Concert Review

Here's What We Loved About Goldrush Music Festival

A scene from Goldrush Music Festival.
A scene from Goldrush Music Festival. Benjamin Leatherman
The inaugural Goldrush Music Festival offered exactly what it promised: a mix of hip-hop and electronic dance music. And there was plenty of both throughout the two-day outdoor concert event, which included big performances by groupls like $uicideboy$ and Migos, as well as superstar DJs like A-Trak, Baauer, and Mija.

Goldrush also featured a kistchy, Wild West vibe, as it took place at Rawhide in Chandler. There was also a variety of EDM antics, colorful costumes, and even spectacular fireworks displays.

Here's a look back at what we saw and enjoyed this past weekend at Goldrush.
click to enlarge A Goldrush attendee rides a mechanical bull. - BENJAMIN LEATHERMAN
A Goldrush attendee rides a mechanical bull.
Benjamin Leatherman
The Western Town Setting
If last month’s Lost Lake Festival taught us anything, it’s that being able to explore a unique setting helps add to the overall festival experience. With Lost Lake, it was the sprawling setup at Steele Indian School Park, which was dotted with distractions and art displays aplenty. In the case of Goldrush, it was the Wild West-style kitsch and attractions of Rawhide’s Western Town.

Besides dancing and raging, attendees could pan for gold, ride a mechanical bull, or take aim in a shooting gallery. We even spied a few ravers and kandi kids hanging out behind bars in Rawhide’s jail building.
click to enlarge Patrons of the Goldrush Music Festival. - BENJAMIN LEATHERMAN
Patrons of the Goldrush Music Festival.
Benjamin Leatherman
The Overall Vibe
Goldrush had a lot going for it, including decent weather, a loaded lineup of performers, epic sets, and even pyrotechnic displays. It also had a certain fantastical and fun atmosphere where dance music lovers, kandi kids, hip-hop fans, and party monsters could hang out, be themselves, and just dance and vibe.

click to enlarge A totem at Goldrush referencing Dillon Francis. - BENJAMIN LEATHERMAN
A totem at Goldrush referencing Dillon Francis.
Benjamin Leatherman
Totems are a staple of any big music festival these days, particularly those featuring EDM. And they’re often entertaining, funny, and snarky as all get out. If you aren’t familiar with the objects, they’re sign-like displays that are oftentimes colorful and cartoonish creations held aloft by festival attendees.

Naturally, Goldrush featured a lot of totems in the crowd, including ones referencing specific artists (like Shiba San and Dillon Francis), having fun (“Come Dance With Us!”), or Rick & Morty, which is wildly popular with EDM fiends.

click to enlarge Sean Watson lays down tracks at Goldrush's Wandering Wagon stage. - BENJAMIN LEATHERMAN
Sean Watson lays down tracks at Goldrush's Wandering Wagon stage.
Benjamin Leatherman
Sean Watson’s Set
The Wandering Wagon stage was a bit of a hidden gem that was tucked behind Rawhide's steakhouse. It was worth seeking out, however, due to wealth of local DJs who performed there both days.

One of our favorites was Sean Watson, who laid down an electric mix of techno, deep house, electro, and nu-disco, including tracks by Dharkfunkh, Raffa Fi, and Zoo Brazil. And in typical Sean Watson fashion, he did it rocking out behind the mixer with plenty of energy.

click to enlarge Ruby da Cherry of $uicideboy$. - BENJAMIN LEATHERMAN
Ruby da Cherry of $uicideboy$.
Benjamin Leatherman
The Mix of EDM and Hip-Hop
Electronic dance music and hip-hop aren’t that far removed from each other these days. Rappers frequently utilize EDM-style beats on their tracks while most dance music producers regualrly remix hip-hop joints or incorporate ‘em into their sets. So having an event like Goldrush feature equal parts hip-hop and EDM seemed like a no-brainer.

