The 4th Annual Full Moon Fest by Matte Productions took over the beach at Governor’s Island on Friday, August 8th offering a evening of electronic music, dancing and gourmet snacks. It wasn’t your typical EDM crowd, with the age skewing older than I was expecting (thank God for 21+) and hardly any glowsticks to be found. The picturesque Manhattan skyline acted as the backdrop for a hopping party featuring two tent stages with thumping sound systems and a memorable lineup of eclectic electronic and rock acts.
New York’s Full Moon Fest took tips from Thailand’s famous monthly all-night beach parties scheduled to coincide with the lunar cycle. The venue at Governor’s Island was fantastic, and never did the intimate space feel too small to accommodate guests who came to dance under the waxing moon. Waterside cabanas with spectacular views of the mainstage were available for attendees who purchased the VIP option. However, early in the evening these remained mostly empty.
The first thing I said upon stepping foot off the ferry was, “Well at least we know the sound system is good.” The music sounded exceptional under the tent at the Beach Stage. Claptone’s set reminded me of nights spent in France, dancing freely to Euro-house with pulsing beats and repetitive bass drops that were smooth and easy on the ears. Hidden behind a commedia dell’arte mask, the mysterious German producer created a layered soundscape that lent itself well to the afternoon vibe. As we walked in he was sampling Roxanne by The Police, getting the audience geared up for a high-energy night.
JDH and Dave P really brought the energy to the Neon Gold stage at 6 PM. The duo brought welcome funk throwbacks to the island setting. Festival goers tossed blue and gold beach balls overheard as the party was just starting to get “turnt up.”
The bros were in full force during Le Youth’s 7 PM set at the Beach Stage. A group of four polo-sporting dudes lost their minds for the 90s club classic, Rhythm of the Night. I later saw the same four holding each other on their shoulders, laughing, shouting and what looked like, having the best time of their lives. Real bros help their bros get a good view of the bros on stage, right brah?
The 8 PM – 10 PM block on the Neon Gold stage was my jam, with Penguin Prison sampling everything from Paul Simon to Michael Jackson. Though it was a DJ set, he still offered live vocals on a number of his own tracks including The Worse it Gets, Don’t Fuck With My Money, plus he gave us a sneak peek of his upcoming album. Spoiler alert: it seems just a funky and 80s inspired as we’ve come to expect from the local producer. Gotta love him!
Next up was The Knocks who absolutely KILLED it. This was my third time seeing these guys, but the first time I experienced a live set from the dynamic duo. With Mr. JPatt on bass, vocals and synth and B-Roc crushing the electronic drum kit, their setlist covered the hits including The Feeling and Modern Hearts. Their dancers were on point despite the confined nature of the stage. They closed out the Neon Gold stage after an hour (too short) by inviting the audience on stage to groove with them for Dancing With the DJ.
With one stage wrapped for the evening, we headed back to the mainstage for Australian musical duo, The Aston Shuffle. Their sound reminded me a bit of Glitch Mob with their dreamy synth pop and soaring vocal overlays. It was incredibly easy to making it to the front and center of the stage, so I don’t know if people had already left for the evening, but I still had a few moves left in me.
Next up, the MC for Matte Productions announced a special surprise performance from Hideaway singer, Keisza. Her backup dancers were ballin’ as they moved effortlessly across the stage. Her set was short, because the festivities still had to end by midnight. I wonder if Delorean was peeved that his set was cut short? We had to leave during the middle of his set, but the audience seemed receptive to his brand of electro-house which kept the bass bumping as we waited for the ferry back to FiDi.
Overall, a fun evening, but I think the festival could benefit from featuring other activities on the island. SPiN sponsored a couple of ping pong tables, but it would be nice if visitors had additional entertainment when seeking a break from dancing. Additionally, the lack of a potable water station was a little concerning, especially with all of the dehydration issues we’ve seen lately at electronic music festival. At $5 per 12 oz bottle of water, you’re just asking for people to drop. Don’t let the high fashion fool you, these kids were still there to throw down (and by throw down I mean stand in large circles in the middle of crowded tents and talk about how their feelings and how much they loved each other, and/or aggressively makeout. Believe me, there was A LOT of that.)
I’m excited to see how Matte promotes and curates the Full Moon Fest next year. I think it has a lot of potential to draw visitors to Governor’s Island with it’s unique lineup and aesthetically pleasing venue. Truthfully, I was surprised I hadn’t heard of it before, but after seeing the clientele, it wasn’t my typical scene. I’m glad I got introduced however, because it made for a fabulous summer night. Now, if we could just convince them to throw a Full Moon beach party EVERY month . . .