I fell in love with Williamsburg and It’s all BEMF’s fault.
I rarely venture to Brooklyn to go out. I don’t have anything against it, I just rarely find myself so compelled to voluntarily ride the unpredictable L train. There is one thing, however, that I will schlep to any borough for — a great show. Example: the last time I was in Brooklyn was for Kaskade’s Redux set at Output. I waited in line for three hours in the pouring rain – enough time for me to cry and pee my pants in line (not joking). Let’s just say I never wanted to come back, until now.
I gave Brooklyn another shot with Brooklyn Electronic Music Festival and I’m so glad that I did.
One of the biggest pros of BEMF is their reentry policy: as long as you have your wristband on you are free to come and go as you please. And since the shows were spread out across nine different venues with multiple artists overlapping, it was nice to be able to hop from place to place. The venues were also all walking distance from one another, or a short five-minute cab ride away. This gave me the opportunity to do some exploring in the area.
I got to the opening party on Friday night at Output promptly at 10 p.m. when doors opened. Laidback Luke was set to play, and I wasn’t taking any chances of missing it. Turns out, we were a little bit too prompt (there was no line), so we killed time at the Whiskey Brooklyn down the street.
We passed a food truck on the way where I spotted two high school friends I hadn’t seen in forever. They were going to a show at Brooklyn Bowl across the street. I thought to myself, “Where have I been all this time?” Even my high school friends know what’s up in Williamsburg.
After a few good brews about an hour later, we circled back to Output and were shocked to see that there was still no line. Inside, Julia Govor was warming up the small crowd. The weather couldn’t have been more perfect so I was able to go up to the rooftop, which is really cool. There were huge bleacher steps with pillows where you would chill out enjoy a view of the Manhattan skyline.
By the time Laidback Luke came on the club was filled. Watching him play back-to-back with Gina Turner was fascinating. Gina was in the zone and locked in with the crowd. You would have no idea that she was playing right next to her husband. Laidback Luke was having the time of his life. Their set was definitely one of my highlights of BEMF.
My favorite venue was Verboten. I had never been there before so I was excited to see what it was all about. On Saturday it was the same deal, we got there at 10 p.m. and the short line moved quickly. People were trickling in throughout the night.
The other thing I loved about BEMF was how mature the crowd was.
This type of festival definitely draws an older crowd by nature. You couldn’t spot one neon tank top or candy bracelet (no offense, rave babies). The lineup is stacked, but with mostly local DJs and up-and-coming artists. I also noticed a lot of foreign accents. Not sure if that’s a Williamsburg thing or a BEMF thing, but I was definitely into it. For a second when I was at Verboten I thought I was at a European club.
If you’ve never been to Verboten, I highly suggest checking it out. The main room is lined with white walls where projector screens are playing images and videos. It’s actually kind of trippy because you feel like you’re in a virtual reality. I caught Will Clarke’s set right before Armand Van Helden came on, also one of my highlights.
The music at BEMF fit perfectly with its surroundings.
The whole concept of BEMF is to give the underground artists a platform without diluting them. Brooklyn being the motherland of the underground music culture, I finally understood why they chose it. These venues were all about the music and the dance floor. Typically when you hear the word “festival” you think of a huge production, massive crowds and commercialized everything. This couldn’t have been more opposite and I loved it. BEMF was a huge success and I can’t wait to come back to Brooklyn to see what else the nightlife has to offer.