Small Town in Maryland Hosts A Thrilling, Underground, Magical Festival Experience
Words can’t begin to describe how phenomenal my Dreamscape Music Festival experience truly was. I decided to hit up Day Two of one of Maryland’s most prestigious underground Bass Music festivals to see what all the hype was. Instead of hosting this vivacious festival in your typical big city setting, like Moonrise in Baltimore, the big wigs who put together this two day camping masterpiece chose a much more wholesome, countryside part of Maryland to host their event, the good ol’ city of Darlington. During the last fifteen minutes of my drive, all I saw was country fields, farms, and pretty relaxed animals. It was a beautiful feeling realizing I would be spending my day in the woods with a solid few thousand ravers instead of a sea of 25,000 people. I had no idea what I was getting into until I actually arrived to Camp Ramblewood. This gorgeous woman from New York showed me the line up, told me how much fun she had last year, and after that I was basically sold. When a lowkey festival books heavy hitters such as Barely Alive, Virtual Riot, Boogie T., Bommer, Mantis, Krimer, among many other excellent bands and producers, you don’t really question the feasibility of making a trip like this happen – you just do it.
It was hard enough waking up at seven in the morning to make this 8 hour trek to Darlington, but I was thoroughly committed to getting myself over to those festival grounds. The DMV Ravesquad depended on it! There’s nothing better than creating new memories with awesome people – I was giddy knowing I would catch some incredible sets by my favorite artists as well! While I’ve seen many of the performers on the lineup at past events, there were several artists who I had never gotten to experience live before. I was fully determined to catch Barely Alive, Bommer and Krimer’s sets on that fateful Sunday in Maryland.
I pulled up to the campground and found a parking spot relatively close to the festival entrance. A huge, fancy, and highly artistic banner spelled out Dreamscape as it neatly hung high in the air between two giant trees. My heart almost dropped when I saw the display. That’s how I knew that the folks from Bvdass Raves were taking this festival seriously. I was really excited to see what the stages looked like. Easily enough I found my friends and discovered the meet up spot which couldn’t have been more than 500 feet from the stage, the intimacy between the campground and the stages was definitely a plus. Thankfully I got there just in time to catch Bommer’s set, – it was now time to abandon all problems that the real world had been throwing my way and get the party started. What really attracted me to this campground setting for Dreamscape Music Festival was the fact that everyone could set up their tents right by the stages. My buddies had a thirty second walk from their tent to the main stage, which made finding each other much easier. We went over to the front of the main stage to catch the likes of Missouri based Riddim lord, mistah Zack Bommer. We’ve been fans of this dude ever since The Charlotte Sessions used to be a college radio show in 2015, where I would play songs off the Nah Nah EP, as well as the hit Crowell collab, “Yasuo“ practically every other show. And now I finally had my time to catch the leader of the Sweater Gang live in action. Bommer hit the stage sporting his favorite attire, a crew neck sweater and some blue jeans. He looked like he was about to head to a dope family Christmas party – but little did the Dreamscapers, who were unfamiliar with the don, know what was really about to go down at the main stage. Bommer’s set was filled with absolutely filth. I heard nasty collabs like “Scattered” with Shiverz da Butcher, “Rewind” with Hendrix, “Yasuo” as well as the followup Crowell x Bommer collab, “Mixtape.” Bommer also performed hits like “Loco“ with Cruelkit, “Curtis Snow,” his collab with He$h, “Google“ and “Planet Droid” with Subfiltronik. I was blown away by his track selection. While I was slightly tight that Bommer didn’t show much energy on stage, it just goes to show that some people are shyer than others. But don’t fret, he threw up a gun finger or two during his set! I would definitely recommend catching this St. Louis based prodigy if he ever comes to a city near you.
