The lineup for Middlelands has been released, and we've had a few days to let it sink in. The immediate reaction is that it is a dream for the bassheads, but a closer look shows a variety of genres throughout the 150 artists currently scheduled to perform. The full verdict is that C3 Concerts and Insomniac have put together a deep and solid roster of performers for the Texas festival's inaugural offering.
Off the top, the headliners are standard fare in the festival realm. There were no huge Aphex Twin-like bombs being dropped, but that would be unrealistic as there are too many festivals and too few reclusive stars to perform their first show in eight years. The consistency to put on a great live show is the main reason that these headliners have been all over the festival circuit for many years.
Bassnectar is going to come through and deliver a performance that melts faces every single time. Mad Decent’s flagship act, Major Lazer, has a seemingly never-ending stream of dance hits as well as a stage presence that blasts their audience. Kaskade will be making stops from “MIA to LAS” and then to a castle in Todd Mission. The sought-after producer is still in high demand given the crowd he pulled in at Day For Night in December.
“You can’t stop what’s coming,” as proclaimed by Diesel Boy. Texas always thumps hard when it comes to headbanging and bass music. Insomniac describes the Bassrush Experience as somewhere “for those seeking a chest-rattling, synapse-melting, bass-driven experience that showcases the heavyweight sounds of dubstep, trap, and drum and bass.” Expect the Slice Gang to be in full force surrounding Texas boy Crizzly as he blows their hair back with his filthy, grimy beats. One can only imagine the critters being aroused from deep in the forest as the subwoofers vibrate deep down into the earth as 12th Planet and Snails unleash the wubz. And is it a coincidence that the festival featuring so much bass, trap and dubstep is taking place in Grimes County?
Don’t Sleep on the House Music
Festival-goers will also have plenty of choices among artists who represent the multiple house subgenres. This group of artists are the most diverse of the lineup, coming from all corners of the globe and bringing their own styles to the CDJs. Expect a healthy dose of staggering hi-hats, wavy droning bass and intermittent vocals from the likes of South African duo Goldfish, the chirpers of the Dirty Bird crew and the U.K.-bred lemon-haze producers Redlight and MK, one of the most influential house artists of the era.
Also, the featured star of the Middlelands promotional videos and one of the biggest shows in television, Game of Thrones' Kristian Nairn, will present his Rave of Thrones DJ set that includes tracks found during his travels around the world. Finally, don’t miss out on the danceable crudeness and ghetto-house flair of Kill Frenzy, and the artist that is last in the lineup alphabetically should be first on your schedule — ZHU.
Where Are All the Ladies at?
Much has been written and discussed about the lack of female presence in the electronic-music world, but the problem is not specific to this genre. Take, for example, the overall consensus that the RodeoHouston lineup was surrounded with excitement, but the main criticism has been focused on the lack of female country entertainers on the bill. Even though females only make up roughly 5 percent of the Middlelands lineup, the new festival has still placed more ladies on the board than RodeoHouston and the most recent offering of Something Wicked. So to give them their proper due for forging ahead in a male-dominated field, here are the females scheduled to perform: Sarah Barthel of Phantogram, Alison Wonderland, Bonnie x Clyde, Edith of Crystal Castles, Elohim, J. Phlip, Tokimonsta and Viciouz Viv. Look, no one is expecting a Lilith Fair-type ratio, but at least the stages will be peppered with some estrogen.
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This Is Not Your Standard EDM festival.
The lineup becomes even more diverse as Insomniac and C3 bring an additional flavor to the party in the form of hip-hop. The brothers responsible for one of 2016's biggest hits in “Black Beatles,” Rae Sremmurd, will arguably be the biggest ticket-movers for the youngest attendees. Fringe hip-hop artists also making a strong presence felt include Flatbush Zombies, Jurassic 5, the Detroit Bruiser Brigade leader Danny Brown and H-Town’s own Fat Tony.
Some folks are a little unhappy because of the lack of trance and techno. You can’t please everyone, but this lineup is crazy awesome. It is confusing that people could make legitimate complaints about what C3 Concerts and Insomniac brought to the table on this one. Realistically, festival-goers will not be able to catch all 150 artists over the three-day span. People remotely interested in the lineup and festival should make an effort to attend simply for the experience. If you can’t find something to make you happy over the five stages, carnival rides or other amazing sights and continue to complain about it, then you are just a standard Internet troll. The uniqueness of the festival grounds in Todd Mission, the sneaky diverse lineup and the camping experiences should make Middlelands a festival destination for years to come.
Middlelands tickets are on sale now, starting at $195 for a three-day general-admission pass.