I'm From Cleveland was present at this year's EST FEST. We captured footage of performances and interviewed lots of artists backstage! Our very own, JD, came along with the team this year. Below, he explains what his very first FEST experience was like!
Written by JDWhen I set out for my first EST Fest I wasn’t sure what to expect. We drove in late Thursday night passing through fog and forests that seemed more like the set of Friday the 13th than anywhere rappers would be. Eventually, we made it into the dew-covered campgrounds of Ohio Dreams. There was a skate park, pool, and a massive stage overlooking a grass field. Neon stage lights scanned the camp like a UFO. Too tired to finish setting up a tent, I crashed in the car using a lawn chair as a pillow. My neck would regret it, but by the time I woke up I was too excited to care. The plan for the weekend was to manage a vendor booth, pass out some beach balls, and score a couple of interviews along the way. Instead, what I’d walk away with was a much deeper understanding of what music can mean to a person. By morning there were droves of tattooed festival-goers marching into camp with everything google suggests you bring to these kinds of things. We set up our merch booth and waited for the concerts to start. Tonight’s headliner was 2 Chainz and the whole place seemed to be buzzing with energy. A woman approached the booth. “Is this your first EST Fest?” I asked. “It’s actually my fifth.” she remarked. She went on to explain that a friend she first visited the festival with had passed away a few years ago. Since then she comes to every fest in honor of his legacy. It was a heartfelt story that ended with an invite to join her friends at “Camp Fuck It”. I was never able to find the camp but along the way I encountered hundreds of EST fans; all with their own unique camp names and personalities. Flocks of people made the trip from places like New York, Michigan, Indiana, Missouri, Nevada, Canada, and even Amsterdam. As diverse as the crowd was, they all seemed to share a strong sense of community and respect towards one another. People greeted us with the enthusiasm of a longtime friend and we couldn’t help but do the same. After exploring the camp and getting a feel for who the fans of MGK are, artists started performing and drew in the masses. A few early birds in the front row quickly turned into a crowd of jumping moshers and the whole festival seemed to know what time it was. Our team was hard at work capturing footage and interviews, but even backstage the laid-back sense of chaos was contagious. By the time 2 Chainz performed your body was no longer thinking about the heat or the sweat. We were completely lost in the moment and fully in tune with the reason why we had left civilization in favor of the woods. Day 2 was even better. Things kicked off with a packed pool party DJ’d by our very own Bobby Booshay. A hard-hitting mix sprinkled with Cleveland rap classics served as the backdrop for the morning. During the afternoon, high energy performances from Trippie Redd, Asking Alexandria, and more hyped up the crowd. You could feel the anticipation of fans building up to the point when Machine Gun Kelly would take the stage. The artists seemed to be just as charged up with Danny Worsnop proposing to his girlfriend and Trippie Redd climbing on his trailer to watch the rest of the show with the crowd. Following all of this, MGK delivered on the wildest live performance I’ve ever seen. At one point during the last song, Kells stopped the music to check on a girl who had a seizure in the front row. She woke up to see him and once she was alright the entire place went nuts. It was just another example of the unity and down-to-earth interactions with fans that had taken place all weekend long. The closing song was restarted and the performance ended with true rap-rock star flair. After a brief appearance at the after party, I stumbled back to camp reflecting on what I’d seen this weekend. I now understood why people knew every word to the songs I heard. I had a sense of why people were so inspired by the music that they would be willing to tattoo EST on their bodies. It wasn’t always just about partying or what someone thought was cool growing up. EST means different things to different people, but for many of the people in the crowd that night this was a family. Monster had a large presence at FEST and put together their own recap. Check it out below along with our backstage interviews!
I'm From Cleveland Interview w/ Trippie Redd
I'm From Cleveland Interview w/ YBN Nahmir
I'm From Cleveland Interview w/ Molly Brazy
I'm From Cleveland Interview w/ Cassidy King
I'm From Cleveland Interview w/ Earl St. Clair
I'm From Cleveland Interview w/ Mikey McFly
I'm From Cleveland Interview w/ Paris