Mysteryland Coalesces Past and Present in the Shadow of Woodstock Tweet Dylan Reddick Wed June 22, 2016 6:54 pm From June 10th-13th thousands of festival-goers descended upon the small town of Bethel, New York, as many had done forty years prior at the legendary Woodstock Festival. Times have changedand now Mysteryland USA has staked its claim to that hallowed musical ground,boasting a lineup brimming with electronic acts and a smattering of hip hop. We were there to take in the sounds and sights of the festival’s third year on thegrounds, a bombastic multi-day marathon of music.The first day’s festivities started off slowly, as campers and patrons began to file into the festival grounds. The first main stage act to draw a sizeable crowd was Mr. Carmack, whose set featured some bouncy remixes, including a bass-heavy take on Jay Rock’s “Vice City”, but the awkward pauses during the transitions inhibited the audience’s ability to sustain its energy. However, the momentum picked up as Gesaffelstein took the stage and delivered a crowd-pleasing set as the sun faded beneath the horizon, breathing life into the growing crowd at the main stage. Odesza closed out Friday’s performances with a fantastic set, consisting of a variety of their most popular songs and remixes. A backing band complimented the performance, and the cleanly mixed percussion played by Catacomb kid and BeachesBeaches gave the night’s atmosphere a vibrantly emotive vibe. Assisted by the ethereal nature of theirsound, Odesza had the best and most passionate performance of the day. As they played their hit “Say My Name”, one audience member was in tears. Explaining through a smile to the various onlookers “This is my girlfriend’s favorite song”, providing a fine example of the weekend’s tone, pure unadulterated joy, best shared.As the specter of a midday rainstorm left the mountains late in the afternoon, day two began in earnest, featuring more artists than the first day and a far more eclectic lineup. Allan Kingdom topped off the day’s early main stage performances with an electrifying set played to a small but devoted crowd. He was one of the few hip-hop acts on the bill, but his charisma and energetic song selection bridged the gap for the few early birds that showed up to see him. Following Allan Kingdom played The Floozies, whose afternoon performance gathered a large and lively crowd. Their mixture of acoustic drums, sampling, and guitar flowed effortlessly, working into grooves that kept the audience enthralled. The deep staccato rhythms of Mark Hill’s drums locked in perfectly with his brother Matt’s sleek legato guitar licks for a brilliantly lush performance.Sets by Autograf, Black Tiger Sex Machine, and Tchami held up the rest of the day nicely with a diverse mix of sounds and consistently strong energy. The main stage’s night performances began with The Chainsmokers, whose performance garnered a warm reaction from the crowd. Unfortunately their bass was rather cumbersome and overbearing in the mix, doing little to give the performance any real danceable groove outside of the more mid-ranged melodies. Young Thug played next and was the biggest disappointment of the weekend. This was largely in part to his DJ, who started and stopped the music so much it bordered on the absurd. It seemed intended that the audience would sing along where it stopped, but the ridiculous frequency of the stops and an audience that seemed rather unfamiliar with his music made for multiple embarrassing silences. I’d seen Thugga play a great show at the 9:30 Club only a few weeks prior, and the stop-starts occurred a couple times there as well. However those times were few and far between and the amount of times it occurred at Mysteryland felt crushingly unmotivated, especially considering the thirty-minute length of his set. Skrillex closed the night to a ravenous crowd, with near perfect mixing, brilliant lighting and a wondrously animated flow of music. One of the few hiccups occurred at the ending of his playing of “Bohemian Rhapsody”, which seemed intended to segue into something that never really materialized. Despite Skrillex’s prominence as one of the biggest names in electronic music one was still able to feel like they were witnessing a well-kept secret. His performance exceeded all expectations, skewing gravitas for an entertaining exchange of energy between performer and audience.Sunday featured a consistent array of performances at The Boat stage, where Ryan Hemsworth, XXYYXX, and Hudson Mohawke performed some of the finest sets of the entire weekend. While their crowds weren’t huge and the visuals less elaborate than those of the other stages, those three artists played well prepared and wholly distinct rhythms to those in attendance. Griz, Zed’s Dead, and Bassnectar finished out the weekend’s main stage bombastically, feeding off of the energy of the enormous crowds assembled there. In particular, headliner Bassnectar’s performance was remarkably colorful, visually and sonically, ending the weekend’s events on a high note. Overall the last day had the least fluctuation in the quality of the performances, curating a solid selection of artists that wove smoothly into each other.Mysteryland’s effervescently colorful aesthetic between its various stages and general décor was easy on the eyes, presenting a contemporary take on the psychedelically colorful images one attributes to Woodstock, forty years earlier on the same ground. It was hard to get Woodstock out of one’s mind throughout the weekend, and the festival seemed self aware of that, displaying posters with captions like “Before Skrillex there was Hendrix” and other examples of how things have changed in that time. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Perhaps Mysteryland will never command the same degree of cultural significance that Woodstock did and that’s fine, because it continues its tradition nonetheless.Waiting for Skrillex to begin on the festival’s second day, I spoke to a man and his wife as we sat on the main stage’s lawn. They were far older than the vast majority of the crowd, and they told me of how they’d seen legends of festivals like Woodstock back in the day, from The Grateful Dead to Todd Rundgren. But their love of these modern artists, from Skrillex to Odesza, burned brightly, forgoing generational skepticism, and exemplified the merit of understanding that times change, sounds change, but the pursuit of finding happiness and human connection remains at it's heart of why people enjoy music. A song played on the house speakers in the minutes leading up to Skrillex’s performance and felt like an appropriate summary of what Mysteryland was all about. As the crowd sang along, Marley’s words echoed around the grounds of Woodstock and Mysteryland alike, “Let’s get together and feel alright”. Mysteryland achieved that goal in spades. Comments reup_0 Thanks for sharing. 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