Elements Lakewood 2018: A Vibrant & Eclectic Community Comes Alive [REVIEW]
Since the dawn of mankind, we have felt an innate connection to the forces of the natural world. Linked to nature by what some may call the spirit, we have always had a fascination with the primal cornerstones of life, the elements. Our timeless connection with these forces; earth, fire, wind and water, has captivated our imaginations for millennia. For the second consecutive year, the mad geniuses at BangOn NYC invoked their party planning expertise, creative acumen and underground pedigree to transform a quaint sleep away summer camp into an enchanting kaleidoscopic playground. Few event brands are as recognizable as BangOn and the proven taste-makers did not disappoint, with yet another dynamic and immersive three-day event, Elements Lakewood.
Throughout this year’s edition of Elements Lakewood, we saw exactly why this event has blossomed into one of the premier festivals in the Northeast. At its core Elements is a celebration of everything that is right with the electronic music community; freedom of expression, incredible artistry and a tight-knit community.
Of course, no festival is completely perfect. The logistics of the Memorial Day Weekend event could’ve been better. Shuttling thousands of festival goers on buses with accompanying moving trucks was cumbersome, to say the least. However, many returning vets were quick to alleviate any mounting fears or bad vibes. “It’ll be more than worth it,” “Just wait till you get in,” they said as buses finally embarked on the last leg of the journey. Truer words had never been spoken.
Once we entered the Elements Lakewood festival grounds, it became very apparent that this was going to be a special weekend. Friends made after spending hours together on the line to enter embraced like long lost companions. Nostalgia mixed with the prospect of endless possibilities. Despite only being the festival’s second year, Elements Lakewood throbbed with undeniable familial energy.
Elements Lakewood 2018 hit some epic heights and in order to fully understand the scope and impact of the event, there are three factors we have to highlight.
For a newcomer to Elements Lakewood, the most intriguing aspect of the festival would probably be the expansive and wide-ranging lineup. This year’s roster of artists brought something to satisfy music lovers of all backgrounds. The four main stages of Elements work in perfect synchrony to create a realm of endless musical possibilities. The Water, Fire, Earth and Air stages showcased unique personalities and atmospheres over the three-day celebration. No matter what vibe or sonic dialect we were in the mood for there was an appropriate outlet.
The Water Stage was the ideal locale to soak up the sun and mingle with all of the gorgeous Lakewood inhabitants. Floaties and inflatables of all shapes and hues filled the picturesque watering hole as a day party of epic proportions sizzled with style and verve. Masterful beat merchants like Matt Sebastian, The 1989, DJ Dayoh, NSR and The Carry Nation created an incredible soundtrack as revellers set sail on the festival’s iconic pirate ship, got down in the sand and consumed some of the best damn fish tacos we’ve ever had. With choice vibes in ample supply and a delightful breeze wafting off of the lake, The Water Stage truly captured an infectious party atmosphere that seemed to transport us to an exotic destination.
Perhaps the most enchanting of all the Elements grandstands was The Air Stage. Nestled away deep in the forest The Air Stage brought together some of the finest minds in the art of dance music. Surrounded by comforting arboreal sentinels, The Air Stage combined an enigmatic and mysterious allure with an inviting serenity. Throughout the weekend, this stage quickly became the first place we ventured to relax, pitch a hammock and submerge ourselves in cerebral yet intoxicating beats. With globally renowned artists like Jamie Jones, Thugfucker, Lee Burridge and Maceo Plex, curating the festivities, The Air Stage thumped with a composed yet unmistakable vibrancy.
Those looking for their fix of serious bass waves ventured to The Earth Stage. Designed by Reliquiram and replete with custom visuals courtesy of Rhizome, The Earth Stage enveloped crowds in a vortex of swirling colors, streaking lights and thumping bass. Sporting perhaps the most eclectic lineup of all the main stages, The Earth Stage combined a wide range of sonic dialects. Psychadelic maestro Shpongle unleashed his legendary brand of bizarre on Friday night while bass heavyweights Minnesota and Troyboi stole the show with their jaw-dropping sets.
Undoubtedly the shining light of Elements Lakewood was The Fire Stage. This incendiary hotbed was the perfect example of Lakewood’s spirit of collaboration. Groundbreaking innovators joined forces to set the stage alight with unrelenting energy and world-class performances. The Dirtybird family was out in force as Claude Vonstroke, Fisher and Ardalan showed why the Bay Area label has taken over the world of dance music. Chris Lake dropped an absolutely insane set on Saturday night turning The Fire Stage into an absolute madhouse. The legendary Desert Hearts crew fought back the rain as Mikey Lion, Marbs, Porky and Lee Reynolds brought the Playa to the northeast.
Beyond the four main stages, Elements Lakewood still had so much to offer. The Wub Hub supplied late night vibes highlighted by the massively anticipated Sermon Nation x Goodlooks Collective Takeover that featured Ethan Glass, Zoologic, Brightside and Saltus. The Porch Stage and Gym Stage showcased two of our favorite discoveries. Brooklyn jam band Space Bacon and West Coast Kooky House specialists Bandikook, threw down sets to remember.
Music festivals are a breeding ground for adventure. Separated from the constraints of everyday life and seemingly detached from reality, this is where our generation seems to thrive. Elements Lakewood really captured that adventurous spirit and its no surprise really. After all, BangOn’s greatest strength is their ability to create a deeply immersive sensory experience with art and performers nestled in every nook and cranny.
However, there was a truly bewitching essence to Elements Lakewood this year. As an eerie mist rolled over the moonlit lake during the Viking funeral and firewalking ceremony, we realized that this was a festival that truly wanted to inspire. Intimate and tightly knit, Elements Lakewood geared itself to piquing the curiosity and imagination of its attendees.
Festivals are meant to be a place where we leave renewed and even slightly challenged, and Elements Lakewood definitely embodied that ethos. Beyond the music, there was a sense of wanderlust that seemed to embue the sleepy little summer camp and that was probably the most exciting aspect of the weekend.
With the track record that BangOn has its no surprise that Elements teemed with a familial spirit. Close groups of friends created a dynamic network of relationships. The festival came to life thanks to a potent sense of camaraderie and like-mindedness. BangOn has definitely created a playground in its own vision. A place where its extensive following can come to let loose, be themselves and fully connect. With its mix of intimacy and world-class musical acts, there is no doubt that Elements Lakewood will improve upon itself each year and continue to thrive.