Welcome to the jungle

TomorrowWorld embraces the return of drum ‘n’ bass

On the heels of Imagine Music Festival’s in-town EDM experience and Music Midtown’s mainstream pop and rock extravaganza, TomorrowWorld brings its massive display of psychedelic productions, pyrotechnics, and a world-class roster of electronic music to the Chattahoochee Hills for a more immersive experience. This year marks the third return for the Belgium-based blowout. The lineup includes a broad swath of music: the Israeli house music stylings of Borgore, the dirty Parisian trap sounds of DJ Snake, the dubstep and British bass of Flux Pavillion, and the techno sounds of Italy’s Benny Benassi to name a few. But with so much variety a transformative step in electronic music is taking shape as well — one that resonates with Atlanta’s electronic music scene.

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This year TomorrowWorld’s lineup represents a healthy spread of Atlanta acts. The ATL stage features Saturday performances by local DJs and club collectives such as Bill Berdeaux (Blake’s on the Park), Cardio ATL, VAVLT, and others. The city is also represented by performers such as Leah Culver (formerly MK Ultra) and Bro Safari (Knick of Atlanta drum ‘n’ bass trio Evol Intent). The latter of whom takes over the It’s a Trap! stage later that day. On Sunday, part-time Atlantans Zoogma also take the Terminal West L!VE stage.

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There are more Atlanta-based artists billed as part of Hospitality stage, TomorrowWorld’s first platform dedicated to drum ‘n’ bass and jungle music. The stage is curated by British label Hospital Records. Host MCs Dino, Dynamite, and Atlanta’s own Armanni Reign — who regularly tours with acts on the Hospitality stage, as well as Goldie, London Elektricity, and LTJ Bukem — chaperon artists such as Gridlok, Bachelors of Science, S.P.Y, Reso, Danny Byrd, and other jungle favorites. Local drum ‘n’ bass mainstay Legion also joins the fold. “Hospital wanted to work with us a few months ago, but we had just signed exclusively to RAM Records, which is Hospital’s biggest competitor,” says Hunter Watson, producer, DJ, leader and one-half of the duo’s core makeup. “When this opportunity came along, we hadn’t been officially announced by RAM yet. My agent hit me up and asked if I wanted to play TomorrowWorld. I was like, ‘Yeah!’ Before I could hang up the phone, the lineup was on Facebook.”

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Legion’s other half, producer/DJ Lee Griffin, also takes the Hospitality stage on Saturday afternoon. Amid the dubstep, trance, house, and other EDM acts performing this year, Watson says that drum ‘n’ bass seems somewhat out of place, a feeling he’s grown accustomed to in an Atlanta scene that has strayed from jungle in recent years. “The TomorrowWorld lineup has been devoid of drum ‘n’ bass artists for the past two years,” Griffin says.

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That changes this year as drum ‘n’ bass artists including Nu:Tone and Metrik are performing throughout the weekend. “I’m hoping they steal the show and expose a lot of people to some drum ‘n’ bass,” Griffin says.

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Watson also hopes that a stronger drum ‘n’ bass presence at TomorrowWorld, which includes a 90-minute Sunday night performance by RAM founder Andy C (with Reign on the mic), points to what could be a return to the junglist sounds that were such a dominant part of Atlanta’s electronic music scene of the early aughts.

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“When a young kid walks into a deep house show or a Major Lazer show, he sees a bunch of kids that are dressed cool, having a good time,” Watson says. “The music’s a slower tempo, the DJ’s dressed cool and it’s all relatable. You go to a drum ‘n’ bass show and the DJ’s got a hole in his junglist T-shirt, and the crowd is a bunch of 30 and 40-somethings wearing cargo shorts. I’m not saying appearance is everything, but I don’t blame them when there’s nothing to grab onto. I just want to get some kids listening to this music again.”

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Reign is also looking to drum up interest in the genre and sees TomorrowWorld as a way to make some noise to attract a new generation of EDM fans.

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“There’s a lot of buzz around the city from people who are happy that drum ‘n’ bass is finally being represented properly at a big festival near Atlanta,” says Reign. “The fact that America is so spread out demographically makes it hard to get everybody together. People who like different types of sounds are kind of segregated. TomorrowWorld might be a way to bring them all in.”