Festival Review: Tomorrowland 2016

For some, it’s the biggest dance music festival in the world. For some, it’s a life changing pilgrimage to watch some of the biggest artists in the electronic music realm. Tomorrowland has always been an omnipresent name in the list of “Must attend festivals” of many a dance music fans, and when Budweiser gave us the chance to travel to the mecca of dance music festivals, we just couldn’t say no.

Known for its diverse lineups year after year, 2016 wasn’t any different as Tomorrowland dished out yet another incredible lineup, which featured the who’s who of the dance music world, featuring Axwell /\ Ingrosso, Armin van Buuren, Martin Garrix, Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike, Steve Angello, Solomun, Jamie Jones, Sven Vath, Maceo Plex and the very exciting debut of the Deadmau5 B2B Eric Prydz live set. The stages at the festival hosted genres such as house, techno, bass, trap, drum & bass, hardstyle, trance amongst many others, giving fans am ample opportunity to check out a number of different artists (or even genres for that matter) they hadn’t seen or heard before.

Reaching Brussels a day earlier on the 21st July, our Global Journey shuttles were waiting for us at the Brussels airport to take us to the Dreamville, our residence at the festival for 4 days. The entire checking in process was smooth, with the Dreamville crew showing us to our allotted tents for our stay. Once settled in, we discovered the rest of the camp site, until it was time for Tiesto’s performance for The Gathering, the official opening party for Tomorrowland, which is hosted in Dreamville every year. With Budweiser having associated with Tomorrowland to create new musical experiences for the festival’s patrons, Tiesto and Budweiser’s collaboration for his latest single ‘Infected’ was the perfect precedent for the Dutchman’s performance at The Gathering.

Budweiser also gave a chance to Kohra, Dualist Inquiry and Madboy/Mink to experience Tomorrowland in its full glory, while they also got to meet Tiesto and speak with him, discussing his career, his music and much more. The artists were also accommodated in the Brew District, a camping area designed specifically for Budweiser and its global team.

With the official opening party done with, we were all geared up for the first day of Tomorrowland. Come 12 pm, and we were all set to head towards the festival grounds. After a prompt checking of our bags, we entered the holy mecca of Tomorrowland’s ground, where we were greeted by the first of many food courts, and the Super You & Me stage on the right. Walking up ahead, we came upon the grandeur of the massive mainstage, which hosted the Dutch superstar Fedde Le Grand for a 3 hour Daybreak Sessions set. Checking out the rest of the festival, our next stop was the Mau5trap vs Pryda stage, being hosted at the Opera stage. Rising Anjunadeep superstar Yotto took to the stage for opening duties, spinning some sublime tunes, and was followed by mau5trap up and comer REZZ, who set the stage ablaze with an incredible set. Right opposite the Opera Stage was the Rose Garden stage, which was hosting the Hush Hush stage on Day 1. To say that the stage was stunning would be an understatement. Designed like a dragon with its tail submerged in the lake, the Rose Garden stage was the finest stage at Tomorrowland this year.

