The electronic dance music (EDM) scene is a culture in and of itself. On August 6 and 7, EDM’s Moonrise Festival hit Baltimore in all of its neon and kandi-coated glory.
Since 2013, Moonrise Festival has brought some of EDM’s biggest acts – like Avicii in its freshman year – to the Baltimore area, and this year’s festival had the best lineup yet. From New Jersey to South Carolina, people all over the country traveled to Maryland to attend. If the festival continues to grow at this steady rate, festival runners may need to seek a bigger host venue than Pimlico Race Course.
This year alone, mainstream dance artists Zedd and The Chainsmokers made their marks as event headliners. Plus rising stars like Marshmello came to play, and many fans sported giant Marshmello-themed heads on top of their own heads. EDM fans are diehard, and the artists appreciate their enthusiasm.
Atlanta-based DJ Bro Safari says seeing the crowd’s reaction is his favorite part of performing at EDM festivals, and he loves “being able to get a really great reaction out of the crowd by playing something that I’ve spent a lot of time putting together.”
Concertgoers had to dig into their pockets to scrounge up $125 to partake in the two-day rave experience. Although this may not necessarily sound cost-effective, it’s a fair bargain compared to those who invest in the more popular EDM festivals like Electric Zoo or “A-list” festivals like Coachella.
The festival’s theme ventured into outer space. Giant blowups of alien tentacles and the like towered above all. Similarly, each stage was designated an intergalactic name to match – Stellar, Lunar, Solar and Celestial among them.
Although dance music festivals of this variety have proved to be popular among European audiences for years, there’s now a rapidly growing market for them in the U.S. Many young people are flocking to festivals like Electric Daisy Carnival and Ultra Music Festival in the States, which raises the question, “What is the draw?”
There is an unusual sense of community at EDM festivals. Moonrise attendees willingly conversed with the “strangers” that surrounded them at this year’s festival, almost as if they were long lost friends reuniting. Even as I sat with a friend observing a set at the Stellar stage, two friendly faces walked over to sit with us and joined our conversation.
For those who sported colorful kandi bracelets, individuals traded with fellow attendees – a long-held tradition at EDM festivals. Although my friend had lost our group for several hours, she returned to us in time, proudly showing off a new kandi she received from a trade with a fellow festival attendee.
During Excision‘s set, the first few rows of ravers collectively banged their heads and moved to the beat as a unified force. Likewise, mosh pits opened up at many a set, where several individuals ran through and bumped shoulders. From my general observations, the idea of PLUR – peace, love, unity and respect – is still alive and well within the EDM community.
There is much more to this scene than meets the eye. The festival itself is like a drug – the music takes over your body and the rave culture engulfs you, providing a natural high. During each set, my friends and I lost ourselves in the music. It’s an understatement to say that I am ready to create more memories at next year’s event.
Moonrise Festival intends to return next summer to Baltimore. If you missed out on this year’s event, stay tuned for details about Moonrise 2017. Based on this year’s lineup and experience, next year won’t disappoint. Learn more atwww.moonrisefestival.com.
Photo: Courtesy of Moonrise Festival