There are few events in music history more mythical than Woodstock, the 1969 music festival that brought the likes of Jimi Hendrix, The Grateful Dead, The Who, and 400,000 young people to the town of Bethel, NY. Over four decades later, dance music festival Mysteryland aims to capture the same vibes and ideals of Woodstock, returning to its “holy grounds” for a second year. While the style of music has changed – Hendrix would have been confused to see a huge lack of guitars – the feelings evoked remain the same. Thousands of young people (albeit tens instead of hundreds) made the pilgrimage to Bethel to hear their favorite musicians with close friends and dance until the early hours of the morning.
When you looked at the lineup for Mysteryland, it was almost like three festivals in one. You had your main stage acts – the lighthearted and borderline pop acts like Kygo, Empire of The Sun, Porter Robinson, and Diplo. There were the party acts on The Boat stage like Griz, Bro Safari, and Doctor P. And then there were the underground and techno acts seemingly everywhere else – Verboten’s mini-club within the festival that featured The Martinez Brothers and Martin Buttrich, Adam Beyer’s Drumcode stage, Matthew Dear’s Subversions, and Friday’s pre-party featuring the dream lineup of Richie Hawtin, Maceo Plex, and Josh Wink. The diversity cultivated a “there’s something for everyone”-type experience that allowed you to jump around to different stages and have completely different experiences.
The grounds themselves were beautiful, especially throughout a weekend of sunshine. The nights got a bit chilly, but it was hard to notice while jumping and dancing. There was so much to see all over the festival grounds that it was hard to catch it all, with everything so spread out. As you wandered and explored you might find something like a hall of mirrors, or a great chill out area away from the music. There were side stages with unique performances, art installations, and food vendors to be found in all corners. To top it all off, Bang On hosted after parties in the campgrounds until the sun came up.
Hopefully Mysteryland continues to grow from year to year. It’s great to see a festival that can appeal to both the mainstream and the underground. As musical tastes begin to evolve, it seems like these two genres tend to somewhat divide dance music fans. And Mysteryland, in the spirit of Woodstock, has found a way to bring them together.
Words by Justin Charles
Photos by Djivan Schapira (B.a.D Photography) – Full gallery at bottom