2020 was obviously the year from hell for lots of things, including festivals. EDC had a 2.5 year gap, and Dreamstate ended up with a 2 year gap, but despite probably losing a bunch of money during the pandemic, Insomniac did a great job putting a quality show as always, dealing with all the extra difficulties (artists cancelling due to covid, other artists unable to get visas to enter the US), and yet they went back to 4 stages instead of 3 in 2019.
Of course, many of us had fun at EDC Vegas a month ago, read more here: http://marc.merlins.org/perso/clubbing/post_2021-11-22_After-a-2_5Y-wait_-Our-next-EDC-Vegas.html , but while EDC has trance, it's not about trance, Dreamstate of course is about trance!
so glad to be back!
Unlike creamfields where some of the extra stages were honestly shit visually and audio quality-wise (and their security was dicks ), insomniac made sure all stages were as good as could be, even the smallest one (void).
The lineup was solid like I said:
As always, it's not EDC Vegas level eye candy, but it's still quite good, nothing to complain about :)
The decors were great and the VIP areas were shiny:
If you didn't bring your own lighting, they had you covered:
The stages were as follows:
The dream stage was quite pretty, well done
The sequence, psytrance was ok-ish but the DJ booth wasn't lit well, so you could barely see who was playing
vision was good enough, but still had the annoying line to get in
even the smaller void, was good too
Of course, what makes Dreamstate and EDC magical, is not just the eye candy that Insomniac brings, but what the attendees bring too, from good vibes, costumes, and totems:
TFSF's Katie-Ann did a great job with her psy outfit :)
That's not counting Afik's LED totem entourage, an ever growing list :)
Of course, we had our local trancefamily groups:
For the LED/tech nerd that I am, it was great to see more people with LED panels, some were able to use some of the code that I published online and make their own improvements on top:
really cool totem with 12 RGB panels (more than me, but less resolution than me), run by an FPGA card, well done!
of course Afik's trusty totem was here
and I had fun with my outfit :)
So, let's start with Day #1, I got there bright and early, 17:00 when it opened:
so great to see Haliene again
also great to see Thrillseekers again
life is always better with lasers ;)
it was special to see Emma Hewitt, it's not every day
I've seen Fadi 6 times in the last months, but still love him each time :)
for those who don't know him, he is literally the nicest guy on earth
And to save the best for last, after Paul Van Dyk, was Ferry Corsten's Gouryella which was truly a religious experience for many, myself included. I still remember hearing it in what turned out to be 2016 at EDC at Circuit Grounds after consulting my archives :) Thank you so much Ferry for playing this again, albeit an updated version:
just seeing the lyrics brings the tunes back in my head :)
what a finish
Thank you Ferry.
Wait, you're saying you missed this? Well, don't worry, I recorded a bit over 2/3rd of it in my video summary of Day #1 (starting at 59:43):
After just enough sleep, I had a bit of time to write some extra code for my LED outfit, including adding some DJ faces (see bottom for Craig, Liquid Soul, and Blastoyz), and an extra trancejesus has it on vynil screen (see above). I then went a bit early to check out the grounds before everything started for Day #2:
the calm before the storm :)
Excited to see Xijaro & Pitch
Anthony pointed out the irony that as a blind man he got to play at the 'vision' stage :)
the costumed dancers were very good as always
Got some triplets from Whitenoise
absolutely delighted to see Alpha9 again, I enjoyed his set each time
Definitely enjoyed seeing Zero Gravity Arts again:
truly dope ass outfits
Super nice to see liquid soul, always smiling and happy with the joys of psytrance :)
Gareth back on mainstage
But I went to see Craig Connelly, because well, that was not even a question :)
Definitely enjoyed Blastoyz's set
went to check out Aly & Fila's UV set
and finished the night and festival with Reality Test
And just like that, the 2 days, 18H of trance, were over. Thank you to insomniac, all the artists and everyone who brought in outfits, smiles, and good vibes.
Video summary of Day #2:
And I have to thank, you know who you are, for expanded access and being able to meet so many artists. Thank you!
Waiting a year for EDC is a long wait, but it got moved in May 2020, and moved again in October 2020, and again in May 2021, that was starting to be torture, and it finally happened on Oct 2021, not a moment too soon!
so glad to be back
Even though the event was not sold out, and used tickets were going for very low prices, insomniac did not cheapen out on the event. Plenty of DJS were not able to come due to covid travel restrictions, but the grounds were just as impressive as usual:
On day #3, I went early (before sunset), I was able to talk myself into the big ferris wheel and got a special ride to the top when it wasn't opened yet. Got some great shots of course:
Too bad most people missed sunset due to the opening times:
the calm before the storm
I later got a ride on the 2nd ferris wheel as soon as it opened at 19:00:
a few things moved, a bit more ground was used
this was a cute addition
favorite burning man art as always
always a crowd favorite too
nice parking job
sure, I went for a few rides, even more fun when you're not sober :)
Downtown EDC was well setup:
Lots of stores too:
great to see Pixel Forest again
unfortunately the pixel forest tunnel didn't have the fantastic music/visuals combo it had in 2019
There are fireworks, and there are EDC fireworks. After EDC fireworks, it's harder to see other fireworks, for sure, especially with the drone show that was added this year:
Fireworks of all 3 days:
Festival goers in Europe probably think I'm some weirdo that came from space (especially those idiots that run creamfields and actually prevent you from getting in with anything cool, because I guess it's better to keep it boring). This is really one of the things Insomniac has done so well, fostered this culture of cool totems and costumes:
And great to see more LED totems, even if I'm still the only wearable LED outfit:
this totem was nice as it allowed taking pictures, videos, and replaying them
this was pre-made but really cool
And of course, got to meet an ever growing list of friends:
normally we have more folks. We will next time!