Up next was a new act that had recently just made his way to my SoundCloud library. Krimer probably hopped on a little private jet as he swagged all the way from his hometown in Montreal, gearing up for what was set to be a very intense performance live set. Krimer is no stranger to showing off his talents worldwide. But on that glorious Saturday it was time for Darlington to experience the heavy forces of one of Canada’s rising talents. I caught a dope snap of Bommer and Krimer doing their signature, secret, Dubstep handshake on stage before taking over. Sporting a flatbill cap and a pair of sick shades, Krimer came out stylin’ hard – the look on his face said he was ready for business.
Krimer’s set was littered with a variety of ignorantly heavy self produced tunes such as his Never Say Die release “Atomic!” He had no problem throwing down tracks off his Blow Up EP such as heavy hitters “Killa” and “Forces.” I also got to hear his newer tracks like “Takeover,” and his remix of Downlink’s “Mosh Pit.” Soon enough, the whole crowd was cranking their necks while Krimer dropped more fuego like his OG tune on Firepower Records, “Bone Crusher.” Krimer played a few remixes which included his flip of Midnight Tyrannosaurus single “Deatmatch”, which almost gave me a mental breakdown, as well his remix of Xilent’s single, “Your System.” His collabs included singles with artists such Spain’s very own EH!DE with their hit track “Fock It,” and that crazy single with Dubloadz, “Go Mad!” You absolutely killed your set from start to finish, Krimer. Can’t wait to catch you live again!
In the blink of an eye, Disciple Records honcho Dave Dubloadz hopped on stage to show off his intense, mind shattering, style. The crowd got quiet as the Jersey producer approached the DJ booth with a devious grin that said “Hey I’m Dubloadz and I’m about to f*ck your world up.” He got his hour long set started with an unreleaseed remix of Excision’s infamous track, “Virus.” The crowd reaction was absolutely gnarly, I could tell necks would be broken by the end of Dubloadz’ set. He continuously fed the crowd bangers like “Juices,” a heavy collab with Virtual Riot, a new song that sounds like a Sullivan King collab which chants “Break. This. Rail. Down,” an appropriate quote choice of words for your average Dubloadz fan, as well OG tracks like “Fight Music,“ “Lost in the Sauce,” and one of my personal favorites off the Lost in the Sauce EP, “What’s Poppin’.” I asked my buddy what he thought of the Dubloadz’ set. He looked me in the eyes and said that when he wasn’t headbanging, he was laughing his ass off, cause “Dubloadz is one funny motherf*cker.“
I stopped by the pool stage to catch the likes of DJ Nintendo Frog, whom I had never heard of before. I never expected to see a grown man sporting a literal green frog mask and matching jump suit. It seemed like the guy wanted to keep his froggy identity an absolute secret. I watched him bounce around stage and drop some fast paced, funky tracks that kept the nearby crowd heavily entertained. But it wasn’t for me, and Virtual Riot was getting ready to hit the main stage. You know what I had to do. Up next was the main man from Mannheim, Germany. The heavyweight bass tycoon Virtual Riot soon replaced his Chodegang brother in arms as he made his way to center stage. After a quick stretch, Valentin Virtual Riot was ready to go. The Disciple Records producer had no problem keeping the rhythm of the night flowing seamlessly. The last time I had seen this monster throw down was probably at the Karma Grooves show in Greenville. Or maybe it was at the show in the city of Oaks last December. Either way, I was totally excited to catch this guy’s performance at Dreamscape Music Festival.
