Mad Liberation 2018: Yerrrrrrrrr
Mad Liberation 2018, a 3 day camping music festival in New Jersey, produced a kaleidoscopic retreat for its third annual installment. 48 hours of nonstop music featuring headliners like Jon Bap, Billzegypt, Show Me the Body, Moor Mother, Blaque Dynamite, Nadus and plenty of other solid performers representing the Garden State. Just like last year, all you had to do was follow the music.
Camping in Paradise
Society begins to relinquish its grip on you the moment you turn on to the uneven dirt road that leads to Paradise (Lakes Campground). Cell phone service fades away underneath the pine trees and a breath of that south jersey fresh air fills your lungs. A few weathered cabins and faded signs offer small indicators that the Mad Liberation grounds was once home to a youth camp. By sunset on Friday, the campground was more reminiscent of a microcosm of New Jersey’s (North, South, and yes even Central) various subcultures plus all the explorers ready to indulge in it all. Tents clustered around each and folks proudly decorated their nooks with string lights, hammocks,z and even a taggable blanket fortress. Those clusters didn’t prevent folks from strolling through Paradise, coordinating morning yoga meet-ups and assisting the first time campers with tent setup.
Openness and community were the first things that most folks unpacked and it clearly set the tone for the rest of the weekend.
One stand-out moment Friday night, happened around 11:53PM when I stopped by a vendor to grab a bowl of watermelons to recharge. Just as I turned to head back to the Museache Tentington, I bumped into a long beard and a medieval chain mail armoured suit. Probably the best mosquito repellent and festival fashion combo I saw all weekend.
My biggest regret last year was not having a proper Museache home base on the Mad Liberation grounds. This year, we setup the Museache Tentington and unveiled our first ever team flag. We were smack dab in the middle of the Mad Liberation community and surrounded by old and new friends: VomitChord, Public Warfare, Diandra Marie, and few others.
The mini community became more lively on Saturday after most folks survived the torrential downpour late Friday night into Saturday morning. A few folks weren’t so lucky, but I saw a lot of liberators offering unlimited help. Vendor Village was bustling as folks caught the morning yoga on the sandy beach near the main stage, while a few others got their spinal adjustments right next to the lake. The energy was free-spirited and a constant breeze tempered the sunshine for most of the day. Whispers of the mythical lightning tree started to spread at one point and captured a few brave folks’ attention. Others got active with frisbees, jenga, and frolicked in the lake.
Sounds of Mad Liberation
How do you even start to describe 48 hours of non-stop music? I know I can’t, *takes deep breath* but I’m going to try. Every act that I gave my attention to did not disappoint. Whether it was Connecticut’s DJ Ero’s soul stirring mix at the Deep in the Pines stage or Philly’s Moor Mother poignant set that stopped me dead in my tracks. Brainorchestra’s Cathlor Marmots house performance was spellbinding and was only matched by the performance put on by the Bldy Rxse renegades who literally broke the house flooring. Can’t forget about the coffin that made it on stage during Public Warfare’s set and how DMW artist Chris Allen came through and made his purpose clear. Meanwhile, the Centauri stage couldn’t contain the elasticity of 89 the Brainchild, Yatu Sabae, and the Psyched Haus. Also, Mother Marygold shook off some skepticism about being in the middle of the Pine Barrens and found some love and joy in the new experience.
Infinite love to Henny and Zunyda for holding down the main stage hosting duties for most of the weekend when they weren’t on the swing set or dancing in the sugar sand. It felt spiritual seeing Eastern Foreigner and Buttress back to back in the Cathlor house underneath the glow of purple-black lights while that torrential downpour, that I mentioned earlier, ricocheted off the walls. Another highlight came from Billzegypt, who brought out a supporting cast of live instrumentalists highlighted by violinist BriBlvck, and some potent bars from Shelly and Felisha George. Did I mention #blackgirlpower yet?
I was not able to muster up the courage and stomach to catch VomitChord’s set and especially not after hearing those 3AM crowd chants of BUCKET, BUCKET, BUCKET!
The most talked about performances came from Blaque Dynamite’s 2 hour drum and vocal stream and frequent collaborator Jon Bap. The latter started off his performance by asking some audience members to add their tags to a canvas, that he would eventually blend into a painting. When he was satisfied with his masterpiece, he delicately rested it against the mic stand and progressed through his omniform catalogue. Sidebar: Shout out to Hanz who was blessed with Jon Bap’s masterpiece and brought it back to the Museache Cribbington home base. One for the BlydMuse history books.
Next year, I’m going to invest in a proper bike or rent a golf cart so I can hit all the stages and preserve the soles of my feet for those 3 AM sets. I heard that I missed an exhilarating set from Roky’s Reign, Naja Young, Tuba Fresh, and a few others.
A new Mad Liberation tradition was born this year out of an already strong New Jersey call and response. It started late in the afternoon on Friday night and continued until the last tent was no longer standing on Sunday morning. A random series of consecutive car honks would echo throughout the festival ground which would summon deep and bellowing:
Followed by another and another and another for about 40 seconds straight. It was a moment to remind ourselves that New Jersey was here, our community was here, our expression is valid, and we are deserving of this space. Harmony.
I felt this harmony several times throughout the Mad Liberation weekend and it was a reminder that music brought us here, but community is the vehicle that will move us forward. With community comes liberation, and we have lots of it.
I have to give major shout outs to each and every person involved in the happening of this festival from the determined and flexible organizers on the Mad Liberation team, the volunteers, Chris for holding down the Centauri Stage sound, Bruce Rain for celebrating his birthday the Liberated way, nature for the beautiful weather, Red Bull for the wings, water, all the vendors, Monica for hooking my chest up with pretty titties body paint, all the festival pets, Matt aka Transit Blog for being the human swiss army knife, all the performers, especially all the artists who performed in multiple sets like the talented folks from Conundrum who performed in about 6 or 7 different bands throughout the weekend, and blanket thank you’s to everyone who set foot on the festival grounds during the weekend. *Deep exhale*
While Mad Liberation lasted only 48 hours, it is the other 8,712 hours that make everything possible. Until next time. Stay liberated.
All Photo Credits: Colin Pieters