so great to meet trancejesus in person
Triode and Kifi
Mark Estes who wrote some of the animations (like this one) on my outfit
But let's not forget my friend Afik I first met at EDC, and turns out we live close enough to one another. We became good friends, along with all of Afik's friends, a dedicated group in TFSF and TFLA:
are there more beauiful people?
also met Rory first on the internet, helped him with some code now running his furret totem
And there are so many performers that get ready for us:
I feel so thankful that we were stll able to have some of my favorite DJs:
Fadi totally slayed, and he's such a nice guy. 'You again' indeed, 3rd time we met in a week :)
Lots more people of course:
And yes, people waited a long time!
And of course, the party within the party:
But anyway, let's get on with the festival:
I was lucky to have a nice view on the shuttle locations from my room, shuttle locations that Insomniac is still not giving precise GPS waypoints for, making many people walk quite a bit trying to find them:
lots of busses waiting at mid strip to take happy ravers
no line when I got there around 17:45, but the busses weren't going yet
Unfortunately, despite all the busses and staff being there, the first bus didn't leave until 18:00, which was too late with traffic, so we only arrived at EDC past 19:30, and I barely got to Khromata's set around 18:45, having missed 45mn of it. I hope that insomniac fixes this for real and allows busses to leave earlier (at least 17:30) on fridays, since there is bad traffic each time.
Happy to see Khromata, even if it was only for the last bit of her set:
Quantum Valley looked nice, but the atom bar in the middle blocked the screen for many pictures
So good to be back:
I spent most of my time at Quantum Valley, trance head that I am, but tried to see a few others too:
So great to see Haliene live again
This was my beef about the atom look of QV, it messed up the screen and pictures:
Paul van Dyk
Paul Oakenfold was next, he was a complete mess, totally coked up, a disaster with the microphone when his buddy didn't take said microphone to make things worse. He even totally messed up a mix, reset a track from the start and played it twice, because 0 fucks given. So sad, he's such a pioneer and truly one of my idols. This is why you shouldn't do drugs, kids, or pick them carefully :)
so happy to be here :)
yes, I see you :)
but really, I'm bored out of my mind
I spent some time to check out Kinetic Field with special access just in time for seven lions:
I used my prototype code that lets me send custom messages from my phone
I then stepped back a bit for a better overview
it was then time to come back for some good psytrance from reality test:
she was nice to see her fans after her set was over at 05:30
Back for day #2, by then the friday traffic was gone, so the 18:00 shuttle got there just before 19:00, opening time from the shuttle side.
A few stages:
Great to see Alessandra Roncone again
After randomly discovering Say My Name at the last EDC, I went to see him again:
Seeing Vini vici for the 3rd time in 2 weeks :)
I was excited to see Pendulum Trinity again after seeing them at Creamfields, good show.
For Day #3, I wanted to see Z-Trip who was playing before 19:00, so I had to take an uber (shuttles start too late), and got there at 17:30 from the other side:
Z-Trip did slay, so happy to have seen him in person. It's a shame that he played so early, which caused so many people to miss his set:
Z-Trip did slay, so happy to have seen him in person:
I also took the time before the main festival opened to see the calm before the storm:
And then the gates opened and everything else started:
And back to the trance stage for a lot of great sets:
Went to see Eric Prydz with my friends. Interesting visuals but too techno-ish for me:
So back to the trance stage to catch the rest of cosmic gate:
Holy shit did Aly and Fila's Fadi slay. It was funny, it was my 3rd time seeing him in 7 days, but loved it
Also had a bit of fun, took pictures, saw people:
nice view from the passport grounds
And I finished the last night with a B2B between Saymyname and 12th planet:
It was literally my first time staying until the end of EDC (my flight at 08:15 was just late enough that I could stay until 05:30, catch a shuttle back to my room, arrive at the hotel just before 07:00 and take an uber to the airport to catch my flight out:
The ending ceremony was underwhelming, not a big deal that I missed it in the past:
this coveted picture took many tries, hard shot, and always people in the way :)
I had heard about untold after Armin's massive 7H+ sets there, and multiple DJs saying how much they liked playing there, and that it was their favorite festival, so I had to check it out.
With CV19, I'm sure it was not exactly as great as it could have been (including Armin unfortunately deciding not to play there this year, and playing in Bucharest 2 weeks later, sigh, why Armin?), but Untold was still plenty great for me. I agree that it's one of the best festivals I've gone to, and simply the best in some metrics (like having almost the entire town attend, including kids).
I took over 2500 pictures, almost 4H of video, and about 10H of work to put everything together and condense down to this blog post.
