Memorial Day Weekend is a competitive time for EDM festivals. From Movement in Detroit to Counterpoint in Georgia, Lightning in a Bottle in California to EDC NY (or, really, NJ) to Sunset Music Festival in Florida, fans had a plethora of options to satisfy their musical cravings. Yet, one thing is for certain, for those looking for a unique, historical, artistic, scenic event filled with good vibes, good people, and great music all wrapped into one festival, Mysteryland USA was the place to be.
Walking into Bethel Woods, the home of the 1969 Woodstock, the faint scent of marijuana danced throughout the air, reminiscent of a time past. Tie Dye, funky patterns, and little birdies adorned campsites as smiles were plastered among its inhabitants. Some waited 365 days for this event, others didn’t yet know the experience they were in for.
Mysteryland isn’t just an EDM festival, it’s a weekend of love, peace, and freedom – a break from the commercial world, and a glimpse of “real life” as it ought to be. Luckily, Mysteryland can also be taken as a learning experience, full of advice on how one should approach their everyday life. Below are 5 takeaways from Mysteryland USA to be remembered as we venture back into our worlds outside of the festival:
1. Never stop exploring.
You don’t attend Mysteryland for the bangers or full lineup of top charting artists, you attend for the chance to explore different sounds, open your eyes and ears to new artists, as well as enjoy a few sets from your favorite DJs. The beauty of Mysteryland is the close proximity of its stages – and the ease of exploration from one stage to another. Travel from a world drowning in the bass of Doctor P‘s filthy dubstep at The Boat to a universe of deep, dark techno at The Big Top tent with Nicole Moudaber. Mysteryland proves that it really is that easy to meld together different styles in such an intimate space, and somehow also succeed at having loud, distinct music and production for each stage without bleeding into other areas of the festival.
2. Nature is the ultimate healer.
Festivals in parking lots and arenas are fun, yes, but there is just something so therapeutic about being in the midst of green, rolling hills, watching the sun set against the tall trees, and feeling the dirt under your fingernails. (Okay, maybe not the last part…baby wipes ftw.) Bethel Woods, which is located in the Catskill Mountains of New York, provides a relaxing backdrop to the upbeat sounds of Mysteryland. Most of the stages were set up as amphitheaters, where fans could gather on blankets at the top of the hills overlooking the artists. Deep yoga was led in the mornings, and The Healing Garden provided a safe haven for festival goers to wind down, meditate, or get in touch with their spiritual side. Fans didn’t feel rushed or forced by time constraints, but rather allowed the cool breeze and sunshine to dictate their days. And sometimes, all you need is to throw your hands to the clouds, a deep breath of mountain air, and the sounds of Porter Robinson to mend a twisted heart and remind you what’s important in life.
3. The fun doesn’t ever have to end (but sleep is still important!).
Half of the time, after parties are better than the actual party. That might not be true for Mysteryland, but their after parties definitely kept the party going. Camping festivals are notorious for their never-ending fun. Once the festival ends, campers can still go back and turn up around their tents. This year, Bang On NYC curated one of their famous Silent Discos after-hours on the Holy Ground campsite. While getting in and out of the Silent Disco was a rather long wait (with only 2-3 people working to collect IDs as collateral for headphones), the late night event was well worth the experience (Team Green – am I right!?). Not only was the Silent Disco a fun way to keep the party going ’til sunrise for those still ready to dance, but it also provided a, well, near silent campground for those trying to catch some Z’s. The best of both worlds!
4. We really are all connected.
One of the best parts of Mysteryland was getting to know fellow nomads. There were undergrads and grad students, servicemen and teachers, doctors and engineers, waitresses and aspiring DJs – people from all walks of life came together as one on the Holy Ground to be united by the music, by the experience that was MLUSA15. There weren’t fights. There weren’t race battles or riots or any of the major issues that plague our every day world. A crowd can honestly make or break a festival, and there’s no wonder why the good crowd that congregates at Mysteryland makes for the great vibes that everyone fondly remembers as they look back on the weekend.
5. You can’t relive moments, so make the most of each one.
So cliche, but so true. Each moment at Mysterland was another chance to experience something new and unique at the festival. Whether you were jamming to a ’90s cover band at Pineapple Paradise, grabbing a pulled pork sandwich at the Smorgasburg, posing for a quick photo shoot with the giant teddy bear, watching the human-sized game of Mouse Trap, waiting in line to get into literally the World’s Smallest Club, walking through the house of mirrors, admiring the art installations, catching your favorite artist’s set, or unraveling one of the many other mysteries of Mysteryland – each moment promised to be one that would forever leave an impression.
Unfortunately Mysteryland also revealed other life truths, such as how terrible exchange rates can be (if only we were paid in Birdie bucks and not USD…), how cold spring nights in New York get (hint: below freezing), and how some people will always push past their alcohol and substance limits. But all in all, Mysteryland is a wondrous and captivating experience that fully encompasses the human condition. It satisfies the soul and feeds the spirit through its ideals of connectivity, unison, music, and art. Mysteryland is a weekend that allows us to reflect on our own lives, our own goals, and our own ideals through its engaging theme of good versus evil.
Mysteryland is a festival that allows us to reflect on yesterday, our history, while living for today, our present, without worry for tomorrow, a mystery.