The idea was probably conceived on a lonely Tuesday afternoon, after two glasses of zinfandel and a lengthy read through whichever Terry Pratchett novel was on the most convenient side of the shelf that day:
Electronic music with swords.
Ladies and gentlemen, you thought you’d seen it all when Amon Tobin debuted his projection-mapped stage for the ISAM 2012 tour. Or perhaps when Pendulum reunited to headline Ultra last year, that was it. “I’m throwing in the towel,” exclaimed a satisfied amalgamation of music enthusiasts, certain the best had sailed away faster than a confused monkey on the back of an accelerating 747.
It might be time to buy a new towel, as Middlelands Fest has snagged the attention of a few ears. The new, three-day fair outside of Houston, TX on May 5th celebrates electronic and hip-hop music with a line-up worth writing home about. Flatbush Zombies, Phantogram, Zhu, Bassnectar and Danny Brown to name a few, all of whom released excellent records in the last year. I assume they’re hungry to perform new material.
Here’s the quirk: it’s a fantasy-renaissance festival. Goers are encouraged to don regalia that evokes all sorts of fiction. Clockwork, vaudeville, steampunk, and whatever other twisted delusion that blends adequately with the middle-age theme is welcome.
Immersion is beset through whimsical structures that envelope attendants on their campaign to fathom the relentless variety of art. Music is but one of the forms to be appreciated.
It’s not a far cry from festivals like Burning Man or Tomorrowland. However if you’re not keen on dropping upwards of $500 and/or booking a transatlantic flight to Belgium, it may be the most financially sound option in terms of a multiple-day camping endeavor. In the southwest too, no less.
‘Lands touts an impressive five stages, each named after your favorite undeveloped Warcraft zones that didn’t make the final build such as Castle Northwoods and Trinity Vale. All will be occupied by a plethora of musicians and that, amongst all the other attractions, is the biggest pull here.
Insomniac is making it clear they will supply both quantity and quality by employing an 80+ squadron of artists, ranging from power headliners like Major Lazer, Bonobo, and Kaskade to indie-electronic composers that are bound to leave and impression. For better or worse.
Personally, I can’t be more excited for a G Jones’ performance. The dude just released his “Visions” EP; a vehement take on experimental-abrasive EDM that's straightforward yet intricate enough to induce a chaotic hypnosis. “Visions” currently stands as my favorite EP of 2017, carried by its exceptional closer “We See It Clear.” To experience that energy live is exciting just to daydream about.
More rap artists such as Jurassic 5, Rich Chigga and Rae Sremmurd will help the aforementioned headliners to spearhead the hip-hop side of things. NGHTMRE stands strong as this festival’s token “EDM-artist-name-lacking-vowels," and Crystal Castles is rightfully throwing down after releasing their fourth album “Amnesty (I)” last year (though, heartbreakingly, without Alice Glass).
Gramatik is making an appearance only a month after playing UNM Fiestas in April, which’d be practical to schedule around during the festival, that is after seeing him headline on Johnson Field.
If any of this seems remotely interesting, it might be worth to take part in Insomniac’s ticket give away. The promoters are gifting 2 general admission tickets to select individuals that play the whole social media game: like Middlelands on Facebook, follow @insomniacevents on Twitter – the whole one two. Selling your clicks may prove advantageous in the long run, considering general admission tickets entail the whole three-day package and currently stand at $205.
If attending days individually are more your jam, you can purchase single day tickets on the Middlelands site for $95. The line-up for each day was released earlier in March and’s available on their site.
The festival seems to appeal to a wide range of aesthetes, and that’s what is kind of special about it here. Middlelands is selling itself as a three-day camping excursion that intersects the Venn diagrams of musicians, costumers, artists and architects alike, giving each a spotlight, an audience and the means to be appreciated. If it follows through, we might have a righteous annual music festival only a few hours out of the state.
Learn more about the ticket give away here, which runs until April 5.
As well as all things regarding the festival (camping, full line-up, travel, tickets, etc) simply at: http://www.middlelands.com/
Audrin Baghaie is the music editor at the Daily Lobo. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @DailyLoboMusic