Mad Liberation 2017: Follow the Music
Every summer, Museache embarks on a memorable summer field trip. This summer was definitely one for the books and of course the internet. We didn’t even have to leave our home state, of New Jersey. A little less than 2 hours of driving, a hilarious episode of Hannibal Buress’ podcast, a few missed turns, and the unavoidable Wawa pit stop, we arrived at Paradise Lakes for the weekend of Mad Liberation 2017.
Paradise Lakes Campground
Rughda: It probably took the entire time I was there, from Monday night to Sunday night, to get an actual idea of the magnitude of natural wonder that is the Paradise Lakes Campground. Naturally, the Pine Barrens of South Jersey invoke a sense of amazement by itself. Dry, nutrient-poor sand (that’s “sugar sand”, to you) like soil made it difficult for settlers to colonize. Instead it created an atmosphere for rare self-sufficient plant and wildlife, the most notable being the Pitch Pines, or those tall pine trees you saw all over the place that gave us shelter during that wild ass downpour. This area is home to the Jersey Devil, a spirit that we hear from our friends at some point, but that didn’t disturb us much at all while we were there. If anything, I think the spirit of the Jersey Devil would have been especially proud of the activities that took place in the Cathlor Marmot House. I think we did him justice there, on both nights.
The lake itself that sits by the main stage is man-made, but nonetheless was still a sight to behold while we enjoyed the music that surrounded us. I think that the natural atmosphere gave us the perfect setting for this year’s event. With that in mind, the fact that the land was bought with an intention to get it ready for something like Mad Liberation made it even more ideal of a location for us. For the next run, I aim to amplify that natural comfort and feeling of shelter that nature provides by designing the entire campground, leaving ample room of course for everyone to continue to build this atmosphere with their own contributions to their personal campsite. The setting itself created a tone of unified building; we all shared a collective creative energy that fueled the festival.
Colin: Stepping into the Pine Barrens for the weekend was like walking into a hyperbolic time chamber, but instead of going to train for a fight against Cell, you entered a new frontier of sonic exploration. Time itself was a figment of our own imagination and the number of hours in the day disappeared the moment the first band started playing. The campgrounds itself was covered in multicolored tents, LED strings lights, and that warm feeling of liberation. Even though I don’t know how to swim, I kept on returning to the edge of the lake near the main stage to re-enter.
Aziz: It was quite nostalgic being on the campgrounds in which it reminded me of a few settings: Petalburg Woods and the camp in Heavyweights. As you walk the corners of the forest great fortune would come your way. You can be invited to another’s well-furnished site graced with their hospitality, presented with a treasure chest full of edibles by a lovely soul, or dancing endlessly to some house music. You may not envision yourself being a Pokemon trainer or a kid being sent to a fitness camp, but the festival brought you to a place of familiarity and comfortability.
“All you had to do was follow the music as it echoed through the forest.”- Aziz
Music: The Liberators
Colin: There is an African proverb that says if it rains on a day of importance, it is suppose to bring you good luck. Well, I’m happy it started pouring a little after the Museache convoy pulled in late Friday afternoon. I experienced moments of Conundrum and then the skies darkened and began to put on it’s own show of lightning and thunder. No worries for me because I escaped to the Cathlor Marmot House to get limber to an impromptu dance set from Esoteric Blackness. After awhile, the rain couldn’t contain the music and Big Beat, a 19 piece big band with about 13 horns, flooded the main stage with some entrancing tunes. Just when I was ready to end my night at around 2AM, I heard a well oiled John Mould soothe Jack Moves into an encore set that re-energized me for another 3 hours. Those who slept, at some point or another had moments of their dreams soundtracked by 1 of the 4 stages. By the next morning, I was starting to wish I had more than two ears and possibly a clone because there were so many artists I was not able to personally experience. The highlight of the day came when Public Warfare hit the stage. I was doing my normal photography steez when suddenly a shirtless performer from Public Warfare, jumped off the stage, took out his lighter, set his pants on fire and started breakdancing in the sand pit as chants of “WARFAREEEEE” rang from the stage.
Rughda: I honestly don’t think I was there for any one complete set other than my own. There was music literally the entire time, a perfect place for my attention deficit ass to roam and continuously discover more and more artists. My feet kept wanting to follow the music, even when the rest of my body was ready to give out. Like at 3 AM on the second night, when ominous sounds trailed to my tent on the other side of the campground, and I felt like I had an inner duty to protect all of our souls from eternal damnation via VomitChord’s performance in the Cathlor House.
Aziz: Even though the festival had set times for performances, hopping on the stage to jam out was just as accessible as a pickup game of basketball. Whether you’re experienced or not, all you had to say was, “I got next.” The schedule was automated by pure communication and acceptance from start to finish. I left Mad Liberation with tons of homework to do on the talent that came to play. – Aziz
“Awwwwww shiiiitt, the most surprising part was how many people were so about camping out and supporting each other, artists in particular, because that’s the most beautiful thing when artists stick around to hang and vibe out to each other’s music” – John Mould
Rughda: “Villa Banks” was the name we came up with for the campsite I shared with Mello Mel, Lyle Omolayo, Ezrakh, Brain Orchestra, and Naja Young. Honestly, it was some last-minute shit. I got my tent from the nearby Wal-Mart on FRIDAY (why is it that every time you’re in the middle of nowhere, there’s a Wal-Mart like within a half mile) and set up thinking it would just be me in there.* At least I wasn’t as far out as Brain, who I caught trying to set up a tent with hemp rope since he didn’t have the sticks. Be prepared, yo! Get the right footwear, get a good tent, make sure it has all the right pieces. A sweater and sweatpants, bring a pillow and some bed sheets yo. A blanket yo. A grill and some food. Fresh fruit and hella water, and ice to keep the brews cold, yo. Looking forward to Villa Banks 2.0.
Colin: Next year I want to jump into the full experience of Mad Liberation. I was jealous of how people turned their campsites into mini living rooms or chill basements; Boomboxes, grills, fresh fruit, and inflatable couches are definitely on my camp necessities for next year. Also, my knee caps are still hating me for missing the early morning group yoga session that started Day 2. It wouldn’t be fair for me to even try to describe the experience I had during my weekend of Liberation, but I remember at one point, while I was just talking to people on the campgrounds, that we were all standing on the cusp of a historical moment in NJ music scene. All pockets of music from NJ pushed the boundaries of what you can experience when you are liberated and we owe it all to a group of crazy and passionate friends, who were ready to traverse uncharted territory.
“Ultimately, I think the experience of Mad Liberation, from seeing the stage in its final mode, to experiencing all of the acts we were able to pull together and also just enjoying the camp ground with one another, really reconnected me to my purpose as a creative.” – Rughda
All Photos Should be Credited to Museache