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[Festival Review] Imagine Music Festival 2016


  Last August we experienced one of the most frantic weekends that Election Year had to offer. If you were part of the 2015 annual Imagine Music Festival, then you know exactly what I’m talking about when I say that Georgia knows how to throw down with the best of ’em. I met so many new faces who I hope to see again at the the popular East Coast music festival. The 3 Day wonderland took place at the Atlanta Motor Speedway, a completely brand new setting for the third year of this glorious festival, it truly felt like the promoters at Iris Presents went above and beyond to expand their guests’ IMF experience. The music was on point all weekend long; the food and beer kept us energized, but most of all, the atmosphere and vibes brought about by everyone who attended made this weekend so much more worthwhile. Let’s get into the details friends.

Day One:

  The day was finally here. Imagine Music Festival, day one, baby. I always worry about the insane traffic that Atlanta has to offer. Luckily enough, traffic flow was smooth and my friends and I were able to park with ease. No one really directed us where to go, we just went with the flow and ended up in a decent parking spot. Left and right, all you could see was overly excited campers preparing for their Georgia journey. We grabbed our tickets and found ourselves in the festival grounds quicker than expected, with little hassle from security. We did hear mixed reviews about how the lines were handled throughout the course of the weekend, but it never seemed to be a problem with anyone in our family. Ravers of all ages were roaming around the Speedway exploring everything that the festival grounds had to offer. Food and beer stands could be found at every corner of the speedway. There was even a certain section that hosted all the vendors for the weekend, which included several visual artists, rave accessory booths, awesome people selling gloves, pins, necklaces and hoops, and even a few tapestry stands. Everything that you can imagine, and more, should be available for purchase at IMF.

 After exploring the grounds for a while, I headed over to the main stage, known to most as, Oceania, to catch the Electronic duo from the A, FYER, perform in front of all their loving fans. FYER is composed of Gabriel and Bobby who respectively play the guitar/keyboard and drum pads in the most creative fashion. I remember catching the blue and red haired rock stars at Imagine back in 2015, as they threw down an extended two hour set at the 4th Ward park. This year they faced a crowd of hot, sweaty, but thoroughly excited audience. The duo went through a category of hard rock infused with EDM, and unleashed bangers such as their remix to Marshmello’s hit Alone, Sunset Saloonand a crowd favorite titled Light It Up. I had an incredible time at my 1st Fyer experience of the weekend…

 It’s safe to say that this next performer is a trusted Dubstep veteran. The weird & wonderful producer from Varberg, Sweden is always a must see at whatever festival you hit up that is business savvy enough to book the Don. The last time I saw Liquid Stranger perform live was at the Rise of Wakaan Tour stop in Charlotte with Au5, Space Jesus, and Psymbionic, a legendary show to say the least. What’s a Liquid Stranger set with a little bit of weird bass? The crowd reactions were amazing when Liquid dropped fan favorites like Space Boss, Can’t Stop, and a several other unreleased bangers off a new upcoming project. The energy was definitely beyond the charts.

 Next up were my brothers from Montreal, the only masked-predator-electronic-band to ever put out the immense amount of energy into every single one of their sets. I say that like there are other masked-predator-electronic-bands quite like Black Tiger Sex Machine. The trio always put one thousand percent effort into their live sets, and I quite don’t understand how they stay standing once that final minute of their hour, sometimes 90 minute set hits!

The boys took us back to Church, as they say from time to time when greeting their anxious audience. There’s nothing like a BTSM set. I heard several incredible tracks off the new LP such as Broadside and Crazies, which got the crowd jumpin’ all over the place. I also couldn’t contain myself once the boys played their incredible track, Religion. Until we cross paths again gentlemen!

   Who in one million, three hundred thousand, four hundred and twenty years that The Bloody Beetroots would make a live appearance at Imagine Music Festival? I wasn’t going to believe it until Sir Bob Cornelius Rifo was standing directly in front of me. In the blink of an eye, a shadowy figure creeps out on stage sporting a strange Spider Man looking type of mask and low and behold, Sir Bob aka THE Bloody Beetroots, brought his strong willed and charismatic persona to the stage. What went down on that glorious stage during that special unexpected set was beyond what anyone could imagine. The energy was endless, and the track selection was on point. Bloody Beetroots found himself jumping from Deep House, to Rock, to Dubstep, to Bass House, to practically any genre you could imagine. He kept it classy while letting go and letting loose, if that makes any sense. The man is a complete legend and I’m so glad I was able to be a part of that incredible set. Not to mention, I finally heard Warp 1977 in person, or was it Warp 1.9? EITHER way, the man did an excellent job and we hope to see him back at Imagine next year.

