Imagine Festival Brings a Huge Expansion and New Beginning

IRIS Presents did a wonderful job making Imagine Festival something huge for the city of Atlanta
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IRIS Presents did a wonderful job making Imagine Festival something huge for the city of Atlanta
Photo credit: Ben McBride.

Photo credit: Ben McBride.

Although TomorrowWorld is dead this year, fans continued to flock to Atlanta this past weekend for the third installment of Imagine Festival. IRIS Presents, the festival’s promoter, has made some major changes to upgrade their resources and throw down one hell of an end of summer bash for the south. 

They transformed the venue from the cozy Historic Fourth Ward Park in downtown ATL to the spacious Atlanta Motor Speedway, from just a two-day event to a whole three-day festival complete with camping, and not to mention having five stages as well as another unlisted stage that had banging locals performing instead of just a mere three like the years prior. With Imagine's aquatic fairyland theme, there was certainly a sea of eager festival attendees in this place of bad phone reception and a disconnection from reality.

A camping festival is something that every festival lover should try, and Imagine did a great job with giving its guest the opportunity for that experience. The grounds were large and nestled just outside of the massive Atlanta Motor Speedway. However, there’s definitely some room for improvement with the organization of lining up cars and entrance into campgrounds, more showers and bathrooms in different locations, and street signs for mapping purposes would have also been helpful. I do applaud IRIS for doing well with having adequate camping areas for anyone who had camping with their passes.

Audio production can possibly be the biggest deal breaker for any festival. If we can't hear the music well, then why bother even having an event in the first place? IMF had an incredible audio production to boot, to which some folks from a few miles away could attest. While the audio was supersonic, the stage design was subpar. The entire venue itself was truly lackluster. I'm not sure about you, but normally if an event has a certain theme, they show it with decorations to fit. IMF could have also improved on more misting cool down tents, open up more canopies to create better shade or even more jellyfish at the entrance (since, you know, they were aquatic). Those were so adorable and festive, but they were only found in one little section of the festival entrance.

The vendors at IMF were nothing short of amazing to me. If you could think it, you could buy it at Imagine. The vendor which stood out the most this past weekend was Wind Pouch. This inflatable hammock was not only comfy, but durable and colorful as well. Wind Pouch graciously provided the beloved foot-deep wading pool for any tired and dehydrated festival attendee to dip into and cool off. That was a true way to escape the heat- taking a dip and dancing with new festival buddies in that massive splash pool! They even provided swan and flamingo floats to lay out on as well as beach balls to engage a friendly splash volleyball session.

There were a couple of carnival rides in the venue to give some resemblance of the potential IMF has, but to charge a few dollars just for joy ride? That's a slight damper. No worries, the artists were the true artisans of the weekend. If your neck isn't sore from all the head banging music this past weekend, then where were you at Imagine? The Bloody Beetroots and Snails had the crowd going hard and heavy and already anticipated for one hell of a weekend during day one. Saturday rolled in with humid skies so hot that most of us hid in the cool buildings behind the VIP cabanas. Levitation Jones hypnotized the audience with some dark grungy dubstep over on the Amazonia stage. Keys N Krates once again presented an energetic performance with their handcrafted live music, and the crowd was certainly not disappointed. They played classics like, "Dum Dee Dum" and "Nothing but Space," even dropping their most recent remix of CHVRCHES', "Bury It."

Sadly, the last and final day of the glorious weekend came, but that didn't mean it was time to ease up. It meant it was time to go even harder. Too bad for those with sore necks and migraines (including myself), because nobody was taking pity for those who didn't have enough strength to fully enjoy Herobust's dirty trap remixes of the baddest hip-hop songs out right now.

For my money, the set of the weekend would be that of 3LAU. Opening up with his killer reimagining of “Rhythm of the Night,” 3LAU took us on an emotional, hour-long journey. Playing “Listen to your Heart” to get the crowd signing along, followed by the thrilling hit that Skrillex produced for Suicide Squad, “Purple Lamborghini.” However, 3LAU didn’t stop there. Our childhood came back in the form of the Pokémon theme song, and we sang our hearts out with strangers and all the '90s babies. 

Imagine Festival Ben McBride.jpg

Just like any emotional roller coaster ride, we had to have down at some point. Nothing is more perfect than playing Above & Beyond’s, “Sun and Moon”. If you didn’t tear up, do you even have a soul? 3LAU invited Arty to the stage to play Arty’s remix of his song “Is It Love” which was great. That wasn’t the only producer friend 3LAU brought up on stage to Imagine. Thanks to modern technology, he even Facetimed Audien while playing Audien’s song, “Crazy Love” for the crowd. True friendship goals right there!

IRIS Presents did a wonderful job making Imagine Festival something huge for the city of Atlanta. From the little park in downtown to the huge speedway just outside of it, Imagine flourished fabulously. I don’t see the empty parts of the speedway as something that lacked activity, I see them as potential places to be filled with even more stages, food trucks, vendors and future Imagine Festivalgoers in the 2017 edition. 

There are so many more possibilities, and nothing makes me more excited than the idea of Imagine getting bigger and better. I truly can’t wait to see what they have in store for us next year!