NW – Paradiso 2017 Journey
On June 23rd to 25th, ravers from the Pacific Northwest…
…packed their bags with anxiousness for this highly anticipated weekend as we were up early with no significant amount of sleep. The journey there presented the usual grey sky but as we were getting closer, the weather was getting brighter and warmer, then firmly over the horizon, we had finally made it to The Gorge Amphitheatre. We had finally made it home – Paradiso 2017.
Day 1 – Camping
Day-1 was just a day for us to set up camp and take in The Gorge. With our Gold camping pass in hand, we were given our spot as quick as we arrived and the first thing I noticed with no exaggeration, the venue’s entrance was just about 30 feet away from our caravan. Throughout the day, we slowly acquainted ourselves with our neighbors and hit it off well. My boyfriend and I decided to visit some friends who set up in the Standard campsite about a mile’s walk, and as soon as we entered, the vibe changed. The crowd was rowdier with a tiny bit of chaos in every direction you look, proving that there’s a reason Standard camping is called District 9. Though it was just a day to set up prior to the event, it was definitely a memory with cherished friends, great music, and a ‘plurful’ surrounding thanks to our neighbors in Gold.
Day 2 – Seven Lions, Zeds Dead, Porter Robinson
As the rising sun shined upon us, everyone burst out with more energy than the day before because we knew what was going to be in store. In every direction, people were getting ready doing their hair, makeup and applying glitter in places where they normally shouldn’t be. After this entire process, we were finally making our way to what was going to be an unforgettable weekend at Paradiso 2017.
Like all special events, there must be special moments. Before walking down the hill to join the pit at the Paradise main stage, one lucky guy in my group, Corey, proposed to his just as lucky girlfriend Amber. Everyone surrounded the two as he got down on one knee, proposed and followed by Amber’s tears of joy as she flung into his arms.
As soon as we departed for Paradise, we made it just in time to catch most of Alan Walker’s set. I found myself to be a bit underwhelmed with disappointment as I had hyped him up so much prior to the event. His visuals ranged from cybernetic letters patrolling the screens to multiple colors of smoke with occasional clips from his many music videos. He brought a lot more energy for the last 10 minutes finishing well, though I wished he had the same energy throughout the entire set to help him live up to the hype.
On a solo mission, I originally didn’t have any interest in seeing Joyryde nor cared for his music; however, his set was certainly a ‘joy ride’ the entire way with high BPM, fun visuals, amazing bass drops and just an overall fantastic set. The crowd was pumped the entire time and I was genuinely shocked by how good he really was. I completely misjudged Joyryde at first but changed me over to a big fan.
My solo mission continued on as my group went off to see Kayzo while I stayed for Slander. I must say, Slander exceeded my expectations with their amazing performance. I was about eight feet from the rail looking up at the hieroglyphic-like eyes visuals as the bass literally stirred the marrow in my bones. The visuals shifted between running through labs, ominous marks and trippy symbolism of the apocalypse. I’m more than confident that I made the right decision to stick around.
Gareth Emery and Oliver Helden’s both impressed me but Helden’s indefinitely blew me away. His entire set reminded me of a cartoony trip to another galaxy far away in lights, lasers with UFO visual, acid rain and colorful flashes of light resembling stars in space. His music was the perfect mix of upbeat house and trance.
The timing for Seven Lion’s with the sunset was no more than pure perfection. Opening up with a mind-bending laser & light show with hard dissipating beats, his visuals throughout the set ranged from Wiccan symbols, a beautiful woman strolling through marshlands and jellyfish floating through voids. And with a dynamic range of sound, transitioning from filthy bass to hypnotic trance to fast paced house in moment’s notice was effortless.
As we transitioned from the serene state of Seven Lion, Zeds Dead blared into some grimy hard-hitting dubstep. Though I wasn’t paying much attention to the visuals, I was mesmerized by the magnificent light & laser production show. Pacing well, they kept hitting us with bass after bass as the lasers hit every drum kick, snares and wobbles. Zeds Dead easily took the top spot for best light show in my opinion.
And to finish the first night on a good note, what better way than with my number one headliner Porter Robinson. Though lacking on lasers, Porter’s set revolves around a heavy mind-blowing visual. The partitioning of the visual LED screens always felt in unison, as if you were watching multiple stories that formed into one. During his entire set, he was able to keep the crowd captivated in euphoria and harmony. And after experiencing this amazing, unifying experience that is Porter Robinson, I can tell you personally that reality definitely still isn’t the same.
Day 3 – Getter, Snails, Zomboy
We started the second day linking up with our friends to catch Boombox Cartel at the Wreckage Stage whom I wasn’t impress with. Perhaps the lack of bassbin made it hard to enjoy a heavy bass set where you just couldn’t feel the sub. Their performance was probably better suited for the mainstage with a full on set of speakers. Never the less, the next act well made up for it as Black Tiger Sex Machine were setting up, their iconic mask was on full visual screen display. And as they opened up with heavenly vocals that quickly lead in to heavy dark bass riffs, the crowd screamed out in joy. Their set was very impressive but I know I’m not the only one who wished that BTSM could had a much better time slot.
Rushing back to Paradise Stage to get into the pit as fast as we could, we made it just in time for the start of GRiZ. Different from what I had anticipated, yet still impressive, his set included instruments with trippy visuals reminiscent of the 80’s; just pure soul and funk bleeding out the speakers. As we were captivated by the sunset beating down on the light show, GRiZ easily had one of the most unusual and best set of the entire weekend. I don’t know if it was the spellbinding visuals or the rhythm of the music hitting you right in the heart, but the entire crowd was caught in the same beautiful hypnosis.
Back at the Wreckage Stage, we were able to get about midway through the crowd before going any further. Everyone seemed to have had the same plan to finish off strong with Getter, Snails and Zomboy. And after missing Getter at Freaknight, I made it my mission to finally see him live and it did not disappoint. His visuals were like an early 90’s cartoon with all of the imaginative gore of a Tom & Jerry episode. Every single beat worked in collaboration with the lights of the stage, especially when he dropped his new song that sounded much different from his previous released tracks.
Known for a unique, grimy sound that has yet to be perfected by anyone else, Snails was easily one of my favorite at Wreckage Stage. The entire set was as if Tim Burton made an absurd movie about the nature of snails with a soundtrack composed straight from a distorted bass cannon. Many different graphics of snails inching side to side while vomiting rainbows on the screen was accompanied by gross bass of what sounded like a rhythmic mix of frog and bug noises. The entire experience was a head bangers dream and I won’t be the only one who agrees that Snails more than delivered.
After having seen Zomboy at a much smaller event, I was expecting an amazing show but nothing could have prepared me for what was going to transpire. Out of any artist I was able to catch, he must have played the most tracks in a set which was nothing short of hard-hitting bass drops with an insane laser & light production show that never stopped invading the eyes. He had the crowd on a non-stop head banging frenzy as he threw down some of the most absolute disgusting mashup pumping tracks after tracks. His transitions never broke the crowd out of their trance even once and it was truly a spectacle not worth missing.
Day 4 – Leaving the Gorge
As all good things must come to an end after two nights of raging, it was time for all of us to depart away from paradise as we fought trying to leave the campground from the lack of sleep. We all loaded our RV while wallowing in memories of what had just passed. With the campsite officially closing by noon, it was a challenge for a majority of the campers as they weren’t even close to ready. But as we drove away from what was the best three days of our lives, I watched The Gorge drift off into the distance thinking to myself.
“I have a feeling that after this… reality isn’t going to be the same anymore.”