   Take a seat because this next portion of the review is quite a doozy. Some of the most original names in Dubstep include those of  Gary McCann and Christopher Mercer, otherwise known as two dons who will forever be relevant as long as Bass music stays in existence, Caspa and Rusko. If you want to talk about live presence and energy in front of any audience, go see these guys throw down live. They got the night started off with some sort of remix to UK producer Soloman’s hit single Bokeh, which turned the organized Bloody Beetroots crowd into an animal house. From the side of the stage all you could see was a sea of people bouncing and bobbing their heads to the beat. The follow up track was so much grimier; it was a collab between the two called Blouse an Skirt which kicks harder than the new Foamposites you just copped. Last time I caught these Circus Records don perform live was less than a month ago at the infamous Moonrise Music Festival in Baltimore. But the energy in Atlanta definitely outdid those hardcore bassheads in Baltimore. Throughout the night Caspa and Rusko let off the sirens and submarine tones at the most random moments which always help keep the crowd awake and energized, because by then we had already been partying for 7+ hours.  Other tunes that the madmen dropped include the likes of Rusko’s Pro Nails remix, Jahova, Caspa’s remix of Cockney Thug, Da Cali Anthem, and as a big close to their set, the two played away a fan favorite collab called Cheese.

     What happened next is something that you MUST keep a secret. I’m not even sure if I should be writing about it, but screw it, here we go. The king of slime was rumored to be performing at this year’s Imagine Music Festival, and boy oh boy there was no way in the world I was going to miss that set. Well, it wasn’t so much of a rumor as it was my friends hyping up the fact tat SNAILS, one of Montreal’s greatest performers of all time, was about to destroy the entire city of Atlanta. They were absolute right. Lazers, lazers, lazers. There’s nothing like a good Snails set with insane lazers and crazy awesome visuals. He displayed a lot of animated snails who would lash out at the audience, there was even a G snail that was cruisin’ down the highway in his red convertible, and not to mention all the nasty slime visuals.

   Why do I feel like Snails always starts off his shows with this special funky collab? Snails got the night started off with his Big Gigantic collab Funk With Me. But overall his song selection was absolutely insane; the fact that he played so many incredible tunes like his collab with Skrillex Turn It Upor his collab with Panther called Dirty Raxxx, but best of all was one of my all time favorite Snails tracks, Murda SoundThere were certain points of the show where I was in completely disbelief with the fire that young Freddy was droppin on his Atliens. I heard a lot of other cool tracks like Wavedash’ hit Bang, Adair & EH!DE’s Police Problem, Donald Bucks single BloodclatMastadon’s Twin Turbo. Snails threw down one of the hardest sets of the weekend, no doubt.


   It was hard recovering from the intensity that went down on day one, but I was more than ready to take on all the fantastic performers set to play that evening, legends like Mantis, Bleep Bloop, Funtcase & Cookie Monsta, Zeds Dead and so many more gracious performers. Let’s get into some more detail! This time around security was a little more cautious on their pat downs as festival goers prepped themselves for the insane night that was to come.

   I mozied on over to the main stage to catch the Mantis boys, Paul and Taylor take on the early goers for one truly unforgettable set. Last time both members of the duo perform together was at a nutty pizza party in Charlotte held by longtime promoters GFW Presents. But this time around, Mantis already had their Avidity album released, along with a few other new remixes along the way. I remembered jamming hard to this new collab with Crichy Crich allegedly called Mobbin. 100% DeathMainline, and Depth were too heavy to handle. The energy that Paul and Taylor put in to every live set is unlike something I’ve ever seen. I love how they blend in Heavy Metal and Dubstep in such a sweet fashion. If you ever have the chance to catch Mantis live, do not hesitate whatsoever.

     I couldn’t believe what I was about to experience after that Mantis set. I head across the festival grounds to go catch this dude from San Francisco who goes by the name of Bleep Bloop, also known as one of the strangest and most creative producers to come out of California. I’ll never forget discovering my first Bleep Bloop song, it was a collab with Yheti called Pachyderms, and I’m almost certain this mans performed that song during his set at Imagine! The visuals were tripping fans out left and right. 8-bit images of characters form Adult Swim such as Meatwad, Rick & Morty, Robot Chicken, Master Shake and so many more. Throughout his set fans were lucky enough to hear some of Bleep Bloop’s most exciting tracks such as Mars Attack w/ Zeke Beats, and unreleased track with G Jones, Slippin, First of All with Sayer. Bleep Bloop will always be a must see act if his name is on the bill.

