Thousands of people come together for music festivals, read on to find out which five you will inevitably meet at your next festie.
“Humble” and “energetic." These are the words that came to mind while watching edIT (Ed Ma), Boreta (Justin Boreta), and Ooah (Josh Mayer) perform. Each member of this trio is lauded as a successful DJ in his own right, but together they form The Glitch Mob, one of the most popular EDM groups in recent history. Their high-octane showmanship and approach to mixing live, originally made a name for the Los Angeles-based ensemble, but it is their obliging politeness toward fans and unpretentious relationship with the crowd that seals their place as a favorite in industrial/glitch culture.
I reached the doors of Opera, Atlanta’s own premiere night club, Friday night around 11 pm. Elle, my contact from Liquified (a promotional group that puts on one heck of show) met me outside, and after making sure I was added to the list, ushered me into the venue. I was told I’d have full access to the club, so after securing a wristband I made my way upstairs to the VIP lounge, and along with a photographer and a few other onlookers, stood at the balcony to scope out the scene below. A crowd of fans had gathered on the dance floor, facing the stage, and the opener Organik was warming the room up.
As the bass dropped and shook the whole room, the screen behind him lit with dizzying columns and scoping revolving mirrors that morphed into gears grinding into a sea of musical glass. The swirl of orange, grays, and blues turned into warmer colors that made me feel as if I was in another world; I was drug-free but noted how the graphics alone produced a euphoric state of mind.
At that point, I was pulled for a meet-and-greet with the band. As I noted earlier, each member of The Glitch Mob was incredibly courteous, and they agreed to take photos with everyone working backstage. I had the chance to ask them if they would be performing their remix of “Seven Nation Army” during the show. “You’re going to have to stick around and find out!” Ooah smiled and patted my shoulder as he made his way around to the stage.
After Organik ended his set, chants of “Glitch Mob! Glitch Mob!” erupted from the audience before the guys came out and politely introduced themselves. The crowd was in frenzy as fog machines blasted from the sidelines. Suddenly drums erupted from speakers, growing rapidly faster as Boreta tapped his midi and “Our Demons” began to play. Attendees backstage marched in place in excitement, while spectators in front of me seemed to be losing their minds. The entire front row leaned down over the stage, some of them pounding their palms on the platform, while the band rocked their heads in unison. As the chorus blasted and edIT punched his synth, Ooah flicked his wrist and Boreta jumped up and down, the song then morphing into something new.
Everyone began to clap. Blue, red, and green lights pivoted back and forth over onlookers and synth vibrated the floor to no end. The Glitch Mob’s signature symbol, a triangle overlaid with two adjoining circles from their Drink the Sea album, was displayed prominently on screen, and I noticed that many fans that night sported the emblem on their traps, shoulders and necks.
Eventually they transitioned into a crowd favorite- a sampling/remix of "West Coast Rocks" from their Crush Mode mixtape. I really enjoyed the fun old-school vibe this track carried; a 90’s-esque synth-hook pulsated over images flashing on the screen of a pink and blue Rubiks cube, while red fertilized embryonic cells morphed into dominoes; overall it was very trippy. As "West Coast" concluded a sick drum fill began building, slowly and at first and then faster while the crowd looked on at attention, wondering what was next. Suddenly everything crashed to a halt as Boreta looked out and simply said, “ATL, we love you.”
Other highlights from the evening included an electrifying cover/rendition of Daft Punk’s "Derrezled" (titled "Rerezzed") with a different spin. The best part about this was that everyone could tell the guys were enjoying themselves, dancing, and even cupping their hands over their mouths in pure joy as if they had come across a surprise during their performance. They wove back and forth and ended the song pointing trigger fingers at devotees who seemed to love the attention and interaction shared. Afterward, there were some high synth-pleasers as well as heavy hitters interspersed with filler songs, but the crowd was in tune the whole time, bouncing up and down together, and ready for whatever would be offered next.
At this point, the whole floor turned into a giant dance party. Opera was packed and everyone clapped and swayed as a little hint of the opening hook of “We Can Make the World Stop," one of their most popular hits, was offered. The excitement in the room was tangible, but before the song began we realized it was just a tease (further emphasizing again that a strong point for these guys is their ability to keep their fans amused).
