That’s a Wrap: Mysteryland, Amsterdam 2013

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I’m not sure what a legitimate time of decompression is these days for a music festival, but I’ve heard it’s roughly one day of self-pity for each day of the event.  While this post-festival recovery assessment is not an exact science (yet), it tends to make sense with regards to hours slept, laps walked, and drinks consumed – but all bets tend to be off when the festival is one day long with enough entertainment to stretch across two or three days.

I’ve also been told that it takes about a day for your body to adjust for each individual time zone that you cross over when traveling. This rule may or may not apply if you only remain in the opposing time zones (in my case, LA > Amsterdam: nine hours) for the corresponding number of days, but I’d argue the legitimacy of that claim if total sleep deprivation enters into the picture.

And so the plot thickens.

After making this quick weekend getaway across nine time zones to experience all that Mysteryland had to offer, I can tell you one thing: I’m wiped. I can also tell you that no matter how long it takes you to recover, attending Mysteryland will be one of the best decisions you’ve ever made.

Note: As I stated in my preview post, this trip was paid for by ID&T and we would be remiss if we did not disclose this information to you. That said, my mouth has not, and will not suck the corporate teet for a flight and a fancy hotel. I will, however, deliver to you the finest recount of my experience – as well as some bitchin’ pictures.

First and foremost, I need to discuss the management and operations behind the festival because it’s a subject that needs to be touched on. Let’s just knock this out first because if you feel an assessment of the company that paid for my trip compromises my legitimacy (especially a positive one) then consider my ethics compromised because ID&T has been running Mysteryland for two decades and they are a well-oiled machine.

When I say two decades, I mean that this year’s event marked the 20th anniversary for this festival, which is something to be praised solely on the fact that the dance music scene has gone through so many ups, downs, and growing pains throughout the years that longevity in and of itself is an accomplishment. Sure, you could say Europe has avoided these bumps in the road, but I think the key to Mysteryland’s success was in their ability to adapt and create an all-inclusive environment. ID&T started out by producing events for the Netherlands hardcore scene and has progressed to invite in all musical genres while priding Mysteryland as a convergence of a transformational festival, dance music event, and conference/theater/art affair.

As the recipients of the 2012 Green Festival Award as well as the founders of the “Today is a Gift” foundation, ID&T has established themselves as an entity that takes seriously the responsibility of leading the next generation. Staff members are not just untrained, warm bodies, but a collection of individuals who believe in music as a driving force behind causes for social good. I’ve attended many festivals in the US (and one in Costa Rica) and I’m excited to see how the attitude that next year’s Mysteryland Woodstock as well as the management of ID&T bring to the table will effect those in attendance as it did to me.

With 60,000 people in attendance, 1,700 staff members, 10 stages, and more overlapping talent to leave us all feeling horrible and privileged simultaneously, there was rarely a dull moment from the moment the doors opened to the final fireworks show. The first full set that I stuck around for was an energetic set by Bauuer who, as usual, had the crowd going bananas the entire time. I was wondering how trap would translate into a European festival environment, but in the same way that we’ve adopted many styles from them, the crowd at Mysteryland couldn’t get enough from Baauer. Now, in retrospect, this may be due to the relative Internet phenomenon that was “Harlem Shake,” but it seemed that the packed tent was more than just a collection of casual fans and viral video junkies.

I was able to catch the end of a set by Joris Voorn, a local to Amsterdam, who was rocking the main stage with a mean mix of European techno house. Voorn’s set marked the end of the deeper grooves for the day as Fake Blood took the stage and started to turn up the heat for what would eventually be Fedde, Porter, Steve Angelo, and Steve Aoki’s stage. Needless to say, at this point the main stage crowd was getting thick so I had to move elsewhere.

Enter, Lee Curtis at Vision Quest stage. Glad I got to catch his set because after seeing him once at a show in Hollywood, I was stoked to see what he brought to a non-club crowd. Also, lucky for me I caught his set because I ended up sharing a ride to the airport with him. That would have been awkward. “Hey man – big fan. What do you mean did I catch your set? Fuck no…way too busy.”

I actually didn’t get to see the whole thing because luckily I was dragged by a fellow blogger to the hardstyle stage for my first hardstyle show featuring Coone and Headhunterz. Look, here’s the thing, normally I would have no interest in hardstyle as I’m more of an upbeat, big synths, and funky grooves kind of a guy – but let me tell you these guys threw down.

While I had intended to close out the rest of my musical experience with some more main stage action, I ended up opting out of standing in the rain for a smaller stage experience at the Heineken Starclub Stage where the vibe was alternative, funky, and there were A LOT of transvestites. Luckily, before I left – I snagged a spot for the final firework show, which is worth the trip by itself.

All in all, the vibe at this festival was unlike any that I’ve experience in the states. It seemed like rather than forcing a vibe of peace and love and unity, it was just there. You don’t see the American rave styles showing up either – there’s no furry boots or light up gloves, and while I would agree that it’s that style that makes our scene special and unique, it was still refreshing to go to a huge festival that felt a little more down to earth.