If you'd like to see more pictures:
I used the opportunity to do a 4 day tour of Romania between Bucharest and Cluj where the festival is held, and arrived thursday afternoon just as the early acts of the festival had started. By then, there was a monster 1-2H line for getting wristbands to get in (you could get them in other locations and earlier if you had planned), but thankfully VIP had a separate entrance with no line:
entrance with lines on both sides
and lines went way back
they required covid vaccination or a test every 2 days, thankfully they did accept my CDC vaccination card
I however never received my PDF ticket, so I had to go to a special place to get my ticket verified and a wristband, it was sorted reasonably quickly
The one rant I'll have is how Untold forces you to use their digital money on your RFID wristband. Maybe in the past, it was easier and faster to have contactless money, but in this day and age of contactless credit cards, it's absolutely stupid that they still force you to use it. It was cumbersome, didn't work for me (told me it failed when I added money, but it didn't fail, it took my money 3 times), and after it had a bunch of money, I still couldn't see it on my phone or spend it because the whole thing was broken and had to go to a special place to get it fixed. It worked eventually, but it was all pointless and a waste of time if I have contactless credit cards (which I do). And of course you also have to worry about getting your left money back at the end too. I hope they get the hint and switch to a dual system in the future:
Ok, other small rant, I'm not a fan of commercials on the screens in between sets:
Anyway, let's get started!
Security is something I really liked at Untold. They did it well on many levels:
perimeter security was quite good (hard to get in without being checked, unlike both creamfields and luminosity that gave me grief and had such glaring holes in their security, so they literally were only annoying to honest people)
I was wary of the entrance check, especially after the utter BS at creamfields, and also because my LED backpack was a bit over the allowed size, but they were super nice. They really only looked for big weapons and didn't waste time opening all your stuff looking for drugs that they wouldn't really find anyway. Of course, no attack dogs looking for drugs person by person like at creamfields. They asked me a few questions the first day about my outfit which indeed looks a bit unusual, and when they saw what it was, I was in 15 seconds later. That was super, thank you.
One way they kept the event safe was an impressive amount of police, army, and even firemen. It felt like the entire city was there to keep things safe. I thought that was great, well done!
Romania also has had less to worry about terrorism, which is nice. England was way over the top about it, and being a real pain to everyone
yeah, I didn't quite meet that, but they were nice enough to let it slide
nice that they were giving bands for bag ok'ed
they were also hiring :)
Another thing I really have to mention is how clean the place was, both because people were being more responsible, but also because they had crews cleaning continuously during the entire night. Well done!
The crowds and people attending are what makes the event truly special, and why I love festivals. The vibe is not the same everywhere, at creamfieldss, there were some nice outfits, but virtually no LEDs/lights/glow sticks. Luminosity, very few outfits even, but while untold wasn't on par with US insomniac events with the amount of wearable night lights, it definitely was for everything else.
Lots of places where you could get costumes, makeup, tatoos:
even small girls
Ah yes, did I mention children? Children were allowed, no age restriction as long as the youngest ones came with parents. How refreshing:
Multiple groups playing music, wearing outfits, and entertaining the crowds:
It was a bit light on LEDs (ha!), but I found a few, including making a new LED friend, Alex (Oleksandr Rozhok). We will slowly convert/encourage others to wear LEDs (I saw some LED shoes and glasses):
If anyone is curious, this is actually the crap I was wearing :) (not counting the 2nd computer and huge batteries in the fanny pack around my belt):
They have a pretty nice location, an entire park fenced off (solid perimeter by the way), and a huge arena. Nice grounds:
getting a good picture with this covettted sign turned out to be hard :)
lots of random decors, they were nice
I've only seen this level of decors at EDC, well done untold!
There were games and attractions:
I even got to play a bit :)
Of course, plenty of things look better at night
I'm told that if you aren't sober, the pictures move :)
They had a bit of fireworks every night, but they were really only visible from the Arena, where I never was during the short time they were shot. They were definitely not EDC caliber, but that's fine
As far as amusement rides, go, they only really had a couple, and you had to pay for them, so creamfields and EDC were ahead there. Still, 2 is better than nothing :)
took a ride for some pictures, but they weren't EDC level great
nicer at night
VIP was Ok, but maybe not super necessary. I only found a VIP section in the main arena where I spent almost 0 time:
they had massage chairs, and they were nice :)
the VIP area was ok, but it was a side view, not great for nice pictures
and they had the annoying uber VIP within VIP, areas you coudln't actually go to. In the end, I didn't bother much
Smoking... OMG everyone smokes in Romania. They had almost as many cigarette stands as beer stands. IF you bought enough and won some golden ticket, you could go on some fancy ride. They were nice enough to let me ride with a group of 2 and it was very cool. Lucky were the few who got to ride it:
Here's a video of 5 degrees of freedom:
The Main Arena
I actually spent very little time there (again, sad that we didn't get an Armin mega-set), but it looked good when I went, just the music wasn't my favorite, except when Paul Van Dyk played.
all kinds of artists, including singers (not just EDM)
Main arena had the best lighting by far, it was impressive
There is one issue with the main stage, it's fantastic, but they have huge structure on top and behind the sound booth that totally blocks the view, that just doesn't make sense and really prevents seeing the stage from the other side, kind of sad:
even a bit sideways, the stage view is blocked
but nice lasers :)
I spent most of my time at the fortune stage, but the nearby was the daydreaming stage was definitely trippy. The music was "interesting". I'm sure it was great if you were high :) Since it was playing trippy stuff, it would have been great to add psytrance there.
the sound engineer was running the show from the middle of the crowd, sweet!
