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Forbidden Kingdom 2023 brought the storm, quite literally — here are our top 7 sets.

This year's edition brought five stages, each with artists who understood the assignment.


Forbidden Kingdom this past weekend was THE bass festival to kick off 2023's festival season and it absolutely DELIVERED on the experience.


With a more-than-stacked lineup, performances by legends included Excision b2b Sullivan King b2b SVDDEN DEATH b2b Wooli (AKA the Forbidden Four), an insane RIOT TEN set filled with pyro, a Codd Dubz 6-deck set, an Infekt family set and more.


It also highlighted the scene's hottest modern talents such as the premiere of SweetTooth b2b Dr. Ushūu, Versa's construction zone at MainStage, REAPER's quest to bring DnB to the states, Emorfik, Stoned Level and many more.



And while there was some rain (enough to delay the festival on Saturday), the sun shined through uniting everyone together under the Florida sky.


Here are the sets we found most memorable from the weekend.

 

SweetTooth b2b Dr. Ushūu at the Village Stage

Day 1 was packed-in early on the festival site. The world premiere of SweetTooth b2b Dr. Ushūu on the Village stage set a remarkable tone for the rest of the weekend. Not only did they drop modern anthems like Poppe (paired with SweetTooth's signature dance moves), but they opened with a bone-chilling ID by Dr. Ushūu that we need to see released ASAP.


This was Dr. Ushūu's debut U.S. festival performance and it was hotter than the Sunshine State's temperature. The crowd instantly recognized what an important moment this was for both artists' careers and brought their best dance floor attitudes at 3:15 p.m. on Friday.


Our agents have already been asking when the next SweetTooth b2b Dr. Ushūu set will take place on American soil. So promoters, if you're reading this, you know what to do.

 

Versa opened the construction zone at MainStage



We have come to know and love Versa sets for two reasons: 1) The complete mayhem ensued by his chain-rattling, heavy sounds; and 2) the plethora of orange vests and jerseys that fill his mosh pits.


His set at the FK MainStage was no different. In fact, it was absolute mayhem — the sea of orange construction vests turned the crowd into a work zone of headbangers gone wild. Chaos ensued among lots of high knees, mosh pits and a few broken necks.


Despite the early time slot, Versa still managed to summon a construction army that would put rush hour traffic to shame. We believe that the headbangers who were injured during this set are entitled to worker's compensation.

 

REAPER's quest to satiate America's thirst for drum 'n bass


Where do we even start with this REAPER set? The crowd turn-out for drum 'n bass at 4 p.m. was unbelievable. He had that Mystic stage SLAMMED, proving once again why he is a thought leader on a successful quest to bring the good sounds of DnB to America.


His set featured about 70 percent textbook drum 'n bass, and was paired with some other bass music tunes. He even dropped some hardcore — an I:GOR tune called GAME TIGHT that set the crowd ablaze, even while shaded from the Florida sun.


Gun fingers stay UP for the masked menace, REAPER, in America.

 

RIOT TEN's madness at the Cyberian Stage


The railbreaking king jumped on the decks in front of thousands near the lake-side Cyberian Stage, and he squeezed every possible ounce of energy into this set that was eventually cut short due to weather.


It seemed like every single drop had loads of pyro. People were screaming the words to his songs and slamming the rail so hard that we doubted it would last.


Chaos was sure to ensue quickly as a rapidly developing thunderstorm rolled through the festival. RIOT TEN and several others had their sets cut short and the festival had to have an hour-long closure for weather due to the intensity.


While the set didn't last as long as we wanted, it will go down in our case files as one of the most insane festival sets in history.

 

The Forbidden Four: Excision b2b Sullivan King b2b SVDDEN DEATH b2b Wooli


Mainstage was closed for the remainder of the festival due to some technical issues as a result of the storm. Due to this, Excision's detox set and Sullivan King's solo set were cancelled. However, the fans of Forbbiden were blessed with the most ridiculous, last-minute audible to ever occur.


Footage is still emerging from the rail, but we are stunned with the energy, music and production captured during these two unbelievable hours. They even brought out the insanely talented producer, Vastive.

"Shout out @sullivanking for bringing me up to play out some fun shit we wrote together and all the love in the world to these legends for letting me witness this insane b4b. Unbelievably thankful rn," Vastive said in an instagram post.

Needless to say, it was absolutely SLAMMED at the stage. The storm was a blessing in disguise since we would’ve never witnessed this b4b without it, and it will go down as one of the most legendary sets to ever happen in the dubstep scene.

 

Infekt's family affair at the Village Stage


You'd think Infekt was the president because he rolls with a DEEP squad. From the moment he jumped behind the decks, everyone in attendance understood how special the following hour was about to be.


The entire side-stage artist area filled up with family and friends doing high knees and prancing around laughing. There wasn't one person in this crowd of several thousand who didn't have a smile on their face.


And what made it even better were Infekt's dance moves up there. We would have given him a citation for unnecessary spin backs, but he's immune.

 

Stoned Level at the Mystic Stage


We quite literally get chills from anything Stoned Level does. His production is God-tier because he has that signature sound where you can instantly tell it's his song.


While Friday was slammed with stellar sets, Stoned Level's stood out. He had the pits going off with excited vipers who left it all on the dance floor in that moment.


We've seen his unworldly growth since he was featured as a guest two years ago on Riot Control Radio 021 and we know this FK performance is only a taste of what's to come.

 

Other notable performances that we investigated and issued citations for included Codd Dubz, Emorfik, Jessica Audiffred, Leotrix and Modestep.


Drinkurwater had a mainstage performance that hydrated the thirst of bass fans. Rated R on the Cyberian Stage showed his hometown why he is THE big man of the bass realm here in Orlando, complete with a stream of hot-ass pyro to top it all off.


Steller gave the Peekaboo Hide & Seek stage takeover a memorable performance for her home-state fans.


Overall, Forbidden Kingdom gave the fans what they wanted, and also what they needed. With the expansion and increased production on all stages, and an increased layout on the site set-up, Insomniac and Pepe Vargas delivered. We will definitely be back next year for the 2024 edition of Forbbiden Kingdom.


The weather was cooking, but the artists and crowd were hot and ready (call that Little Caesars).

 

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