Photo by Tony Nungaray for Insomniac Events
Written by Mark Apuzzo
New Year’s Eve is a magical night filled with friends, family, people we love, and… aliens? Maybe not for most people, but if you attended this year’s Countdown NYE festival they definitely were. Insomniac brought outer space down to Earth for a night, in what was one of the most spectacular New Year’s Eve parties I’ve ever been to. Before you even entered the NOS Center grounds you are greeted by the fluctuating voice of an alien informing attendees where to go and what to do. Once you were inside the festival, it was clear that extraterrestrials had landed here. UFOs and aliens were scattered throughout the grounds creating a wonderfully martian atmosphere.
They didn’t stop with just props though. Roving troupes of actors in all sorts of costumes and makeup wandered the grounds adding a living touch to this galactic party. Astronauts danced through streets and Martians crept and contorted between tents. In the Solar Flare Garden you could take a ride on their neon Gravitron ride or grab a drink inside a UFO at the Starship Exodus bar. Huge arched pillars spewed fire next to a pond that glistened with the reflections of thousands of lights.
Feeling frisky or maybe need to warm up a bit from the cold winds? Patrons could go to Area 151: Intergalactic Bar and Lounge, which included an alien redlight district filled with pole dancing aliens, a full bar, heaters, and DJ sets from Cats and Boots Records all night long.
But despite all these wonderful distractions and several more, the reason we’re all here is for the artists, and boy did they deliver! With four different stages to choose from there were some hard choices to make for who you were gonna be seeing in this jam-packed night. One of the first sets of the night for me was Yultron, at The Mothership stage. It’s always harder for early acts to get the crowd really revved up but Yultron brought an exciting and fresh flare to some iconic tracks, one of my personal favorites being “Shelter” by Porter Robinson and Madeon. The young DJ had the whole crowd dancing and cheering by the time he wrapped up his set.
Then it was off to GG Magree for me. The Australia native brought the heat and got my headbanging neck loosened up for me as she blasted me with her unique brand of bass music at the Nebula stage. She had a great stage presence as she encouraged “all the sexy people out there” to get down and dirty. These two stages would occupy the majority of my time for the night. The two stages were the house stage and the bass stage respectively. Area 51 hosted most of the dubstep with acts like Dion Timmer, Herobust, and Snails while the Twilight Zone hosted the Techno and Tech House artists such as Solardo, Camelphat, and Shiba San to name a few.
The absolute hands-down best set of the whole night, in my opinion, was not any of the midnight headliners nor any big-name artists, but K?d. K?d, if you haven’t heard of him yet, doesn’t fit neatly into any one genre of electronic music. I would say he’s a blend of house, bass, tech, and future bass, with the occasional sprinkle of dubstep. His set was by far the most artistic and captivating set I saw the whole night. For starters, almost every track he played in his hour set was original music. It was refreshing since artists quite often like to remix other people’s songs and you end up hearing songs over and over again in a night, but not K?d.
Patrick Cybulski (K?d) isn’t in it for the fame it seems, which is apparent because he doesn’t even present himself on stage during his set. Instead, he has created a virtual robotic avatar known as “Glitch Boy” who dominated the LED screens. Glitch Boy was the one leading the show, syncing perfectly with the music. We watched as he progressed from a chained up, dark, dubstep-y creature, to a radiant being—shooting lasers from his hands, and everything in-between. I was completely enthralled for the entire time only peeling my eyes away for moments when the lights and lasers became a little too intense for me. The whole show truly felt like an inspired, artistically driven set made from the heart. K?d was being true to himself and his music and it was beautiful to watch.
Immediately after, Alison Wonderland took the stage. She would be my midnight countdown artist so I was really excited to see what she would bring to the table, and she did not disappoint. She played a good blend of her own original tracks mixed with some classics remixed into her own style. She had the crowd dancing, singing, and headbanging away until out of nowhere the music cut out and the lights went off. Everyone’s confusion and frustration soon cleared way once people realized it was two minutes till midnight and this was actually the beginning of the countdown. Two aliens appeared on the screen to inform us that they would be abducting “our leader Alison Wonderland” now, but as their tractor beam, fueled by the lasers in the dome, tried to carry her up the countdown began. As midnight struck, the aliens abandoned their failed plan and left us all to rage the rest of the night away.
There were two time slots left after midnight, so for the last two hours attendees left it all on the dance floor as we welcomed in the new year. As the last hours passed, everyone began to slowly leave. We may have had to return to the real world, but the memory of this night would be seared into our minds for years to come.