The beginning of this video has a bit of the music played at Daydeaming, with a OMG remix of bohemian rapsody:
There were 7 stages total (I think some years, even more). Some were not for me, but some others were cool, like one that played good drum and bass at times (I missed most of it, it was too far of a walk from fortune). Nostalgia was not why I was there, but quite cool too:
a random DJ stage outside the arena
The event opened quite early (14:00 or so), but most stages only really started at 20:00, so I was there in time for the start of Trance at the fortune stage where I spent most of my 4 days due to the really good lineup of trance DJs:
the fortune stage had quite decent lighting
great to see solarstone again
cosmic gate was next
always happy to see JoC, even if he didn't play my most favorite set of his
Bryan Kearney, although tech/hard trance isn't my thing as much
That was it for Day #1, I didn't go to bed too late (left a bit after 03:00), although I ended up missing Alex M.O.R.P.H., he wasn't shown on the schedule and I missed him :(
Day #1 summary video:
Men-D was a Cluj local, interesting and very different music
Aly & Fila B2B Paul Thomas, and interesting B2B
GO was next, energetic set as always
Paul Van Dijk closed the night in the main arena
Even though it was 05:00 by the time PvD ended, some stages kept playing:
I ended up leaving as the nostalgia stage was still playing probably until sunrise
Day #2 summary video:
gret to see Ruben de Ronde again
The biggest treat of day #3 was Susanna singing live, and she sang a lot for us, that was lovely:
The local trance DJ, Roman Messer was next with an excellent set too:
and bogdan finished the night
Day #3 summary video:
Saved the best for last, Day #4 was over 12H for me, and really good, Gardenstate started with an excellent 2.5H set:
Markus was next
Will Atkinson did one of his hard/tech trance sets, not my favorite as much, but still some good tracks
And then, a really powerful Craig Connelly B2B FactorB, awesome:
Craig was focussed :)
Craig almost went crowdsurfing :)
De WLT (Dana) finished the night, good set too
After the last set, I ran out about 10mn early as I had to hurry back to my accomodation, pack my stuff quickly and get an uber to the airport to get a flight taking off for Paris just 2H later (only flight every 2-3 days, Cluj has a small airport).
Day #4 summary video:
Untold is truly special, it is very much a festival of its own kind, and while not the same as EDC Vegas, definitely on the same level in many ways:
many stages, but unlike creamfields, they all had proper sound and attention to detail with people who really cared to do as great a job as possible (the 2 trance states at creamfields had terrible sound and pityful visuals)
decors and attractions, many of them, definitely on par with EDC, they probably cost a bit less, but it's not about money, it's about the atmosphere, and that atmosphere was great
the people, the performers, they were definitely on par with EDC (creamfields had exactly 0 for comparison)
security done right, I wrote about that above, thank you. I really felt it was all about having a good time
super clean, as said earlier, they really worked hard on keeping the event clean in real time
it's a whole city festival. You definitely hear the music multiple kilometers inside the city up to 06:00, anyone trying to sleep at home probably needs earplugs. Not sure how they get away with it, but thanks to the residents for allowing this (of course, many also attend the event at probably reduced prices, which is only fair)
allow use of contactless credit cards
add psytrance to the daydreaming stage
several DJs were changed but not reflected in the untold app (schedule was not updated), and the online web schedule was hard to find, please fix that, I missed sets due to the incorrect times
firstname.lastname@example.org never answered the question I sent, weeks in advance. Use a ticket system?
more VIP benefits? VIP seemed a bit useless outside of main stage
Untold was a great experience, and I'm sure it wasn't even a 100% of what it was supposed to be due to covid restrictions and artist cancellations, but honestly I was thoroughly impressed and really enjoyed it. The best part was that I was able to sleep literally 5mn from the festival entrance, that beats EDC by so much where my bed is over 1H away.
To all the organizers of untold, and active participants: thank you.
Love you too Alex, thanks for all the glow sticks and great vibes!
Well, festivals had been cancelled for over 1.5 years now, and that weekend there were 2 to choose from, ASOT 1000 and ABGT (which itself was a reschedule from an earlier data), but ASOT got cancelled, so that made the choice easier.
So, I did:
I have to give a big thanks to the Drumsheds staff for allowing me in with my LED backpack (which was oversized), and LED outfit, which was within the rules, but because wires and bombs and scared people, could have been denied (like it was at Creamfields where the security staff was much less nice and didn't give a rat's ass that they were pointlessly punishing customers):
plenty of drink options and some decent enough food
So great to see my friends again, ironic that we have to go around the world to meet :)
Natalie came with a lot of dancing energy :)
The ABGT favorites of the year opened the day:
oh no, I have bad news for you :)
trancewax, not really trance, though
tony means business :)
genix was not really my favorite
Ilan did a nice set again
better gear than me :)
And then it was finally time for the trio, ABGT is the only time you don't get a random 2 out of 3 :)
and the signature wave off
We sure had a great time:
Natalie and I made it to the live stream a bit:
This was obviously not ABGT350 Prague scale, but given the travel restrictions (and the UK sure made it a pain to travel there, not counting the required additional covid test required for foreigners as their vaccine cards were not recognized), this was a good party, plenty of people were still able to attend.
