It seems like a lifetime ago that I was on the Metrolink riding back from San Bernardino to Los Angeles after an amazing night at last years Countdown. That long ride home on January 1st, 2017 was an interesting journey. In the midst of moving, setting up our own renegade for the winter and attending my first festival in four years, I smiled and thought about how great the previous night was and how amazing all the festival experiences would be in 2017. Now, having come and gone, I can honestly say that 2017 was a stellar year overall, especially in regard to the festival and rave experiences I had and I can’t think of a better way to have ended it than another trip to Countdown at the NOS center.
A little fan-girl moment to start this off, 2017 was the year I saw my all-time favorite DJ three times. Once in Los Angeles, once in Denver and one last time in San Bernardino, and deadmau5 never failed to amaze. Without having a solid plan for NYE, all it took was seeing his name on the lineup at Countdown for me to know exactly how I’d be ringing in the New Year.
The night started off great, I’d been a bit sick leading up to the weekend but I figured it was worth it to soldier on and enjoy day one. After a quick and easy meeting at the DoubleTree for our passes, we made our way to the NOS center. Navigating the venue was simple and easy, after the essential stop at the merch tent, we took some time to run around the festival grounds to get some great pictures and explore the venue. Thankfully this year, we’d only be battling the cold instead of the cold and pouring down rain. After our quick tour, our crew split, I headed to Dombresky for a little bit until we all met back up at Shiba San. Just like each time I’ve witnessed him perform, the man did not disappoint. With some favorites of his own and some great hits from his label mates, Shiba San’s set was the perfect start to the night. With a brief recess, we enjoyed some pizza and a little down time before paying Alison Wonderland a visit. Ready to stomp our feet and make some noise we then made our way to the Continuum stage for some always entertaining Flux Pavilion.
Photo by aLIVE
The night ended with an always enlightening and spiritual experience with Mr. Robinson. Making our way through the crowd, I thought back to EDC and Coachella and was thankful for another chance to see one of the DJs who was a true inspiration in my own pursuit of music. While this show wouldn’t be as visually stimulating as EDC, because fireworks in a tent aren’t a good idea, the set itself was one for the books. With some classics from his days with Madeon and a little Boys Noize thrown in, it felt like the entire crowd was in sync and feeling everything as a single unit. Porters set was a perfect way to end the night. We bid farewell to day one and made our way back to our car, blissfully unaware of how epic NYE would be.
Before I get into day two, I’d like to point out that both my experiences at Countdown wouldn’t have been as great as they were, had Insomniac not taken certain steps to ensure attendee safety. In 2016, despite the horrible weather conditions, we were able to seek refuge in the heated tent for as long as needed and in 2017, the Oasis tent was a great place to rest and recharge in between sets. Festivals aren’t fun if you have no place to take a breather or rest up if you feel overwhelmed and I’m definitely appreciative of Insomniac’s efforts to take proper care of festival goers.
Photo by Ivan Meneses
Just like any solid weekend rager, I almost didn’t make it to day 2. My body just wasn’t having it, but after a quick moment of introspection following a very painful and sickly afternoon, I remembered I was seeing deadmau5 tonight and decided to trek back out to San Bernardino from West LA. With an earlier arrival than the day before, we realized we’d goofed and missed out on the mau5 cube shirts at the merch tent. We settled for hoodies. Note to self: Handle merch needs on day one as soon as you get to any event.
We made sure to squad up at the beginning of the night and found ourselves spending most of our time at the Continuum stage. Beginning with Conrank and running through the performances of Kasra B2B Ivy Lab B2B Emperor, Bleep Bloop B2B Tsuruda and ending with Kai Wachi, our brains melted as we tried to make sense of what we’d just done. The nonstop bass left us bewildered and a little hysterical as we laughed at how intense everything became but couldn’t pull ourselves away.
Photo by Jake West
We eventually found ourselves hydrating and meeting up with some other friends as we paid Diplo a little visit. Any chance to get a little crazy with Diplo is one you should always take. As Diplo departed and Resolution was preparing for the mau5, we took a little breather and jammed out to some exceptional transition music. And then, as the clock hit 11:10, we knew it was time. The cube lights began to turn on and we saw the spherical nature of the helmet we’d all grown to love. Opening with the perfect precursor to an amazing set, one of my friends laughed as he realized that this was the umpteenth time he’d recorded Imaginary Friends live. With visuals that were equally entertaining and captivating, I realized not long into the set that I was conflicted between the music and the visuals. I found myself closing my eyes because it gave me a stronger feeling of connecting with the music than when my eyes were open. Almost as if the visual stimulation took away from the intensity of the music. I believe that moment defined for me the power of deadmau5’s capability as an artist and his ability to create a true experience for all his fans. Strangely enough, I can recall instances from every other set, but I remember the feeling running through my body more than anything from watching deadmau5.
Photo by aLIVE
Changing gears here a little bit, if you haven’t yet seen how those of us at Countdown rang in the New Year, check this out. Joel is by far one of the greatest trolls to have ever lived, that’s all I’m going to say.
With two successful New Years Eves at Countdown, I don’t know where I’ll end up at the end of 2018, but I do know that I’ll look back on these two nights for a long time and remember the truly epic experiences we had. Here's to 2018 and all the amazing times and hilarious mistakes we’re going to make, I truly can’t wait.
Written by Asad Chishty