We made our way up from South Florida, encountering torrential downpour during the last two hours into downtown Atlanta to claim the press credentials. It was still drizzling on Friday morning when we woke up and left our AirBNB to head to the grounds where TomorrowWorld was being held.
Owned entirely by one Belgian man, the formerly unincorporated property was just annexed by the county of Fulton, GA in a mutually beneficial partnership that stemmed from a contract being signed to have him host the festival for the next ten years.
TomorrowWorld is the US iteration of its Belgian counterpart TomorrowLand, which has been taking place for over a decade and is hosted by the same parent company, ID&T. Celebrating its third year in the US, TomorrowWorld is a true global gathering, bringing people from every state in our country and more than seventy five others from around the world to join in the celebration. With nine stages and more than 200 artists, there’s something to satisfy everyone’s EDM genre-specific desires.
The rain had turned the ground into a mud with the consistency of pudding and after sliding and drifting our car into the lot, we hopped on the shuttle to take us to the press tent. Walking past the poncho-clad staff, it was clear they were working in overdrive. Putting on a gigantic festival with all of the lights, lasers, sound and electronics in great conditions is one thing. Doing it in the rain is something else entirely and the fact that the opening of the main gates was only delayed by an hour speaks to the professionalism and experience of the staff and crew, who were still somehow all smiles despite the circumstances.
We checked in, charted our course and started to trek down to the grounds, but not before having to cross a mud moat which had already claimed a pair of flip-flops and our dry shoes and socks were the next victims.
The first stage we encountered was Q-dance, hosted by a Dutch company by the same name, which has a presence at pretty much every EDM festival. Q-dance caters to fans of hardstyle, a faster-paced, hard-hitting style with hard kick drums, blasting snares and slappy bass lines. Darksiderz was throwing down while a pack of bros embraced the elements and each other in the wading pool in front of the stage.
Not too far away, the main stage loomed. I’d seen it in videos before and had an idea of what to expect, but nothing really prepares you for the sheer size and spectacle of the thing until you’re standing before it. Like a pilgrim at Mecca, I stood there taking it all in, having a spiritual moment of my own: I had arrived at TomorrowWorld.
Brazzabelle, a gorgeous brunette producer/DJ out of LA was opening the main stage around one, feeding the growing throng of revelers a bangin mix of trap and house. We ran into her back at the artist’s mansion and she was super nice and mad chill. She mentioned some new tracks that she’s working on that are due out towards the end of this year, but till then check out her track “Make It Roll” to get a feel for her sound.
Then it was time to meet up with Michael Calfan for our interview. This artist out of France has been in the game since 2007 and built up an impressive catalogue of remixes and originals; his latest soul house jam “Treasured Soul” has racked up more than 7.5 million views on youtube. Watch the interview here:
After heading back to the main stage to catch a bit of Showtek’s supersonic set, we ventured towards the back of the grounds to see Shaq bring it to the It’s A Trap stage. DJ Diesel threw down like the best of them and had drawn a crowd so deep that you could barely make out his gargantuan frame from where we were standing towards the back.
Traversing the bridge back to the main stage, we saw everything you’d expect to encounter at a festival and then some. The lake was illuminated by glowing fountains while lasers painted the tops of surrounding trees; it really is a surreal experience that the team there has dreamed up.
Steve Angello was closing out his set back at the main stage to a crowd that was now swarming, moving and dancing around like a million little ants with their flags and totems raised high. Fireworks exploded, streamers went off and the volume went down which meant Kaskade was up next.
I had seen Kaskade a few months back at Global Dance Festival out at Red Rocks in Colorado and having been a fan of his for the better part of a decade, had a pretty good idea of what to expect from his set and he didn’t let me or the 40,000 others watching down. His big, bouncy festival sound was peppered with tracks from his new album Automatic that came out yesterday, including my personal favorite “Disarm You”.
Tiesto brought the end of day one to a close in a fashion that only he could, winding the crowd up to its breaking point and the trek back to the shuttle left me wondering how the next two days could get any better. Stay tuned to find out.