The evening continued with “Warrior Concerto." Screeching violins filled our ears as everyone got hosed with more and more mist. After that, as I had previously hoped, “Seven Nation Army” rang out, and the whole crowd sang along. At the bass drop, the first of several balloons seemed to appear out of nowhere and the house began tossing them about.
The next few songs relied less on synth, while the bass became more guttural, clashing, like thunder as vape smoke billowed, lights flashed, and security ran out on stage to pick up cans and bottles that were being thrown. By the time the band performed their latest remix of "Scullclub," drum beats clicked so fast they almost sounded like a motor.
The evening concluded with “We Can Make the World Stop” and the entire club went nuts, dancing in an almost tribal state of ecstasy. As the track finished, chants of “One more song! One more song!” rang out, but it was nearly 3 AM and the show was over. The band took a final bow and apologized for having to leave, but not before rushing the crowd to shake everyone’s hands at the front of the stage.
As I left Opera, I thanked Elle and the gang, my ears ringing, but not unpleasantly, to the sound of cheers and enthusiasm all around. “Humble and energetic,” I thought. “I will have to see these guys again.”
Photos by Tyler Church
TomorrowWorld, a three day festival 30 miles south of Atlanta, left thousands stranded on the side of the road last night. After the shows were over, the festival canceled shuttles and would not allow Uber driver to pick up attendees. People were left cold and wet sleeping on the side of the road. Others walked miles until they were able to find a ride willing them to take them back to the city for a price of around $200. In addition, TomorrowWorld is not allowing anyone to attend today who is not currently on site.
Festival attendee, Claudio Silva, sent this message to me personally.
"I showed up on Thursday morning set up and all of my shit flooded before it hit 10:30pm. I dislocated my knee from slipping in mud around 3amFriday morning. I ended up having to book a flight home and while in the medical tent we asked if we could get a gold cart to take us to the exit of the park or take us as far as we can possibly go so it could minimize my walking. Mind you it was pouring down rain. The guy in the medical tent told me that everyone is being very greedy about the golf carts and there was nothing he could do. I had at least a five mile hike with a very fucked up leg. Finally, some dude picked me up in a golf cart and took me to a shuttle pickup. The shuttle never came. So this guy who worked for the park luckily took me to the uber pick up which the only reason I was able to be helped. All in all I spent maybe $1000 and I was gone before Friday." (Sent to my e-mail)
Added 9/28 from an e-mail sent to me personally by festival attendee, Matt DeLeo.
"I'm compelled to tell my story because TomorrowWorld through their social media posts and official statements has done nothing to address the true events of what transpired Saturday night. The event organizers continuously lay blame on the weather for a situation that had very little to do with the weather and it's unfortunate that thousands of paying customers had to suffer while many others are being led to believe that the extent of their mismanagement was not being able to accommodate non-camping attendees on Sunday.
Let me preface my account by stating that I was 100% sober throughout the day. I do not drink alcohol (for medical reasons) and this was my third year attending TW. My fiancee and I had parked at the new off-site parking venue on Virlyn B Smith Rd earlier in the day. Upon the conclusion of Get Real's set, we made our way to the exit and walked back to the area we had been dropped off at earlier by our shuttle driver. However, we were instructed by no less than three TW staffers to continue walking up the hill. There, stanchions were set up to funnel shuttle riders into the appropriate area. This is where the problems began to arise. TW staffers were not on the same page and could not give a unified answer as to which line was which. Additionally, the stanchion on the right side was soon overrun and the one staffer there pleading with people to stay in line was ignored. Finally, more staff was directed to this area to offer some measure of crowd control but they made a drastic mistake. One group claimed to live just a mile down the road and asked to be let through to escape the crowd. Upon allowing this group, other people grew increasingly inpatient and rushed the stanchions, effectively cutting thousands of people who were waiting in line for their shuttles.