And it featured the teaming up of two of the Valley’s more renowned promoters of either genre, the hip-hop impresarios of Universatile Music and the EDM fiends of Relentless Beats. And according to UM's Mike Horowitz, Goldrush partly came about after the annual Mad Decent Block Party, which offers a similar mix of hip-hop and EDM, decided not to tour the country this year.

"Mad Decent wasn't coming so we decided to do our own thing," Horowitz says.

click to enlarge The Pioneer Peak stage during A-Trak and Baauer's b2b set. - BENJAMIN LEATHERMAN
The Pioneer Peak stage during A-Trak and Baauer's b2b set.
Benjamin Leatherman
A-Trak and Baauer's Back-to-Back Set
Dance music producers/superstars A-Trak and Baauer have been joined at the hip as of late, owing to the collaborative two-song EP, Ferngully, they just released. They’ve been doing back-to-back (or “b2b,” in DJ parlance) sets recently as well, including one at Goldrush. It was suitably epic and proved to be greater than the sums of its DJs as A-Trak spun glitch-hop and electro while Baauer spun bass music and trap.

They also offered up both tracks from their EP, “Fern Gully” and “Dumbo Drop,” as well as many of their individual hits, including Bauuer insanely popular track “Harlem Shake.”

click to enlarge Snow Tha Product performing at Goldrush Music Festival. - BENJAMIN LEATHERMAN
Snow Tha Product performing at Goldrush Music Festival.
Benjamin Leatherman
Snow Tha Product’s Set
The performance by Snow Tha Product on Saturday had it all: gigantic pinatas (including a giant unicorn), a dude in a panda costume, and a not-so-flattering effigy of President Donald Trump. It also featured a high-energy performance by the up-and-coming Latina rapper.

She served up tracks in both English and Spanish, vented her frustration about failed relationships (“Waste of Time”), and even offered some social commentary, including dissing Trump and the Republican party early in her set. “We’re together, even though they’re trying to divide us,” Snow Tha Product told the crowd.

click to enlarge Valley native Ghastly during his performance. - BENJAMIN LEATHERMAN
Valley native Ghastly during his performance.
Benjamin Leatherman
Arizona’s Homegrown DJ Superstars
Onetime Buckeye resident and burgeoning EDM superstar David Lee Crow, better known as Ghastly, was absolutely pumped when he hit the Pioneer Peak stage on Sunday night. So much so that he declared “It’s great to be home!” after kicking off his set and then busted out with a Spider-Man-like leap off the DJ booth. His performance was quite stellar, too, and featured him dropping a hard-hitting mix of electro, breaks, dubstep, and bass.

Fellow Valley native Mija was in rare form, too. She didn’t bust out with any gravity-defying theatrics, but instead served up an intoxicating soundscape of house and electro, including some of her newer tracks “Time Stops” and “Lose My Mind.”

click to enlarge Zombie Juice of the Flatbush Zombies. - BENJAMIN LEATHERMAN
Zombie Juice of the Flatbush Zombies.
Benjamin Leatherman
Flatbush Zombie’s sing-a-long
Flatbush Zombie’s Sunday night set, which closed out Goldrush, was briefly marred by some issues with sound but it was pretty much on point overall.

The weirdly humorous hip-hop trio got an enormous response from a packed crowd that hung on every word. They even sang along with a few of Flatbush Zombie’s bigger tracks, including “Bounce” from their debut album, 3001: A Laced Odyssey. It was definitely a fun moment.

click to enlarge Fireworks cap off the first day of Goldrush. - BENJAMIN LEATHERMAN
Fireworks cap off the first day of Goldrush.
Benjamin Leatherman
The Fireworks
Music festivals like Goldrush are never short of bright lights, colorful fun, and big spectacles. Case in point: the massive fireworks displays that took place at the end each night, lighting up the night sky with color and added an exclamation point to each day’s events.
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Benjamin Leatherman is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. He covers local nightlife, music, culture, geekery, and fringe pursuits.