Location: 30 minutes outside of Atlanta, GA.
Dates: September 26th-28th.
LineUp: The TomorrowWorld lineup featured the biggest names in electronic music. The big names were great, but the lack of diversity made it hard to keep my attention by the third day.
Stages/Sound: The TomorrowWorld stages were spectacular. Each one had its own look and feel, and the attention to detail was as good as I’ve seen. The main stage was a true marvel to stand in front of. Un-freaking-real! The sound was well done – the larger stages had speaker towers (as they should). One stage even had speakers behind the audience so you could hear that stage over the sound of the main stage. Overall, the production was completely on point.
Greening: The good: TomorrowWorld had bins for recycling and trash, and signs asking people to help keep the place clean. The Bad: The festival was a mess. Too many of the trashcans were overflowing, which just encouraged attendees to throw waste on the ground.
Security: The security at TomorrowWorld was light. Still, they did a good job of keeping lines down. At no point did I feel like a criminal for being a festival attendee.
Sponsors: The sponsors absolutely killed it. Bud Light set up a beach area and another spot that made you feel like you were at a house party. ZipCar had an awesome viewing area and a zip line. TomorrowWorld was proof that sponsors can be a positive influence if they do things right.
Crowd: TomorrowWorld was a 21-and-over festival. This was a huge step up compared to the 18+ electronic dance music (EDM) festivals like EDC and Hard. The crowd was different from any other I’ve seen. It included a large foreign population, which was fun to be around. Though their dress was ordinary, even boring, they exuded great vibes. I was disappointed to see how many people wore Indian headdresses. This crowd hadn’t figured out that these are unoriginal and make you look like a racist douchebag. Also, the EDM crowd is the pits at camping. Every campsite was a complete mess. Trash was strewn everywhere. When the festival ended the grounds were a disaster zone.
Food: The food at TomorrowWorld was easily the most expensive I’ve come across in all of my festivals. TomorrowWorld deployed a cash-less purchasing system in which attendees loaded money onto a digital wristband. Each $2.25 you put on your wristband was worth 1 token. It was mindboggling to do the math for your purchases. A bottle of water was 2 tokens, or $4.50. A beer was four tokens, or $9. There was a wide selection of food, but its exorbitant cost limited how much you could enjoy it.
Art: All of TomorrowWorld was one giant art piece. Virtually everything was decorated and lit up. Even the vendors were branded to have a great look and feel. They also did a good job of having beautifully costumed troops wandering the grounds. I did feel that there was still room for some interactive art as well as some live art installations which allow you to watch the art be created over the weekend.
Camping: TomorrowWorld’s campground was called “DreamVille.” Now, in my view, giving it a name and having people pay to be there should all but guarantee that there’s something to do while you’re there. There wasn’t. No silent disco. No art. Nothing. After the festival ended at 1 a.m., festivalgoers were left to wander around all night looking for fun that they couldn’t find. One weird thing TW did was take everyone’s small camp-stove propane tanks and provide them with areas to cook with charcoal. This would have been acceptable if the BBQ pits were open at night – but they weren’t, so you couldn’t prepare hot food after the music ended.
Organization: TomorrowWorld’s organization was as much of a mixed bag as the rest of the festival. The Good: TW provided enough space and washroom facilities. They even gave you running water to wash your hands and a mirror to make sure you look good. They also did a great job of making sure water was available. You didn’t have to wait for anything in the campground, except for food. They also did a great job of allowing Dance Safe into the event, and I’ll give them bonus points for giving attendees free postcards to send to friends/family. The Bad: The portapotties weren’t cleaned often enough, and they ran out of toilet paper all the time. This is unacceptable for a festival of this size. TW also did the stupidest thing I’ve seen in all my festival days – they changed the names of the stages every day, according to whatever record label was running it. This made it practically impossible to coordinate with friends without consulting a map. These name switches were confusing and annoying.
Overall: TomorrowWorld is a tough festival to review. They did some things better than other festivals I’ve been to, such as building wooden walkways to keep dust down. And the production and stages were a true spectacle. On the other hand, TW was awful in the campground department and in its idiotic stage-naming (tied with Bonnaroo). I’ll give TomorrowWorld 3.5 stars, but it has the potential to be a five-star festival if the organizers improve the camping, add more art installations and make it easier to attend.