As a devout believer in the spirituality of music and follower of the festie religion, I thought I’d seen a lot; this past weekend, I was proven wrong. For the 8th year in a row, the rising ideology of EDM created for itself a universal place of gathering, appearing out of nowhere, in the small town of Boom, Belgium. For one long weekend, crusaders from 56 countries across the globe came calling, to be taken over by 12 stages of music, 150,000+ people, and the unbelievable world of Tomorrowland.

My date of departure approached and my heartbeat increased as I anticipated the drop that would hopefully be the most epic weekend of my summer. Special booths were set up in the Eurostar departure zone for the neon-clad, tent-carrying electro-heads flooding London St. Pancras station. Wristbands were clamped on, and Tomorrowland newspapers were distributed; we boarded the train, and the weekend began. Drinks were flowing and beats were bumping in almost every car of the train.

Between the long day of travel, and the excitement of finally arriving, Thursday night was taken on with little hesitation. Tents were thrown together across the fields of Belgium, and happy campers were off to the Dreamville stage.

The highlight of the night was the party-starting performance by local team Dmitri Vegas and Like Mike, ending with the pair’s Official Tomorrowland 2012 Anthem. The crowd dispersed, and Dreamville was alive with the spirit and enthusiasm that would carry through the night, into the morning, and kick off the official first day of the festival.

The masses rolled out of their tents Friday morning and began the day with the same excitement with which the previous night had ended (or for some, continued). En route to Tomorrowland, we passed the Front Marketplace of Dreamville, host to various shops and amenities including: a Moroccan Tea House, Fresh Baguette Bakery, Dreamville Radio Station, and a token dispensary- the going exchange rate of 10 euro for 7 tokens, which bought 3.5 beers.

Things got started with Steve Aoki, host of the purple dance tent behind the main stage, who made it known that the Dim Mak Fight Club was the place to be on this inaugural day of beats. The highlight of the set was a surprise appearance by the turbulent hype-man himself, Lil’ Jon. It took me over an hour to get a lay of the land, stopping by each and every stage, and of course, riding the Ferris wheel. There was no abundance of last year’s hit “Epic w/ Let the Bass Kick” - my final play count for the weekend totaled somewhere between 15-20 occasions.

Thomas Gold was far from a let down, keeping it fun and playing to the crowd. As the crowd grew and the day became night, Alesso took over and played what everyone wanted to hear, ending his set with the ever popular, Gotye’s, “Somebody That I Used to Know”. Following Alesso, and earning the title of ‘sample master’, Fatboy Slim pulled out remixes of oldies and recent hits, including: Etta James’ “Somethings Got a Hold on Me”, Azaelia Banks’ “212”, LMFAO’s “I’m in Miami Bitch”, and Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody”. At the ripe age of 49, Fatboy Slim proved that EDM is ageless.

Returning to the mainstage, I was relieved and immediately revived by the night’s closers, Bloody Beetroots. No one could stand still. The light show was captivating against the late-night sky, and the set ended as wildly as it began. The Book of Wisdom closed her doors and played us out with one more remix, Bittersweet Symphony, for the night, fulfilling the craving left after a mind-blowing set by the Beetroots.

The music of day two, Saturday, was equally as promising as the day before, beginning with an early afternoon set from Swanky Tunes. A hit across the States after their appearance at Ultra, the pair had their dance tent bumping. The tent remained hot as bass jumping sets from both CongoRock and LaidBack Luke followed. The crowd barely dwindled, and at points overflowed from the tent, proving the popularity of each act.

Back at the mainstage, I was hoisted up on a pair of shoulders and able to catch Chuckie and Martin Solveig, both of whom played through the afternoon and spun out all of their hits, as well as tracks from Swedish House Mafia, Avicii, and Tiesto. Chuckie rocked a Phillies hat the entire set, representing his hometown with beats that made this Philly girl proud.

Travel between the mainstage and side tents was worth the trip on Saturday. I was able to catch exhilarating sets from Bassjackers and Porter Robinson, both of whom left the crowd with hands in the air and jaws on the floor, and still make it back to the mainstage in time to catch the end of Hardwell’s killer set. And then my mind was blown. Accompanied by a penguin, a tiger, a Union Jack, and a Minnesota blonde, my crew and I took on the main stage. Or rather, were taken over by the INCREDIBLE shows put on by mainstream masters of dubstep, techno and house: Skrillex and Swedish House Mafia.

Skrillex started his set with “My Name is Skrillex” and from that point on, it was hard to tell we were still on planet Earth. The highlight of the set was Knife Party collaboration “Internet Friends” leading into the hit “Kill Everybody”. Swedish House Mafia took the stage at 11 pm, and the crowd did not stop moving until 1 am when the set ended. Lasers, fireworks, and glowsticks aside, I have never been more stimulated by a show in my life. Though many called the set “tame” the next day, as an SHM first-timer, I was in another world.

It was now Sunday and Taking it “easy” was not an option. As I spent 3 straight hours moving along with the music of Tommy Trash and Sander Van Doorn in the Pearl Tent. Sander Van Doorn was a stand-out, despite a slight glitch in the beginning of the show. Sampling top 40 artists like Rihanna, Florence & the Machine, Pitbull and Will.I.Am, Afrojack rocked the mainstage, despite slight rainstorms throughout the afternoon.

My night, my weekend, and the world’s Tomorrowland ended with a mainstage set from Steve Aoki. The larger-than-normal lighting finally did his music justice, at least compared to the small venue sets I’ve seen in the states. Aoki brought the energy and closed out the festival with favorites like No Beef and Turbulence, and of course, his signature cake throw.

The Book of Wisdom closed for it’s final time at midnight on Sunday night, and the crowd departed from the mainstage one last time. The newly formed Tomorrowland festival family marched out of the festival grounds, worn out from a non-stop, weekend-long party. With one final testament to the uniqueness, internationality, and love of the weekend, the crowd funneled back into Dreamville, singing together, “Na-na-na-na, na-na-na-na, hey hey hey…” and ending the song with one of the following: salukes, wiedershen, revoir, goodbye, adjo, poka, farvel, etc.

See full gallery HERE.

Written By: Cara Ostrow

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