Hidden City returned to the Historic Columbia Speedway for the second year in a row on Saturday, April 22nd. There were some questions about whether this would happen, and how the neighboring town's police department would respond, but fortunately the organizers managed to work their magic and put together an impressive single day festival featuring headliners Champagne Drip, NGHTMRE, and Steve Aoki!
This years Hidden City Music Festival was the 2nd annual electronic based music & arts festival. Held at the Historic Columbia Speedway in Cayce, South Carolina (known for their shitty piece of shit police department attempting to arrest & obstruct any & all instances of fun to happen within the city for over the past 15 years). As the Cayce small government try to decide how to exactly handle the blossoming of their arts district in collision with the needed revamp to some eyesores, also colliding with their extreme need to gentrify everything while also preserving their historic buildings & happenings; It was incredibly nice to see the organizers this year work in alliance with the city & surrounding police departments, beforehand, to make this event not only run smooth with the noise complaints, but also with the crowd control. Other than a slight delay getting people through the gate, everything else during the actual festival seemed to go incredibly smooth our perspective. The grounds had vendors selling any number of small goods, a food truck row with many selections to choose from, beers & seltzers, and a silent disco. Water was available and easy to get to, shade tents were set up to escape the sun, and every festival-goer's dread, the bathrooms, stayed pretty clean from what I saw. All check marks as far as I'm concerned.
So how about the actual music part?
We were held up a little bit getting through the gate, so between that and getting a feel for the festival grounds I only caught the last bit of Rafasan's set. So we'll fast forward through the day a little. The crowd started off smaller than I had expected, but there was a steady stream coming in throughout the day and things picked up as the headliners took the stage. Leading up to that were sets from Tony Chu and Avante. These early day slots on hot days are always tough, but each of the two handled it well and they got my day rolling with a solid mix of different genres.
OPENING SET RATINGS:
Name Unknown decided to immediately shift direction. The duo brought out the weird bass. It was a fun pivot and definitely set up the acts to come. Their set had a good mix of different types of bass music, flips of popular tracks like 'Laserbeam', and they even dropped in some metal just to spice things up.
NAME UNKNOWN SET RATINGS:
I hadn't had a chance to check out Shitty Princess beforehand, so I didn't know what to expect going into it. It was a lot of fun. She put together a set with remixes of popular tracks across pretty much every genre, and made sure to drop in some originals as well. The whole set was very danceable and everybody looked like they were starting to really pick up steam. I would definitely recommend catching a Shitty Princess show if the opportunity comes up.
SHITTY PRINCESS SET RATINGS:
Champagne Drip was the biggest draw for me(Dillon) on this lineup. I had already missed seeing him at a previous festival and was not going to miss this opportunity. He made a statement starting out his set. The bass was heavy, the beats were hitting, it was pretty much everything I might have expected from a Champagne Drip set. He showed a lot of creativity with the tracks he played and really sold it for me when he dropped 'Behemoth' by SVDDEN DEATH. And while I wish he had been given a sunset time slot, I get the time constraints for the event so I won't knock points off for it! On the other hand, I (Caleb) was extremely disappointed in Champagne Drip's set. I had heard so much hype surrounding this artist leading up to this performance, but the music and show was lackluster, to me.
CHAMPANGE DRIP SET RATINGS:
NGHTMRE pushed things even harder. His set had a great mix of heavy bass tracks, working in a little Subtronics, and dropping heavy flips of 'Laserbeam' and 'Unholy'. His team really took advantage of his time slot, ramping up the production as the sun went down. While I certainly would not have turned down more lasers, they worked well with what they had and put out some great moments between the lights and the fire. And to make things even better, he looked like he was having an absolute blast up there. All in all, NGHTMRE's performance was a ton of fun, and I'll definitely look out for him to play somewhere nearby.
Look, Imma keep it real(Caleb). I'm not the biggest personal EDM fan, I was at this hot ass festival all day, had little to no idea who any performer was at this festival asides from Steve Aoki, and the sun was going down. I was planning on taking some crowd & sunset shots and sit my ass down to rest, until Aoki came on. NGHTMRE literally forced me out of my seat and into the wild, with his very first song. Baby faced & pale as shit, NGHTMRE is perfect example of why not to judge a book by its cover. In my opinion he easily had the best set of the festival. The music was immaculate, as I studied close, he was truly 'live DJ'ing' (which is more than some) & the transitions were crucial, the song selections were critical & the energy was huge. From enormous pyrotechnics, to insane production quality, this set was the "icing" for the kids moreso into the trap/dubstep side of electronic music.
NGHTMRE SET RATINGS:
Steve Aoki was running a little behind, so Name Unknown came back to the stage to fill in until everything go back on track. I know some people were a little confused when Aoki was announced, because he had a show nearby in Charlotte as well. In my opinion, they absolutely made the right call with this booking. Steve Aoki is an incredible performer. His stage production was excellent, he knows how to connect with the audience, and his set was a ton of fun. I did not expect to hear either 'My Heart Will Go On' or 'Take Me Home, Country Roads' and ended up leaving having heard both. He brought a fan on stage to provide vocals for Eminem's 'Lose Yourself', closed the show with fireworks, and of course tossed a few cakes into the crowd.
STEVE AOKI SET RATINGS:
Final tally? Hidden City and Crescendo Music put together an impressive festival for their second year. The event ran smoothly, with only a few minor exceptions, the lineup brought a diverse range of styles, and the production was excellent for a festival of this size. In the first year, it was clear that the organizers were on a trial. This year, they have definitely established that they are not only able to do it & get away with it, but also know how to maneuver an event like this in a town that doesn't traditionally embrace events like this. This year provided Hidden City "credibility," if you will. We're super exited to see what the promoters have cooking up for next year, this is definitely a festival to keep eyes & ears open for in 2024.
HIDDEN CITY MUSIC LINEUP RATING TALLY: 3.8/5
HIDDEN CITY FESTIVAL RATINGS OVERALL:
Caleb: 4/5 (next year splurge for staff & press tents, don't attempt to charge $1000.00 USD to sit down on a blow up chair in VIP. Provide free earplugs at the gate. Lastly, go for the big portable analog fans, like the ones they used to have at Warped Tour).
Dillon: 4/5 (A harm reduction tent would be cool, I also second the notion for the big fans).
Coverage & photos by Caleb Brown & Dillon Reesor
For full photogalleries, DM @SAUCEWITHSPOONS
*All negative comments regarding City of Cayce Police were made solely & wholeheartedly by Caleb Brown & does not necessarily reflect the views of Saucewithspoons Media or any other contributors, affiliates, or partners.*