Photos by RUKES
Another Disco Donnie Presents festival, SMF has been holding its own in the Sunshine State for years. Taking place over Memorial Day weekend, May 25th and 26th in Tampa, this two day festival has to compete with some pretty big festivals also taking place on this Memorial Day weekend. Names like Elements Fest in Pennsylvania, Summer Camp in Illinois and Movement in Michigan all take place on this busy festival weekend. However, Sunset released a mouth watering lineup for this year that had even the most die hard techno fan questioning if Movement was worth it.
With headliners like Dog Blood (Skrillex and Boys Noise), Fisher, Illenium, Zeds Dead, Chris Lake, Rusko and Mat Zo, this festival drew everyone in from the Southeast and beyond. There were curated stages from labels like Anjuna, Deadbeats and AMF, so all genres were covered on this years SMF’s lineup.
Saturday had tech house and techno all day long on the Horizons stage, which was hosted by AMF – Destructo’s record label also known as All My Friends. The AMF stage started off with Pedro M at 3 PM, followed by Steve Darko, OMNOM, Weiss, Dombresky, Will Clarke, Walker & Royce, and Chris Lake. This smaller stage brought the tech house and techno vibes non-stop on Saturday. The secondary stage, the Eclipse stage, was the bass stage both days. Saturday on the Eclipse stage started off with Decadon into Lick, Blunts & Blondes, Subtronics, Gammer, Dion Timmer, Liquid Stranger, Rusko, and Flux Pavilion! The main stage, or the Sunset stage, had a mix of genres both days and was where most of the headliners played. Saturday had Destructo, DROELOE, Fisher, Tchami, Illenium and Zedd on the Sunset stage.
On Sunday, the Horizons stage was hosted by Anjunabeats and featured beautiful trance classics all day long. The Anjunabeats stage started off with Yael, into Oliver Smith, Gabriel & Dresden, Audien, Ilan Bluestone and closed off the night with Mat Zo. Mat Zo unfortunately had to have a shorter set time because of Gabriel & Dresden’s delayed flight. However, after a little set time rearranging for this day, every artist was still able to play. The Eclipse stage was hosted by Deadbeats on Sunday and was full of deep, dark and dirty dubstep. Starting off the stage was Lizzy Jane, into Holly, DNMO, GG Magree, PEEKABOO, Said the Sky, 12th Planet, Getter and finally Zeds Dead themselves. Finally, on the Sunset stage, we had Bonnie x Clyde, 4B, Ganja White Night, Kaskade, Alison Wonderland, and Dog Blood! Dog Blood was a unique treat since they don’t play shows together that often and they threw down an amazing set. They released an EP the day after Sunset and played a lot of their new tracks at the festival. It was a crazy, but well executed, mix of moombahton, tech house, trap, and bounce house.
The production quality at this festival really blew other festivals out of the water. For being a small scale two day festival, they had stages that could have competed with EDC Vegas. The Sunset stage was a semi circle dome but the structure inside the stage that the DJ booth was on was what was impressive. It was a jig saw of LED screens that led up to where the DJ was high above the crowd. The Horizons stage was another semi circle dome that was less assuming. But about half way back into the crowd it had another LED screen structure that gave the feel of the whole area being enclosed in the structure when it was really open air. It also made the back of the crowd also feel like they were right up against the action. Behind this structure was a circular tent that was partially covered with bright strips of material. This gave a chill area that could still hear the music but with shade and areas to sit and chill. The Eclipse stage was probably one of the coolest stage setups I’ve ever seen at a festival! I’ve been to 80 plus different festivals and when I walked into that stage from the back my jaw literally dropped. I kept telling everyone around me “look how cool this stage is!!!” for the entire weekend. It was similar to the world wide stage at Ultra, with a skinny strip of LED panels that covered the entire stage like a dome roof. You walked in from the back and it loomed over you from floor to ceiling, and then more. You could look up the massive wall of LED screens and then bend your head back and keep looking up and over and behind you.
The festival also had two other stages with local acts playing on them, both inside air conditioned closed-off tents. These were the “cool down” stages and were much needed as the festival was 97 degrees and sunny both days. They had a whole area between Eclipse and Horizons that was the vendor area. It had food trucks, a merch tent, a beach stage playing latin music and old school rap from the 80s, the cool down tents, bars, etc. The only downside was that the festival was totally cashless/credit card-less and you had to wait in line to top up your wristband before waiting in line to buy anything. I know that festivals do this to make more money but its annoying when you’re trying to add the perfect increments of money so you use it all on your band. They refund you any extra money left on your wristband but charge you a “small fee” to do so.
All in all, this was a successful festival for the books. Thanks to Disco Donnie Presents for another legit festival! We can’t wait to see who’s on the lineup for next year!