     The next act got the crowd riled up. Everyone kept talking about the KJ Sawka and ill.Gates back to back that was set to take place after the Bleep Bloop set. KJ is a key member of the super Dubstep band, Destroid, and possibly one of the most versatile drummers alive. On the other hand, ill.Gates is an Ableton production mastermind who always throws down a good set. Imagine what they sound like combined? The two are practically glowing on stage. While ill.Gates throws down some jams on his APC board, KJ Sawka is keeping up the beat on his drum pads, giving the crowd a clean fusion of DJing and drumming. It was exciting finally getting to hear tracks off their Unsung Heroes EP. Hopefully this duo will make a comeback next year around.

 Who else found themselves jumping up and down like a madman as one of the most anticipated sets of the weekend was just minutes from taking place? If you were there, the you know I’m talking about that nasty Cookie Monsta back to back with FuntcaseThe Circus Records veterans had been traveling the world playing random back to back sets for diehard fans who would travel hours just to see them play. Now it was finally Atlanta’s time to shine. The two hopped up to the booth with angry faces that meant business. They kicked off the set with Cookie’s new song Beast Mode which transitioned straight into an unreleased Funtcase remix of DeadExit’s Snake. There was too much fire to handle coming down from that stage, the stage almost caught on fire when they dropped Oh Shit! and Move The Crowd. The two lads also dropped some tracks by JPhelpz, Barely Alive, Mastadon and Skism. The best part of the night was when they dropped UK producer Coffi’s hit single Power Moves before going straight into Jabba VIP by DA Force. It was almost tear jerking watching the set end. Please, please, please book these men again.

    Leaving was not an option at the time. While I prayed that Doctor P would hop on stage during Funtcase and Cookie Monsta’s set, the man has definitely earned his own time slot due to his heavy presence in the OG days of Dubstep. While his new track releases are scheduled much further apart nowadays, Doctor P will always be a don in his craft. The man is an absolute beast on stage! The last time I saw him drop some Bass bombs was practically a year ago at Moonrise Festival, and even longer than that was this rare show in 2014 at a nonexistent club in Charlotte once called Phoenix. The man got his set started with some slow sing songy tune that abruptly turned in to The Pit VIP, an original by Doctor P. He played several bangers including a new soon to be released track called Hard As Fuck, that tune with Far East Movement called Business, Party Drink and Smoke, Goin Gorillas, and so many other fire self produced bangers. My two most memorable drops of Doctor P’s set were when he played The Champagne Bop and a personal favorite, Tetris; it seemed like the whole state of Georgia was freaking out during Tetris. Doctor P definitely knows how to keep things fresh during a live set. There’s a reason why he’s listed as one of the greatest of all time! Check out this full recap posted by a huge Doctor P fan.

   It took me a second to realize that I was about to encounter a Dillon Francis set in Georgia. My only expectations were that it was going to be a raunchy and hilariously ratchet set. In some countries, Dillon Francis could be crowed the King of Partying. Ironically enough, with all the Pokemon hype taking over the world, Dillon started off his set with the Pokemon Theme Song and threw it right into the Skrillex remix of Red Lips by GTA. The sky was already dark as can be, so one can imagine how bright the lazers had to be for Dillon’s set. There was a plethora of unreleased tunes that during that set, Dillon Francis played collabs with Flosstradamus, NGHTMRE, Bro Safari. There was too much sauce going down during that set. But as far as track selection, Dillon played popular hits like IDGAFOS, Masta Blasta 2.0, I Can’t Take It, Need You, and too many other bangers to name. The Need You (Brillz Remix) into IDGAFOS back into Need You was a really special moment. The general consensus was that Dillon Francis indeed, killed it. The same gentleman who released that Full Set Doctor P video also did one on Dillon Francis’ set. Check out all that fuego below.

 The final performance of the night was like something out of a fairy tale. I can’t even begin to think when the last time was that I saw Zeds Dead play live. I remember missing them at Counterpoint because I went to take a nap before the big finish, so maybe this was my first time catching the fire duo from Toronto in action. Zeds Dead are absolutely one of the most critically acclaimed performers and producers in the Dubstep scene; there’s a reason they headline so many festivals all over the world. The crowd was growing extremely anxious as they patiently waited hours and hours for the moment of truth. The kids who had been riding the rail all day were feeling the anticipation even harder.