I heard “Throwing Elbows“ mixed in with something unexpectedly upbeat and dancey, but then of course he brought back the fire once he dropped another track by uncle Excision titled “Codename X” along with his personal collab with Datsik titled “Nasty.” All in the meanwhile Virtual Riot was waving his arms around the sky, looking like a wacky waving arm flailing inflatable tube man from Family Guy; but it was tasteful, you could tell he was having fun. I also recall him dropping a fan favorite, “Nightmare” as well as his hit “Aliens.” This man has so much talent flowing out of his little mustache that I couldn’t bear to pick up my camera to take any photos! Thank you for such a great performance VR! Practically Dead or Barely Alive? It wasn’t very long before half of the LA based duo Barely Alive strutted out on stage sporting his special, limited edition LED helmet. Virtual Riot made way for his Disciple compadre as he made his way to the mixer. It wasn’t long before Barely Alive hit the crowd with a heavy drop, which instantly got the party jumpin’. During his set I heard a lot of heavy tunes such as “Bing Bong“ by Bandlez, and “Big Riddim Monsta“ by Dodge & Fuski. This was my first time seeing Barely Alive in concert, you couldn’t imagine my excitement. Let it be known that I was having too much fun during Barely Alive’s set to take photos. Him and Virtual Riot do something to your brain that make you want to throw everything on the ground and party. Or maybe my camera died and I didn’t want to walk to my car to grab the other battery until both of their sets were over. It was worth it. Barely Alive dropped several of his bangin’ originals such as “Ca$h,” “Hackers,” which was an absolute blast to hear live, “The Riddler,” and “Elephant.” You want to know what was really exciting though? “Candy Kids” with Datsik. If you want to have a real Bass Music experience, go see Barely Alive in concert.
I’m not the type of guy to breakaway from a string of Dubstep sets to catch some jam music. Electronic funk and heavy usage of string instruments always makes for a good time, but do you realize I just watched five hours of straight up fuego, ear popping, mid shattering Dubstep – I wasn’t really in the mood to break the cycle. But nonetheless, I got dragged to Sunsquabi and it was probably one of the best decisions made for me that weekend. The second best decision was to not set up my tent since I probably wasn’t even going to sleep that night. Sunsquabi is a three piece Electronic Hydro Funk band from Boulder, Colorado. I couldn’t help but dance and groove to the rhythm of the music. The trio easily displays the unity they’ve created over the past six years as the seamlessly cycle through their playlist. I mean, look at the way they flow, in the picture below (Cue Dr. Seuss).
One of the driving forces behind hitting up Dreamscape Festival was to check out one of my favorite east coast Dubstep duos known to many as Mantis. From Pizza parties in Charlotte, going back to back with Dieselboy in Asheville, NC, playing a groundbreaking set at Imagine Festival last year, and not to mention Paul Ollinger’s special appearance at our show with Dubloadz in Atlanta, there’s no wonder in the world why I have so much love for Mantis. Before they started their set, or maybe it was during the middle of their set – at some point, they let up Barron’s mother, Rosemary, get up on stage to talk about the huge heroin epidemic that is constantly expanding in Barron’s hometown of Baltimore, Maryland.
I could see the pain in her eyes – I’ll never forget how much emotion she put in to her speech. That’s why I wear my Long Live Barron shirt proudly, and that night, Paul was wearing his Barron shirt, while Taylor was repping Rekoil (another Baltimore producer). Their set was composed by loud, havey,crhusing sounds – I even remember hearing incredible tracks off their Hundred Deep EP such as “Mobbin” featuring Cricchy Crich, and “B.A.T.MAN VIP.” We also got to hear their fire “Jotaro Remix” that completely shattered the crowd to pieces. The funny familiar voice shouted out ‘You Will Never Get This!’ before bringing in the infectious drop. Little did I know this wouldn’t be my only time seeing Mantis that night.
I quickly found the VIP Tent because I was fully determined to catch that secret Virtual Riot b2b Dubloadz b2b Barely Alive set. To my surprise, the three Disciple Records producers were not sporting their funky emoji masks like I had hope, but man were they throwing down some fire Riddim. How does it feel to catch all three acts on stage at the same time? What’s it like when Mannheim, Germany, Ringwood, New Jersey and Los Angeles, California unite? It’s an absolute fire storm that’s what it is. Within minutes more producers start showing up and joining in on the fun. It was hilarious watching all these hotshot DJs rotate on the decks – everyone wanted a piece of the CDJ action. You can tell that a good quantity of beer had been consumed by this point, but everyone was in high spirits, and practically everyone around the room was in smiles – I was right there with them! The first person to take over the decks was that dude, Krimer. Within seconds he was dropping fire on the hundreds of people who were stomping around in the VIP Tent ready for some wobbles.
