A transcendental futuristic sounds experience in Philadelphia…
Three weeks ago, a group of us traveled from Los Angeles to Philadelphia in search of a transcendental experience. Most us had attended various music festivals in the past, but there was an energy going in that this particular happening would be quite unlike anything we’d experienced before. Set at the historic Revolutionary War site Fort Mifflin, Making Time ∞ was to take place over three days across five stages (a few of them inside underground bunkers) with artists from all around the world flying in to deliver an eclectic range of sounds from the most futuristic electronic music to nostalgia-inducing golden-era rave to timeless, ethereal ambient and modern reggae & lovers rock (Check our list of favorite artists playing the festival).
Beyond the location and impeccable curation, Making Time ∞ stood out because it was very clearly a labor of love. Not backed by any corporate soul/service-fee sucking entity, the 20+ year ongoing event series and now 3-day festival is uniquely the brainchild of a single person (a genius, mad professor, or somewhere in between) Dave Pianka who, with the help and support of what seemed like the entire electronic music community of Philadelphia, worked endless hours to craft a truly “TRANSCENDENTAL futuristic sounds experience™” for the people, by the people. We were beyond excited to be a part of the festival’s still nascent third edition.
Upon arriving at Fort Mifflin, we quickly learned that a tropical storm was set to descend upon the area (which was unfortunately situated on what is known as Mud Island). What transpired over the next three days is hard to describe, but I will say this: the most magical music experiences often happen in the most unexpected circumstances…
Friend of In Sheep’s Clothing Zach Nivens had these thoughts to share about the festival:
“‘Time to TRANSCEND!!!’ The idea introduces itself as a joke spread across countless Instagram captions, a signature tagline that immediately distinguishes Philadelphia’s Making Time ∞ festival from other like-minded events on the circuit. After stepping foot on the grounds of Fort Mifflin, attendees are guided towards the concept of ‘Transcendence’ in even the most ordinary activities. At the bridge connecting the two largest stages, a bespoke sign warns that ‘standing on the bridge is NOT part of my Transcendental Plan.’ The quote is attributed to Dave P, the chief figure of Making Time ∞ and the de facto High Priest of Transcendental Activities on the Eastern Seaboard.
As the weekend proceeds, the true Transcendental Plan unfurls patiently and deliberately, refusing to yield in the face of steady rainfall that makes the grounds more treacherous by the hour. Dave P and team make smart, impromptu adjustments throughout each day: exposed speakers are suddenly wrapped in waterproof tarps and wood pallets are strategically placed to make flooded paths traversable. The event stays on its feet thanks to the complete commitment of the organizers, who make these ingenious solutions appear natural and inevitable.
Weather snafus aside, there are no intentional distractions at Fort Mifflin, no ‘brand activations’, no VIP enclaves sponsored by credit cards. Like all great festivals, the sole purpose of Making Time ∞ is to use highly curated, world-class dance music as a vehicle to engender community, self-expression, and, yes, a glimmer of utter Transcendence. By creating a space that is at turns ecstatic, reflective, and a bit challenging, Making Time ∞ provides a framework for each of us to discover our own unique Transcendental Plan. It might last for a moment, a weekend, or an entire lifetime – just make sure you don’t stand on that bridge for too long.”
Unfortunately, the heavy foot traffic, weather and tidal flooding that took place during Making Time ∞ left Fort Mifflin quite literally a Mud Island. Substantial remediation to the grounds is required as they head into their busiest season. If you have the means, please consider donating to repair the grounds of Fort Mifflin so more transcendental experiences can happen there in the future: https://fort-mifflin.networkforgood.com/projects/205458-transcendental-terranova
Below, a few of the DJ’s and performers graciously shared some words with us about their experience at Making Time ∞.
“Indeed it felt to me like there is in the end no fiction that can beat the reality. Dave P. with his vision, determination, dedication, hard work (…) to make barely possible possible. I thought about Fitzcarraldo. That haunted place with its history, 56000 prisoners dead only during the American Revolutionary War. I imagine Fort Mifflin being a place that doesn’t want to be disturbed for less than life changing reasons. Incoming tropical storm that was felt on Friday when I played The Lot Radio first, then 3 hours with Lena Willikens as Willikens & Ivkovic. Fragile power supply, wind, rain and mud on Friday night that lasted until Sunday. Logistic, preparation that must have taken such a long time, bureaucracy… Everyone would give up long time before the storm. Not Dave P and his team. He did it for all of us and everyone who follows. Epic stuff. In the end he brought opera to the city. Eternal respect.”
