There’s no doubt in my mind that Georgia is one of this country’s pivotal hubs for hosting live music events. On the second to final weekend of September, I was able to experience this theory once again as I prepared myself for a three day journey at the infamous Imagine Music Festival held right outside Atlanta, in Hampton, GA. The family over at long time ATL based promotional company, Iris Presents, has been putting on this majestic and creative festival for four consecutive years now. Back in 2014, the main headliners included Destroid, Fedde Le Grand, Adventure Club and Rusko. Flash forward to 2017 and the lineup has exploded ten fold as Iris booked international superstars like Pretty Lights, STS9, Claude Vonstroke, Deadmau5, Tiesto, Big Gigantic, and Minnesota to close out the night. Incredible displays of artistry and ingenuity flowed throughout the Atlanta Motor Speedway; it was impossible not to see something impressive at every corner that one looked. And the fact that what seemed like over 20,000 people showed face for this magical experience made, not only camping, but raging in general, made the weekend a whole lot more exciting. While there were a few mishaps that took place, such as an incredibly long entrance wait on Saturday and a relatively distant Shipwreck stage that didn’t see the crowd attendance it deserved, along with the never-ending schedule conflicts, there were too many amazing moments that involved new friends, incredibly exceptional performances, late night vibes, and an abundant amount of positive energy made this weekend one for the books. Since I pride myself in taking the time to add a good amount of detail for every set that I witnessed, rather than a two sentense summary, I’m going to break up the weekend into three seperate reviews. Read along to see why The Charlotte Sessions has been a part of Imagine Music Festival for three years running.(Read our 2015 and 2016 Reviews). We’re addicted and we just can’t stop going!
What’s your favorite part about a festival? The arrival? Making new friends? Setting up camp? Spending unnecessary amounts of money on everything in sight? Or that meaningful conversation with the last person you meet at said festival? While the arrival may be a glorious part for most, the fantasy dissapears as the search for the check in areas become nearly impossible to locate, at least during the evening. This year I found it a little more difficult to locate the box office, as well as the proper parking for media guests. It wasn’t a huge deal, but sometimes it’s hard to arrive early on day one like most people do, because, work, school and adulting usually tend to get in the way. So maybe next year there could be some more outdoor staff with maps in hands (because the ones that I asked had no clue where a lot of spots were) set up throughout the giant circular road that wraps around the speedway. But this is a small detail in comparison to the feeling you get after getting into the heart of the speedway where all the fun was at. After I found my way to the right spot, it only took about fifteen minutes to patiently wait and get my car through the check point, and into the campground. I spared no time to set up camp, I parked in the first open spot that I could and ran towards the gates because I knew I only had so long before Mantis’ set was over, and I could not miss the my much needed dose of Atlanta’s heavy Dubstep duo.
After a brief moment of exercise that involved a lengthy walk from my car to the entrance of the festival, I finally made my way inside the stomping grounds of Imagine, exactly where I needed to be after a long day of traveling and schoolwork. The first stage that I came in contact with was Six Feathers, a smaller, yet finely placed stage that acts as an intermediary for the Oceania main stage, and the Disco Inferno stage. Hundreds of Imagineers gathered around for an intimate and aggressive set by one of my favorite heavy Bass production duos, Mantis. Paul and Taylor never have a problem showing off their unique dynamic whenever they hit the stage. They often play shows separately when the demand is high, but whenever they’re together, they always do a great job. It was an extreme shock to see the likes of Massachusetts based producer, SQUNTO playing on stage with Mantis. I thought my opportunity to catch the bass dragon at Imagine was gone – out of sight, out of mind; but the Mantis boys did the right thing by bringing up this heavyweight producer to join them. The crowd was really digging the surprise B2B, like always, Mantis threw down some bassheavy vibes that mixed in perfectly with SQUNTO’s natural knack for chopping Bass. But soon enough, it was time to run over to the main stage to catch the remainder of NGHTMRE’s set. I had to support the North Carolina native as he took on the main stage at Imagine for the first time in IMF history.
I quickly made my way over to Oceania to see if I could catch any hot fire from Raleigh’s very own NGHTMRE. The crowd was absolutely enormous, much larger than I expected for Day One of the illustrious festival. At times, NGHTMRE has put on subpar sets that make you question whether or not you should see him again if his name were to pop up on your next festival lineup. But he thoroughly impressed me at Lollapalooza earlier this year, so I figured he would keep this fire streak of more entertaining sets would roll on to Imagine. So what do you think? Did I make the right move by popping through the Oceania stage to catch NGHTMRE’s set? 100%, tens times a million, yes. I managed to catch a few songs like “Boss Mode” by Knife Party, Noisia’s new remix of their 2015 collab with the Upbeats, titled “Dead Limit,” and last but not least, a beautiful new single by the producer himself made in collaboration with Carmada. It was amazing seeing a sea of people chanting out the lyrics to “Embrace“ as NGHTMRE said his goodbyes. At the time, the right move was to stay at the Oceania stage to catch one of the most anticipated sets of the weekend, the Canadian ninja Datsik! You know what’s one of the best feelings you can experience at festival? Seeing a personal favorite perform a major slot three years running at the same. darn. festival. It’s been so much fun seeing the growth and progression that Datsik has made throughout the years, just as the festival has continued to grow and propser . While Troy’s production game has gotten better day by day ever since his break out in the Bass music scene over seven years ago, his outfit game has also gotten better. Datsik went from sporting a double long sleeve get up to a dope Raiden costume that practically made the Kelowna bred producer look like the infamous Mortal Kombat character, except he was the Dubstep version of Raiden. While many people may not care about what’s going down on the LED projectors at a show, I’m a real big snob when it comes to visuals. I loved seeing Datsik explore his options for his IMF visuals – he even added a heavy presence of anime in the mix. 10 points and one Riddim to whoever can guess the anime in the visuals below.
