival of the year. USC puts great care into making it a visual extravaganza and they didn’t disappoint with their lush stage designs and phenomenal performers–from talented, costumed dancers to stilt walkers dressed like giant flowers. Day one of Diso, Armin Van Buuren’s set on the mainstage was straight fire, so y’all can talk as much shit as you want, but all I hear is Blah, Blah, Blah. Now, one thing you can always count on at The Gorge is crazy fucking weather, like the time it hailed golf ball size chunks of ice for 40 minutes. So on the second day, I wasn’t surprised when we had to wait out a torrential downpour at camp. When we finally got to the lockers and heard over the loudspeakers that everyone had to evacuate due to lightning strikes, I looked at my crew and said “the hell we are, we just got here!” They tried, but we didn’t move more than 50 feet. So we scored prime spots at the mainstage to have our minds blown by trance god Paul Van Dyk with a flaming orange sunset, sheets of rain, and lightning bolts hitting the ground in the distance. With only a single track build-up, he then assaulted us with 45 minutes of gorgeous, banging trance. And because my girl Marina swore there was no way she’d miss Tchami x Malaa’s No Redemption set, I stuck to the mainstage, and FUUUUUUCK, they had me dancing my ass off. Last but not least was Captain Hook, psytrance DJ extraordinaire. My feet hurt so bad from 2 days of dancing and miles of walking, but I couldn’t help but shake it throughout his set. I absolutely love when DJs interact with the crowd and he repeatedly checked us out right before mixing in a stellar track. The huge grin that would cross his face when his track had the desired effect was so endearing. What I took away from Paradiso 2018 was a newfound love for psytrance and tech house, and a reaffirmation that I have the best rave family and festie bestie (looking at you Steph) EVER.
Tigerlily | FMF Managing Editor
After spending the season traveling from festival to festival, flying and driving back and forth across the country, we still cannot get Rezz Rocks out of our minds. Never have we felt so utterly surrounded by family–our Cult of Rezz family. There is something so special about a group of people coming from all over the world to meet up at one destination to experience the same soul-capturing event. Of course, we all know how this feels, as music festivals themselves are those exact events. But there was just a certain kind of magic present when we entered Denver. The entire weekend was filled with Cult meetups all over the city. Then, when the day finally arrived, climbing those stairs, and seeing the rocks lit up, it just felt as if we had waited our entire lives for this moment. Rezz truly has a way of captivating an audience, of hypnotizing fans, of connecting souls. She abducted us on those rocks in October, and we are ready to do it all over again next year.
Taylor Morgan & Joshua Andrews | FMF Contributors
I sailed my way into 2018 on the grand journey of Holy Ship 10.0, and although it was an amazing experience, Escape Halloween kidnapped my soul to become my favorite festival of the year. I chose Escape as my 2018 Festi Fave because of the attention to detail. Everything from the performers, to the ambience, the VIP take-home lanyards, and the mere fact that everything just went right, Escape took the tombstone and allowed me to escape for a weekend. Surprise appearances by Under Oath, and a B2B set from A-Trak and Yehme2 were the standouts for me. They’re a dynamic duo and I cannot express my feelings of appreciation for their talent. Without a doubt I will be following their growth over 2019.
Meag Bo | FMF Contributor
Spirit of Suwannee Music Park is my happy place! Those who organize Hulaween each year do a fantastic job putting together a diverse lineup and an incredible little playground remenicent of Sherwood Forest. My favorite new feature of 2018 was definitely the mist and light visuals above Spirit Lake! In addition to Hulaween being logistically sound and sporting a reliably good lineup each year, the community had nothing but great vibes and welcomed all with open arms. Suffice to say, I will absolutely be returning to Hulaween every chance I get!
Erik Sisco | FMF Contributor
Hands down my favorite festival of 2018
Denzil Chung | FMF Contributor
The Spirit of Techno returns home to Detroit every Memorial Day weekend as downtown’s Hart Plaza transforms into a concrete colosseum of techno madness and raving glory. This year featured the best lineup of female DJs in any one festival I’ve encountered yet. Queen of Techno Nina Kraviz summoned a whirlwind of fierce beats, trailblazers Charlotte de Witte and Helena Hauff mixed unbelievably intense sets in Resident Advisor’s otherworldly underground stage, and J.Phlip, Mija, and Rezz took the crowd into space at the Stargate Stage. I got down to the legendary John Digweed for the first time alongside a crew of breakdancers on the floor of the epic amphitheater, and the masterful Maceo Plex reverberated full blast at the improved pyramid stage against the stunning backdrop of the Detroit River. This all added to the freshest and most fulfilling weekend of music I’ve ever experienced. Seeing two forerunners of their respective scenes, French producer Laurent Garnier, and the 25th anniversary of Wu-Tang Clan put the cherry on top. With so many worthwhile acts overlapping, it’s a blessing that Hart Plaza’s design allows one to bounce between stages in a mere 5 minutes, catching far more sets than a typical fest.
Alex Lamb | FMF Contributor
Ultra Music Festival
There are thousands of different music festivals spanning across the world that encompass numerous genres of music — so which one is my fave fest? It’s an easy choice for me… Ultra Music Festival in Miami, FL. Ultra was the first music festival I’ve ever attended and truly changed my life. When I walked through those gates in 2015; I knew I would never look back. Some people say that they love a festival for the lineup, the vibes, or maybe the location, but for me Ultra means so much more than that. Yes, it has a world-class lineup. It’s also staged in Miami which has chill beach vibes as well as crazy out-all-night vibes. All that is great and certainly adds to the many reason why Ultra is my favorite festival — but Ultra has allowed me to meet hundreds of people with the same passion for music I have and those people have become somewhat of a family to me. Ultra also hosts the ASOT stage where you can find me riding the rail. Even just writing this is getting me pumped for what’s to come in a few months from now. Can’t wait to see you all there!
Nadine Pastercrzyk | FMF Contributor
Hidden in the Canadian wilderness far away from large speedways or stadiums, Shambhala Music Festival hosts some of the best that electronic music and festival culture has to offer. Twenty-one years of love and dedication have grown the farm into the perfect venue, complete with interactive art, lush gardens, woods to explore and a river to soak in. Beautiful stages with sound systems that outclass those of much larger festivals host massive performances that still feel intimate, providing an unparalleled setting to see big names and up and coming artists. But like all great festivals, Shambhala’s true magic comes from the community it brings together. Without corporate sponsors or even VIP tickets, the festival presents a unique vision of what a festival can be, and encourages the creativity of attendees to add to the experience. Anyone seeking a truly inspiring festival experience need look no further than Shambhala.
Gavin McDermott | FMF Contributor
2018 has been a great year for Fresh Music Freaks and its staff. We hope you had a great year too!
Comment below with your favorite festival from 2018!