   Once the explosive duo had joined the stage, everyone’s mood rapidly changed. In a firey display of live entertainment, Zeds Dead transitioned through a sweet selection of tracks that included Trampa’s They Don’t Want ItDiskord’s Out Thereand several other bangers by artists like Megalodon,  Soltan, Jauz, Dodge & Fuski, and so many more sick producers. As far as their self produced tracks go, the lads played the Hadouken VIP, Collapse, their Oliver Heldens collab You Know, Frontlinesalong with several new IDs that I can’t wait to see come to light. The inflatable hearts near the end of the set cleanly morphed with the random sprays of lazer lighting that could be seen for miles. The whole crowd was left in pieces after they closed their set with their Diplo collab Blame. Even if you weren’t physically at the Zeds Dead set, you definitely felt the impact in some type of way.


   The final day was finally among us. As sad as I was for day three to finally come around, I was also stoked to see all the crazy acts that were set to perform that day. To start off the day, I gathered a group friends and head on over to the main stage, where Atlanta veteran Leah Culver was set to perform with a special group of artists. Little did we know she was going to bring up Pyramid Scheme and FYER to grind out that Rock flava paired up with Leah’s beautiful vocals. Earlier that weekend my friend Hannie and I had the opportunity to Interview Leah Culver, and kind of dig into her head and her musical career. Watching her set post interview felt ten times more special because I realized how much music means to that one particular human who gave us the chance to dig into her mind. Leah mixes really well with live instruments; while a pair of live drums and beat pads set the stage ablaze, Leah let loose and rocked out to singles such as Powerlines, Taken Back which was produced by TwoFold, a new single titled Slowmotion, and thankfully, her cover of Where Are Ü Now by Jack Ü. Leah Culver has a beautiful soul, and it definitely shows during her live performances. Keep rocking gorgeous, until next time!

 If I told you I wasn’t excited for Space Jesus‘ performance, that would be a bold face lie. The man is an absolute don in the underground, deep bass, wonkstep scene that we all know and love. He popped out on stage sporting a self made red and white basketball spaceball jersey. The giant name popped up on the beautiful LED circle that stood directly behind the DJ booth – it was time to encounter a Space Jesus performance. I was stoked to see the man play out some nasty tunes; all the Space Jeezy fans from Charlotte were gathered up near the front, so I knew it was bound to be a wonky show. I was left in absolute awe after experience Jasha perform hits like L Boat, Don’t Bite Me, a collab with fellow Waakan labelmate Esseks, and HMU. The crowd couldn’t contain themselves when Space Jesus dropped a new collab with Liquid Stranger which hadn’t quite hit the surface of the in until just a few weeks ago. If you want to feel like a Space Boss, then definitely head to the next Space Jesus show near you.

   It was most definitely time to hit the pool. But it was also time to check out Herobust. But most importantly, it was time to check out Herobust’s set by the pool. What can I say? Atlanta is HOT. But there were so many cool people relaxing in the pool that I didn’t really feel bad not gripping rail for this intense set from one of Atlanta’s top Dubstep producers. Herobust can turn any classy party into a ratchet 3 am nightclub setting within minutes. It’s his specialty. The badmon dropped a lot of heat during his set; Herobust isn’t the type to play solely his own music, he likes to share heaters from his friends too. We got to hear big hits like his remix for Barely Alive’s Poison Dart, Gyal Dem by Point.Blank, Borg by Virtual Riot and Funtcase, along with Phiso’s One More Time. I love catching Herobust live because of his background in HipHop music; he always makes sure to blend in the right amount of HipHop into his sets, by mashing together hits by Rick Ross, Future, Pusha T, Drake among many others. As far as his own singles go, we heard plenty. Herobust dropped a new heater called Vertebreaker, Dirty Work, his collab with Snails called Pump This, and by the grace of God, he played Skurt Reynolds, an absolute favorite of mine. Check out the full recap of his set below, shot once again, by Fred’s Excellent Adventures.

   What took place next on that main stage will forever sit in my brain as one of the most extreme 12th Planet sets I have ever witnessed. If you recall, I covered the LA producer’s set during last year’s Imagine Music Festival. I can’t even begin to express how much better this 2016 set truly was; maybe it’s because of the vibes set by the Atlanta Motor Speedway? Or the fact that the crowd was so much larger than the year before? No, the simple answer is that 12th Planet is a boss. Minutes passed by and the crowd was getting rowdy as they waited for the Riddim rat to hit the stage.