Krimer even started teaching Dubloadz a few special tricks. The two were throwing down some heaters like Chibs “Sharingan.” Later on in the video the boys took on a Hip-Hop approach as they played Kendrick Lamar’s hit single, “DNA” which didn’t last more than thirty seconds as the boys switched everything up and threw in Yakz and Svdden Death’s collab “Shut Em’ Down,” which quickly turned into everyone’s favorite single from the mysterious Spass, “Hi Tek.“Click HERE to view that insane video, because it doesn’t want to pop up below.
Then all of the sudden a lit Bommer showed up on stage and started throwing down some Bass for the masses. But his turn didn’t last long because the Atlanta boys, Mantis, came in to join the party. Either way I was still extremely stoked to catch some of my favorite producers all playing on stage at the same time.
Soon enough our St. Louis based compadre went to the back to chill, as non other than Boogie T., abruptly popped out on stage with his long hair tied up into pigtails with a look that said ‘I’m ready to party‘. The crowd couldn’t help but die laughing at the hilarious sight of everyone’s favorite NoLa Riddim rat. I didn’t expect to see Brock at all that weekend! I thought I was doomed once I found out his set was scheduled for Friday and not Saturday. But nevertheless, things got wonky, and the crowd got down and dirty to the beat of the Riddim. I really enjoyed the chemistry that Mantis and Boogie T. shared on stage.
Is that it? Did I cover it all? Nope. Believe or not the part just got bigger and bigger. I didn’t expect the likes of San Francisco’s Helicopter Showdown to show up at the VIP Tent, but nevertheless the shorter member of the crew got on stage sporting what looked like an orange Eptic themed shirt as he extended his wrists in a motion that spoke a thousand words. The party got louder. I didn’t expect for Philly based producer Architekt, to pop out on stage and show off a few moves. The whole back to back series was almost as rowdy as that secret Snailed Event in Miami over a year ago.
I can’t remember exactly how long I was hanging around that VIP Tent, it was a pretty long experience though. I remember listening in on a question that this dude named Rob asked a couple: “If you had to choose between Kendrick Lamar and Nas vs. J. Cole and Mos Def, who would you choose?” I thought it was such an unfair question to ask, but if someone was putting a bullet to my head and I had to give an honest answer, I would say J. Cole because he reps North Carolina, even though he was born in Germany. That’s how Rob and I became friends, and we hung out making new homies for the rest of the night until it was absolutely time to go back to the tent and relax. He knew my rave fam which made connecting so much easier. When the festivities started to die down at the VIP tent, we made our rounds to see who else was performing. It was really late at this point, but we ended up in a barn at like 3 in the morning as we watched an overweight guy dressed like a princess, named Zach Eser, absolutely slay the late night vibes in that mysterious barn.
We were so amazed at the lack of judgement in the room, because it definitely took me a second to get used to the guy with a pony tail being held together by a flower crown, with blue make up, pink cheeks, and matching blue fingernail polish. I will never forget how hard I danced after I was done analyzing Zach. His fluidity in House music selection was outstanding, and my friends and I couldn’t wait for him to be done playing so we could tell him how much we loved his set. Shout out to Zach for killin’ the barn and making our last set of the night a wonderful experience.
How would I rate my Dreamscape Festival experience on a scale of one to ten? A damn eleven and a half if that’s even possible! Even though I only went for one day, I still managed to squeeze in almost twelve hours of music and friends, which was more than plenty for me considering I’ve driven farther much less rage time! It’s the quality of the promoters, performers, and attendants that make an event special. You could have zero lights, zero visuals – and simply the baddest sound system and nicest guests/workers and have a better festival experience than a lot of these seven figure budget music festivals. I will definitely be attending Dreamscape 2018, and if Lorin wills it, I’ll be heading to Nightmare Festival this October at Camp Ramblewood. Caspa, Midnight T., Yheti, Quix, Boogie T., Figure? I’m sold.
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