[dropcap size=small]I[/dropcap]n some ways, Paradiso 2014 was more than a two day event. For most (except for the most spontaneous of us), it began months in advance with planning and preparation. Days later it still didn’t feel completely over, because doing laundry forced us to experience the unique smell of the gorge on our clothes and a subsequent wave of nostalgia.
[divider]Day Zero: Thursday[/divider]
Even though the music didn’t start until Friday, the majority of Diso-goers arrived on Thursday night to get camp set up and stretch out the much-anticipated weekend. Some people waited in line for hours waiting to get into the campgrounds; logistically it was to be expected with so many thousands of people filtering slowly into campsites. More festival goers found themselves subject to searches, which spurred some grumbling but ultimately reinforced the seriousness with which we took our safety that weekend.
[divider]Day One: Friday[/divider]
Friday morning dawned quiet and peaceful, with weather that was, thankfully, not too hot. There were brief moments of rain that cooled down what could have been an unbearably hot day. As 3pm approached, a crowd of people gathered to wait by the entry gates, and when Paradiso officially opened, a cheer went up in the crowd, which seemed constantly full of energy.
Upon entering the festival, everyone was greeted by magical people on stilts, who handed out maps and waved hello as we looked up in awe.
As we skipped (yes, skipped!) down the path from the main gates, we felt like we were entering a dream, seeing giant letter-shaped balloons that spelled out Paradiso. It was as if someone had turned alphabet soup into a feast for our eyes.
Diso had the necessities, even if sometimes we had to wait in line to get them. There were plenty of bathrooms, water stations where one could get free water (!), and even a cell phone recharge station, which reunited more than one lost person with their friends.
Walking around and taking in the stages was a must-do. Each stage had its own vibe and created a unique space in which to experience the variety of music that came through. Although the stages were themed, they did not exclusively cater to one genre, but provided attraction for all listeners.
[highlight]The Main Stage[/highlight]
The main stage boasted six layers of video screens which provided visuals while to compliment the music. There were front, middle, and rear screens pointing down onto the stage, and two wings composed of a large screen on each side and multiple smaller screens above those. We really liked that the artists didn’t feel far away from the crowd as they might have if the main stage had a more elaborate setup for the DJ booth.
Imagine one giant left to right video screen, then imagine Skrillex bobcat claws tore parts out of it, and staggered them depth-wise on stage. The tent keeps the spotlight blasts and smoke contained in this awesome way that makes them really epic. We loved that the sides were open so while the lighting was overwhelming, we still felt free to move around.
[highlight ]The Wreckage (Bass Stage)[/highlight]
This incredibly unique stage looked like a wrecked pirate ship. There was a ship mast in the middle of the floor. There were many staggered video screens and even giant, inflatable tentacles surrounding the stage. The only disappointment with this stage was the lack of space; it got pretty crowded here.
[divider]Day One Standout Performances[/divider]
We thought Cash Cash threw down a great set. Audien, Deorro, Datsik, Keys & Krates, and Infected Mushroom are honorable mentions we wouldn’t have missed for the world. Andrew Rayel was incredible: a huge show. Flux Pavilion was absolutely phenomenal. When he finished his set (or so we thought) and said thank you, before throwing down Gold Dust, the crowd went absolutely wild and we could feel the energy emanating through everyone from the pit up to the hill.
Above & Beyond was, hands-down, the most captivating performance of the evening. They spend the first part of their set holding the mood of the crowd in a tranquil balance with acoustic versions of their music, making some people emotional as we watched in awe. The set heated up with more driving beats, leaving us amazed when they left the stage.
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