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Words by Rachel Narozniak, Josh Hymowitz, and Alexander Krinsky
As the ‘moon rose,’ the bass dropped across Moonrise Festival‘s four stages over the course of the Maryland’s event’s two-day occupancy at Pimlico Race Track. Diversely decorated with talent that spanned dance music’s many subgenres, Moonrise’s 2018 lineup drew a variety of acts ranging from MIJA to Timmy Trumpet to Zeds Dead, and a crowd comprised of fans with equally divergent tastes.
Dancing Astronaut went live on location for one of the final festivals of the 2018 season. What follows are ten artists who brought the Moonrise momentum, throwing down sets that made new fans out of attendees, and astonished longer term listeners.
3LAU, Stellar Stage
3LAU broke out of the 2018 release gate with a fervor that was anything but tempered on his debut full-length outing, Ultraviolet. The 11-track offering asserted that the producer’s 2016 “Into You” remix only nascently evinced 3LAU’s astute ear for electronic experimentation, one that gained extended exhibition on Ultraviolet.
A standout in the current context of EDM, given the album’s distinctive spin on commercial house, Ultraviolet’s edge derived from its confident re-imagination of what music branded as “EDM” could sound like. Fast forward to August 13 at Baltimore’s Pimlico Race Track, and 3LAU would translate the energy of Ultraviolet–but on a larger scale, of his career to date–to his live set at Moonrise Festival’s Stellar Stage. A robust showing rife with vivid bass, jumps into electro territory, and 3LAU classics–“How You Love Me,” for one–the set exemplified 3LAU’s maturity both as a producer in the studio, and as a performer behind the decks. 3LAU’s inclusion of Zeds Dead’s bass oriented flip of “Touch” proved a highlight of the set.
Diplo, Stellar Stage
Unfortunately, festivals don’t always proceed as planned. Festival organizers paused the first day of Moonrise about 30-minutes before Diplo’s hour-long set at the Stellar stage due to inclement weather. With reports of lightning a few miles out, and with thousands of people on the open grass infield of Pimlico Race Course, the city of Baltimore was bound to take precautions.
Attendees were moved to the grandstand until further notice, but once Moonrise resumed just after what would have been the end of Diplo’s set, ticket holders still got a 25-minute set from Diplo. Despite the limited time frame, Mr. Wentz to give fans everything they’d would want. He played all the hits, including “Revolution,” Major Lazer’s “Lean On,” his latest collaboration with MØ “Get It Right,” and more. The highlight had to be this Benzi Mashup, which blends the Smookie Illson Boot of “Club Action” (a go-to during Skrillex and Jack Ü sets back in the day) with the classic “We Like To Party” by Vengaboys and 4B’s “WHISTLE.” Diplo dropped craziness right into the sunset to prep fans for Kaskade.
Chris Lake, Celestial Stage
Chris Lake’s beats leveled the ground at the Celestial Stage. What started as a grassy field was ready for the pouring of concrete after Moonrisers were done thumping. Lake’s unique and often deep darker tracks were a welcome reprieve from the headbanging dub-sets throughout the day for many, that tech house can sometimes just be home.
Chris Lake served up style with toppings of hilarity with his collab track with Chris Lorenzo‘s “Pizza,” while simultaneously extending solid nods to the homies out of the Dirtybird collective by incorporating several of the label mates’ releases in his set, including–among others–FISHER‘s “Losing It.”
Photo Credit: Rukes
MK, Celestial Stage
Give MK an hour behind the decks and a disco ball, and he’ll transform the grassy grounds of a race track into an open air house oasis. While Moonrise resides as one of the East Coast’s best festivals for big name bass performances, the event’s Celestial Stage effected the intimacy of an underground club in the middle of Baltimore.
When it comes to crowd captivation, there is indeed no better duo to initiate immersion than MK and Chris Lake. Lake joined MK at the decks for a surprise b2b that scaled the house to tech house continuum with each track of the set. Hearts palpitated to MK’s “17,” and all in attendance could unanimously agree that the b2b was one of the most serendipitous outcomes of August 11th’s rain related scheduling adjustments.
