Written by: Jake Stevenson
Last week I enjoyed an incredible end to 2019 at HiJinx Festival at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia. With a killer lineup including Subtronics, Skrillex, and Porter Robinson - three artists I wrote about in my preview article - HiJinxers were bound to have an awesome musical adventure.
The highlight of Day 1 was Subtronics’ set. I’d been waiting to see him for a long time and he definitely delivered. I made it to the rail for the set, and the sound quality was practically perfect. He absolutely threw down, and of course, ended the set with the track everyone was waiting for, “Griztronics,” featuring a real-life collab with GRiZ, who was scheduled to play the very next set.
After Subtronics, I put my phone down and got my mind blown by Griz - you can check out the video evidence in real time.
Oh man, did Griz put on a show! From psychedelic tracks to live singing and performing, Griz really impressed me.
By the time Bassnectar came around, I was losing some steam. While Subtronics’ sound at the rails was crisp and I could pick out everything, in comparison, Bassnectar was almost entirely washed out by his heavy bass. I got out of the crowd and took time to explore the Bazaar, where EDM vendors were selling their wares. I mingled with other party people and ultimately chilled at the VIP viewing deck, where I ended the night listening to Zeds Dead. I let their smooth sounds and melodic bass massage my legs, as they took me on a sonic journey. The experienced Canadian duo closed out Day 1 in style.
If Day 1 was the tasty appetizers, then Day 2 was the main course. I finally got to see EDM legends Porter Robinson and Skrillex, both for the first time, before the premier of Excision b2b Slander, all three sets in a row to close out HiJinx. I’d seen Excision and Slander individually at EDCO 2019, so seeing them back to back was a real treat.
In the lead up to the big finish, Big Wild commanded the crowd, wowing the crowd with a live performance including drums, keys, singing, and chanting. He did a great job, and I would not be surprised if a lot of people walked away from that set as new Big Wild fans. That being said, nobody would be walking away, since we all looked forward to finally see Porter Robinson.
Porter Robinson is one of my all-time favorite artists, and his song “Language” got me into electronic music back in 2013. So it was with bated breath and uncontainable excitement that I finally experienced Porter Robinson for the first time.
I cried to “Shelter,” I bawled to “Divinity,” I screamed the lyrics to “Flicker,” I sang along with the crowd to “Sad Machine,” and I raged to “Fresh Static Snow.” Porter played the perfect set! I was close to the rail and right in the center; it truly was a set to remember forever. His visuals were both iconically classic and wonderfully new, making it the best set of the whole festival weekend.
If there’s a runner up for second-best set, it has to be Skrillex, who went on right after Porter. As if he read my mind, Skrillex brought his own mini-stage setup including his own speakers, right on the edge of the stage as close to the audience as possible. He played an incredible, high-energy set filled with old and new Skrillex tracks, including opening with “Fiji Opener.” From the title tracks of "Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites" and "Bangarang" through “Purple Lamborghini,” “Would You Ever,” “Chicken Soup,” “Face My Fears,” and even his “HUMBLE.” and “Sicko Mode” remixes, Skrillex really left no stone unturned, as he filled our hearts with joy and kept us going the whole hour. Everything was present, everyone was hyped, and everywhere the energy was palpable. Skrillex threw down an incredible set.
After Skrillex I was immensely tired, super dehydrated, and my phone battery was dead, meaning no pictures for the final set of the festival: Excision b2b Slander. An abundance of hits ensued, perfectly blended into each other, so it is no surprise that Excision threw down and Slander almost made me cry. To end the set and the festival, they announced and performed their new collab “Your Fault.” It was absolutely insane, as both artists continue to conquer their craft.
The amazing music notwithstanding, HiJinx festival has more room to grow in the coming years, as large portions of the festival’s housing on the second floor were empty. It gave plenty of room for people to space out in the back and chill, which was nice. The Bazaar section included vendors selling clothing, pins, pashminas, and other EDM couture. Their products were great to look at, everyone had a wide variety, and I ended up buying a couple pins myself. The VIP area was great, boasting a bar, extra water refill stations, a viewing deck, and a VIP exclusive pit. It was a nice place to relax and take a breather, or rage with others in a less packed crowd.
As massive as 2019 iteration was, it's exciting that HiJinx still has room to grow in 2020 and beyond. Full Senders will only get more excited as the wait begins for next year. The staff, security, and of course the HiJinx HiFivers around the festival were all warm and welcoming. The presentation and art installations were colorful and something to behold. Take notice EDM world, HiJinx is here and has deservedly made a name for itself among the very best options for New Year’s Eve weekend festivities. I can’t wait to see what 2020 has in store for us HiJinxers!