The girl next to me is wearing a head wreath of flowers and leaves. No, this isn’t Woodstock; it’s Something Wonderful, and this year, the EDM (electronic dance music) festival is back with a new location and an optimistic spirit.
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After 2015’s debut festival was cancelled due to weather, some may say that those in charge had some making up to do. Last year’s event was at the Cotton Bowl, dubbed “Something Awful” and “Something Refund” after facing accusations of limited space, bad crowd control, and poor or no amenities.
When considering this year, event coordinator Disco Donnie Presents seemed to take the complaints to heart. Not only did last year’s attendees get free entry into this year’s event, but the venue was Texas Motor Speedway. The facility, built in 1996, allows for almost twice the number allowed at the Cotton Bowl.
Click here for the full list of bands, times and stages
Wonder Grounds Stage
11:30- 1:00 a.m. Markus Schulz
10-11:30 p.m. Ilan Bluestone
8:30-10:00 p.m. Andrew Bayer
6-7:15 Jason Ross
4-5 Chris Schambacher
3-4 Pass the 40
Wickeds Gate Stage
10:30-11:25 Keys N Krates
8:10-9:10 Cookie Monsta
7:10-8:10 Milo & Otis
3:30-4:10 Parker Clark
Ascension Main Stage
10:25-11:25 Dada Life
7:25-8:25 Sam Feldt
5:25-6:25 Prince Fox
4:25-5:25 Liquid Todd
Created to be the antithesis to sister festival, Houston’s Something Wicked, Something Wonderful celebrates being a festival based on light, love, and friendship. The website describes the musical aim is to “soundtrack the dawn of a brighter day”. With heavy-hitters Dada Life and Tiesto headlining, those in charge clearly want to be a force to be reckoned with.
Going into the week before the event, I began to question if I had taken on something that was beyond me. Not only was this going to be my biggest assignment to date, but as someone who was never involved in the EDM movement, my friends and I had preconceived notions of what Something Wonderful would be like. I made jokes because, in reality, I had no idea what to expect. I’m here today to come clean: After a day of soaking in all that Saturday’s festival had to offer, I say that I misjudged all of you.
I realize now that the thing that sets EDM fans apart is not the costumes, or the glow sticks, or even the music: it’s a willingness to welcome everyone, despite being a hugely diverse population comprising people from all walks of life.
Nicole HallEDM Newb
The energy was high as openers for the event took their stages around the complex. For some festival-goers, the event was all about the music, and they never left their post in front of the stage. For others, like Something Wicked attendee Christopher says, the event was more about being with friends and forgetting about the day-to-day life. “Through the night I forgot about my own life and did not have a single worry.”
Gromo was getting things started on the Wicked Stage, while Pass the 40 and MadHatter took their place on the Wonder Grounds Stage and Ascension Main Stage, respectively. With a few exceptions, most artists were given an hour-long set. Perhaps the height of hilarity was Dada Life: The Swedish duo known for its antics, their fans and themselves holding the Guinness records for both the largest pillow fight and the largest gathering of people dressed as fruit. Headliner and Grammy-winning Tiesto, born Tijs Verwest, was possibly the most anticipated performance, as Something Wonderful was cancelled before he could perform last year.
A music festival based on light, love, and friendship? For this writer, at first, it seemed a bit idealistic. At this year’s Something Wonderful, however, I saw the diversity of people that events like these attract. Perhaps Christopher, once again, says it best: “…to be able to freely express yourself and fall in love with the atmosphere around you…” is what draws people to events like Something Wonderful. Isn’t that the noblest effort, and the reason we all enjoy live music?
Nicole Hall is a music critic for American music magazine, Rattle. More of her writing can be found here.