Imagine This!

featured photo by DV Photo Video

Oh Imagine…where to start. Two things contributed to a successful weekend: outstanding music and great friends. The weekend started for me by welcoming some friends early Friday morning after their long drive from Missouri, not Kansas! Considering I’ve made some long festival travels myself this year, it was great to have friends come to Georgia for once. It was cool once we all got setup for camp; somehow a few car caravan turned into like a ten car caravan from several states! What was set to be an amazing weekend surely saw it’s ups and downs from Day 1.

Day 1

After waiting in the will call line for hours, we finally got inside to setup home base. One major improvement from last year I saw right off the bat was clever street names for the campsite, our’s was Mackerel Manor. Shoutout to Space Kadet for the great performance Friday afternoon in the hot sun. It was dope for a few reasons. Stage proximity was awesome. The show had a thin crowd as people were still setting up camp and trying to stay out of the sun. I was able to hide from the sun throughout the performance feeling the speaker bass as I stood near the stage. I’ve seen Space Kadet a few times over the last year and they never disappoint.

After waiting in line and getting the run around I finally made it into the speedway. Although music started later this year to combat the heat, it was for sure still a hot weekend. I ran into familiar festival faces (TK K, Jackie C, and Danny G) while they were hard at work for Imagine. One of my first shows was another hardworking festival face, Exit 9, at Shipwreck Stage. Hours later was probably my favorite and most memorable few hours at the Oceania Stage for NGHTMRE Datsik. Talk about rail rage. I loved every minute of raging beside new friends and strange headbangers with the same goal, to wreck that rail. Even funnier, some black shirt wasn’t impressed by inflatable balls or Datsik as he checked his Instagram constantly during the set; I guess he was bored.

Day 2

As usual, the Georgia heat started the day earlier than planned. Chilling at the campsite was tight especially since we had the Heady.Made.Weird Stage setup at the end of our row. It is a traveling stage so check it out if you get the chance. My boy TK happened to be working the stage that day and brought on a dope House DJ chick, DOMii. We rallied to catch Ployd, but didn’t make it inside the speedway on time. OTT was a good show to walk into though, especially since we got to see the Amazonia Stage for the first time.

Saturday was another awesome day I can credit to friends and great music. I saw some college friends, hungout with a cool married couple, and of course festing with my Toe Sucking Imagine Squad. One of my favorite sets of the weekend was Nora En Pure at Disco Inferno; it was the House fix I was anticipating all weekend. The crowd wasn’t too crazy, fire blasts felt great, and NEP killed the set. Big fan of her dropping Rufus Du Sol’s “You Were Right” in her mix.

The short time we were at Liquid Stranger was awesome. One of my favorite moments was looking for friends at his set in the crowd and ‘White People’ popped up on his visuals. I immediately erupted into laughter and not even five minutes later I found my group with ease. Flux Pavillion was a badass set. I found myself in full headbang mode when “I Can’t Stop” played; pretty sure the people bumping me along the way weren’t happy with my raving. Pretty Lights was pretty and vibrant. I was pleased to hear “Finally Moving” again live as the crowd lit up with flashing light sticks. deadmau5 had hysterically weird visuals. It seemed like the silliest thing ever to see deadmau5 heads on bodies. Some had tentacle arms and my favorite was the deadmau5 guy banging his head on the computer.

Day 3

Sunday was an awesome blur of a day. A few hoodlums had taken road signs before the festival was done which was pretty lame. We had barely seen squad member Mark and his ‘Show Me Your Kitties’ flag all weekend. And best of all, the festival was closing out with House music by Claude VonStroke.

I was pumped about Sunday’s lineup with new music and some repeat acts I’ve seen before. Illenium into Seven Lions was awesome. Getting funky with Big Gigantic apparently never gets old especially when they’re including Cherub visuals, playing their “All Of Me” version, or “Miss Primetime”. We hopped around for the last few sets of STS9, Planet of the Drums, and Above & Beyond before closing out with Claude VonStroke. Feeling the vibrations on the bleachers from CVS as we were leaving the speedway was bone rattling. Yet again another crazy Imagine in the books.

There is a but…..

At times I never really felt like media covering the festival at all. Several ‘Black Shirts’ (the official Imagine media) and staff were not the nicest people. I guess not having an actual media band might be part of the barricades I tried to hurdle. Communication and organization was poor throughout the weekend. No staff really ever had answers when I asked, often times coming with attitude. Many lines were awful starting with Will Call. Speaking of lines, those waits to get in though. We missed Ployd’s set even though we got in line early enough to catch it. Some of our group stood in line for two hours just to get into the speedway. I’ve never stood in line as much for a festival as I did at Imagine.

I heard entry lines took so long because of security checks. A couple members in the squad were upset due to thorough checks. I was confused about what they were checking because Saturday I saw a chick walk through the gates and pull out a full bag of wine. Literally a bag of wine. The music was great, but there were still too many miscues. Music stopped on multiple occasions during a few sets. Apparently the power went out altogether on the Disco Inferno stage at some point, I believe it was before The Funk Hunters. The Silent Disco had three channels but only two DJs; late Friday night it only had one channel playing. The headphones had scratchy frequencies as well.

The signs were a great addition, but could have been placed higher and planted a little sturdier into the ground. I never actually saw anyone at the ‘Info Tent’ of the campgrounds. Considering the freak show weather patterns we’ve experienced, it’s better to push the festival into October. The walks between stages are entirely too long. People are lazy, shorten their walks. Spreading the festival out and having more stages doesn’t necessarily make the festival better. Lastly, I didn’t feel the Aquatic Fairytale. The festival was way too hot and dry to feel Aquatic. Imagine does take place at a NASCAR speedway and that’s what it looked like. You can mask the redneckness of the area and bring better vibes with more themed decorations.

Imagine did a better job this year with some improvements and that’s why I can only hope they will keep doing better. Enough people like Imagine and the music alone pulls in so many people by itself for it to continue existing. The only way to get better is to listen to the feedback of your patrons. With the aftermath conversations I’d be willing to bet many people have suggestions and comments. Until next time Imagine Festival.


  • RAVERMAFIA says:

    Great article, pretty much sums up my squads experience. A heads up on performances in the campground would have been nice. And I think Sunday shouldn’t be shortened, music stopping before 1am is lame

    • Danny McColl Smith says:

      Please please voice your opinion to the festival. I’d like to believe they listen to their attendees opinions after seeing some improvements. Without attendees the festival would not exist. It’s a home festival so I’m pulling hard for it to get better each year. Thank you for the input!

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