As I walked through the festival grounds, my eyes absorbing the scenery like it would vanish at any moment, the kind of scenery that makes you question reality. Walking through the doors at the Masquerade was like walking through the closet door to Narnia, Imagine Festival was two days in a world of fantasy. Imagine is the keyword, imagination was apparent based on the massive amount of people walking, running, and dancing across the spacious park that hosted the festivities. There was head-turning graphic shirts, signs all around, face paint, costumes, I saw a couple dressed as Ash and Misty, a group that came as Where’s Waldo, even a Darth Vader walked through the hot sun preaching about the force. Along with mermaids and mermen, there were moments I wasn’t sure if I was at a music festival or an anime convention. Even most of the stages have gorgeous girls dressed up as characters that could’ve easily existed in the Narnia universe. I Also ran into an impressive magician, he didn’t pull any rabbits from his hat or saw a hot assistant in half but he did pull a pigeon from an empty bag and he set fire to a wallet full of money (but the dollars didn’t burn to a crisp). He left only cards and our jaws on the ground disappearing forever like a magician should. It was a magical two days.
A music festival is nothing without good music, and the lineup they curated promised nothing but the best of tunes. The three stages were separated across the park grounds but the walk to each wasn’t far enough to be deemed exhausting. The moment you crossed from one to the next, a blast of music would hug your ears like earmuffs in the coldest winter. You never knew what to expect, a remix of your favorite song, an Atlanta classic, maybe a pulsing beat full of explosive sounds that caused your foot to tap and your arms to sway. People were dancing with a fever that hasn’t been seen since Elvis. Imagine a horde of bodies fist pumping, hula hooping, gyrating, almost any action that involves motion was being done. If the people weren’t dancing they were in long lines for the food truck, in longer lines for the port-a-potties, shopping in the many venues, or riding the mechanical shark. Yes, they had a mechanical shark that shook and spun like the wildest horse. Believe me, you were bound to see something you couldn’t believe.
One thing I didn’t believe I would ever witness is the Ying Yang Twins performing at an EDM festival in 2015. It’s been years since their distant but noteworthy radio run that had the entire city of Atlanta snapping, shaking, and whispering naughty innuendos. Most of the stages were only graced by DJ’s, the only performers I saw actually perform was Ying Yang. The group Pyramid Scheme allowed them to run a few songs during their set. They came out swinging with classics (I felt like I was transported back to 2005) and the only thing missing was Apple Bottom jeans and super long white tees. There wasn’t a single back that wasn’t arched when “Salt Shaker”, “Whistle While You Twerk” and “Say I Yi Yi” were played and of course every guy rapped “Wait” with chest out and confidence in their voice. The duo even premiered a new song, “Thundercat,” a trap collaboration they recorded with Pyramid Scheme. Yes, the Ying Yang Twins have crossed over into the trap music realm. The crowd responded with warmth and “Thundercat” might be the single that will spark their grand resurgence.
Speaking of resurgence, I was extremely excited to see Lil Jon. He’s another artist that is well beyond his golden age but has also been able to squeeze into the EDM/Trap scene and find success. Most of the DJ’s had incredible sets, some even included instruments that gave their music even more life. Despite this, you knew that a majority was looking forward to seeing Lil Jon in all his crunk glory. As the second day became the second night, everyone piled in front of the stage waiting and waiting. Unfortunately, Lil Jon cancelled and the spectators were all unaware. Chromeo would come out in his place, bringing the funk and good vibes, and once he started Jon drifted further and further from our minds. It’s hard to stay disappointed when you are dancing under the moonlight. It was more about what was played than who was playing it. That’s what great about music festivals, it’s all about the music. Imagine just happens to be a place where the music collided with magic; it was a short but grand escape from reality.