This was truly the root of the chaos. The lines started progressing forward at a decent clip so we figured "OK, cool. Now at least they have it figured out." Wrong. What was really happening was all of the people who cut the line started boarding buses and TW did not have adequate staff in place to direct the crowds. There were no crowd control measures taken beyond that one area. No stanchions. no ropes, no signs directing riders to the appropriate waiting area, no more than 4 visible staff members (some were not even uniformed), and one police officer who did nothing in the time he was there but stand near his cruiser and yell at people to step away from his vehicle. Some buses had signs stating their destination, others did not, and even some of these signs were not the correct location. We resorted to following the crowd down the long row of buses hoping to find the shuttle to the Renaissance Festival lot but nearly every bus was full and others were ignoring riders knocking on their doors. One festival goer commented that one bus driver with an empty shuttle told him he was not taking anyone because "His shift was over."
Finally, maybe two or three staff members then began directing people to back up onto the grass to allow buses to pass. But all of the staffers there lacked any semblance of communication and allowed thousands of people who cut to board buses while everyone else waited. We were packed in like sardines along the side of the road and some (highly intoxicated) individuals shouted that we should riot. It was a very dangerous situation and not once did a staff member speak up to tell them how horrible an idea that would be. After two hours of waiting and being told additional shuttles were on their way, a TW staffer stood up on a rock and informed everyone that shuttles service had ended and that if we all walked "1.5 miles" down the road, there was a parking lot where Uber and taxis would be available to take us wherever we needed to go and that "TomorrowWorld will reimburse you for your fare."
So my fiancee and I began our walk down the road knowing the walk to the Renaissance Festival was nearly 10 miles. We did not have any cash because TW told everyone there was no need for it. So both Uber and taxis were out of the question for us and even if we had the cash, we were hearing stories of the few Ubers in the area giving rides to the highest bidder (sometimes in the HUNDREDS of dollars). The road everyone was forced by TomorrowWorld to walk down was entirely unlit and visibly challenging even with a flashlight. This is where patrons began taking residence on lawns and at roadside as physical and mental exhaustion would not permit them to continue. My feet were in rough shape at this point and began to throb so badly from being wet and raw that I could barely keep the pace with my fiancee. We reached the lot where Uber rides had been promised only to be turned even further down the road by TW staff with word that more shuttles would pick us up at another location. Finally, after approximately a 4 mile walk from the shuttle area (which was 1.5 from the concert venue), we reached an area police had blocked off and the remaining patrons were waiting at. The weather conditions had worsened at this point- a steady stream of mist fell and temperatures began dropping to the point that people began shivering in the clothing they had sweat into all day.
There were people passed out on police cruisers, on the grass, propped against stone walls, basically any available real estate was home to an exhausted TW customer trying to rest while awaiting further instruction. I spoke to a police officer to ask what was being done to fix the situation. He replied that he had personally placed several calls to festival organizers and that he genuinely did not know if they had a plan in place and if they did, they were not communicating it to him. Some TW security workers showed at this point and handed out maybe 100 water bottles as dehydration loomed precariously close for some individuals. At nearly
7 am, two shuttles arrived and my fiancee and I had to physically force our way onto the bus. These shuttles were packed so tight with people trying to get back to their cars that the bus driver could not see out the back window and at one point had to rely on the riders to reverse her course. While we drove to the off-site parking location, you could still see people passed out on the side of the road waiting for transportation.
TomorrowWorld failed these people. They abandoned paying customers, exposing them to a dangerous walk and to the elements when they were not adequately prepared. Promises were made and broken. No attention was paid to the safety of their patrons and for TomorrowWorld to suggest this is their number one priority while refusing to acknowledge what transpired Saturday night/Sunday morning is a slap in the face to everyone that was FORCED to endure it due to the lack of contingency planning on the part of TW organizers. Blaming the weather for their missteps is pathetic and insulting and their continued misleading of the public needs to stop. People need not to bury their anger and frustration but put both to good use- put your experiences into words, let anyone who will give you a platform hear your story, and do not be discouraged. SFX and its partners need to be held accountable for their actions (or lack thereof) on early Sunday morning and they need to know just how many of their customers they lost."
Rosalie Azzato's story was also picked up by local news station 11 Alive.
More horror stories and photos from Facebook:
Added on 9/28 from a Creative Loafing Facebook Post:
Despite all of the bad news, you have to admire this guy for his bright outlook.
If you'd like to share your story, TomorrowWorldNightmare.com is compiling a list of them here.