Those who know me, know that I've become a bit wary of Above and Beyond shows since they include more and more random EDM genres that I don't appreciate as much (yes, that's on me), but this set was enjoyable overall, not too much 'deep' which really isn't my thing (indeed, that was kept for the next day).
Thanks to everyone, including again Drumsheds for letting me in with my outfit and LED backpack, which sure wasn't true of creamfields.
And yes, getting up at 06:00 the next morning to catch a flight to Romania for untold festival, was a bit rough, but it's all worth it in the end :)
in Clubbing, England2021, Festivals
Foreword and rants
I had heard about creamfields for a while now, but well, it was far, and it also conflicts with Burning Man, so that kind of made it a no go, except this year where the official burning man was cancelled due to covid (although the unofficial burning man ended up being much bigger than planned).
The goal was actually for me to go to ASOT 1000, and creamfields was conveniently a bonus the week before that, but ASOT 1000 also got cancelled unfortunately, so creamfields was what was left (and ABGT 450 went to replace ASOT 1000).
So, I did:
This text below ended up being a lot longer than I though. I have never written anything like this for any event ever, I don't know if creamfields will ever read this, or whether they care, but I feel that others should know so that they can decide whether they went to spend their money there. I'm personally unlikely to ever go back unless I get an apology from them, which I'm obviously not holding my breath, for. I'll be happily proven wrong though, and will update this page if I am.
Back to creamfields, my experience was mixed, and mosty ended up negative due to some of the staff working there (both security and transport staff). I'll therefore start with the list of things that were not great:
creamfields is confusing, you literally cannot attend thursday at all, unless you buy a 4 day camping ticket. So, that's what I did. I even bought an expensive gold 4 day camping ticket, so that I wouldn't have to worry and get access to everything. But no, turns out that ticket does not allow you to leave the event to go sleep at your hotel if you have one, and honestly going to camp in the mud and rain that creamfields usually has, was not what I had in mind (also no camping gear given that I was flying from the US). So, effectively I had a worthless $600 ticket that would be void after the first day after going to sleep in a proper bed on the first night. Creamfields, why do you hate your customers that much?
but eh, they were nice, when I explained my problem, they "nicely" offered to to downgrade me to a 3 day in and out ticket (with no refund for the price difference of course), but instead of then just letting me in for thursday since after all I had paid for it (which I was honestly hoping they would do), they clearly told me that I was not going to get in, to leave, and come back friday. How nice of them! I somehow got lost on my way out and found myself inside the event anyway, but that was no thanks to them. I think the only approved way to attend thursday and sleep outside, is to buy a 4 day camping pass + a 3 day in and out pass, for the low low price of $900 or so. Thank you!
Thursday was a bit weird, they were not allowed to make any sound. So all the stages played with wireless headphones given to all attendees. That was super weird, but to be fair, they were high quality headphones and the sound quality was flawless, so it wasn't that bad. I'm sure that it was not their fault and they had to abide by some regulation not to make sound in the middle of nowhere on a thursday.
rules about what you can bring in: this is where it gets weird, you can bring a fair amount of things in the camping area, but there is pretty much no security or search between camping and the arena, so that means you can really bring a lot of things in. Except, on sunday, which is the only day they searched me on the way in, they disallowed my LED backpack (it's more than A4 size, so not allowed in the arena by their rules, but allowed in camping. They didn't allow it inside at all, then also prevented me from taking in my LED outfit that I had had the last 3 days, even after showing them pictures of me inside with DJs, and those assholes (by then they were really assholes), actually made to remove all the LEDs that were on my arms and legs, before I was allowed in. That last bit was totally punitive and complete dickwaving show of power. Well, you won, you sure showed me you are powerful and I guess you wanted me to pass on the good word about you, so I'm doing that now.
they did have people checking the arena entrance, I walked in and out 3 days with my backpack without them being worried once, which was good. If they were really checking, it would have caused monster gridlocks
So they did allow me in after talking all my stuff (I guess they were "nice" to allow me in while keeping my stuff in their storage), but while I was in the event, pretty pissed, they went through my electronics they had already seen and inspected (they even brought a bomb sniffing dog while I was there), they opened my somewhat fragile stuff like apes, tore some wires and damaged it. It took me 2 hours of testing everything with a multimeter to see what they broke and re-solder things they broke. Thank you.
But seriously, it was trivial to bring anything in the event and stash it in the camping area, so they weren't stopping anyone up to no good, and in my case I literally offered them my passport, and promised them I would not leave my bag in the middle of nowhere so that it could be mistaken for a bomb (never mind that it had $1000 of my equipment in it), they said no, and then further punished me by making me rip out my LEDs on my arms and legs, because why not?
