May 28, 2014

Mysteryland USA Conquers the Woodstock Grounds

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Written by: Keith Wozniak

Thousands of ravers stopped Bethel, NY over the course of Memorial Day weekend to take party in the first ever North American version of ID&T’s Mysteryland on the historic grounds of the original home of Woodstock in 1969. This was the first time ID&T brought the longest running festival in the world to North America and also the first time permits were issued for camping since 1969. The finished product was a well run festival that will likely return for another round in 2015.

I made the just over four-hour drive for the last day on Sunday and picked the better of the two days in terms of weather. There was only a few clouds in the sky, a great breeze and the temperature was near 80 degrees fahrenheit. A picture perfect day for an outdoor festival.

The parking was nearby and easy, searches were standard for a festival and the drug dogs hanging out all over the place near the entrance and were as cute as could be (with signs that said DO NOT PET ME). I didn’t witness anyone being searched but they were there just waiting to be asked to sniff someone out.

After a preparty and the first day of the festival the grounds were cleaner than a person would expect with more than enough dry grass space to relax and hang out with friends. For a festival with 20,000 people the port o potties were also plentiful and cleaner than expected as well.

One of the best features (except for my credit card) was the concept of a completely cashless festival. Everyone at the festival was given a wristband with a unique RFID tag on it and you had two options for payments: Login to the web site and register your credit card or visit an onsite ATM to withdraw money and visit another booth where they would load it on for you. Your wristband was used to buy food, beverages and even merchandise.

The main stage was your typical big room music that had the crowds jumping all over. I was there early enough in the day to check out The Chainsmokers who were enjoyable in the sun. Try and forget about “Selfie” if that’s your only impression of them so far. Another main stage DJ deserving of his time slot in the early evening was Kill the Noise. The last time I had seen Kill the Noise was when he was known as a DNB DJ who went by the name Ewun at a small bar in his home town of Rochester, NY where I live as well. Dillon Francis, Moby, Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike and a closing set at Kaskade were also standouts of the main stage.

Mysteryland USA 2014 Kill the Noise

Kill the Noise at Mysteryland USA 2014

Walking away from the main stage is where the magic was happening though. At the Sunday School Big Top the progressive house sounds of Fehrplay and Jeremy Olander had one of the biggest crowd of the afternoon. Later at night the Big Top was closed down by Joseph Capriati followed by Chris Liebing, two flawless techno DJs that were dropping bombs non stop for a combined three hours.

Mysteryland USA 2014 Big Top Techno

Sunday School Big Top Techno at Mysteryland USA 2014

The Sunday School Spiegeltent is where things got to be dirty and weird over the course of four and a half hours with Blond:ish, Justin Martin and Pete Tong. The Blond:ish girls worked the decks in tandem getting everyone in the groove for Justin Martin, the co-founder of the Dirtybird crew. That was my first time ever seeing Blond:ish and Justin Martin live and I was hooked. Two of the best sets I had heard all day and I’ll take every chance I can to see them again.

Mysteryland USA 2014 Blondish Justin Martin

Blond:ish & Justin Martin at Mysteryland USA 2014

With the sun out of the sky and the lights down low Pete Tong took the microphone and said, “It sexy music. It’s dark in here. Dance close together. Sunday School I think it’s a proper rave now.”

Part of me can’t believe that Justin Martin and Pete Tong played in one of the smaller stages (more like one of the only permanent structures on the grounds) but intimate atmosphere gave the feeling of being anywhere else but a big festival with 20,000 people and that’s something that couldn’t be taken for granted.

Mysteryland USA was a well run and very clean festival that was minimal on production away from the main stage. This wasn’t an EDC with massive lights at every stage but the sound was crystal clear and music was top-notch.

Unless I missed it, I expected some memorable samples from some classic Woodstock music acts such as the Jimi Hendrix Star Spangled Banner or maybe a recording of an MC telling others to stay away from the brown acid.

Once the music ended at 2 am the festival grounds slowly cleared out as a majority of the crowd made their way back to the campgrounds with the rest of us headed towards the parking lots to drive home. Security and the police were courteous in not kicking everyone out for a while and traffic was light on the roads out of Bethel, NY.

Some additional pictures:

Mysteryland USA 2014 Main Stage Dusk

Q-Dance stage at Mysteryland USA 2014

Q-Dance stage at Mysteryland USA 2014

The Boat stage at Mysteryland USA 2014

Mysteryland USA 2014 Water Station

Main Stage at night with Kaskade Mysteryland USA 2014

Main Stage at night with Kaskade Mysteryland USA 2014

Main Stage at night with Kaskade Mysteryland USA 2014

Blond:ish at Mysteryland USA 2014

Blond:ish at Mysteryland USA 2014

About the Author

Keith Wozniak
Founder of this web site, I have also has been involved with raves since 1999 as a raver, flyer guy, owned a promotion company throwing small and large events and also ran one of the first Dancesafe chapters. I've done it all and have never thought the scene was dead. Also writes for



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