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Moonrise Festival returned to Pimlico Race Course for it’s 4th year on August 12 & 13. In the months leading up to that glorious weekend, various jaw-dropping lineup announcements were made — spanning across multiple genres and drawing the attention of an equally diverse crowd. Even when you thought the lineup couldn’t get any better, it did. While the Moonrise lineup always packs a punch, it’s clear this year was a step toward a new and exciting future for the festival. The lineup, however, is only part of the equation — something that Moonrise is learning more and more with each passing year.
As we arrived on the first day and explored the expansive in-field — we were excited to see changes to the festival layout, new stages, literal food truck heaven, shaded lounge seating in VIP, amazing new merch designs (we got our first pin — watch out, wooks), and so much free water being distributed that it almost felt awkward that people were buying water. On top of the usual water filling stations, and Essentia handing out bottle after bottle for free, Moonrise is well-equipped with one of a few things it’s always gotten right — it’s ‘star team.’ Every year, the festival pulls together a solid group of volunteers to help ensure everyone is staying hydrated and continuing to spread good vibes throughout the festival. Shout out to them for their efforts this year!
Unfortunately, the festival did not proceed without a few hiccups. Two in particular that stood out were the long lines to enter, which plague Moonrise every year, and the underwhelming new art installations. It’s important to understand that first impressions are everything, and given this year’s lineup was sure to attract a swarm of first-time attendees, this was the year to fully address the long-standing line issues. Yet, instead, we continued hearing stories of people waiting well over an hour to get their wristband or enter the festival. This could be the difference between catching your favorite artist and missing their entire set. Completely possible given some big names were playing during the earlier half of both days.
As for the art installations, we saw one that had pillars for every zodiac sign with paper mache Mewtu-looking creatures sitting on top of each one. They sort of looked like aliens? Not sure how else to describe it, but maybe we just didn’t understand that one? We also saw spaceships with what appeared to be white linens hanging from below them (so as to appear as if they were floating), those just missed the mark completely. There were other installations, but none that really caught our attention.
Festival aside, the music prevailed for almost all of the scheduled two days. We started Saturday with Elohim who sang tracks from her eponymous LP — we really liked ‘Hallucinating’ and ‘Sensations.’ If you missed her set, be ready to catch her on tour with Alison Wonderland this Fall. Soon after, we caught a little bit of Habstrakt, followed by one of the toughest hours (or at least we thought so at the time) of the day — Chet Porter, RL Grime, Louis the Child, and Will Clarke playing at literally the same time. We were really excited to see all four acts — so we made it work! Lots of running around, very worth it.
A little over an hour later, the festival would be evacuated due to incoming inclement weather — some sets were abruptly stopped, while others — like Migos and Kaskade — would never happen. Unfortunately, this happens sometimes, as festival-goers at Lollapalooza also learned this year. Once the rain cleared up, Moonrise reopened it’s doors and what ensued can only be described as an ankle-deep, muddy, Crocs graveyard, party. No one, including us, seemed to mind that much. We were just excited everything reopened. People danced and rolled around in the mud — making the most out of a messy situation. We love that. Our Saturday ended with Zeds Dead and Seven Lions.
Sunday was a lot smoother than the day before. We started our day by checking out one of our favorite local acts, Banditz! Grabbed mango on a stick and Voodoo Chicken before checking out rising artist PLS&TY. We spent most of the afternoon and evening bouncing around the stages, trying to catch a little of everything. Run the Jewels and Lil Uzi Vert were great additions to the day. We had never seen Lil Uzi, and his set had us so hyped! Jai Wolf also played a great set, dropping his hit ‘Indian Summer’ (duh) along with his remix of ‘Feels’ by Kiiara. Jai Wolf ended minutes before Poter Robinson was set to take over the Lunar stage.
It was the first time during the festival that we saw a mass crowd moving in one direction so quickly. It’s amazing that someone can command that kind of presence having only released one full album three years ago, but here we are, and that’s just the unequivocal staying power of Porter Robinson and ‘Worlds.’ After experiencing Porter’s mind-melting set, we caught a little of Pretty Lights and Dillstradamus before running over to the Celestial stage to end our weekend with MALAA. Let’s just say, we now understand why MALAA fans are cutting holes out of their parents’ old ski masks and wearing them to his shows. He’s that good. We’re already looking for our next chance to catch him live after seeing him closeout a truly unforgettable Moonrise.
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Cover photo by aLIVE Coverage