Troy didn’t spare a single second in making his visual productions as professional and unique as possible; the heavy use of lazers helped make his set ten, no, eleven times more thrilling than his previous Imagine sets. But what was most important about this hour long Bass massacre was Datsik’s track selection. I actually took really good notes that were somewhat legible – they mentioned a lot of the fire tracks that were thrown in that-sik set. Here we go! He got the night started off with Lil Wayne’s infamous lyric from “A Milli” ‘Mothafuc*a I’m Ill, Not Sick!” which quickly turned into a heavy tune where a guy shouted “Lemme see you get louder” before the drop kicked in, the name escapes me. Datsik played a heavy amount of personal tracks – he dropped several bangers such as “Katana,” “Just Sayain,” his infamous collab with Excision and “Swagga“ along with countless other great singles that have helped refine an era of Dubstep. There was one part where Datsik went from “Robo Kitty” to Zomboy’s “Rott N’ Roll” to Bear Grillz’ “EDM,” which led into his popular collab with Excision, “Boom” before transitioning into his newer single “Wreckless.”
He kept showing love to Excision by playing another one of his tracks known as “G Shit,” a definite personal favorite. At a certain point he even yelled out “This is a new track I’ve got with Excision and Dion Timmer,” if I remember correctly. The crowd freaked out at the sound of those words – it was obvious there were a lot of X supporters in the building. Just to name a few more tracks, before moving on with this recap, Datsik dropped Phiso’s hit “Jotaro,” that amazing Freddie Gibbs and Joyryde collab known as“Damn” and some crazy remix of Funtcase and Virtual Riot’s serious heater “Borg.” I couldn’t tell you what kind of Riddim tracks Datsik threw in the mix, but when he yelled “Where’s my Riddim Gang at?” I lost every marble in my body. I had to put up my notepad as I skanked out with my neighbors for what felt like a lifetime. Overall, I had a complete blast catching Datsik destroy Atlanta in one foul sixty minute swoop! My night went on smoothly. I made my way over to the Shipwreck stage to see how far the IMF family went to create a Pirate Ship like, nautical experience for the festival goers. This was the least visited stage throughout the weekend given how out of the way it was compared to the rest of the stages, but nevertheless the performers that held down this badass region of Imagine such as Riven, Midnite Panda, and Devious, were some of the best of the weekend. To my surprise, I caught the tail end of a special set by Charlotte producer, Jordan Gervais, right before he called up the rising Florida based producer, Blunts & Blondes to play for a few minutes. I felt like we were getting teased because it lasted all about ten minutes. At least it was a nice rush of Riddim before Deorro hit the Oceania stage. I couldn’t complain, it was still a really pleasant unexpected surprise. It’s weird because recently Blunts & Blondes released his remix of Boogie T. and Whiskers‘ collab “Bad Motha,” which I’m almost certain he played during his short set; he also played the infamous Chibs track that everyone and their mother listens to on a daily – “Sharingan” which is an absolute must for any quality Riddim set. Don’t let the haters tell you otherwise, music will always be opinion based. Overall, it was an action packed, Riddim filled, mega overload of secret wubs and dubs – the perfect camp-night story to share once the shenanigans were all said and done.
It was definitely half past time to watch Bleep Bloop throw the f*ck down at the Incedia stage when I started making my way over to the firey hot set up for the first time that weekend. But I had to pay homage to the man Deorro for a few minutes, seeing as how it was on the way to my new destination. I have never seen the poofy haired Panda Funk label owner before, and I’ve only ever heard positive comments about the California based producer’s live set. He had no problem holding down the fort because all I saw was a crowd full of ravers getting rowdy to the festival trap beats of Deorro. He cycled through a collection of distinct bouncy, energetic tracks filled with sirens, horns, bells and whistles, mixed with other strange high pitched sounds. Most of the music was “Put yo’ hands up” type of tunes, but I wasn’t complaining, it was a nice change to the intense Dubstep adventure I had begun once I entered the realms of Imagine a few hours earlier. I really enjoyed hearing his infamous collab with Diplo and and Steve Aoki, “Freak.” The crowd didn’t hold back on their dance moves for that club banger, not one bit. If you were doing it right like I was, then you were probably hanging out by the pool as you caught Deorro’s set, which made the experience that much more enjoyable. But soon enough it was time to bounce – I needed to catch Bleep Bloop throw down some weird space Bass before the night was over.
