Favorite Things We Saw at WAKAAN Music Festival 2022

The bass scene — and society at large, for that matter — look much different today than it did in 2019, which was the year Liquid Stranger debuted his flagship festival with his experimental bass label, WAKAAN. With community and innovation at the forefront of WAKAAN’s creative mission, 2019’s WAKAAN Music Festival received high praise from artists and fans alike, who anxiously awaited for the festival to return while the world was plagued by a global pandemic.

After three years, the WAKAAN gathering has finally returned, and we’re happy to say that 2022’s festival was a step forward in every direction. Here are five things that ensured this year’s WAKAAN Music Festival lived up to the hype.

Main Stage

WAKAAN is unique in the fact that there’s only one main stage the entire weekend. From 1 p.m. to 2 a.m., artists took turns performing on the AURA stage, one at a time, which meant there was no pressure to choose between which set to see. This also meant the audience was always in one general area, generating greater exposure for every artist that played.

The stage for the inaugural year of the festival in 2019 represented what most festivalgoers believed to be an eye. After further investigation, and also the announcement of SSKWAN, Liquid Strangers downtempo label, fans later the stage could have symbolized the new labels logo.

This year’s stage design was much different.

Hugging each side of the stage were three large triangular LED panels, representing the WAKAAN logo. In addition, an LED screen was added behind the artist, as well as above them. This created the ultimate visual experience for the fans who visited the main stage. The lighting for both years of the festival was absolutely mind-blowing. The addition of lasers is always an excellent choice to bring even more of a wow factor to production, and the WAKAAN team knew exactly how to do it.

WAKAAN After Hours

Although the majority of acts performed at the mainstage, WAKAAN’s after-hours sets were just as (if not more) exciting. WAKAAN curated a perfect lineup for the afterparty, showcasing a healthy mix of the most exciting up-and-coming producers and DJs in the industry, and legendary performers like Ternion Sound (all three members were present for their set, a rare treat for fans and newcomers alike).

Both late-night stages had their own vibe. The HALO stage, which hosted acts like A Hundred Drums, VEIL, and NotLö, was closet to the main stage and adjacent to a quaint art walk, while the CHAKRA stage was a bit more flamboyant, sitting at the bottom of a hill decorated in trees and electric vines of neon lights connecting the foliage.

These after-hours performances weren’t exactly renegade sets, but the spirit was just as high — artists like Smoakland and SuperAve. drew massive crowds, despite the late night/early morning hours, and gave incredible performances that proved to be highlights of the WAKAAN experience.

LSDream’s LIGHT CODE

LSDream’s sound-healing set, dubbed “LIGHT CODE,” has been a crucial element of his festival appearances since he first launched the project in October 2020, when the world was still in isolated distress. What began as a meditation live stream during the pandemic transformed into an intimate sound bath experience that has contributed to spiritual healing across the festival landscape, including WAKAAN, Electric Forest, and Okeechobee.

LSDream has always had a spiritual reputation, and although his music is wild, loud, and cataclysmic, Light Code serves a much different purpose — to embrace quiet peace and internal reflection. Through ancient, sound-focused methods that utilize specific frequencies (396 Hz, 432 Hz, and 528 Hz, to name a few), LIGHTCODE gives the audience a chance to explore their subconscious, realign chakras and discover a new sense of grounding. 

The LIGHT CODE set at WAKAAN Music Festival, held at the main stage during Friday’s mid-morning hours, was a great example of LSDream’s realized purpose, and the uniformly receptive community WAKAAN has built for artists and fans alike. Thousands of people gathered for the experience and many tears were shed after the meditation was over. You could literally feel the healing all around.

Mersiv

Arguably the most exciting performer in the experimental dubstep realm, Mersiv delivered everything a bass music lover could ask for during his return to the festival. Mersiv is one of those artists who takes you on a journey, a seamless sonic experience weaved expertly through original tracks, unreleased IDs, and collabs with fellow WAKAAN artists, all accompanied by grand production and hypnotizing visuals to guide you through his sound experiment.

Mersiv had a different vibe than many of the other headlining artists like Liquid Stranger and LSDream — but then again, there are very few artists that sound like Mersiv. His sound verges on dubstep, but with a melodic, experimental edge that exists at precious of freeform bass. His set at WAKAAN was perfectly executed and demonstrated his unique style with a coherence that’s unmatched in the modern bass scene.

STS9

STS9 was definitely the wildcard on this year’s lineup as well as the only live band to grace the mainstage all weekend. A band that’s known for their electronic take on the jam band genre, they brought a funkadelic edge to the lineup that provided a welcomed change of pace to close out the mainstage on Friday night.

The multi-dimensional band creates bass music with live instruments. From drum and bass to jamtronica and everything in between, the band migrates from one sound to the next with distinct clarity and direction. If you’ve never heard drum and bass performed with actual drums and bass guitar, you’re missing out. Plus, their light show is unmatched, generating colors across the visual spectrum with explosive execution and creative flair.

TVBOO Stand-Up

If you’ve listened to his podcast, TVLKS With TVBOO, or heard his Songs Your Wife Leaves You To comedy album, you know TVBOO loves to tell jokes. If it wasn’t obvious from his hit single, “Skrawberries,” these jokes are often purposely vulgar and definitely not PC, but that’s what made his comedy set at this year’s WAKAAN Festival so enjoyable — after 48 hours of headbanging and pulsing bass music, TVBOO’s comedic shock factor jumpstarted the delirious, sleep-deprived ravers with roaring laughter.

Sure, TVBOO’s comedic style isn’t for the faint of heart. Nothing was off limits, and much of his humor was pointedly sexual or crass, but it was clear he didn’t mean any harm. The performance had all the makings of a great stand-up set — political and social commentary, tailor-made jokes for his audience of ravers, and even a bit of crowd work. Thankfully, TVBOO takes his comedy as seriously as he takes his music, despite the goofy nature of both those creative avenues.

The MP3 MAG team can’t wait to see what’s in store for WAKAAN Music Festival next year! 

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A recent Denver transplant, Logan is a passionate writer, occasional promoter, and lover of all things outdoors (most recently, his years spent surfing the East Coast have developed into snowboarding in the Rocky Mountains). More than anything, though, Logan is an avid music fan. When he's not dancing at the disco, he can almost always be found with a good book or a guitar in his hands.