Talking about other staff on a power trip, the transport people outside were literally yelling at cabs and ubers, accusing them of lying and cheating, and one of them grabbed me from behind when I was outside the event trying to get back to the street, and ripped my backpack off my bag and yelled at me because I Was going the "wrong way" (again this is outside, on a public street where they have 0 authority to touch a pedestrian).
drug check, haha, sure. I won't go into a long tirade on how stopping people from using safer drugs and getting them to use the very worst drug there is, alcohol, is a bunch of BS (and OMG, some drunk brits are out of control and honestly kind of dangerous and unpleasant), but the one day they put the drug dog on me, it said I had drugs. More precisely, my outfit probably smells like weed, because well, I don't actually use weed, but with the amount there is in festivals I go to, I'm sure my clothes do smell like weed to some extent, and I can't wash them all the time due to the electronics on them. They only let me go because they were more interested in taking my LEDs away and forgot about the drugs I indeed didn't have.
Because alcohol is what's left for most, lots of drunk brits who seem ok pissing literally everywhere. Anything that looked like a wall or a fence was fair game, and it's not like there weren't toilets nearby. I don't normally care too much, but that was a bit over the top in "not classy"
the gold ticket hospitality center, had a search within the "secure" area. It was so out there, that I didn't even want to go to that area to claim my free meals included with my ticket. Thankfully they added a bypass entrance a few days later, while still searching people taking the other entrance, go figure.
This is the dangerous outfit they had to save the world from on sunday:
Funny thing is that I was caught on the video during Craig's set (great set, but horrible sound and very poor visuals):
they should have stopped that terrorist during Above and Beyond's set. That said, it is true my backpack was just a bit over the sized allowed, even if it was very far from being the only one, and none of their security people checking the arena entrance minded, they even though it was cool with the fun displays on it
although their webpage said they wouldn't accept foreign vaccine cards, they allowed my CDC vaccination card to get in, saving me from having to take more CV19 tests every day
creamfields android app was pretty good for getting around, even had navigation. However, because they actually moved some stages to be in different locations, on sunday when I went to see pendulum, it sent me to the wrong place (that has the stage name 2 days prior)
there were issues of course (more below on the stages), but well, I still have to recognize that it was impressive what they brought in the middle of freaking nowhere.
I got to see artists I would never have seen elsewhere, like scooter, fatboy slim, faithless DJ set, or pendulum trilogy
drunk brits, 'nuf said, give them back their drugs and they'll behave better.
brits singing soccer and crowd songs in the middle of a DJ set where the DJ was trying to play something else. That felt kind of disrespectful.
Production and stages:
On paper, creamfields, is EDC level, there are 10 or so stages with lots of music
Some stages were truly excellent, top notch.
Others were quite poor, which sadly was true of the Rong and Pepsi Max stages where all the trance was played (Pepsi was the worst). Sound was terrible at times, where the bass was so loud that it would hurt you in the front rows, and I had to shove my earplugs all the way in and it wasn't enough. Needless to say that there was virtually none of the trance melody left, what a waste and such a bummer to have destroyed the music of some of my favorite trance DJs :(
The lighting was bad too, you could barely see the DJs at times. In the ajnunabeats stage, Above and Beyond played a 2H set where you could literally not see them 95% of the time, such a insult to them.
The video wall in pepsi max was also very poor. Video was downsampled to low resolution and then blown up with very visible artifacts that looked pretty bad. It's a bummer for the artists playing there like Craig Connelly, Ruben de Ronde, and many others.
Yes, I realize that it's a lot of work and production to bring all of this in the middle of a muddy grass field, and it's impressive that they brought all that, but they messed up the last mile in at least the 3 stages I cared the most about (some other stages looked much much better)
There were also multiple stages with 15 or 30mn cutovers, with nothing in between. A bit weird for an event of that size. They even pushed it as far as playing some commercials on some video screens during the wait. Really?
What Creamfields looks like
I arrived early along with all the campers after having to sort out my ticket issue. Lots of pretty aggressive warnings, drug dogs, and "we'll send you to jail" warnings. Welcome!
nice, they were even drug sniffing the DJs and staff
drugs are bad and will send you to jail, buy our alcohol behave stupidly and go to rehab later, it's better
I felt bad for the campers, it was a long ass walk to carry a lot of gear on bad terrain to their campsites:
it's really a long hard walk with heavy luggage
they even had a store for the campers
It's big, lots of walking and grass which was fortunately dry when I was there. I can't imagine how sucky it must be in the rain and mud:
british humor, maintain 2m distance in a crowded festival
lucky folks got their DJs there, I only got to see Armin there
the hospitality area was nice once you got in
the bar lines were ridiculous, happy I didn't have to use them
basic toilets are literally a toilet seat on top of a box
but who needs toilets, brits will just piss on anything that looks like a wall
but you can't blame them, they had official toilets where you literally pissed on a wall with a gutter underneath that takes most of it to a bucket. I could be easy to get them confused
note that the amusement rides were not free, unlike EDC
did that work?
