Cover photo courtesy of Paradiso Music Festival
In a word, my first Paradiso Festival was absolutely EPIC. The atmosphere was electric, the weather was wonderful and the music was solid gold. My cheeks still hurt from smiling all weekend and I find myself daydreaming of Zhu and Alison Wonderland. By Kaskade’s closing set, every muscle in my body ached from dancing for hours with my brother and friends, which is honestly the best feeling. The sheer amount of incredible talent gathered at The Gorge was mind-boggling. Headliners such as Skrillex, Zeds Dead, Illenium, Zhu, Walker & Royce, Alison Wonderland, San Holo, Infected Mushroom (Live), What So Not and Kaskade took turns wowing the crowd. One thing is certain: Paradiso 2020 has big shoes to fill.
Stand Out Performances
It may not surprise you to hear Kaskade absolutely slayed the Main Stage. He played all the hits, such as We Don’t Stop, Eyes, Atmosphere, I Remember, Room for Happiness and Fire in Your New Shoes. As the closer of the weekend he did not disappoint. His incredible mixing skills and fire song selection had the entire venue dancing and grooving. His music is very nostalgic for me as he’s one of the first producers I was introduced to in the electronic scene. He told a story about the last time he played at The Gorge in 2011 at Identity Festival, when people questioned if electronic music belonged at The Gorge. He went on to say, “Look how far we’ve come since then! Look at all of you beautiful people here with me tonight. We are 30,000 strong and We Don’t Stop…” and then he played We Don’t Stop, which may or may not have made me tear up. He earned a 15/10 in my book.
Alison Wonderland wins my “Favorite Set of the Weekend” award. She threw down a bangin’ set and went hard. I knew she would be good, but just had never seen her because she hadn’t yet played at a festival I had attended. Not only did she play her big songs like Peace, Church, I Want U and Lost My Mind, she cranked out filthy remixes of songs like Kaskade’s I Remember, Language by Porter Robinson and Say It by Flume. Massive recognition needs to be given to her for also singing on her tracks; any producer who also sings over their music is wicked talented.
Zhu delivered an outstanding set, as per usual. The Grammy nominated producer, singer and musician owned the Main Stage and delivered a stand out performance. As with Alison Wonderland, I’m in awe of the sheer amount of talent Zhu possesses. He can be counted on consistently to wow every audience with his dubby house vibes, enchanting visuals and gorgeous vocals. I love that he incorporates a live band, which adds a whole new level of intensity.
Other awesome acts include Skrillex, What So Not, Illenium, 1788-L, TroyBoi, Rusko, Lick and Slumberjack.
The Gorge still remains my favorite venue; it’s hard to not be impressed with a pristine natural amphitheater with outrageous views. What I love most is the varied vantage points which allow you can choose how engaged you’d like to be; each provides unparalleled views of the Main Stage. Although I’m lucky to be taller than most women and can sometimes see the stage, I forgot just how much being able to see the entire stage makes all the difference. It’s a crazy notion, right? You don’t get this opportunity at most festivals.
With lots of hiking and a relatively steep incline of the venue in general, my friend says “the calves are the first thing to go” at The Gorge. Different viewing options where you can sit and actively engage in the show are wonderful. The grassy bowl offers a more relaxed view of the Main Stage and distracting views of the Columbia River Gorge. These seats are wonderful to take it all in, people watch and rest your dancing muscles. Sunsets are best from this view. Further down are stepped terraces with flat ground for dancing. Further down is the pit, where you can go ham right in front of the stage on flat ground. Regardless of where you land, there truly isn’t a bad seat in the house.
USC Events did a stand up job with the overall stage design/production, art installations, water station locations, flushable toilets and costumed performers. Did I mention the flushable toilets? I’m happy to see more festivals offer these to the GA public—these need to be a staple at every large event.
The Main Stage was ferocious and was one of the best designs I have seen. Both the Wreckage and Digital Oasis stage also featured impressive lights and massive screens.
The live performers were wonderful and such a treat to watch–because I could see! Dancers twirled fire poi, staffs, and fans and elaborately costumed dancers graced the stages all weekend. An aerialist twirled and folded herself gracefully into unthinkable poses near the Wreckage Stage, a nice distraction. Live graffiti artists made their mark and at one point, a giant owl puppet made its way through the crowd at the Wreckage Stage. These extra touches really added to the overall experience.
Paradiso utilized a fine tuned system for emergency scenarios; after everyone parked at their campsite the first night, a crew set out marking car windshields with a unique code that identified your camp’s specific location. For instance, my campsite was in section D, row 13, car number 2. An informational card was left explaining the new system with emergency contact numbers, like medical and tow trucks. In the event of an emergency, you had all of the information to help the appropriate team locate you in a sea of 30,000 camp sites. The system worked perfectly, too. A friend joined us on Saturday and I sent him a photo of my windshield and told him to show someone at the gate, who could direct him. When he arrived he called me and found me before I could walk out of my canopy to go find him. Granted, this wasn’t an emergency, but this system works brilliantly and needs to be rolled out to all camping festivals.
USC Events supplied lots of Conscious Crew volunteers, who roamed around ensuring everyone was safe and hydrated. They were equipped with fans, misters and water bottles, which is important when a festival takes place in the desert. A huge thank you is in order to these people!
There’s no denying Paradiso provides an incredible experience for festival goers. With an unreal lineup, gorgeous views and top notch production, I’ll be sure to mark my calendar for Paradiso 2020. Will I see you there?