Sound Haven 2021 live photo

MP3 TAKES: Sound Haven 2023

Sound Haven 2023 was a wild ride in every sense of the term. The 5th annual event drew in thousands from across the country for four days of camping, exciting workshops, and some of the best experimental bass acts the scene has to offer. The South’s wildest and weirdest bass music festival started out rough but still delivered a quality experience in terms of music, community, and overall vibes. Here are our MP3 MAG TAKES from the weekend:

Overcoming Initial Challenges: Weather Hurdles at Sound Haven 2023

Let’s start by addressing the elephant in the room. Anyone who was unlucky enough to arrive on Day 1 likely waited… quite a while to get into the festival grounds. Gates opened at noon on Thursday, as scheduled. But by around 3 P.M., a severe thunderstorm had rolled in, forcing the gates to close for several hours. The storm dumped sheets of rain and liquefied the ground. The mud was so serious that many cars got stuck in it. This created a massive delay at the gate, as staff had to get said cars unstuck before letting more in.

Even laying down truckloads of gravel didn’t stop the mud from swallowing up vehicles. In an attempt to alleviate the problem, staff decided to let in only five cars at a time in half-hour intervals. Of course, this created an even bigger delay. Festivalgoers waited upwards of 13 hours to get in and, as a result, missed the entire first day of music.

Understandably, people were angry about having missed 25 percent of the festival. However, once everyone got their camps set up, re-fueled on food and sleep, and finally got a chance to enjoy the music, the mood shifted. Sentiments of “this sucks” and “I don’t want to be here” changed to “I’m having fun” and “I’m glad I came.”

Non-Stop Entertainment: A Day in the Life at Sound Haven Festival

Photo by Ashley Eady

For a small festival, Sound Haven offered an impressive variety of things to see, do, eat, and hear. Everywhere you went–regardless of the time of day–there was something fun to do. Workshops took place in the early mornings, offering attendees the chance to learn about reiki and somatic healing, or join in on a painting circle. In the afternoon, fans escaped the heat by taking a dip in the pond, napping in one of many hammocks, or vibing out in the woods at the Kouch Stage.

Photo by Ashley Eady

Nighttime, though, is when the festival truly came alive. As the sun set and temperatures dropped, the masses emerged armed with colorful flow toys. Music and visuals went strong until sunrise. If you happened to look up at any point, you may have seen a highline walker performing acrobatic stunts near the Planetary Stage.

Unforgettable Music: Best Performances at Sound Haven 2023

Photo by Ashley Eady

What sets Sound Haven apart from other events is its top-notch sound production. Those Funktion-One and Element 5 sound systems really did each artist justice. No matter where one stood or sat, the bass and wubs came through loud and clear and powerful.

While every artist on the lineup absolutely slayed their set, a few stood apart from the rest. Saturday and Sunday night especially packed some heat. Denver-based producer Thought Process kept the vibes high on Saturday during the golden hour. His funk-infused beats energized the crowd, providing the perfect backdrop for a gorgeous kaleidoscopic sunset over the Tennessee hills. We’re still reeling over his remix of The O’Jays’ “For the Love of Money.”

Lab Group: Inside Bass Music’s Dopest Collab Project

Goopsteppa was nothing to slouch at, either. His visuals slapped, and his beats slapped even harder. Meanwhile, Lab Group injected new energy into the crowd and brought the vibes to level 100.

Our award for favorite performance of the weekend goes to Cool Customer, who played Sunday night at the UFO Stage. This dude didn’t come to mess around. His first drop had hands in the air and jaws on the floor. His entire set had all the wooks wobbling and the hippies hopping. We’re gonna need to see a chiropractor after all the headbanging we did!

Embracing Community Spirit: The Power of Underground at Sound Haven

Photo by Ashley Eady

Aside from the chaos of the first day, Sound Haven went off without a hitch. What makes this festival so special, besides the music, is the people it attracts. This weekend was a testament to the power of the underground. Even through adversity, this community takes care of each other and spreads love and good vibes.


Ashley is a multimedia journalist based in Nashville, TN. She holds a Master of Art in Journalism from USC and a Bachelor of Music from Vanderbilt. With nearly 10 years of music industry experience, Ashley is well-versed in reporting, editing, artist interviews, and podcast production. When she's not headbanging at the rail to filthy wubz, you can find her in the garden, hiking, or sipping herbal tea while she writes in her dream journal.