I found another trancejesus
Day #1: Thursday
Finally got in (it was a long walk) and went to see my first trance DJs in the first Rong stage (there were several depending on the day):
as I wrote earlier, there was no sound on thursday, everyone had headphones. It was a bit weird, but worked well enough
M.I.K.E. Push was awesome, on top of his set which I very much enjoyed, he sent James during his set to tell me how much he liked my LED outfit, and give me his drink and meal vouchers. That was fantastic, you rock:
thank you M.I.K.E.
the one issue with headphones was big lines to get in some stages
Lange took over, it had been so long since I last saw Lange
he nicely came down to see us after his set, thanks Lange
Very short video summary, showing the crowd cheering without sound :)
Day #2: Friday
I then went to enjoy the sets. Unfortunately friday was a pepsi max day (where trance was), and the sound was absolutely terrible:
It was great to see Ruben, but hard to enjoy the sound, and the video wall was terrible (downres-ed and then up'res-ed)
Craig was next, again great set but terrible sound
and terrible graphics, I so wanted the 'more than love' video, but no such luck
Sander Van Doorn was last
I went to check out some other stage, which had advanced technology: lasers!
One nice thing is that I got to see scooter, who I remember from 20 years ago and had never seen:
Video summary of Day #2:
Day #3: Saturday
Saturday was the 14H day 14:00 to 04:00. I split my time between ajnuabeats stage and trance back at some other Rong stage which wasn't great either (but not as bad as pepsi max):
Lots of hard trance on saturday, I guess GB likes it hard :)
GO also played a very hard set, but I still enjoyed it
Brian Kearney played hard as always, not really my thing
Got to see a bit of fatboy slim, that was cool:
Then it was time for Armin, it was a good set. He joked that it was his best set of the year so far (it was also his first, haha):
good thing I had proper cameras and not a cell phone
Right after Armin was above and beyond, the stage they got was pretty sad, it was very hard to even see them most of the time:
one of a few lucky shots
usually it was most like that
the rest of the time, that's all you saw
Two most sets to close the night until 04:00:
Video Summary of Day #3:
Day #4: Sunday
Sunday was the last day, after spending a very unpleasant time with security who took all my stuff on the last day, because why not (see introduction for details), it was honestly hard to enjoy the day. I was pretty upset by this pointless show of force. The terrorist have sure won :(
Faithless DJ set was cool
Back at pepsi max, with still terrible sound, but at least it was not physically hurtful and dangerous like 2 days prior
Yeah, Ferry Corsten
lighting and video wall were still bad
other stages were nicer
back to pepsi max for Paul Van Duk
notice the bad anti aliasing and resolution on the video wall
John O Callaghan, love him too
I went to check out Tiesto quickly, but he just played his usual crap, not an ounce of trance. We miss you Tiesto:
sorry, but no, I don't want sushi from Japan
So I finished the night with Pendulum who played some fantastic Drum and Bass, very enjoyable once I found the stage that was in the wrong place on the map:
Video summary of Day #4:
I then hurried my ass out 10mn before the event was over to avoid 2H+ lines to get out. After being physically assaulted by some mall cop outside in the street who didn't like how I was going out to the street (yes, really), I found an uber that had given up on finding his customers and took me instead for a hefty premium (3x the regular price, but that was the price of getting home that night).
So that was it, the 4 days of creamfields were over. It was an interesting experience, but between the ridiculous rules (can't attend thursday without camping), the security on a power trip and more interested in hassling customers than actually keeping the event safe, and the stages I cared about with bad visuals, poor lighting on the DJs, and sometimes bass that was so loud that you couldn't hear the melody anymore and feared for your ears. I also know I'm very lucky that it was sunny and I saw no rain or no mud, I can't imagine how it is with them
I already knew that insomniac does great events in the US, on so many levels, but creamfields made me realize how many things insomniac really gets right. It was interesting to see once (minus the ruined day on sunday thanks to security), but given the minuses of the event, I doubt that I'll go back, there are better events with better execution and respect for the customer and not the problems of getting in and out on a single lane road with only 10 or 20 cabs and a handful of ubers, resulting on multi hour lines to get out, or walking for 1 to 2h back to your place if you don't want to, or can't camp.
And unfortunately, an event is ultimately judged by its best and worst points. In this case, the security folks who effectively said they would not trust me to not leave my LED backpack somwhere random to cause a bomb scare, and as a result, took all my stuff, all the way to making me rip out my LEDs from my pants and shirt, and then literally damaging my equipment while I was gone, you suck and I will not forget this (that said, I also won't forget that you are literally preventing non campers from attending thursday, what madness is this?).
To all the people at creamfields who took pictures with me, gave me smiles, thumbs up and other "this is so cool" (including most of the security staff inside the event), thanks to all of you. You are the reason why I spent over a thousand dollars on this, plus 1.5 years of effort (not counting the 3 years before that on the previous versions as described on https://medium.com/@merlin_69010/how-to-be-a-peacock-engineer-in-the-world-of-edm-with-an-outfit-from-a-few-leds-to-37440-leds-c7d0cf759a49 ).
As the end of our trip driving across the southern states back to CA, we ended up in San Bernandino.
Yeah, festivals, it's been a while, we missed them. Park and Rave was nowhere close to what a real dreamstate would have been, and quite expensive ($360 for a single night per car), but eh, beggars can't be choosers. We're glad we had at least this :)
After close to 3000 miles coming from Dallas, we arrived an San Bernandino just on time for the show:
our vehicle was too big though, so we had to park in the back
I took my outfit, and found a few friends. Thanks to Bryan Keyes for adopting me in his box:
I even happened to run into Triode (but got in trouble for it and sent back to my caged area)
Thumbs up to everyone who brought some partying spirit:
I was not very close to the front, especially with our campervan that had to be all the way in the back so as not to block the view, but with a proper zoom, it wasn't too bad to take pictures:
The videso were more shaky on long zoom though (sorry):
I can say without doubt, this was the very best festival I went to this year of covid :)
Dreamstate in SF did not happen this year, which is unfortunate as two dreamstates are better than one :) , that being said we still had Dreamstate Socal, which only got better this year. This year was my 3rd Dreamstate Socal, and my only regret was not having started to go earlier.
