Ooooweeee Mad Liberation brought a whole new level this year. The festival returned to Paradise Lakes Campground for the second straight year with a lot of familiar faces and a lot of new ones. Jon Bap, Moor Mother, Show Me the Body, Nadus and Blaque Dynamite topped the bill of an exciting weekend that boasted 4 stages with over 100 acts spanning all genres.
Last year, Mad Liberation was an eye opening experience. In my decade of going to music festivals, I had never experienced something quite like that. A beautifully diverse and inclusive event with such an array of music, I felt at home immediately. It was the highlight of my 2017 and left a lasting impression. Following last year’s event, I needed to get more involved and I spoke with the organizers about what I could do. This was easily one of the best decisions of my life. The people behind Mad Liberation are equally as fantastic as the experience. Working with them was inspiring to say the least. Leading into this year and seeing the community, artists, organizers and everyone in between, I was ready for something special.
Friday afternoon the beautiful souls made their way to Hammonton and down the long dirt road as they checked in to our little weekend oasis of Paradise Lakes Campground. Like a psychedelic Bob Ross painting the campground started to fill into a funky landscape full of personality. The energy was bubbling from the start, it was magnetic.
Friday was a whirlwind of music, trying to catch every vibe was a mission. Tubafresh brought smooth vibes early and Naja Young reminded us to stretch with her hypnotic energy. There was a epic reunion of Sunny Gang, a hard-rocking ukulele jam from Disposable, The Wedge brought another storied bluesy rockfest set. Show Me the Body didn’t disappoint, as they sent the beach into a frenzy. There were two major highlights from the night- 1: when BLDYRXSE literally broke down the house. During their performance the floor of the Calthor House gave out; and 2: Public Warfare came out heavy, took the crowd over, Tey lit his pants on fire and Oz sacrificed a klansman on stage.
As the mainstage shut down and the night took hold, the skies opened up and it began to pour. Racing around on my bicycle, I found myself Deep in the Pines just in time for a beautiful dose of Nadus. Mother nature made a ruckus of her own, as the liberation kept going. I ended my night catching Eastern Foreigner casting her spell over the Calthor House.
The sun came up Saturday morning, the night washed away and a whole new day of experiences birthed. By this time Paradise Lakes was like a buzzing family reunion. People took to the beach and enjoyed the lake. Bikes, dogs, brews- it was a beautiful sight. Roars of ‘Yerrr’ echoed through the forest. A true Jersey jamboree. The day was stacked with MadLib alums Lyle Omolayo and the Genii Collective dropped grooves on the main stage. The Psyched Haus was represented heavy with 89 the Brainchild, Kohai, Riq Flamez and Bars all putting it down. Saturday also saw a wave of Jersey’s beatmakers that proved the beat scene is a force to be reckoned with in the Garden State. Brain Orchestra, Good Food, JWords, JMR JCBS, Collect Data, and RBCHMBRS all showcased the head nodding beats throughout the night in the Calthor House. The Deep in the Pines stage was rocked by Nova Noise, DJ Ero and the Anti Social Showcase.
While I made my way stage to stage- my night was focused on the Main Stage. Last year Conundrum sparked some cinematic moments as the skies opened up during their sunset set. This year, without the help of mother nature, they sprung some more magic. A deeply psychedelic experience, Conundrum continue to grow as a group. It was fun and transcendent; just another level from any other Conundrum set I’ve ever seen. We also got to experience Jon Bap– his set was a journey of sound. While he wove a beautiful sonic experience he put his emotions on a canvas. The festival hit top gear when Blaque Dynamite took his throne on the stage. He brought everything that was right about the festival out- a communal energy, wild free-feeling music and just that extra magic that cant be described. He was a maniac on the drums, his band was an absolute mind fuck.
I stood there on the beach watching these final moments of ecstasy and waves of pride for this community came over me. It was beautiful, a tear may have been shed- a lot of hard work by a lot of beautiful people went in to create this platform that presented the heart and soul of our creative community. I am so grateful to witness something so raw, beautiful and genuine. There is something about this movement that is bigger than your average music festival. Mad Liberation reached the souls of us all and while it rang true in the moment, I continue to feel it deep into my soul every day. Mad Liberation is by far my favorite festival, not only because of my involvement, but because it represents a full community of people looking to explore and experience together despite our differences. This year was a great showing of where the vision is going. Mad Liberation will continue to grow and evolve- and for that you need to watch closely.
Big love to everyone involved- the homies at Museache, Mouldy, Peter, Kelani, Mike, Joe and everyone else who put their heart and soul into this. It was beautiful and only the beginning of some amazing experiences.
FOLLOW AND SUPPORT
THE SHIT PART
So while I wanted to focus on the positives, Sunday night we were hit with some really shit news. At 7:45am I woke up to take Blaque Dynamite and his band to the airport. I did a lap around the campsite and was amazed to see the Deep in the Pines stage still going. On my way back to Paradise Lakes, I called up Mouldy, who let me know in the blink of an eye someone had stolen the equipment from the Deep in the Pines stage. Nearly $10k gone like that.
Some things you should understand about Mad Liberation- this is a DIY festival funded entirely by the organizers and most of the work that goes into making the weekend happen is volunteer. This is done purely out of love and faith that we have something special here that we need to build upon. This is not a profit machine or a cash grab- this is a group of dedicated creatives bringing the festival we’ve all dreamed of to the people we love. We are not tech millionaires, we’re everyday people and $10k is a massive speed bump. It was a surreal moment coming back to the site- we had all just experienced something so beautiful, something we had worked all year for and just like that we had the shit of the real world smack us right in the face.
So we come to you- the music lovers, the people who we hope to bring more forms of liberation to. We need your help covering this so we can continue to produce shows, create platforms and build a festival that’s truly for the people. Please, take some time to check out our GoFundMe and if you can help out, we appreciate you greatly.
Thank you 🙂
See you soon.