The first edition of GLOW Festival project lived up to its hype and delivered a weekend unforgettable memories in Washington DC.
While washington d.c. is the heart of the nation’s capital, it’s also a great place for fans to enjoy some of the best talent in the electronic music sphere. With GLOW Club calling DC home, it made sense for the brand to partner with Insomniac events bring fans together for a festival of their own this year at GLOW Festival project.
As one of the newest festivals to surface on the scene, all eyes were on what it had to offer. From the start, entering the festival went smoothly. Signs and safety measures were posted all around RFK Stadium. With separate lots for attendees carpooling and people driving, and signage for everyone taking the subway, it was impossible to get lost along the way – and traffic was non-existent. With VIP access, the whole process of checking IDs, scanning tickets, and checking my water pack took zero time.
Upon entering the festival site, I was greeted with a clear view of the many vendors available for both festival gear and food assortments, but I wanted to be in on the music action. I followed the sound of the lively bass and found the famous Boombox Art Car located next to the Ferris wheel. West end led the small crowd that had gathered in the tent for his set. The Boombox Art Car specifically offered a unique experience with DJs actually performing inside the car, giving attendees the opportunity to watch the DJ magic up close.
While Westend swayed the contestants with his infectious beats and haunting beats, the sound of the Boombox Art Car eventually failed, and parts of his set became noticeably quieter or fluctuated in sound. This fluctuation was noticeable at every step. At several points during several sets, the bass distinctly overwhelmed all sound with melodies, making it difficult to appreciate the full range of some of the acts with more vocals in their sets.
As the GLOW project is a smaller festival and with signs posted on every corner, navigating the event grounds was an easy task and made finding friends easy.
Even though Insomniac’s built-in maps weren’t available for the duration of the festival, it was ultimately not a necessity. After the Westend set, I quickly headed to the Impulse scene, where higher ground welcomed its takeover for Saturday. Instantly, the bass from the stage filled my chest. Mat.joe were playing their set when I arrived and the duo drew the crowd in with their progressive house. It was easy to get lost in the atmosphere and admire the scenery of the festival against the bright sunshine and the sparkling waves reflected by people’s colorful outfits.
After staying to enjoy Mat.joe’s set, I headed to the water station located halfway between the Pulse and Eternal steps. While many had expressed their concerns on Project GLOW’s social media about the festival having only one water station, concerns were quickly allayed. Throughout the weekend the water lines were extremely short. On multiple trips there, I haven’t waited more than three minutes.
Lines from most vendors seemed to be the same. On Saturday, my food order at Caliburger was quickly filled and I was able to enjoy a set while playing while waiting in line. Likewise, when I ordered my food from a vendor, bought a locker, and stopped at the general store after forgetting my earplugs on Sunday, I experienced no wait times and was able to quickly return to enjoy the music.
Saturday’s Higher Ground Pulse stage takeover was filled with hypnotic performances.
After Mat.joe, I stayed for Westend, Qrion, and part of by Lutrell Position. As I expected, each DJ delivered captivating music at full throttle for house fans. While Westend was working his magic at the Boombox Art Car, it was completely different to be able to hear him on the Pulse Stage. His set was filled with a mix of tech house, afro-house and funk – and several shuffle circles broke out in the crowd, with local shuffle band DMV Shuffle Circle also making an appearance with their flag .
As Qrion took her turn on the decks, a slight hiccup occurred with the sound skipping and skipping, but it was resolved in moments, quickly fading as she dropped deep house to quiet the crowd. His set was a beautiful reminder of what it was like to let go and savor the moment of being among people and enjoying the music after a long break from festivals. Although known for her soothing music, Qrion also added a touch of funk for some uplifting moments, including her own song “Proud.” Luttrell followed up with his own doses of pure ecstasy, playing uplifting music suitable for a sunset.
The Eternal Stage delivered massive acts, including SLANDER and Above & Beyondwith breathtaking production quality.
After Luttrell’s set, I headed to the VIP area of the Eternal Stage to find room for a game of calumny Position. I enjoyed the melodic bursts mixed with head-banging moments, and after listening to house all day, I was thrilled at the change of pace. Fans emotionally sang their popular songs and SLANDER rewarded them with new music. Even towards the end of their set, I was singing along to their 2017 hit “Superhuman.”
One of the biggest highlights of the night was seeing Above and beyond in their glory. It was the first time I had the chance to stay for their full set. The shivers that ran through my arms for the duration were just a small indication of the emotional roller coaster the band sent me. The music was emotionally refreshing and they knew exactly how to transition from trance to heavier bass-focused sounds. The whole experience was a cinematic masterpiece and the trio also connected with fans through typed messages on the stage screen.
I ended the night with Diplo’s High Ground set back at Pulse Stadium. This shift in tone to a house ensemble was the perfect way to end the night. The music was equally energizing and I was able to listen to songs like a remix of “Thunderclouds”, “Turn Off the Lights”, “Still Don’t Know My Name” by Labrinth, and more.
Sunday performers have added more diversity to the Project GLOW lineup.
As it had rained earlier in the day, I was in no rush to go to the festival. With the Art Car Boombox, Pulse Stage, and part of the Eternal Stage placed on the sidewalk, there was virtually no mud despite previous heavy rain. When I arrived, I spent some time exploring the festival grounds beyond the stages and found the Electra art installation as well as an installation that looked like a mini stage.
I caught the end of the story Joel Corry settled and expected Krewella arrive. Once they did, the sisters took the crowd to another world. Their set heavily featured their new album, The body never lies, and the visuals accompanied it. Their set was filled with heavy bass, psytrance and trap to get the body moving. Although they didn’t give a vocal performance this time around, the two of them had me jumping all the time.
Seven Lions was another highlight of the night and added his incredible flavor to the main stage. His production was almost unreal, with lasers, pyrotechnics, strobes and insane visuals filling every inch of the stage. His music brought as much as the visual production that accompanied it. He played many fan favorites including “Strangers” and “Falling Away” to name a few. Whether it’s making us feel emotional with their melodic songs or leaping us in rapid succession towards psytrance, Seven Lions have nailed it all and spared no one from moving their bodies.
Finally, I ended the evening with MK b2b Sonny Fodera. The two DJs literally brought the house down. Visually, emotionally and with the pure energy emanating from MK, Sonny Fodera and the crowd, it was the perfect way to end the evening. The couple played a number of familiar songs from their two discographies. Singing along to the music and mingling with others who in turn energized the people around them showed their set exemplified the tight-knit community that emerges from sharing a love of music.
As a first-time festival, there are still opportunities for improvement.
Although I really enjoyed my experience at the GLOW project, there are still areas for improvement. As a huge house music fan, I enjoyed the lineup and the artists playing each day, but it was easy to see that the lineup lacked diversity for fans of other genres. At several points on Saturday, I walked around each stage and found the sounds to be incredibly similar. While not a problem for me, I could imagine that attendees who weren’t interested in the house would find it repetitive.
As I mentioned earlier, the sound production fluctuated at every stage throughout the day. At times, the Eternal Stage blasted the bass with little room for vocals or melodic parts to be heard. The Pulse Stage remained bass-heavy, and without earplugs it would have been almost deafening. Finally, leaving the site was a challenge – to enter and exit the festival, participants had to go through a small tunnel, which blocked the crowd in a bottleneck.
Despite these challenges, the festival was a wonderful experience, especially since it was also the first edition. With its navigable grounds, beautiful art installations and excellent programming, it made for a weekend to remember. Stay tuned for its return and if you’re looking for another Project GLOW experience, they just announced a fall edition in Philadelphia. Check their website for more details.
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