Yesterday is history. Today is a gift. Tomorrow is a mystery. These are the closing words of Mysteryland USA and an experience that will remain for us for quite some time.

If you didn’t already know, this year’s first installment of the Mysteryland series (which has taken place over the past 14 years in Chile and the Netherlands) just touched down in Bethel Woods, New York, on the same grounds as the first ever Woodstock. This in and of itself was a major selling point for ID&T (the event promoters) as they set out to make history again, 45 years later. While they may not have made world history this time around, they certainly did in the hearts and minds of the people present.

To start, the location was beautiful. Giant rolling hills that provided stellar views all around. You could see the entire campground in the distance beyond the boat stage, and the further rolling hills and trees beyond that. The Bethel Woods Center for the Arts has been wonderfully constructed, and even provided paved walkways throughout the grounds which was a welcome relief to those camping. While no stage was set exactly where the stage at Woodstock was (it’s currently marked with teepees and was roped off from the festival goers), the entire event had the aura of importance closely linked to it’s history. Lets Be Friends, UK dance duo and Mysteryland advocates told us,

“It all hit us the gates. When we arrived here we were like ‘oh it’s just another festival’. But then we realized its Mysteryland, AT where Woodstock was. You have two elements here. And to be here, doing what they did…that’s mental.”

 

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While the rolling hills were beautiful to look at, they did provide quite a hike at times. A very large hill stood in between the festival grounds and camping, which made travel in between take some time. The campgrounds were also covered in mud which made setting up base camp a bit treacherous (in the end we’re very glad they didn’t allow cars into the campground). All in all, these elements are now expected by most festival goers, and became just another part of the whole experience.

Moving on to the production quality, we found it to be nothing short of top notch. If you count the Holy Ground camping tent stage and the hidden gem of the weekend, Sin Salida,  there were eight stages, all complete with their own set themes and reflective of different varieties of music. The Sound of Q-Dance, in its orange and black haz-mat looking splendor, provided hard bass, while the Vinyl-only tent offered and old school feel. The Boat stage, decked out with massive butterflies and a mermaid on its bow, provided the bass and 808s repping artists like Zomboy, Big Gigantic, and Lets Be Friends, and Sin Salida featured a day of the dead theme and focused on latin beats. The main stage was gigantic affair of a stage unlike many that we see here in US. The stage was essentially a massive house of cards with a clock in the center that had every hour reading “Now” and seemed to be the place to be for house music, as it featured the likes of Dyro, and Showtek to Kaskade.

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There were fireworks both nights to close out the final sets, Aoki on Saturday and Kaskade on Sunday, with a closing ceremony for the ages after the final day.

The people are also what helped made the event so wonderful. Other than a little overheard cattiness and some disagreements with security there were nothing but good vibes abound. We watched complete strangers share intimate talks, and smiles that could light up a room. People raged out with hilarious, self-constructed totems and shared intense light shows amidst some great music. We even heard a story that some people helped a festival goer purchase a new ticket after they lost theirs.

There were issues, but nothing beyond the ordinary. The cashless system didn’t work out very well as the machines often broke down, and there were some communication difficulties between the event staff. People also had a hard time finding places to charge their phones and as mentioned earlier, the campgrounds were a muddy mess which provided difficult for some. But overall, these things are to be expected, particularly with a festival’s first installment and especially in a new country. People at Woodstock didn’t have to worry about charging their phones and we’re sure they weren’t worried about mud either.

Despite the small hiccups, everything came together to make an unforgettable experience. The 21+ age restriction kept major problems to a minimum and maintained a more mature atmosphere at the festival. It seems that ID&T also anticipated the variety of musical tastes and created a safe haven for everyone. Something about Mysteryland USA felt unlike anything the US has yet to experience, it all felt very foreign, in a good way. Between the top notch production quality, the music, and the superb venue, Mysteryland will be a festival for the books, and certainly one that has stolen our hearts. Yesterday is history, Today is a gift. Tomorrow is a mystery.

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Mysteryland Statistics:

  • 20,000 attendees from 27 countries

  • 7,500 campers on-site at Holy Ground with Protocol pre-party with surprise guest Nicky Romero

  • Only 20 arrests, none for violence

  • ID&T has a tentative three year contract with Bethel Woods

  • Official Mysteryland USA 2014 recap video will be out in late June.

Contributer: Danie Fishman