Last weekend, Forbidden Kingdom Music Festival (FKMF) made landfall at Orlando’s Central Florida Fairgrounds. For two days, headbangers from across the country gathered together to enjoy the sweet sounds of dubstep and bass music.
The third annual FKMF is certainly the biggest one yet. Not only is it one of the few major events to successfully return to Florida at a brand new location, but this was the first time festival powerhouse Insomniac took part in the show’s production. After announcing their partnership with the medieval event in October 2020, fans were set for a wonderful surprise for the 2021 revival.
I had the chance to check out this year’s revamped event. After attending the festival every year since its initial start in Boca Raton, I had high expectations for the event, especially with Insomniac along for the ride.
Attendees can expect a full dose of A-list dubstep/bass artists at Forbidden Kingdom, many guaranteed to dominate the festival dancefloor. This year’s newest addition was no exception. For 2021, fans had the opportunity to witness first-time performers at the music festival, such as Black Tiger Sex Machine, SVDDEN DEATH’s VOYD, Herobust, Nero, and more. Music producers such as ATliens, Marauda, Midnight Tyrannosaurus, Excision, and Dion Timmer also made a reappearance at the event.
In addition to epic solo performances, this year’s lineup brought many B2B sets with some of the dance music scene’s popular and rising bass artists. Fans had the chance to see original collaborative performances from SLANDER B2B Subtronics to HE$H B2B Bommer, Modestep B2B Dirtyphonics, Virtual Riot B2B Barely Alive, Boogie T B2B Dirt Monkey, and many more. FKMF certainly did not lack in bringing together an array of artists to deliver their own one-of-a-kind B2B sets. Attendees made history witnessing many of these once-in-a-lifetime performances.
In its new location, FKMF set up three different stages for attendees to headbang the nights away. The New Kingdom Stage (Main Stage) was entirely transformed in comparison to previous years. The iconic dragon head no longer stood on the top of the platform. Instead, LED screens, lasers, and lights filled the stage. Big-name artists such as Excision, Marauda, and SLANDER B2B Subtronics took over this stage. Many of them performed their greatest hits, along with new music, such as SLANDER and Subtronic’s ‘Gravity‘ alongside Excision and Dion Timmer‘s ‘Salvation‘.
The second popular stage at the music festival was the Forbidden Stage. Performers such as Nero, Dion Timmer B2B Kompany, Liquid Stranger, and Peekaboo took the stage to give attendees some needed dose of dubstep. If they were not at the main stage, this was the stage to be at. With amazing acts and a great view, this was one of the best stages to experience at least once.
Last, but not least, is the smallest of the stages, the Village Stage. Local and rising dubstep/bass artists performed here, showcasing some of their greatest works. Attendees exposed themselves to new music by these artists and gave their full support. Although small, the stage still fit the medieval theme with castle walls and dragon claws.
Forbidden Kingdom: Day 1
Going into the gates of Forbidden Kingdom, the sounds of dubstep were filling the air. You are met with a multi-colored tent hovering above the heads of multiple attendees watching the Forbidden Stage. When looking over at the main stage, I was completely blown away. Completely transformed, the production difference in comparison to the year before was uncanny. You could even see the flashing lights from the outside of the venue.
Day 1 was met with a lot of rain, meaning attendees were subject to sudden showers throughout the festival. Although we all get wet, it was still such a wonderful experience overall. No water could stop anyone from having fun and headbanging to the music.
Most of my time was spent at the main stage watching performers such as Black Tiger Sex Machine and Excision. However, I spent some of my time exploring the festival to see all the great things it had to offer. The festival was filled with multiple art installations ranging from castle walls to dinosaur eggs and Insomniac’s signature neon lights. The old main stage dragon even made an appearance on one of the castle walls.
After taking some pictures, I went over to see what food the event had to offer. With a multitude of food options, I chose to take a bite at the all-time arepas stand. As a rave veteran and a Hispanic Miami girl, nothing is better than having an arepa at a music festival. There is something about the signature Colombian food that screams festival home. Apart from the food, I also bought a drink on the way back to the main stage. Although delicious, they were certainly on the pricey side. However, with catchy names such as the carnivorous vodka and a great combination of flavors, these were drinks that you had to have at least during your time there.
Day 1 ended on a good note, with a spectacular set with FKMF signature closer Excision. The renowned dubstep artist did not fail to close the night with a big bang. Fans were able to sing along to some artist favorites such as ‘Vault‘, and some unreleased tracks. We also witnessed a special appearance by Dion Timmer during the set.
Forbidden Kingdom: Day 2
On the second day of the festival, I arrived early at the event to do some more exploring of the event. After walking through the gates, I took the time to check out some of the stores offered at Vendor Village and even bought a pair of custom sunglasses. If you needed to buy some accessories to upgrade your outfit, whether it be fans, pashminas, sunglasses, or clothes, the festival had it.
Afterward, I visited the Forbidden Stage and saw Luzcid’s performance. Later, I took some time to relax and unwind at the lake next to the stage. Then, it was time to see Hi I’m Ghost at the Village Stage.
Once the sun came down and the moon appeared in the night sky, I spent most of my time, once again, at the main stage. I saw performances by Virtual Riot B2B Barely Alive and SVDDEN DEATH’s VOYD, and ended the night with the highly anticipated SLANDER B2B Subtronics set.
Forbidden Kingdom succeeded in bringing an epic event that was undeniably bigger than past years. With the help of Insomniac, the festival surpassed my expectations. With many more art installations and great production, there were so many things to do. For dubstep lovers, this was the best place to unite with others and embrace the passion for the music.
The only major downside to the festival was the abundance of pick-pocketing happening at the event. After speaking with attendees and witnessing some fans react to their suddenly stolen phones, I can see there was an issue. This had nothing to do with the festival itself, as the event had lost and found stands and security where fans can report their stolen or lost items. However, I would like to see how organizers can take measures to prevent this problem in the future.
Forbidden Kingdom is a music festival all dubstep lovers should experience once in their life. With two days of great music, ravers should experience this event at least once in their life. We can’t wait to see what more is in store for the future of FKMF.
Stay tuned for future announcements on Forbidden Kingdom 2022. Festival founder Pepe Vargas has already confirmed the return of the event.