BY MELISSA RUGGIERI/AJC Music Scene
The Imagine Music Festival keeps growing.
For its fourth year, the region’s largest EDM camping festival will remain at Atlanta Motor Speedway, where it moved in 2016 , but its lineup of talent has escalated and the dates have moved to a cooler period of fall, Sept. 22-24.
The first round of headliners includes Above & Beyond, Deadmau5, Tiesto, Pretty Lights Live and Gorgon City.
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The six stages that will be erected throughout the speedway will feature a distinct musical focus and vibe and present artists including:
Oceania Stage: Datsik; Deorro; Flux Pavilion; Seven Lions; Zomboy; 12th Planet; Black Tiger Sex Machine; Liquid Stranger; Marc Kitchen; Codeko; Fransis Derelle; Leah Culver; and Ying Yang Twins, with Pyramid Schemes.
Amazonia Stage: The Floozies; Jai Wolf; Bleep Bloop; Minnesota; Rob Garza; Spag Heddy; Boogie T; Buku; Esseks; ill.Gates; Ott; Squnto; and Heti.
Disco Inferno Stage: Chris Lake; Claptone; Nora En Pure; Shiba San and Will Clarke.
Aeria Stage: Noisia; Netsky; Planet of the Drums, featuring AK1200, Dara, Dieselboy and Messinian; Black Sun Empire; Andy Bruh; Bryson Taylor; Daily Bread; Eddie Gold; High Caliber; Ployd; Ra & Adara.
A second round of artists and additional stages will be announced in the coming weeks.
Tickets for the 18 and older festival are available now (at www.imaginefestival.com) starting at $125 for a three-day general admission pass and $299 for a three-day VIP pass (including air-conditioned chill lounge, bottle service, complimentary champagne toasts, private security and bathrooms and meet and greets).
According to festival founders Glenn and Madeleine Goodhand of Iris Presents, last year’s event attracted about 75,000 fans during the three-day weekend; they are expecting an increase to about 30-40,000 fans per day.
One of the primary reasons the Goodhands moved this year’s Imagine from August to September was to escape the blistering Atlanta summer.
“We had some issues with the heat,” Glenn Goodhand said. “The first two years, the weather was beautiful and a little overcast at the end of August. This past year happened to be really sunny with not one cloud in the sky so it was in the 90s during the day and people had issues with the heat. To answer that, we moved it to a month later and we won’t start programming until about 5 p.m. so (attendees) have a better opportunity to see all the artists and the heat won’t be quite as bad as it was at noon.”
The Goodhands are also acutely aware of the shortcomings of last year’s Imagine and are using customer survey results to implement changes for the 2017 edition.
Some improvements include an increase in water stations, as well as signage to those stations, and a new app that will include a map of the grounds and schedule.
“The Speedway has tons of water, but this year we’re going to be proactive and provide high-end water stations all over the venue and more signage,” Madeleine Goodhand said. “There will be a lot of little improvements that make a big difference to our customers. We started this festival to be 100-percent customer oriented.”
Glenn Goodhand said that while in past years, he and his wife have focused on artists who might not have been massive at the time, this year they changed direction to land “some of the best in the world…We think this is going to be one of the biggest (festivals) of the season. We’re a little like Electric Forest (in Michigan), a little like Burning Man (in Nevada), a little like Coachella (in California). It’s a melting pot.”
As well, he noted, “We’re one of the last remaining independent festivals. A lot of them out there are corporate that have endless bank accounts. We have been living the American dream and the American struggle, trying to make this happen with just us. We do feel that people can tell the difference at the fest - there’s a lot more care and detail to the event. We truly care about every person who is there.”