Why Tomorrowland 2023 Was the Embodiment of Dance Music’s New Golden Era
There’s a lot to be excited about in the world of Tomorrow.
Belgium's Tomorrowland is more than just another festival. It’s a barometer for the current and future direction of electronic dance music at large.
This year the fantastical sights were grander, the crowds more globally representative and the sets performed with seemingly higher stakes than ever before in Tomorrowland's history. There’s a feeling of euphoria in the air when it comes to the subject of electronic music in 2023, and it’s borne out in the numbers as the industry surges past pre-pandemic economic highs.
While it was hard to visualize at the time, David Guetta's late-2021 comments stating that the best times in dance music history would arrive immediately after the pandemic have aged quite well.
To support the demand, Tomorrowland is actively investing back into their brand. Every turn yields a new attention-grabbing sight, be it the coordinated waterworks at the Crystal Garden stage, the mind-bending visuals of Eric Prydz's HOLO or the cinematic splendor of Tale of Us inside the Freedom Stage complex.
With over 10 stages boasting the corps d'elite of dance music, there’s endless ways to forge your personal journey on any given weekend of Tomorrowland.
There’s arguably no festival that commits to its theme with the fervor of Tomorrowland—and it all starts with the festival’s Mainstage. This year, the megastructure took the form of a multi-story castle equipped with a finely-tuned assembly of lights and pyrotechnics that sought to keep the flow of the action consistently fresh in support of the artists on its towering stage.
Tiësto, Martin Garrix, The Chainsmokers and more made the highlight reel with IDs in tow and show-stopping surprise guest appearances, such as Kid Cudi, who made a special cameo during Steve Aoki's set. The byproduct of this positive feedback loop between the talent and the festival is a truly immersive experience that makes the fans feel like the main characters in an electronic music fairytale.
Stylistically, Tomorrowland has historically skewed towards highlighting the mainstage sounds of the moment. In the midst of EDM's current state of evolution, it was techno and hard dance that emerged as favorites.
The rise of the underground to the highest echelons of the festival circuit was highlighted in no small part by Hardwell’s seismic big room techno set to close out the Mainstage and Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike's hardstyle-induced shockwaves rippling through the frenzied festival crowds.
It can be a challenge to make broad generalizations on the global state of dance music in any given weekend, let alone with limited anecdotal evidence and data. But no matter your favorite DJ or musical preference, the all-consuming experience of Tomorrowland is bound to leave fans hard-pressed not to feel optimistic about where the genre is headed.