Mysteryland USA 2016: Saturday Music Recap

mlusa-32Saturday at Mysteryland was the second full day of music, building up to headliner Skrillex’s performance at 11:30 PM.

Big Top, a stage covered by a circus-style tent, hosted Penguin Prison around 5PM, after festival-goers had just started to trickle into the festival grounds. Penguin Prison is the dance-pop project of Chris Glover, but Chris brought along a full band for a live set under Big Top. Playing his top tracks like “Never Gets Old”, “Show Me the Way”, and “The Worse It Gets”, Chris wove electric guitar melodies with synth, singing over everything to bring it all together. Penguin Prison’s music is feel-good with substance, infused with 80’s beats similar to artists like Chromeo, St. Lucia, and Great Good Fine Ok. Penguin Prison’s set was unique in being one of few live band sets during the weekend, with the majority of performances being DJs standing behind a table during the entire set. Penguin Prison’s movement around the stage and full-band setup was refreshing, and they put on a great performance that still kept EDM fans pleased.

Next up was Autograf, a trio made up of two former art students and a former derivatives trader, all from Chicago. Autograf has released remixes of songs in addition to originals, and their debut EP Future Soup was recently released after their rise to prominence in the EDM scene fueled by a #1 Hype Machine track. Their music is classified as “future house”, a tropical, upbeat sounding version of house music, a fun performance for a crowd that was itching to dance. The highlight was their remix of “Beware the Dog” originally performed by indie-rock band The Griswolds. The track features enhanced bass, rhythmically repeated lines of the chorus, new percussive elements, and more. The tempo is increased and vocals are distorted, yielding an upbeat reenergized take on the track that had the Big Top pulsing and the crowd dancing wildly as the sun started to set.

Around this time, Tchami took the main stage, a stage nestled in between two massive metal wings and beneath a giant arch that extended at least 60 feet upwards. The lights on the stage began to illuminate as the sun set, and Tchami’s future house beats boomed through 20-foot-tall speakers. The energy of the crowd seemed to only increase as the light faded, and the final track in Tchami’s setlist, “Afterlife”, finished the set strong.

The Chainsmokers, a duo from the US known for hits like “#SEFLIE”, “Kanye”, and “Let You Go”, went on next. They played a mixture of remixes and originals, playing a remix of Smallpools’ “Dreamers” after saying “we made this song for nights like this!” The claim was a little sketchy, considering they didn’t really write the song, but the audience didn’t seem to care and still enjoyed the reimagined version of Smallpools’ indie-pop hit with copious amounts of bass. They performed a special remix of their most recent hit “Rozes”, an infectiously catchy track featuring Philly singer-songwriter Roses. The Chainsmokers played a well-coordinated set, with energy levels rising and falling with a steady upward trend over the course of the hour. Crowdsurfing, totem swinging, and fist-pumping abounded.

After a forgettable set from Young Thug, Skrillex finally took the stage to the tune of Kylo Ren’s orchestral theme from the latest Star Wars film. He mixed in “Like A Bitch” before launching into an hour and a half of remixes, featuring previously unheard tracks and a surprising infusion of DJ Mustard. “Bangarang” elicited the expected explosion of excitement from the crowd, and Sonny (Skrillex) took brief breaks in between remixes to say a few things to the crowd (“OWSLA fam where you at?”) and grab a Nemo totem from the crowd (“We found Nemo!!”) which he kept and waved around on stage for at least 15 minutes. “Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites” made a brief appearance, and a slow piano version of the song served as his outro, an attempt to impart some sentimentality after the 90 minutes of head-banging. Skrillex’s set was smooth, with great transitions and a decent variety of songs and speeds. His mannerisms only served to enhance the performance as he climbed on and off the DJ table and seemed to enjoy the music as much as any member of the audience.

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