I wouldn’t call myself a festival connoisseur just yet, but at this point I have had my fair share of experience with festivals. Before I start my review, you should understand that these things are really hard for me to put into words; I know a lot of you reading this are expecting a critique of the music and festival experience as a whole. I also want the readers to get a full experience, good and bad. However, my mind doesn’t tend to work that way. To me, festivals are all about being positive and enjoying the music and the people around you, no matter what. With that in mind, I want to tell you exactly what my festival experience was like, how much I enjoyed it, why I enjoyed it, and what I would have changed about one of the best weekends of my life.

This past weekend I had the pleasure of traveling to Maryland for a music festival that was promoted with a lot of hype. Moonrise Festival was definitely out to impress with headliners like Bassnectar and Above & Beyond. Living in Florida, I had never traveled out of state for a festival before, so I was really excited about the opportunity. My roommate and I decided to pack up our bags and head to Baltimore to #WatchTheMoonrise.


The day of the festival, we got up early to fetch our tickets. This festival was different for me not only because it was my first out of state festival, but because it was also the first festival where I was able to enjoy some special perks of being a part of the media.

When we made it inside the festival we immediately gravitated toward the Stellar Stage where we spent most of the day. The first artist we watched was Ghastly. I was definitely impressed by his set. He had just performed in Tampa and I wasn’t able to attend, so I was excited to see what he had to offer. He kept the energy in the crowd high, considering there was not a cloud in the sky and the sun was burning us all to a crisp. That didn’t matter though, we were there to share in the music and the experience. We stayed at the Stellar Stage for Audien, then decided to head over to the Solar Tent for a change of pace.

At the Solar Tent, we were sheltered from the sun, thankfully. Dirtyphonics was on and they had a huge crowd bouncing, moshing and getting lost in their bass and trap. I suppose it’s easier to rage without the sun beating down on you? We stayed and enjoyed Dirtyphonics for a bit before heading back over to the Stellar Stage to see CashCash. Honestly, I’ve never been to a CashCash set that I haven’t enjoyed. The sun was slowly disappearing behind the stage and with it you could feel the energy rising. My roommate and I quickly headed backstage just in time to watch CashCash head off stage and see Borgeous start his set.

Next up on the list was Knife Party, and I was really excited for this set. They really impressed me at Ultra and I was looking forward to seeing them again. For some reason, their set this time was a little awkward, which is very unlike them. After a while, we decided to switch stages and headed over to the Solar Tent for TJR.

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The Solar Tent at night was definitely my favorite stage at Moonrise. When we arrived for TJR, the lasers and lights under the tent were surprisingly impressive compared to the daytime. We stayed in this tent and danced for the remainder of TJR’s set, then I snuck away by myself to head back to the Stellar Stage.

I knew 3LAU was coming on next and definitely wanted to watch this set from backstage. I took a seat directly behind him and watched the screens change and the lighting effects go off from the backstage perspective, a sight I had never seen before. We stayed there for a while until heading back to the Lunar Stage to watch Bassnectar. Honestly, I was so exhausted from the heat and my feet were killing me, so I decided to watch Bassnectar from the VIP section, relaxing in a lawn chair by myself on the left side of the stage. This may seem lame to some, but it was an awesome experience and the perfect moment to end my first night at the festival. Relaxing, but still letting the bass keep my energy and spirits high.


The second day we decided to first go to the Solar Tent to see Ookay, which became one of my favorite sets of the day. Any DJ that can keep the energy up and keep people dancing non-stop is always a winner for me. Ravers were starting mosh pits under the tent and keeping things hype, so I knew this would be a good day. We stayed at the Solar Tent for a large portion of the day. When it was time for YellowClaw, everyone went wild.

After YellowClaw, we saw one of my personal favorites Porter Robinson. This is the fourth time I’ve seen him live and this set was like nothing I’ve seen before. His graphics were completely upgraded for the set and the music was Worlds with a bit of a twist including some live vocals from Porter himself. The sun was going down and everyone was swaying to his sweet sounds. I was sitting in the grass with friends in awe of everything around. It was truly an awesome moment. When Porter’s set ended we headed on over to Above&Beyond to finish out the night, jumping back and forth between them and Zeds Dead for the remainder of the evening.

All in all, I can say that I was definitely impressed with Moonrise Festival. There are so many things that contribute to why I loved it, and its hard to pick just a few. One thing I definitely wanted to mention was the Star Team. They were really great at keeping everyone hydrated and doing it in a fun way. Some of the members of the star team were walking around with misters, some were squirting water in festival goers mouths, one member even had a huge straw fan that he way bringing in the middle of crowds and fanning attendees with. They were dancing around with all of us and having a blast. At the end of the second night I even pulled a member of the Star Team aside and told them how much I appreciated them, and the impression that they made upon us compared to other festivals I had been to.


Another thing I really enjoyed about this festival was that it seemed more supporting of the rave community than other festivals I had been to in the past. Moonrise had a wide variety of booths to visit and shop at. You could buy Electric Family gear and head down a few booths over to get your arms and hands painted in glow paint. This is also a festival that is accepting of gloving, poi, hoops, and other forms of flow. As a poi spinner, this is extremely important because it gives us a chance to express ourselves and the way we feel the music. The amount of people that appreciate flow art is increasing at a fast pace, so it would be awesome to see more festivals be as open with it as Moonrise was.

Although there are endless things I could say I enjoyed about the festival, there were definitely some things that could have used improving. One of those things was the location. Again, I’m not familiar with Baltimore or Maryland at all, but it seemed like the race course that it was located at was right in the middle of a random neighborhood. This made parking absolutely atrocious. We waited in line to park the first day for a half hour, and when we were pulling out we had waited 20 minutes before pulling over a curb into the street to avoid the ridiculous traffic in the parking lot. It seemed as though most of the streets surrounding the venue were smaller side streets and not meant for this kind of traffic. The venue itself also took a toll on my feet. By the end of day two my ankles, feet, and legs were in so much pain because the ground at Pimlico is completely uneven and bumpy.

I don’t think that Moonrise was ready for the amount of people they had attending the festival. I didn’t see a free water fill-up station the entire time I was there, although I heard there was one. I also thought that there could have been additional porta potties throughout the festival grounds.

Other than that, this festival was absolutely amazing and a weekend I will never forget. I was able to experience a lot of things at this festival that I’ve never had the chance to experience before. Moonrise was a small town festival feel with huge music and really positive vibes. If I have the chance to go in the future, I will definitely attend and I urge others to as well. Moonrise did not disappoint and I can only imagine the kind of things they will be pulling out of the hat for 2016!

Photos by Ty Reamer and Nick Calomeris.
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