Cityfox’s TranscEND Festival at Brooklyn’s Avant Gardner complex was a hell of an introduction to this powerhouse venue. Last weekend was a rare occasion in which every room within the venue was open at once, so my group and I were able to explore it in its entirety. We were even able to view the Brooklyn Mirage stage from its vantage point atop the structure, which also has a gorgeous view of Manhattan’s skyline from its East Williamsburg location. With all of the great things I’d heard about the venue, my expectations were high, yet still exceeded.
As soon as you step out of the Uber, you can feel the familiar untz of the techno kick leading you into the security line. Once waved through, check-in and wristband activation is a breeze—before long, you’re happily on your way to the stages for your house and techno fix.
I’d heard tough things about crowding there, but the lineup was strategically to ensure attendees were evenly dispersed throughout the venue’s four different rooms. The main stage was the Brooklyn Mirage—and it’s equally as impressive in person as it appears in pictures. The crowd tended to gravitate there, sucked in by the pulsating visuals, flashing lasers and pyro blasts. While Ben Böhmer played the headlining slot there on Saturday, Lee Reynolds and Kevin Knapp were leading the Desert Hearts crew to a wonderful night in the Kings Hall section around the corner. Meanwhile, ONYVAA was heading on at the Great Hall to an energetic crowd of techno-lovers.
Even with the scheduling conflicts, the venue is easily walkable. Extended sets from almost every artist left for plenty of time to move around. My group and I would switch stages on a whim, which led to many surprise finds throughout the weekend. Among these were Joyce Muniz and SOEL, two house acts featured at the Village stage tucked behind the medical pavilion. Though previously unfamiliar to me, they played some of the most cohesive and fun sets of the entire weekend, both at by far the smallest stage of the event. I loved how effortless it was to switch gears from the biggest of stages to the most intimate, even within minutes.
My favorite set of the weekend had to be Shaded. The tech-house maestro played an extra half hour past his two-hour slot, giving a perfect segue into Maceo Plex’s solo set into sunrise. Also high on my list was Konstantin Sibold’s U.S. debut on Sunday. Debut sets are always special, but the rain that persisted throughout his set manifested beautifully through the prominent lasers and created a beautiful experience for the crowd. Overall, I could not have been more impressed with Cityfox’s featured talent at TranscEND.
The Culture of the Brooklyn Mirage
Equally as impressive is the culture that the venue has cultivated through its programming. Concertgoers show up in their best street-forward fits, filled with high-fashion looks and blacked-out sunglasses. A spectacle in and of itself. Everyone seems to be somebody, but when you look deeper, you find an unparalleled passion for the music in every concertgoer. The festival unfortunately fell on a rainy weekend, with Sunday bringing especially frigid temperatures. This fact may have contributed to the lack of crowds on Sunday, but the energy of both the attendees and the music allowed me to push through any discomfort to dance my heart out. We made it all the way through both nights.
I also have to mention: I did not wait for a drink all weekend. With the amount of bars throughout and their cashless, wristband-based payment system, the event was among the most logistically-sound events I’ve attended in a long time. Even security was not nearly as jammed as I anticipated—the staff contributed to quick turnarounds and it only took me a few minutes to enter the venue once I arrived there.
The vibes of the crowd and the venue both serve as a testament to the culture that Avant Gardner and Cityfox have cultivated with their premier house and techno events. Aside from major festivals, I rarely see venues themselves achieve the level of cult following that the Brooklyn Mirage has. And it’s clear that its influence is only beginning to take off–the venue is sure to have just as large of a summer next year as it did this year. For now, keep an eye out for those show announcements from the Avant Gardner camp, including Four Tet’s two-night run at the Great Hall in May.