    Who the hell mixes Subfiltronik’s Psycho Blockz with Datsik’s hit, Just Saiyan? Uh, 12th Planet does, and it sounded really smooth too. I knew I was in for a huge surprise when he took those two track right into Subz’ Passout. The Riddim was real with this one. But the don also knows how to keep things interesting and alive, he doesn’t just mash out Riddim for an hour straight. I was pleased to hear Doctor P’s remix of Reasons, and the new unreleased single with Crichy Crich tiled Hide It All, was an absolute banger. The rest of his set contained a collection of heaters which included Ponicz’ Apocalypse91, Oolacile’s single, Expansion, and of course Benzmixer’s R28D. Nothing can replace my R28D experience from his 2015 set where the gorgeous Iris Girls threw a bunch of inflatable planets into the crowd – that was  also the first time I heard this insane single in a live setting. As far as personal singles go, 12th Planet dropped Dead Presidents, Skinny Pigs with Lumberjvck and Protohype, Name Bran, and thankfully, Big Riddim Monsta. I pray that the big boys behind the scene book this OG for the 2017 experience.

   How often do you get to see a high schooler perform at a big time East Coast music festival? Not every day I would assume! I popped by the Incendia stage to catch my brother from another mother, Atlanta’s very own Riven. This guy is an absolute animal on the decks. I’ve had the pleasure of catching Riven at last year’s edition of Imagine Festival – I was left in such awe that I had to book him for The Charlotte Sessions’ debut concert with Getter back in January. Riven cannot be stopped. The big guy was set up 10 feet in the air with a giant dome of fire hurdled above him. He had a crowd of hundreds of fans who were headbanging for an hour straight, I even saw several familiar faces from last year’s performance. We were lucky enough to hear some of Riven’s hit singles such as Captcha, PFOR, a special collab with Twin Circuits called Here, and most importantly his collab with LA producer, Yakz called ZONE. I can’t picture Riven at any other festival during the weekend of IMF 2017, so please please please, do not miss this young man’s set next year, because he will absolutely be bringing the fire.

Who’s ready for a ratchet experience? If you want to have a good time, go watch a Borgore set on a Sunday night in Atlanta, you will definitely see all the crazy sh*t that goes down at the near end of a festival during one this Dubstep pioneer’s set. Borgore has always been known to throw down a good set; I had the chance to catch him at Sunset Music Festival earlier this year, and I can assure you that you will have a blast from start to finish should you see him live. Girls shoved their way through the crowd to catch the Israeli producer throw down some supa hot fiyah for the masses. He got his set going with a his infamous single called #NEWGOREORDER. The set was fast paced and raunchy – Borgore rinsed other singles like Ice Cream, Syrup, Forbes w/ G Eazy, Unicorn Zombie Apocalypse, and many more. I couldn’t contain myself when dropped his single with Getter, SQUAD, which turned all the crowd zombies into party animals within seconds. Borgore dropped big names like Soltan, Zomboy, MAKJ, Flume, and Figure. What an great way to get the night ready for the fatality that was set to take place during Excision’s upcoming set.

 HELP! A virus took over the system, and we must do something about it! Recent news reports discovered a virus that had just escaped Kelowna, British Columbia, apparently on track to hit Atlanta, Georgia directly! The virus took shape of a man, who was hidden behind a giant cloud of LED protection. The lazers struck, and in the blink of an eye Excision was behind the DJ booth, with a mean muggin’ face that meant he was ready for action. The set got started off the right way – with a classic we all know and love called X UP featuring the Frim and MC Messinian. Excision definitely had the greatest light display of the weekend. His visuals were similar to those of his recent Paradox Tour, but the set list was completely original. We heard singles such as Rave Thing, Final Boss, X Rated, Throwin’ Elbows. He also dropped several notable producers’ hits as well, such as Downlink’s Moshpit, Barely Alive’s Somebody Scream, Krimer’s Blow Up and The Frim’s Swipe My Sword.

 I was walking around when I ran into Paul from Mantis; ironically enough, Excision started playing one of Mantis’ new singles known as BATman. If you could see the look on Paul Ollinger’s face when one of the greatest performer in Dubstep history dropped his song in front of thousands and thousands of people, you would understand the intense feeling of joy that was surging from this Atlanta based producer. The set ended in a powerful twist, pure Excision tracks back to back to back; he went from Crizzly’s remix of the Bassnectar/Destroid collab, Put It Down, took that straight into Destroid’s Raise Your Fistback into X Up, and ended the whole show with Live Wire. I couldn’t have asked for a better way to end my weekend.
     To summarize this entire review in one sentence: Imagine Music Festival is tight, Atlanta is tight, Excision is tight. See you all at the Atlanta Motor Speedway in 2017.

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–   Zyven

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