Festivals

Mysteryland 2015 Brings Woodstock Spirit Back to Life



June 9th, 2015

by

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If you had told me ten years ago that I would one day spend a weekend camping on the Woodstock grounds, hearing some of my favorite artists play and dancing nonstop, I would have never believed you. In ten years, though, I’ve grown into what I would consider a semi-professional festival-goer, and very little surprises me anymore. That’s why this year, going to Mysteryland was no big deal to me. It was, in my mind, just another festival, offering nothing new outside of what I had already experienced. But I was proven wrong — Mysteryland (ML) was the electronic Woodstock. It was the perfect balance of perfectly curated music, art, and activities with a well-organized festival and camping grounds, fitting itself into the top of the list as one of the most solid festivals in the US and setting new expectations for local festivals to meet.
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When it comes to camping festivals, I’m a big fan of the overnight drive to the campgrounds to grab the first claim of campsites — this time, though, my camping crew and I opted for a mid-day venture. When we reached Bethel, everything seemed spot-on — signs off the highway directed us straight to the campgrounds, and police officers were present to give us directions. After a brief search of our car at the first security checkpoint, we parked quickly, lugged our things to the gates, and proceeded to wait over an hour to have our bags searched at the second checkpoint. That hour wait was a mess of bad vibes, pushy, impatient people, and heaps of garbage to wade through as we moved six inches forward every two minutes.
Once we finally got through the security tent, it was a breath of fresh air: the campgrounds were gorgeous. Through the gates, our first sight was a stretch of sprawling ground, with Mysteryland-branded towers throughout marking each field in the Holy Grounds and (thankfully) roped off pathways to walk through so as not to disturb any camp sites.
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After the initial struggles entering, everything was uphill — quite literally, as the walk to festival grounds took about 20 minutes to an area overlooking the campgrounds. I headed up the steep, flag-lined hill into festival grounds with two goals in mind: find a new act and love them. With a lineup so varied and talented, I came in with no plans for the first time in my festival-going life, which turned out to be the best plan I’ve ever made — being brought to see Josh Wink in the Beatport Big Top tent was the perfect way to kick off the festival. In the cold weather, the packed and self-heated tent was a luxury, and Josh Wink’s set was a treat, seamlessly blending techno and house to keep us dancing (and warm!) throughout his entire run.
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We knew we needed our rest for the weekend, so we planned on only staying for one set. On our walk back to festival gates, though, our crew heard the Spice Girls’ “Wannabe” bumping from the Boat stage, and it was game over. Newbie Eauxzown took control, mixing pop classics with heavy bass beats and convincing us to stay on grounds just a little bit longer and keep on dancing. This really set the tone for the weekend — there were countless moments where I would walk by a stage and have to stay because the music there was just too good to pass on.
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Back at the campgrounds, plenty of opening parties pulled everyone out of their tents and onto the dance floor at Plaza Central. Between the Pineapple Paradise, a stage covered with balloons to resemble a pineapple, and BangOn! NYC, an area surrounded by people sitting in and dancing on purple school buses, the party was unstoppable. The Golden Pony stepped out onto the BangOn! stage wearing a buffalo hat, opening with Warren G’s “Regulate,” and the night could only get wilder. I headed back to camp early, being lulled to sleep by the muted house rhythms traveling over from the plaza.
Daytime at Mysteryland was just as exciting of an adventure as the night. With plenty of food options at Plaza Central and on grounds to keep everyone energized, everyone was awake and alert early in the day to dance and explore. The Woodstock Museum opened to the public during the day, and activities scattered across the grounds kept everyone busy, from an open ball pit to live speakers to a life-size game of Mousetrap. My personal favorite was the art installation Incendia, a giant geodesic dome with a fire-proof ceiling; at night, lighted flames danced across it and intermittently shot upwards in bursts towards the sky. The area was packed on Saturday night with those looking for an easy way to warm up before heading back out to dance. Despite Friday and Saturday night dropping to a brisk 30 degrees at the coldest, no one seemed to mind too much — everyone was too busy dancing and exploring to pay much attention to the cold.
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Once day two got going, everything was a whirlwind. I never stopped moving, whether that meant I was dancing or traveling from stage to stage or checking out the awesome food options offered via Smorgasburg. And with only 50,000 people in attendance, everything seemed so intimate. I had plenty of friends that I planned to meet up with, and on multiple occasions, I turned around during a set to see those friends unexpectedly standing next to me. While I would like to say the music was the best part, my favorite moments came from the people, like the man in a faun mask DJing on a cart decorated like a frog, the new friends who approached me to make sure I was okay being on my own (I just wanted to see everything!), and the group of strangers with whom I huddled in Incendia, sharing a hypnotizing moment just staring at the flames and talking about how freaking cool it was. It was the Woodstock spirit embodied in the modern form — everyone was there for everyone, which made the whole experience even better.
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The music did continue to impress over the weekend, though, with highlights varying between bass music, house, techno, and beyond. Standout acts like Space Jesus, JackLNDN, Maya Jane Coles, Anna Lunoe, Ida Engberg, Giraffage, TJR, Moon Boots and Netsky dominated, and nothing was less than grand. As an added bonus, each stage was spaced out so perfectly that sound never bled over, and sound systems were set up perfectly for respective genres: the Boat, one of the most bass-centric stages, was cleverly set up outside to let the hard-hitting music reach the crowd without padding down the sound, and the Beatport Big Top tent contained thumping techno beats despite being so close to the main stage.
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While this year’s closing ceremony — a fireworks show in the same fashion as Disney’s nightly shows — was hyped up after last year’s incredible show, it fell flat this time around. After three straight nights of incredible music, dancing, and vibes, a five-minute speech and firework show just weren’t enough to send us off after an unbelievable weekend.
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We left the grounds early on Monday morning, before the rush could really hit and traffic became a problem, so I thankfully had a peaceful end to the weekend. While I may have left exhausted, the whole weekend was so primly executed that I found myself wishing the festival had started on Thursday, giving us an extra day of adventure, peace, and music.

 

 

 



With a love of dance music stemming from countless years of dance lessons and bass-thumping car rides with her music-obsessed father, Sarah Ribeiro is a Hartford-raised music addict who moved to Boston in the pursuit of a supportive and open nightlife scene. A passion for learning and a willingness to grow has pulled her out of her trancehead sphere and exposed her to a crazy variety of music and introduced her to some of the most amazing people (and events) Boston has to offer. A writer and social mediac, her main interests are music, literature, technology, art, and her first love: the city of Boston.