Dreamstate Socal at the NOS in San Bernandino has a lot more room than Bill Graham in SF, which allows for multiple stages (4 of them 2 years ago, and 3 these last 2 years). To be honest, 3 stages are enough given that each timeslot often had multiple DJs I wanted to go see. The big change this year was the much better psytrance stage, which accompanied with the great DJs, gave lots of opportunities to listen to good psytrance.
So, psytrance, I know, it's a bit of a niche market, but with some DJs like Astrix, Vini Vicci and Blastoyz, I've grown fond: high energy triplets grow on you, especially with so many psy remixes of great tracks. If you want a sample, see Blastoyz at this year's transmission:
Anyway, back to Dreamstate Socal, great production this year, more DJs than you could see and enough eye and ear candy to fill two great nights:
welcome back, we missed you
luckily Jennifer was able to join me this year. Yeah!
The decors were great and the VIP areas were shiny:
If you didn't bring your own lighting, they had you covered:
Closest to the entrance was the well improved psytrance stage (the sequence). The visuals were fantastic:
And the vision, the indoor venue, while too small for the crowds, had fantastic lighting and lasers too:
there is no such thing as too many lasers
but getting in at times, was 'challenging', some likely got in after the set they wanted, was over :-/
The Dream (mainstage) was quite well done too:
of course they also had a few lasers, because why not? :)
Night #2 after arriving in Prague was ABGT. It was a good show, but not enough trance for my taste. I think AnB are slowly moving away from Trance and more into deep and other things I don't like as much (like no offense to Qrion, but I could do without, Spencer Brown is also meh for me). It's a bit sad for trance lovers, but it's their right to change music.
That said, I was really in Prague for Transmission which was the next night, so ABGT was just a bonus the day prior :)
O2 Arena was a really nice venue, with great food if you had a golden ticket.
big line, people were eager :)
found my friend Vic Teo in line
I was worried about the security check, but they guard were amused by my outfit and super nice
We arrived early
I had a golden ticket, which gave access to very good food:
Then it was time for the show:
Above and Beyond & the third one that usually never shows up :)
Qrion started the show, honestly not my kind of music
they were super nice and gave water to people in the front row
a rare sight, all 3 DJs
Video Summary (although a lot had to be removed because Anjunabeats is preventing a lot of their music from being monetized on youtube):
It was very last minute, but I was able to join my local SF trance friends on a trip to Washington's Gorge to attend the Above and Beyond weekender:
We met in Seattle Airport and went to get an RV (a few of us rode in it but slept in tents) and go to our camp site:
Alvin and Afik DJ'ed in the RV for us with portable equipment they took in the plane
We had premium camping, which was quite nice:
home sweet home
some people had better 'tents' :)
nice views of the gorge even from our location
Afik worked on putting his sign back together after the flight
On saturday, after spending some time at the camp, we went to the gorge side where the event was going to happen. I ducked out in a supposedly forbidden area to get some better shots. The gorge is definitely beautiful and a very nice area for a stage:
My friends made a dash for the merch booth, while I went up to get some pictures of the nice area and enjoy the music:
The maedow had a tent with talks with DJs:
Random people pictures:
And here is a summary video of Day #1:
Things got nice around sunset:
And then it was time to enjoy darkness and the more popular DJs. Time for me to shine and looking for other people with shiny things :)
I made some custom gifs for the occasion
listening to this is like an endless fall to your death? :)
and finally above and beyond, 2 out of 3 as usual
love you too, Afik :)
then things got big :)
Ilan Bluestone finished the night starting with an interesting retake on Enigma, which many people didn't even recognize :) and after that it was time to head back to camp. I had heard a bit late that Seven Lions was playing nearby, so I went there and arrived late, but got to enjoy the end of his set (01:00 to 02:00):
The area also had a nice set of vendors:
Day #2 started with a nice yoga set with Paavo:
this was a fantastic idea, thanks to Paavo for the nice music
In the tent, Tony interviewed Seven Lions, and it was interesting to hear how he got into music and his special style of mixing dubstep and trance (both of which, when mixed together, I quite enjoy):
I then spent most of the day watching the show from a shaded spot. Sadly, I can't say I enjoyed any of the music during the day, it was definitely not trance, nor anything else that did much for me. The views were still nice and it got better as the sun set:
they nicely let a few people of the crowd in a viewing area behind the DJ
Here's a bit of music from Day #2 in the little that I found interesting:
I went to look for more night pictures:
the exiting thing was that I ran into Rory who made a totem pole using some of my arduino code
And by 22:30, it was over:
Now, the best part was still to come, I went directly to the DJ Van in the campground, and we got a huge treat of a great 3H set by many of the DJs who were there that weekend:
That got me in bed by 03:30 or so, and after not enough hours of sleep, it was time to drive back to the airport: