As the gates opened for day one, Atlanta, Georgia’s, Central Park, felt an ambience that some say cannot be matched at any other venue. The open field by Peachtree stage was complimented with the official photo spot of the festival: the Shaky Beats sign.
Some may say the lineup was underwhelming compared to previous years; however, the talent on the bottom of the bill was under looked by many. Artists, both national and international, took the stage to make their last edits before EDC Las Vegas and fans were given the first look at what many had to wait to see the following week.
One spotlight artist that caught my attention immediately was California based producer, Paz Dylan, better known as PAZ. His set list is comprised of 200 plus edits and original tracks that, according to PAZ, “kept piling up one after another.” Caught in between are early 2000s anthems by artists including Avril Lavigne, Papa Roach, Ke$ha, and many more. “Nostalgia is the biggest trigger to emotion,” PAZ explained in our interview.
Diving further into nostalgia, his origin in punk rock allows him to mix together two different cultures while going hard enough for the crowd to dance and mosh to. His emphasis on having fun and never taking himself too seriously also provides an outlet for his fans to let loose and take their stress away. Even off stage, PAZ will not hesitate to show his appreciation for fans by holding a post-set meetup, as well as being the life of the playground on the dubbed “American Ninja Warrior course” during our quick photo shoot.
GG Magree, who made a stop supporting Borgore at Columbia, SC'c, The Senate back in September 2018, took the stage soon after to throw down and “get sexy” with her fans over at Piedmont stage. Performing vocals for the tracks she was featured on as well as mixing dubstep with mid-tempo brought the rowdy crowd to life early in the day. As a complimenting act, wobble artist, Dirt Monkey, armed with original and in-development tracks kept the party going for early arrivers. His signature sound echoed across the entire park and drew in many curious people. New fans were created during his time on stage.
As the sun began its descent, Big Gigantic brought the funk for a steadily growing crowd, eager for one of the first live performances of the event. Bringing the brass and live drums, this electronic funk duo played some of their biggest hits and collaborations with artists like Griz and Snails. The added instruments gave their set a new layer of sound and emotion compared to artists who play behind the decks. Although not part of the original stage production, the bubble guns coming from the front row provided a subtle addition to the setting sun and yellow balloons scattered throughout the front row.
Returning to the same stage as last year, San Holo brought his album one set and production that blew all expectations out of the water. The additional light setup and pyrotechnics emanated from all over the stage. His energetic and unpredictable presence on stage complimented his guitar riffs and solos that had the festival roaring in excitement.
Closing the night was the live trio, Rüfüs du Sol. Although the production was dark and ambient, the subtle highlights and back lights complimented their sound perfectly. The visuals representing stars created a vivid yet relaxing sense throughout the main stage.
Their three-platform setup separated the artists who were all equipped with one or more instruments, giving them the upper hand on live performances for the weekend. Their difference in genre from most of the artists booked for the weekend set them apart and gave everyone a one-of-a-kind experience that could not be topped.
I made my way into the venue late on the second day but was in for a treat by artist Ducky. As one of the few women on the lineup, she definitely had a spotlight to shine in order to get her voice for women in the music industry out there.
Early in her set, you can tell a select few people were caught off guard as hard dance, psytrance, and heavy dubstep blasted through the speakers at Ponce de Leon stage. Her anime-based appearance and visuals might have thrown people off even though mosh pits began to open when Death Pit by Mastadon dropped just minutes after starting her set. Her talent accompanied by many of the female artists booked for the event proved further not to underestimate the power of women in the music industry.
Gryffin soon took main stage and changed the pace for the rest of the day with his hard-hitting melodies and live performance, accompanied by a guitarist, keyboardist and drummer. I quickly became a fan after his display of emotion and passion for his music. Looking through his photos later in the day, it is easy to tell that he has one mission during his performance: give everything he has and move the crowd.
Peachtree got crowded as one of the biggest names in electro house were getting ready to take the stage. Galantis brought energy and happiness to the stage and moved me more before. About 15 minutes into the set, the duo began their tribute to electronic music legend, Avicii, by playing one of his biggest tracks “Levels.” It has been a little more than a year since the artist past and it hit hard for many of the original era ravers. This show of emotion only gave more life to the party as “U&I” played through the speakers.
Closing out the weekend was none other than one of the biggest names in EDM, Martin Garrix. Headlining some of the biggest events around the world at just 23-years-old, he is a pivotal figure for the amount of young talent the music industry has.
His stage production revolving around his logo brought his brand to life in front of thousands of fans. His energy behind the decks was contagious and there was not a single moment where he stood still throughout his set. Early on, his collaboration with artist Khalid was played through a loud and excited crowd; it surpassed any crowd reaction the entire weekend. Early big room anthems like “Tremor” and one of his biggest tracks, “Animals,” brought early rave culture to a rapidly evolving environment and kept the bass booming throughout the night.
Being completely honest, I was not sure to come after the festival got cut from three days to two, but it still exceeded last year by a landslide. Smaller artists got their voices heard on some of the biggest stages in the South East, girl power was made extremely evident by the biggest female producers in the industry, and Atlanta got one of the best experiences they could have asked for. I will definitely be returning to this event next year!