Dear Mom and Dad – A Letter from MysteryLand 2016

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Dear Mom and Dad,

Sorry I was MIA all weekend; I had to conserve my phone battery for finding my fellow MysteryLand campers and to update my Snap Story (more like Snap Saga), so I didn’t have much leeway to respond to texts. Now that I’m back in the city, let me break down for you why MysteryLand is the young adult equivalent of the Disney Land trips we went on. You guys may have had Woodstock in ’69, but the Bethel Woods location got a 2016 makeover, complete with beautiful music, art installations and most importantly- people.

13461134_1110529615675291_578577148_oPhotography by Scotty Hawk for EDM NYC

Let’s Start with Friday…

Since we’re a household of “city people,” I know the closest we’ve ever gotten to camping is lying in the Central Park grass, but trust me, I did it for the first time on behalf of all of us, and I survived! After parking, passing through festival check-ins, and setting up the campsite, my calves resembled that of The Hulk and I’m convinced I don’t need to go to the gym for the next week. I have to admit though, I’m thankful for this pre-festival work out since it prepared my body for 72 hours of non-stop dancing and excitement.

Remember what my face looked like growing up when I saw a pile of presents from Santa? Well that’s the same expression I made when entering the festival grounds. Welcomed by the sounds of bass pulsating from speakers, we made an initial lap through the grounds to survey the kind of festivities in store. The path through the grounds led us through an array of food vendors and onsite experiences that you truly can’t get in the city. Don’t believe me? They had an Incendia 50’ fire dome that illuminated the sky (and provided some warmth when mountain breezes blew by). The closest you’d get to something like that in the city, would be holding up a match on a rooftop- and believe me, it wouldn’t be the same.

13441825_1110529585675294_825649604_oPhotography by Scotty Hawk for EDM NYC

Aside from onsite attractions, the true spectacle of the weekend was simply the music. Some stars of Friday night included MK, who played a delectable deep house set at the Big Top Stage, which included his “My Head Is A Jungle” remix. You should check it out Mom, I’m sure even you would groove to this if it played at Studio 54.

The Main Stage was certainly the buzz of Friday night. With Mr. Carmack, Gesaffelstein, and Odesza all playing, the crowd of people looked like Times Square on New Years Eve. Mr. Carmack set the “Kanye West Remix Galore” theme of the weekend by playing an “Ultra Light Beam” remix and “All Day.” Now I know you guys think “electronic music” only consists of DJs who press buttons, but Odesza played a live set that would make you think of this genre in an entirely new way. The live instrumentals were a flawless addition, especially for songs like “How Did I Get Here” and the closing track, “Say My Name.” As if the music wasn’t enough to transport you to another world, they had stunning visuals that included images reflecting the Aurora Borealis.

13393999_786321948134710_3326622991776342613_nPhotography Provided by MSO PR

With the night ending on the highest of notes, MysteryLand nomads shuffled their way back to their cars and campsites. The chill in the air gave campers the perfect opportunity to snuggle and swap stories about their favorite sets of the night.

Only Sunshine & Smiles on Saturday …

Believe it or not, your daughter woke up before 10AM on a Saturday for once (most likely because I was praying to the Festival Gods to dismiss the rain that was forecasted all week on weather apps). I like to think it was a collective effort of all nomads, artists and staff who wished for both warmth and sun that made it possible. With sunscreen, portable chargers and ideal summer weather ahead, we were ready to take on the day.

The best part about MysteryLand was its diverse representations across electronic and hip hop genres. Flat White was the perfect example of this with an invigorating set that included all things Yeezy (Mom, that means “Kanye West,” but it’s a cooler way to say it #yolo #swag). Meanwhile on The Boat Stage, Dimond Saints came out with their masked gear and played a remix of Wayne Marshall’s “Stupid Money” while ripping apart bills in the air. Watching them gave the crowd a marginal amount a street cred. Later in the afternoon, Autograf played the Big Top Stage where they ushered in the perfect set that sounded like summer, including their “Metaphysical” hit. One of the star-attractions on Saturday included the BangOn! Stage. Complete with dancers from Brooklyn’s House Of Yes who danced atop the decorative buses. House tunes provided by AKKI and Eau Claire in the latter end of the afternoon blanketed the stage with the kind of communal feel-goodery you only see in children’s books.

