A lot of changes have happened over time with the very ambitious Imagine Music Festival, and it’s worth noting that this festival hasn’t even hit year five yet. This year marked a change in the time slot for the festival, moving forward into early fall. The previous year saw a lot of problems because of the heat and humidity famous to Georgia. While still hot this year, attendees were able to enjoy the cooler weather and lower humidity. Another improvement of water refill stations from last year. Fun levels were up, and emergencies were down, which for any patron or management member was a huge relief.
If you have been paying attention to Imagine over time, one of its pillars of strength and success is the lineup. The lineup came out strong and the scheduling came out genius. In a festival season full of scheduling conflicts, Imagine’s curators did an excellent job with genre and time management. This festival was probably the only festival all year we heard had no scheduling conflicts. The Disco Inferno House Stage was shuffling constantly.
Having a high energy headliner like Tiësto on Day 1 playing against the heavy-hitting Minnesota (who also played the Silent Disco later that night) was magical. Day 2 sported Deadmau5 against Pretty Lights. Both have two very different styles so everyone could get their fix of preferred music. Finally, on Day 3, we had Seven Lions and Above & Beyond culminating the experience.
As people finished drying their tears, the flamethrowers came on at the Disco Inferno Stage near the exit, where people got one last chance to boogie with Claude VonStroke. We had almost zero scheduling conflicts, our house friends almost never left the house stage, underground fans got to bounce around and explore, and the Atlanta natives really were able to show off their stuff.
The Little Things
The thing that really impressed us the most about Imagine this year was the attention to detail. The art and artists were everywhere. We found things like free UV face painting, a pool (with toys), amazing lighted areas and walking paths, 3D art, artists doing art live, murals – honestly the amount of cool art surprised us a lot. In the surge of festivals recently, it’s the little things like this that are often overlooked. Also, I think at least 25 of every kind of inflatable sea creature was thrown off the main stage. I saw huge inflatable sea turtles, whales, sharks, flamingos, and many, many more. Matching/Unique beach balls, and LED foam tubes, of all shapes and sizes… anything the crowd could play with, the crowd got, and more.
The actors and performers were dressed up and dispersed all over the event. Not only did you find butterflies and mermaids in tanks of water around, but also had break dancers and what can only be described as carnival performers, including some attached to the main stage during shows. Imagine Festival even hosted a traveling marching band at one point. The raw number of performers and incredible diversity of outfits should be used as a model to any future festival.
The festival both satisfied and unified differing genres throughout the weekend. While one stage had the new dubstep from Fransis Derelle playing, the next stage had house legend Chris Lake playing. Need a food break but it’s peak time? That’s OK – get ready for some local heavy hitters on the Six Feathers stage like Eddie Gold and Blunts and Blondes. The Silent Disco was the easiest example. I’ve never seen house shuffling and headbanging happen so perfect together.
The Winners of Imagine
If you missed Leah Culver on Friday you missed probably the biggest breakout set of the entire weekend. Leah Culver had live vocals from herself, as well as a local choir, live guitar from (DJ) Nitti Gritti, live drums, live orchestra (with violin), break dancers, all while performing with the normal bells and whistles that anyone else had, like great visuals and giant beach balls going through the crowd. Leah Culver’s set was the first set that had the crowd; singing, trying to break rails and crying.
Another surprise for many was Fransis Derelle, who came up on the stage with his shirt tucked in and his set deep. He was a fantastic example for other dubstep artists, showing that you don’t have to play loud to get the audience into your set. Fransis Derelle came out with some of his new songs and his remix of Adventure Club that focused on depth. This set really broke some of the galvanized dubstep barriers out there, the ones that make people think that there are only melodic and hard dubstep. For this reason, Fransis Derelle really catapulted himself on many peoples’ radars this weekend, and we have no doubt he will be someone to watch going into 2018.
Black Tiger Sex Machine
Black Tiger Sex Machine is one of those groups this year that have blown up from the underground, and sets like this one at Imagine are why. It’s safe to say that by the time 2017 ends, they will be a very well known name in EDM. The way BTSM reels you in and makes you move in their sets is truly magical. Their helmets, visuals, mic work (or lack thereof), and performances on stage are so immersive that you truly feel like you’ve been beamed onto one of their church pews.
Blunts and Blondes
Blunts and Blondes, who played a few sets during the weekend. This Florida native packed stages and many of the Atlanta natives we talked to had him on a short list of people they were excited to see. This anticipation needs to be noted, as Imagine Music Festival was not lacking in heavy hitters with other talented DJ’s also on the ticket, like Zomboy and 12th Planet. Blunts and Blondes’ Six Feathers set was arguably the biggest showing for that stage all weekend. Likewise, the Boogie T and Blunts and Blondes Silent Disco set inside the campgrounds was the biggest turnout all weekend to that stage. If you’re a fan of bass music and riddim, there’s no doubt you will be seeing more from this artist.
House Music and the Disco Inferno stage
Lastly but not least, fans of house music finally found someone who appreciates them. In an era where house music seems to be constantly driven to the underground, Imagine Music Festival actually showed house fans some love. Every single house fan we talked to said the same thing: “The Disco Inferno stage is LIT“. We met with a lot of Imaginers that had huge lineup plans, that involved shuffling around each stage, but once they got a taste of the DirtyBird Players Stage or other huge artists like Chris Lake or G Jones, they couldn’t leave the beat. Along with individuals, OneEDM, got to meet a few cool groups such as Nothing But Feels, who was basically running the dance pit there, making sure everyone was safe and shuffling. The dancers, the sense of community, these aspects really bring everything together and add to the overall experience so much. As we talked about before, one of the most powerful things Imagine did was bring everyone together and really satisfy everyone’s different tastes.