Checking out the acts at mainstage, including Dimitri Vangelis & Wyman, R3HAB, Galantis, we went back to the Hush Hush stage, where Shaquille O’Neal was about to finish his set, paving the way for Alison Wonderland, who delivered one of the finest sets on Day 1. High octane, full on energy, with aggressive basslines, Alison Wonderland showed why she’s a force to be reckoned with in a scene that’s dominated largely by male DJs. Following Alison Wonderland on the Hush Hush stage was marshmello, whose Mellogang was in full attendance to see the masked DJ play a vibrant set. We headed straight back to the mainstage to catch the God of Trance, Armin van Buuren, who was coming on post David Guetta’s set. Kicking off his set with his latest track, ‘Dominator’, the Dutch veteran proceeded to deliver a set which thread a fine line between trance and big room anthems, making it perfect for the mainstage. Returning back to the Opera Stage (We know. That’s a lot of walking!), we reached just in time for the final moments of Adam Beyer and Ida Engberg’s monumental B2B set. Playing their brand of dark, thumping, sinister techno, the Swedish couple set the perfect vibe for the forthcoming act, Deadmau5 B2B Eric Prydz. Taking the stage 15 minutes after their show’s setup, the beloved producers came amidst a loud roar, and went all guns blazing from the moment they set foot on stage. Going all out for this debut live show, both Joel and Eric looked like they were on a mission, playing a number of tracks from the Cirez D, Pryda and deadmau5 catalogue. With stunning visual production for the show, the duo even employed the holograph from Prydz’s stellar EPIC 4.0 show, making it all the more memorable from every single aspect. There was not a single person at the stage who didn’t have a wide smile on their face that night. Closing their set in the most epic way possible, the mau5 and Eric Prydz played ‘Opus’ and mashed it up with the acapella of ‘Raise Your Weapon’, before deadmau5 went ham with the Pryda snares at the closing moments of the show. With so much effort and preparations having gone into making this show work, the Deadmau5 B2B Eric Prydz set was truly brewed the hard way.

As that set brought an end to the festivities of Day 1, we headed back to Dreamville, a tad bit tired, but still full with enthusiasm for the next day to come!

Day 2 had Laidback Luke on the opening duties on the main stage for the Daybreak sessions, with stages being hosted by Axtone, Diynamic, Lost Frequencies, Q-Dance and many more. The mainstage had acts such as Andrew Rayel, Sunnery James & Ryan Marciano, KSHMR, The Chainsmokers, Nicky Romero, Afrojack, Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike, Axwell /\ Ingrosso among others, playing host to progressive house and big room sounds, with the best sets coming from Sunnery James & Ryan Marciano, KSHMR, The Chainsmokers and Axwell /\ Ingrosso. Heading over to the Axtone stage, we managed to catch Axwell, Shapov and Dirty South, who all delivered eclectic sets, while at the Diynamic stage, we managed to catch Swiss duo Adriatique and Diynamic bossman Solomun, who all spun some groovy sets, taking the crowd onto a melodic journey! Day 2 was also meant to bring the People of Tomorrow from different parts of the world together with Tomorrowland UNITE, as fans from India, Mexico, Germany, Japan, Colombia, Israel, and South Africa all gathered together for the hosting of the 2 way live audio video stream, which featured sets from Nicky Romero, Afrojack, Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike and Axwell /\ Ingrosso.

Tomorrowland resident DJs Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike have a massive fan following around the world, and when the brothers are playing on their own ground, it naturally shows. The Belgian duo had a magnetic pull towards the crowd, as the attendance at the mainstage increased drastically during their set. Playing their new and old stuff alike, DVLM packed a punch with their performance, complete with lasers, pyros and exhaustive fireworks.

Day 3 boasted of heavyweights such as Steve Angello, Martin Garrix, Sven Vath, Maceo Plex, Steve Aoki, Yellow Claw among others, with Ferry Corsten playing the 3 hour Daybreak Sessions set to kickstart the proceedings of the day. Both Angello and Garrix delivered stunning sets, but Day 3 belonged to the Cocoon Recordings stage, with both Maceo Plex and Papa Sven delivering incredibly fantastic sets, that are still etched quite well in our memory. Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike closed the festival with a special 20 minute vinyl set, playing a number of classics and giving the crowd a dose of the old school stuff, before treating them to a stunning show of fireworks.

While the music at the festival was taken care of quite well, it was the attention to small details that make Tomorrowland the festival it is today. Right from the food stands spanning different cuisines, to clean washrooms, the festival had everything spot on. Never did we see the festival being unorganized across the three days, with the stewards at the festival going around from place to place to clean up after the plastic cups or bottles. All the food stalls, the merchandise stores, the top us counters were extremely efficient and made the entire process rather smooth. Taking the entire Tomorrowland experience into account, the festival was brewed the hard way, making the entire affair of the festival goers rather smooth, just like Budweiser.

Props to the Ab InBev team for pulling this together, and giving us the chance to experience Tomorrowland the way it’s meant to be!

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