aLIVE Coverage for Insomniac
Middlelands Festival has come and gone, and this one was for the books. The thick Texas air was filled with magic all weekend long, while the over 200+ acres of ground were covered with Knights, Horses, Goblins, Fairies, Kings and Queens. Insomniac and C3 have paired together to create what turned out to be one of the most amazing experiences of my life. Over 66,000 people congregated over 4 days on the world-famous Texas Renaissance Festival Fair Grounds in Todd Mission, TX. Insomniac unveiled five never-before-seen stages including the roaming Wench’s Bay (Ship) Art Car, Trinity Vale, The Stronghold, Middlelands Arena and Castle Northwoods. Each stage was more impressive than the next.
aLIVE Coverage for Insomniac
Of all the stages, the main stage, Castle Northwoods was the most impressive. Tucked away between towering trees and candle-lit lanterns, Castle Northwoods stretched 200-feet wide and stood nearly 100-feet tall over the colorful crowd. Twenty-three pillars of fire, 800 video tiles and 24 laser light beams radiating across the nearby forest.
aLIVE Coverage for InsomniacJulian Cassady for Insomniac
Visually my opinion is Marshmellow took the most advantage of the stage, but audio wise Big Gigantic had the best sounding set at this location. This was also the location of the moron that decided to climb a tree during the GRiZ set, forcing the show to stop until the intruder was removed. This colossal waste of precious GRiZ set time lasted about 15 min until he was removed from the tree via crane that had to navigate through the crowd. While the trespasser was 100% sober and an avid climber, in my humble opinion, it was a bonehead copycat move of the Ultra festival tree guy. People pay a lot of money for these festivals, while 15 min may not seem that long, it feels like a lifetime when your favorite artist is forced to stop performing. Selfish acts like these really kill the vibe for thousands of attendees.
Jake West for Insomniac
The Stronghold was the next stage down from Castle Northwoods and was where I spent a good amount of my time. My only complaint would be is that it was more of a gravel pit compared to the other dance areas. This stage provided no escape from the hot Texas sun nor any viable places to sit down. Conversely, The Stronghold is where I caught some of the best acts of the weekend. Crywolf, who’s emotional performance even had the strongest Viking in tears. Metrik, Herobust, and Big Wild also had amazing sets at this location.
Kristina Bakrevski for Insomniac
Turning the corner from that stage the festival wrapped around down a path loaded with food, drinks, shops, and other smaller stages that were preexisting from The Renaissance Fair where they would have magic shows and other photo ops. This led to the Trinity Vale stage where acts like Blackgummy, Christian Martin, Bijou and Billy Kenny had people really feeling the vibe and getting their dance on.
Julian Cassady for Insomniac
Around the corner from the Trinity Vale stage was my favorite stage, The Middlelands Arena. The Middlelands Arena sat at the center of a 360-degree stone jousting ring while 550 lights and eight Co2 jets illuminated the sky. This is where I saw the set of the weekend by the one and only Seven Lions. To my delight Seven Lions played a new set loaded with his unreleased songs including a collab with Kill the Noise and a plethora of psytrance. The visuals were stunted a bit with the stage that said Middle Lands in stone that appeared to be 100 feet high; so big that I expected a Monty Python foot to come from the sky and crush it. Other great sets at The Middlelands Arena were Gramatik, Slander and Illenium.
How was the experience outside the festival you ask? I would say very well done. While I had the comfort of the Bishops Quarters in Kings Grounds (VIP Camping experience) not all of it hit the mark. By no means was it a Fyre fest in there but there were a few things promised that did not show up, like a private cash bar, 24-hour Concierge, Free Lockers, and a 24-hour Snack Station. The AC/Heated upgraded bathrooms and wait free showers were worth their weight in gold. The staff and patrons in the Kings Grounds were all amazing people. The General camping experience was however above average. Free showers, yes with a bit of a wait, were available. The porta potties were kept clean. The streets were easy to navigate and everyone I met was friendly and eager to assist with anything needed. The real highlight of the camping experience would have to be the sound camps. I spent the wee hours of the morning roaming different stages set up by attendees that continued the party throughout the night.
Lords and Ladies of Middlelands came together to spread positive change and self-expression throughout the weekend with charitable initiatives hosted by Insomniac Cares. Earth Emporium gave fans an incentive to recycle for unbelievable prizes while To Write Love On Her Arms welcomed the hopes and dreams from every passerby. The sober support collective, Consciousness Group, opened their doors while #OpenTalk provided a safe space of learning for fans.
Overall Middlelands was a massive success. This was everything I hoped for and more. I got to experience things that you can only get at a festival of this magnitude. Things like watching a couple unknowingly hand a camera to Illenium and ask him if he would take a picture of them with Crywolf. Gazing upon the most amazing creative totems made by attendees from in all parts of the land. Hilarious conversations about whether or not a hot dog is a sandwich or that random guy who was walking around with a testicle hanging out of his shorts (I sure hope it was a prop).
Shaliz Gil and Edgar Benitez
I am so grateful for the friends I made deep in the heart of Texas, and the experiences that was one for the ages. It was scary not knowing what to expect from a new festival but I am sure glad I had the courage to go. I can’t wait for early bird tickets to go on sale for Middlelands 2018. I highly suggest you experience this festival at least once in your lifetime.