Two Friends, Stellar Stage
Although they had one of the earlier time slots at Stellar Stage, Two Friends crushed their set in front of a huge crowd turnout.
It’s always bound to be a great performance from the duo, considering they’ve remixed every song millennials would want to hear at a party. Two Friends’ revamps range anywhere from The Killers to Blink-182 to Kanye West. Their remix of West’s classic hit, “Touch The Sky,” can be hard to find on the web nowadays due to copyright reasons, so having the privilege of seeing it live is always a treat, an an undeniable high point of Two Friends’ Moonrise set, at that. Luckily for fans, there’s still a few links out there for the remix, and those who missed out on the exclusivity at Two Friends’ set can still get in on the action with this rip of the rework.
Emancipator, Lunar Stage
Douglas Appling has had an incredible talent for tying the flow of electronic production with live instruments since Emancipator‘s inception. Appling’s sound is eclectic yet grounded, provoking yet calming, and organic yet able to take the listener to a different planet. With his full live band, along with the heart of the Ensemble’s melodic flow violinist, Ilya Goldberg, Emancipator’s vibrations became one with the airwaves around Moonrise 2018. Rain would eventually begin to fall to the sounds of Emancipator’s ambient trip-hop on Sunday afternoon of the festival, and although the weather would briefly pause the party, there was a moment of pure stillness and near palpable peace at this set.
JOYRYDE, Stellar Stage
JOYRYDE proved impervious to the weekend rain as he resumed Sunday activity at the Stellar Stage following the final day’s brief pause. The Skrillex collaborator greeted the Moonrisers who traipsed back onto festival grounds from the grandstand area with potent, punching bass from the very first track of his set, driving energy and adrenaline with bass lines that traveled from the decks, to race track grass, and up through the soles of attendees’ shoes.
JOYRYDE’s characteristically eclectic, bass-inflected aesthetic behind the decks commanded a distinctive brand of live energy accented with UK grime tilts and grittier turns.
Photo Credit: Run The Trap
Illenium, Stellar Stage
The Denver based breakout producer had one of the most talked-about sets of the weekend, and rightfully so, as Illenium‘s music boasts an ethereal sentimentality that provides an entirely unique live experience while creating a positive atmosphere amongst the crowd.
That being said, Illenium slightly switched gears during his Moonrise 2018 set, incorporating some heavy bass drops that signaled a departure from Illenium’s wheelhouse, the typical slow feels trip that listeners are familiar with. Although he stepped into some grittier territory for the set, a DJ’s unexpected maneuvers never fail to engross crowd members, and as such, Illenium’s Moonrise showing was probably his most notable performance to date.
A particularly noteworthy moment of the set included Illenium’s dropping of “Gold,” his highly celebrated collaboration with Excision, featured on Excision’s latest album, Apex.
REZZ, Solar Tent
Hardly unexpected or surprising, Dancing Astronaut’s Break Out Artist of 2016 did not disappoint during her climactic Moonrise performance.
REZZ sent out heavy vibrations that transfixed the minds of those assembled in the crowd at the Solar Tent for the bass prodigy’s set. It was clear before Moonrise that REZZ wasn’t going to be playing around, and Space Mom indeed came strapped, loaded, and ready to break some backs with a ‘Certain Kind Of Magic,’ in the same titular fashion of her second studio album. Her dubbed out dark dance music absolutely slayed the Solar Tent, providing a proper finale for the festival’s opening night.
Kaskade, Stellar Stage
To evade mention of Kaskade’s ‘Stellar’ showing on August 11 would be to overlook a set that evinced the electronic veteran’s reliability and limitless energy with an especial, if not glaring, clarity.
After sharing a portion of his originally allotted set time with Diplo following Saturday’s rain induced pause, Kaskade took to the decks to ensure that Moonrise goers would have some “Fun.” In many ways a ‘greatest hits’ styled set, longtime Kaskade fans enjoyed classic productions like “Disarm You” and “Something Something Champs Remix” interwoven among comparatively more recent releases like the Phoebe Ryan assisted “Almost Back.” Rife with atmospheric electro and pumping, progressive house festival drops, the set underscored the ethereal caliber of a Kaskade set, one that endured even with unexpected adjustments.