“Highlights from MT: Feeling the vibration of the planes departing nearby, watching them soar and twinkle above Fort Mifflin through the heavy clouds. The scarlet skies on Friday evening. The sound of the chirping cicadas as we carefully crossed the bridge between the two main stages. Bumping into various groups of friends talking about their “transcendental experiences”. Not feeling lost. Walking deep into the *haunted* labyrinth cave and laying down listening to records.
What made Making Time ∞ so special was the collective compassion, love, respect and support that the staff, artists, and attendees had for each other. This energy was driven by the vision of Dave P – a trailblazer and inspirational leader with a whole hearted vision to create a profoundly good time for us all. Despite external conditions that were out of anyone’s control, the community rallied and leaned into the core essence of the festival – the pure love for music and connectivity. This festival attracted the best crop of like minded people and I feel lucky to have been a part of it this year. Kicking off Sunday in the gentle drizzle with my dear friend Luke Mele was one of my most cherished experiences.
Highlight sets: Tuff Shed, Russell Alexander, Vladimir Ivkovic, Wilikens & Ivkovic, Hailu Mergia, Optimo, Eris Drew & Octo Octa, Yung Singh, DJ Voices, Lloyd, DJ Nobu, Ben UFO, Earth Beat, Common Time, Maurice Fulton, DJ Koze, Mary Lattimore & Julianna Barwick, ANZ !!”
Jonnie Wilkes (Optimo)
“We were on the road a lot from springtime right through the summer – all over Europe and UK – meeting up with people we hadn’t seen since the summer before and an inordinate amount of them would ask ‘have you seen that festival that’s happening in Philly in September?!’ ‘Making Time ∞’ ‘it looks incredible!’ ‘I mean what the fuck is going on???!!!’ ‘it looks like the best festival on the planet!’ ‘Who is this guy Dave P – he’s wild!!!’ ‘His festival looks fuckin insane!’ We were like ‘I know right??!!’ ‘He IS wild!’ ‘He’s doing it properly!’ ‘It’s gonna be fuckin’ incredible!’
Then came the time to travel to Philly for the festival and perhaps more so than normally, we were pretty nervous, anticipating this event that we knew Dave had put his entire being into creating. The Transcendental plan was in place and we were heading right there! To Fort Mifflin. To transcend! From the moment we climbed out of the car at gates of Fort Mifflin – we knew he’d done it – the vibe from that first point of contact with Making Time ∞ was beautiful. Getting our wristbands from the liaisons and walking up the pathway past the local Philly vendors to the main site – it all felt so perfect. So Dave! It felt nicely DIY, relaxed lightness about it but really professionally executed too – obvious that Dave and the team hadn’t cut any corners whatsoever. The attention to detail, the care taken to look after those in attendance as well as the artists and crew working at the event, was actually pretty moving. It was thoughtful in the extreme, refreshing and really fun. Klip Collective’s visual contribution to Making Time ♾️ has gotta be acknowledged – again, really charming lo-fi elements combined with intense hi-def, intensely psychedelic projections engulfing the performance areas and architecture of Fort Mifflin.
There can be no doubt at all about the pure love that went into producing Making Time ∞ – you better believe it. It was inspiring certainly, have to say groundbreaking in a lot of ways too and playing there was a highlight of the festival season for us. I think every artist we saw perform or chatted to felt the same. So happy to have been part of it. It was truly RAD.”
“I arrived in Philly for Making Time ∞, running on empty after a 2-week trip to Japan, and was greeted by some of the worst weather one could expect for an outdoor festival in late September. The entrance to the bunker where I was scheduled to perform, known as the Futuristic Zone, was gradually becoming more flooded and challenging to access just before my set, which raised some concerns. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find a dedicated and captivated crowd there to see me play.It felt particularly special to have them join me, especially considering the incredible acts performing on the other stages during that time slot, namely Laraaji and Maurice Fulton, who would have been absolute highlights for me if I had the opportunity to see them. Though I did get to witness Laraaji’s greatness in the artist room as I sat in a corner just a bit too shy to bring myself to say hello. My favourite set that I managed to catch on Sunday was Roman Flugel playing the main stage, deep and groovy in such an effortless and classy style of his own.
In summary, the weekend was filled with inspiring excitement and shared with many wonderful and positive people. I can’t express enough gratitude to Dave P. and the entire crew at Making Time ∞ and Fort Mifflin for inviting me and successfully orchestrating this event, managing to pull it off so smoothly even in the face of such challenging circumstances!”