I was thrilled to finally see Bleep Bloop get his hour of glory at Imagine – it had only been less than a month my previous Bloop performance at the illustrious Basscenter event, but I was still stoked to catch the California based disguised producer (who’s secretly a martian) at Imagine for the second year in a row. I was curious to see if he could top his thrilling set from the year before as he took on the Incendia stage without a fear in the world. Needless to say, the late night vibes added with the random spurts of fire, and improved sound system made for a wild set. His performances usually consist of strange, thought provoking, technologically based sounds that make you question your true existence on this planet. Are we alone? Or are we getting signals from other life forms? Is Bleep Bloop trying to tell us something? It felt great to finally hear the wonky dark lyrics recite “Slippin’ is something I don’t do..” or “All I wanna do is smoke a little chronic!” He went on to play an addicting remix of Kendrick Lamar’s hit single “Humble,” before shouting into the crowd “This is what the other side of a black hole feels like” as he unleashed something special packed with enormous amounts of bass.
He even shorted out one of the speakers for a few seconds – but it soon resolved itself and we were now hearing a new, exclusive DMVU and Space Jesus collab, before turning into DMVU’s hit “Bloccd.” My absolute favorite part of Bleep Bloop’s set was when he dropped his new collab with Gary Pantin’ known to the world as “K-9 Unit.” Everyone in the crowd was shouting out those familiar lyrics “K-9 unit what a 100 packs smell like, police pull you over bout you mothaf*ckin’ tail light!” It was exciting to finally see the man behind those strange basslines finally perform the song in person. He ended his powerfully hypnotic set with Bassnectar’s incredible track off the Unlimited album, “Shampion Chip,” and thankfully he didn’t play it out till the 2.5 minute mark when the drop finally happens. Thank you for not being such a tease Bleep Bloop, till next time!
Bleep Bloop Fan Club
Don’t be upset, but my section on Tiësto is rather shorter than I expected. I was on a heavy Bass high all day long, and I didn’t want to spoil my mood with any mainstream tunes that I expected the Dutch producer to perform as took charge of putting tens of thousands of fans into an absolute trance. However, given that Tiësto was one of the first producers that sparked my interest in electronic music back when I was younger, I had to show my love and support for the Dance music sensation. To my surprise, I thoroughly enjoyed the Electro-House feels that Tiësto spread through the air that Friday night. I enjoyed hearing Dzeko’s track with Brynn Taylor “California” as the loving voice echoed “My heart will always be here for ya, But I got lost in California.” There was also a familiar remix of Kid Cudi’s track “Pursuit of Happiness,” that really caught my attention. According to my friends, it was the Steve Aoki remix. I was told that Tiësto even dropped Krimer’s hit single “Die” which I can only imagine sounded amazing through that intense sound system – a little unexpected from Tiesto, but the genre a producer is known for does not define the music they can perform in a live set. Sadly, it was time to end my night over at the Incendia stage as Minnesota was set to perform very shortly. Without a doubt, I enjoyed my time during Tiësto’s Imagine Music Festival performance.
I was tired, but I couldn’t help but stick around to catch the likes of Minnesota end the night, as he and Tiësto were the final two acts for Day One of Imagine. It was sad to see the night come to a near end – but finishing Day One off with the likes of one of the most entertaining producers I’ve seen to this day made the melancholy feeling disappear quickly. My favorite Minnesota set of all time was at Counterpoint Music Festival in 2015, but I definitely enjoyed his grungy, Bass and Hip-Hop infused set at Imagine this year, and so did the crowd of thousands of Bass zombies wandering around anxiously enjoying every minute of Minnesota’s set before having to take their adventures over to the silent disco. I was thrilled to hear him play out tracks by other heavily known artists such as Buku, with his track “Front to Back” or Kai Wachi’s hit track “Demons,” along with that oldschool Excision and Datsik banger, “Boom.” I heard a particular track that really caught my attention; I asked someone around me and they reminded me that it was The Frim’s remix of Minnesota’s older track “Bass Power,” which was arguably my favorite track from his riveting set. As always, the OG producer threw in a lot of tracks by what seems to be one of his favorite rappers, Danny Brown. During that set alone I heard a remix of “Break It Go” and some other track off his debut album Old. What a great way to end the night!
I can’t Imagine what else could be said about Day One at Imagine Music Festival. It was such a great experience that I wish I had arrived sooner, but that just means I was in for a huge wake up call when the Saturday get downs were set to begin. Here’s a little shout out to the people I wish I saw that day: Andy Bruh, Yheti, Esseks, Buku, and Leah Culver!
Stay tuned for our Imagine Music Festival: Day 2 Review coming soon!
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