For the remainder of the night, Tchami, The Chainsmokers and Skrillex brought the Main Stage diverse EDM subgenre sounds ranging from deep house, trap to future bass, and regardless of which genre may be your preference, nothing could force you to leave the stage. The Chainsmokers played songs you may recognize from the radio like, “Inside Out,” but they weren’t afraid to make the crowd a little nostalgic with a Psychic Type mash up of Galantis and Alice Deejay.  

And then there was Skrillex. There’s one artist I know you’d recognize – if not by name, then certainly by hair cut. With a set representative of all things bass, not one person could resist the urge to headbang. Needless to say, it took me two hours the next morning to brush all the knots out of my hair, making me regret getting your “curly hair gene,” Dad. Interestingly enough, Skrillex played a set that even you two could enjoy by throwing in oldies like Eurythmic’s “Sweet Dreams” and instigating a crowd sing-along to Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.” He even played throwbacks for my generation including Huey’s “Pop, Lock & Drop It.” It warmed the heart of every millennial in the crowd as memories of middle school dances flooded our minds. Once again, Skrillex proves that no matter what he plays in a set, he is the undisputed master of EDM performances. 

Sunday Went Out With a Bang…

On Sunday morning, campers awoke to the sound of wind practically blowing through their tents. Definite Wizard of Oz-level-twister conditions. But regardless of the wind, it wasn’t about to prevent us from enjoying what easily had to be the best day of the entire weekend. At the strike of 2:00, Jubilee rocked The Boat with up-tempo jersey club beats that had people dancing so hard that they could barely feel the cold. She easily set the tone for the remainder of the day: signaling to all attendees that The Boat was the place to be. Followed by performances by Illenium, Mija and Ryan Hemsworth, you could easily stay at The Boat stage for the entire day and feel as though you got the ultimate MysteryLand experience. Illenium brought emotional and melodic drops with originals like “Fortress,” and Mija proved why she is the queen of OWSLA by ending her set with her new Vindata collaboration, “Better.” Ryan Hemsworth naturally brought his eclectic remixes to the stage, including his “All The Things She Said” remix, and the unreleased remix of Blink 182’s “All The Small Things.”

The BangOn! Stage came for the ultimate win on Sunday where they had two surprise performances from Griz and Mija throughout the day. From the BangOn! Stage to the Main Stage, Griz played groovy sets that would bring you right back to the 70s. No, that does not mean bellbottoms are in style again.

13442195_1011634105587591_5979493199426611669_nPhoto Courtesy: Daniel Leinweber / RazBerry Photography for BangOn!NYC

So you always taught me to go against the grain, and like a good daughter I took that advice on Sunday. Instead of spending all my time at the Main Stage where evvvverybody went to hear new songs from Lido or Zeds Dead, I went back to The Boat Stage to catch Hudson Mohawke. An artist few may recognize by name, he certainly has made his impact behind the scenes of the hip-hop industry, particularly for G.O.O.D. Music (otherwise known as Yeezy’s label). His set included genre-defying melodies like Dawn Richard’s “Not Above That” and his original hit, “Chimes,” but interestingly enough, he didn’t use his time at MysteryLand to showcase his discography. Instead, HudMo dared to play literally whatever the hell he felt like, including gospel and soul tracks. His musical selections spanned across genres almost like a Jackson Pollack painting: it was unintentionally intimidating, yet so alluring that the set captivated all your senses so you were lost in the art.

Closing out The Boat stage was Ty Dolla $ign. Although it may seem abrupt to some to have this hip-hop star compete for fan attention while headliner, Bassnectar, played for his loyal BassHead disciples (kind of like DeadHead followers for The Grateful Dead, if you can imagine), Ty’s set was interactive, intimate, and complete with ample crowd surfing. Meanwhile at the Main Stage, Bassnectar brought a set to melt faces, including his new track, “TKO.”

By the time Bassnectar finished, fireworks went off to commemorate the iconic weekend and to signal the first stage of post-festival depression as we realized that the weekend of wonder was over. By the time we got back to the campsite, our bodies seemed to dissolve into our sleeping bags, partially from exhaustion, but mostly disbelief that we had the privilege to be a part of such an overwhelmingly special experience.

So what do you guys say, you want to camp with me at MysteryLand next year?

13435438_786321994801372_7639125217690909223_nPhotography Provided by MSO PR

From your MysteryLand- Adoring & Camping-Approved Daughter,

Liz Tillman

Follow on Instagram: @LizTillmanNY

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About Author

Liz Tillman

Entertainment marketing professional by day, electronic music lover and journalist by night. Instagram & Twitter: @liztillmanny

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