Moonrise Festival Raises the Bar

With the tragic events that happened at Mad Decent Block Party a week prior to Moonrise, it’s not at all surprising that some in the D.C. Metro area were calling for the cancellation of the festival. Luckily, it didn’t happen and it seemed that the event staff were well-prepared for just about anything.

As a non-supporter of all-ages festivals, I was pretty skeptical heading to Maryland for Moonrise Festival. And the skepticism certainly had nothing to do with the lineup. It had everything to do with lots of teenagers under the age of 18 being at the festival. However, to my surprise there were not just teenagers, there were toddlers as young as three. In my opinion, that is no place for a child. But, ultimately that decision comes down the parents, so to each his own.

That being said, for as many young, and I mean very young attendees, Moonrise seemed to go off without a hitch. Everyone was friendly and pretty well-behaved from what I could tell. The lineup had something for everyone. Some stand out sets for me on the first day included Digital Lab, Audien, RJD2, Kaskade, Crizzly, Tritonal and The Disco Fries.

Solar Dance Tent at Moonrise Festival

Photo courtesy of DS Photography for Moonrise Festival

The Solar Dance Tent is where I spent the majority of my day. It was a bit cooler in the shade than it was in the hot sun and the crowd there was a little more chill. The energy in here was nothing short of electric. The tent started to fill up during an amazing set by Digital Lab. I later came back for Audien. The first time I saw Audien, was at 11:40 AM last year at Electric Zoo. If someone can have crowd dancing their butts at that hour of the day, I knew I would be a fan for a long time to come.

Later in the day I headed over to the Lunar Stage to see RJD2. It was chill, it was funky, it was good and the crowd loved every minute of it. Totally different sound than anything I heard earlier for obvious reasons. The one thing that was definitely noticeable at his set was the age demographic. It was an older crowd and that was to be expected. I knew I wouldn’t be seeing the crowd I saw at Crizzly here. Next time RJD2 is anywhere in the New York City area, I’m there. Speaking of Crizzly, he was awesome. Lots of his signature “crunkstep” sound and it was good. The crowd was also great. I thought it would be a bunch of rambunctious teenagers but it wasn’t. Just everyone dancing and having a good time.

Kaskade at Moonrise Festival

Photos courtesy of DS Photography for Moonrise Festival

One of the things I noticed leading up to the festival is how upset fans were that Kaskade wasn’t closing day one. I get it. He’s the headliner, you would think he’s closing. To me having Kaskade play as the sun was going down and the stars were coming out couldn’t have been more perfect. He played a lot that I wanted to hear, including his newest release ‘Summer Nights.’ Threw in a remixed version of ‘Ain’t Gonna Lie’ from his recently released Redux EP. Remixed Porter Robinson’s Lionhearted. It was pretty good overall. Every time I have seen him I don’t stop dancing.

What Moonrise Did Well

The Lineup

Hands down one of the best lineups for a summer festival. Bringing in big names like Kaskade and Bassnectar with a mixture of lesser-known and up and coming artists. There was something for everyone.

Access to Water and Misting Tents

There were volunteers walking around each stage with bottles of water to keep fans hydrated all day. It was great to see this pro-active approach. Other festivals should take the lead from what they did here. Awesome job on this Moonrise!

Security

For as tight and strict as security was, they seemed to really be on top of things and handled everyone well from what I could tell. I can’t say the same for what I heard went on at Mad Decent in Brooklyn the same day. Again, kudos to the organizers on keeping everyone safe and treating us with respect!

What Didn’t Work So Well

The Water Stations

Seeing as they are running all day and never shutting off, the water stations quickly became a mud pit. Next year, put the water stations somewhere that has concrete or a hard surface…not the grass.

Food Vendors

By 5:30 PM some of the places had run out of food. I get it, it happens. But, when you have tens of thousands of people at a festival be aware of this. Either bring in different vendors that are prepared for large crowds or make it easier for them to get replenishment. Nothing worse than a hungry raver.

Transportation To/From Festival

This logistically was kind of a nightmare. Baltimore doesn’t have the greatest public transit system and to get the festival grounds if you weren’t driving was bad all-around. Moonrise partnered with Rock N Bus which ended up canceling a lot of the shuttle buses two days before the festival because they could not get enough people to fill them. This presented a huge problem for anyone that booked this and were left with no transit to the festival. May I suggest shuttle buses that pick-up and drop-off at Baltimore Penn Station? Or partnering with another service charter service? My experience with Rock N Bus for every festival I have ever attended has been bad and this one was no different. This has to be fixed for next year.

Related: How to Avoid Garrix Syndrome

One word I think that would best describe Moonrise: refreshing. There was an unexpected level of maturity by all festival goers. It was pleasant and for the first time I wasn’t annoyed at an all-ages festival which was both shocking and disappointing. I was prepared to write the stereotypical all-ages review, “annoying, horrible, grow-up, all-ages is not okay” but that’s not what happened here. My expectations for the lineup were met, expectations of the environment and crowd were surpassed. Thank you for putting on a great festival! And I hope the moon continues to rise for many years to come.

So the question remains, will Moonrise be back in 2015? Seeing as the event went off really well I hope so. And I hope they bring back a great lineup next Summer.

Shendy Hershfield

Shendy Hershfield

Senior Editor - East Coast
Shendy Hershfield
- 5 hours ago
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