On Saturday (Sept. 27), TomorrowWorld entered its second sunny day in Georgia’s Chattahoochee Hills. With OWSLA, Mad Decent and Pete Tong’s All Gone stage showcases on deck, the day featured some of the festival’s finest assembled talent. Billboard takes you to back down South to recap all the action and best behind-the-scenes moments from Day 2.
3:44 pm: “Time, time, time, it’s a poison.” Brooklyn duo Bob Moses launch into their somber yet infectious song “Hands to Hold” on Pete Tong’s All Gone Stage. Wearing insectoid sunglasses beneath a shock of blonde hair, producer Jimmy Vallance builds tension through rattling delays and spacious reverbs, while singer/songwriter Tom Howie pulls out his guitar for a lamenting accompaniment.
5:25 pm: Stuttered snares pierce the air at the OWSLA Stage, where London trap act Yogi drops resounding 808 beats flanked by giant onstage mushrooms. Pausing for a brief cheer-filled interlude, he cuts to the iconic lead from Dr. Dre’s “Still DRE” and attendees drop their hands to bounce along with gusto.
5:57 pm: From memorable sunrise sets at Burning Man to his marathon “All Day I Dream” parties, Lee Burridge is renowned for his ability to curate a stirring soundtrack to any situation. As Dirtybird boss Claude VonStroke sets up to his right, Burridge extends his waving hands to an appreciate crowd as he wraps up his set with a melodic flourish.
6:50 pm: Following our interview, Dillon Francis exaggeratedly embraces a candy cane tree outside the artist village. I give him a pair of egregious stunner shades emblazoned with Germany’s national colors that I picked up at Berlin’s World Cup victory parade. “I figured DJ Hanzel might get more use out of these than me.” Francis’ face lights up in response. “I’m keeping these!” he exclaims. “These could totally be a new persona!”
7:15 pm: Back at the artist village, OWSA signees Yogi and Valentino Khan recline in the shade. Yogi recently relocated to Los Angeles and couldn’t be happier with his decision. He’s started working with Dr. Dre, who signed him to Aftermath earlier this year, on his forthcoming album and envisions himself “bringing a bit of the electronic sound into what he’s doing.” “There’s no trap scene in London,” says the British producer. “It’s me and maybe one other guy. There’s a grime scene and a hip-hop scene. I did my whole thing there, but it’s so good to come out here and be embraced.”
7:48 pm: People keep approaching Valentino Khan to gush over his new video for “Make Some Noise,” which features the handlebar-mustachioed artist fleeing a bevy of giant fire-breathing alpacas. “Ah thanks man,” the easygoing L.A. native repeatedly replies. “I lost my shit when I saw it,” says Yogi. “Best video of the year.”
8:52 pm: Flames leap across the All Gone Pete Tong Stage as John Digweed finishes his set against a red backdrop of cybernetic spider webs. Backstage, the English veteran hands me a copy of The Traveler, his forthcoming album with Nick Muir, which was inspired by John Twelve Hawks’ book series. The enigmatic writer keeps his identity secret, lives off the grid and scrambled his voice when contributing to the project. “I’m a bit like him,” says Digweed. “I don’t really like the attention. It’s never been about the spotlight.”
9:24 pm: “You guys are not turned up!” a security guard bellows by one of the bridges, clapping his hands emphatically above his head. Judging by the endless stream of hands to high five and ubiquitous USA chants, I’d beg to differ. But hey, Atlanta goes hard.
10:11 pm: “Shout out front row crew, I see you right here!” screams Dillon Francis. “This is my brand new remix of deadmau5.” The classic chord progression from “Strobe” fills the air, riding complementary electro synths to a twisted new drop that sends the massive Mad Decent Stage crowd into conniptions.
10:27 pm: Diplo appears onstage to a chorus of cheers and whistles. “Dillon, you got one more,” he says. “Do it for Georgia!” The shouts and screams swell in disbelief as Francis launches into a frenetic remix of Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody.”
10:58 pm: Wrapping up an interview with Jamie Jones, I can’t help but ask about encountering him riding a Segway at Burning Man last year. Jones laughs and recounts how he and his girlfriend lent their bikes to another couple after theirs broke. “It was annoying!” he exclaims. “I didn’t get the exercise. You get people shouting ‘Segway!’ which pretty much just means ‘dickhead!’ This year we ditched them and it was much better. At Burning Man, the more you put in, whether it’s effort, love or energy, the more you get back.”
12:01 am: Clad in a black Freelife longsleeve, Skrillex pummels the Main Stage with “Turn Down for What” before executing a blistering transition into Beastie Boys’ “Intergalactic.” The staggering crowd shows its approval with a deafening roar. Two inebriated backstage attendees can’t hold back any longer and attempt to climb atop the main stage’s volcano. Their removal is as swift as it is unsurprising.
12:44 am: In a flurry of spinning CDJs, Skrillex drops a high-octane remix of viral Internet meme “Peanut Butter Jelly Time.” Backstage, TOKiMONSTA and Mija can barely contain their excitement, joyfully bouncing along to the broken beats. Once sanity returns to the scene, TOKiMONSTA and I swap stories from Spain’s Sonar Festival. “Barcelona is one of those cities that has it all,” she says. I don’t disagree.
12:57 am: Security clears the backstage area. A line of dancers appears swathed in gauzy white veils, each clutching a large color-shifting orb to their chest. “We’re here for the closing ceremony,” one cheerily tells me. “We’ve been practicing for weeks!” As they file onstage in a stately procession, Mija recounts playing back-to-back with Skrillex on an art car at Bonnaroo this summer. “I didn’t know that whole entire set was recorded until two weeks later!”
1:20 am: Back at the artist village, Sonny and co. unwind in a cozy dressing room after a long festival day. Cigarette smoke and upbeat conversation fills the air. For the tireless OWSLA boss, relaxation means donning headphones and giving production pointers to a handful of grateful artists. “Really good set,” one tells him. “I’ve never seen a homey play TomorrowWorld, so that was cool.”