Moonrise Festival 2016 Recap


by Zack Bruzgo |


Walking into Moonrise Festival this year, I thought I had an idea what to expect. I did not. As a photographer I am very lucky to be able to go backstage, onstage and have the opportunity to meet many artists so my point of view of the festival is different than someone in the crowd. The general theme of my Moonrise experience was bass- and trust me I got my full fix of it. Like any other festival, time was spent around the venue seeing who was playing and where certain important places are. As I walked around I noticed the fantastic job the Moonrise team did with decorations and according placement. I was lucky enough to have time to wander into the “Vendor Village” and was immersed with the feeling of being in a festival flea market- pin boards everywhere, awesome clothing, artwork displayed beautifully and everything else but the kitchen sink to be available to purchase. The food vendors were plentiful, but like any broke college student attending or working a festival, I survived off the grilled cheeses- and yes, they were delicious.

Now onto the music aspect of the festival: for day one I first caught Apashe. Managing to get onstage, I noticed how packed the tent got for an early day set and was blown away by how the crowd was pouring from the tent. As the day went on sets included Boombox Cartel and everyone’s favorite costumed performer Bear Grillz, who tore up the stage with an all-out bass assault. Walking from the Solar Tent to Lunar Stage, I could hear someone ripping on the saxophone and immediately started running forward. This past summer I noticed how common it was to see GRiZ on the lineup, but it is no surprise why. This was my seventh set this summer seeing GRiZ do what he does best: play the funk and get the crowd dancing non-stop. As I scanned the area for a good vantage point, I saw the man himself running towards one of the speakers and knew I needed to get in front of that speaker; so, I ducked and ran through staff members and other patrons to get my spot. As the Detroit master of funk jumped right in front of me, I could see the enthusiasm and love he has for performing.

After getting my dosage of funk, I got to cover the up and coming star in EDM: Ghastly. I was very impressed with this rising producer’s ability to mix a variety of genres in just a single hour. I felt the need to dance and head bang from song to song. After the new kid on the block came on, Bro Safari, who never disappoints, than the drum and bass legend Andy C played out numerous classics we have all come to love. At another tent in the distance I saw a giant structure being dragged onstage, so I of course had to see what was going on. Approaching the Lunar Stage all the lights went dim and a party immediately started. The infamous trap duo Flosstradamus ignited a flame in the crowd and onstage (literally) and did not stop from the very first track. From their outfits, to the enthusiasm, pyro techniques and visuals, Flosstradamus put on an exemplary performance. As the stage changed up, I could see the faces of the crowd and excitement was all around. For the past three years Bassnectar has been a highlight for every attendee at Moonrise. Looking down the guard rail I could see flags with the bass drop being hung; shirts, jerseys, hats and totems with the famous logo being present. As the music started, I knew I would be put on a journey like no other. Lorin (Bassnectar) played out plenty of classics, new songs, and unreleased gems that may never see the light of day. The man did what he does best: make the crowd headbang, emotional and feel complete.


My schedule for day two had a similar theme to day one: bass, bass, and some more bass. The day started with Mark Evans aka Mark the Beast playing the Solar Tent. His mix of dubstep and guitar makes his sets a complete standout. French newcomer Cesqeaux soon came on to make the crowd dance, and that he did. The non-stop energy from this guy and his prime song selection makes any EDM fan jump for joy. Preceding the high energy set by Cesqeaux I got to cover one of my longtime personal favorite producers TOKiMONSTA as she played out all the best trap beats at The Lunar Stage. TOKiMONSTA’s mix of trap with an experimental twist makes her sound so unique and a great day time set to see. I got a good change of pace with Never Say Die’s very own LAXX tearing up the Solara Tent knocking out his hits and all the favorite Never Say Die tracks every bass head loves.

You would think after all the bass I experienced this weekend I would be done, but the answer is no. Herobust packed out the Solar Tent and got the crowd BUSTED. After hearing mostly trap and dubstep all day it was refreshing to see Kayzo play out his gender mashing mix of hardstyle, trap and dubstep. From the time he started till he ended he had a high octane set and kept the crowd moving. As the sun set, the Stellar Stage the people flocked over to see everyone’s favorite priest Tchami to get their bodies moving. After being almost burnt alive by the sun, I saw trap newcomer NGHTMRE bring joy to everyone’s face. My last set made me take a step back to realize what I was experiencing. Caspa and Rusko collectively destroyed the tent. I have an unlimited amount of love and respect for both of these legends, without both of them I would not have gained the love and obsession with bass music as a whole. They did what they always do when they play, go non-stop from start to finish and play out all the songs that have severe sentimental value to me as a music lover.

The overall experience at Moonrise Festival 2016 was nothing but fantastic. The crowd was enthusiastic for the music; the people I met were nothing but loving; and the music was phenomenal. After attending Moonrise, I got a general consensus that bass music is truly taking over and making a connection to a wider audience. Even with the heat, Moonrise had their Star Team hand out water to festival goers and made sure no one was dehydrated, which more festivals need to follow them by example. I will be back next year to cover this fantastic festival and hopefully take your photo.

Moonrise Festival Website // Facebook // Twitter // Instagram

All photos by Zack Bruzgo/Panda Media
View Complete Day 1 Album || View Complete Day 2 Album

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