Music Festival

House y Rock, los grandes movimientos culturales del siglo XX

Por León Felipe

Los 60 y 70 fueron principalmente influenciados por el sonido del rock; sin embargo, no fueron la únicas texturas musicales en el ambiente sonoro de la época. El house se encontraba ya inmerso en la sociedad americana, aunque este no contenía ni ideologías políticas y sociales se vio involucrado sin desearlo en una de las mayores revoluciones sociales de la historia.

Gracias a la apertura sexual y las practicas de tolerancia del movimiento hippie algunos grupos rezagados de la sociedad empezaron a obtener un lugar activo en la vida económica americana, permitiendo que diversos géneros musicales, entre ellos el house, lograran salir a luz.

Para 1970 el movimiento hippie había perdido gran parte de su fuerza pública debido a que este ya no tenía nada nuevo que ofrecer ni musicalmente ni socialmente; su guitarro-centrismo(1) limitó su música, su ideales sociales ya habían sido tergiversados por el capitalismo y principalmente el uso de la drogas habían pasado de ser recreativo a puramente lucrativo. Alguien tenía que llenar el vació social que había dejado el rock.

Mientras tanto en Chicago, el género underground conocido como house comenzaba a obtener una gran número de seguidores, el ambiente que se vivía en aquellas fiestas era muy puro todavía la avaricia no había llegado.

El desastre del concierto de The Doors en Miami trajo una ola de grupos de pensamiento conservador que se oponían al movimiento hippie, que rápidamente se extendió a lo largo de Estados Unidos erradicando casi por completo este movimiento cultural. A pesar de esto, su ideales de tolerancia y solidaridad lograron escapar refugiándose en los lugares menos esperados, donde la música que reinaba no tenía similitud alguna con la de las grandes leyendas del rock.

El Warehouse de Frankie Knuckles y el Matchbox de Dj Hardy fue el lugar donde la violencia se cambió por vinilos; la intolerancia por cajas de ritmos y el racismo por nuevas texturas sonoras. El sexo desenfrenado y el alto consumo de sustancias psicoactivas mantuvo alejado al ambiente violento que se vivía en Estados Unidos, ya que lo único que importaba era pasar una noche lejos de pensamientos políticos, económicosy sociales, lo único que importaba era la música.

Las ideas van y vienen, cambian de lugar, de personas y a veces desaparecen sin dejar rastro alguno; a pesar de esto, aquellas que sobre salen permanece a través de generaciones. Los ideales de tolerancia y amor en los cuales se forjó el rock emigraron a otros contextos musicales como el house e incluso el Psy-Trance. A pesar de que ambos musicalmente son completamente distintos, la filosofía del rock y el house no se limitó sólo a la música, también buscó cambiar el pensamiento cultural de su época. Y aunque nos duela aceptarlo, lo bello de estos movimientos es que no fueron para siempre, sólo son un pequeño haz de luz en la obscuridad de la maquinaria social.

Cygnet Folk Festival 2017

6-8 JANUARY 2017, TASMANIA, AUSTRALIA

By Hugo Unwin

In the 35 years since Cygnet Folk Festival was first held, the magic surrounding this site has remained unchanged. I admired this glorious pocket of Australia as we departed Hobart, where the boundary between lush national park and city streets is unnoticeable. While travelling to Cygnet we indulged in regional Tasmania’s local cherries and apples, a tasty confirmation of our proximity to the agricultural centre of Tasmania.

Apparent on arrival to Cygnet was a general sense of excitement, driven by the promise of a weekend of folk, fun and friends in the brilliant Tasmanian sunshine. Our first enjoyment of music was Bill Jackson and Pete Fidler. Especially apt was the ballad ‘They Were Never Here’, an indictment of the genocidal actions of nineteenth century pastoralist Angus McMillan throughout Gippsland, Victoria. The song had added pertinence in Tasmania as a state which bears the historical stain of the despairingly tremendous annihilation of the local Aboriginal population in the years following colonisation.

During the remainder of the afternoon I ducked into open houses, art studios, music halls and churches, all abuzz with a palpable tension between self-restraint and self-indulgence so common to the first night of a multi-day festival. Saturday morning saw the enactment of a commitment to see ‘things other than the music’, so frequently promised upon perusal of the lineup prior to a multi-faceted festival. This came in the form of the ‘The Poet’s Breakfast’, a celebration of regional and Australian poetry, with concomitant themes of life in the outback, loss and community.

Theresa Young, a promising young artist now based in Hobart, delivered the standout musical performance of the afternoon, with her delicate music resonating in the Supper Room. As a central figure in the Tasmanian folk music community, Theresa performs with stoic passion, focus and presence, to the tremendous benefit of the listener.

Azzband, Sunday Morning

Azzband, Sunday Morning

Huon valley on Friday Afternoon

Huon valley on Friday Afternoon

Theresa Young, Saturday Afternoon

Theresa Young, Saturday Afternoon

Sunday morning began with an invigorating dip in nearby Kangaroo Bay. The musical highlight of the afternoon was the Song and Tune Writing Competition, sponsored by APRA and won by Theresa Young. Alan Gogoll delivered a breathtaking performance in this bracket, with the captivating Bell's Harmonic.

Azzband performed wonderfully on Sunday afternoon. This group hail from across the globe, finding commonality in a collective cultural consciousness. Such an endeavour brings to mind Yo Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble, but with a far more grassroots and authentic sense of cultural collaboration.

The Director’s Concert and Final Cabaret delivered a range of magnificent performances. I have discovered that in Tasmania, those from other parts of Australia incorporate ‘mainlander’ into their cultural identity. The same is true of the sense of community and creativity engendered by festivals such as Cygnet, which remind us of the immense benefit we have simply by being thankful for one another.

Leonard Cohen Tribute, Saturday Afternoon

Leonard Cohen Tribute, Saturday Afternoon

Festival Cabaret, Sunday Evening

Festival Cabaret, Sunday Evening

Groove Cartel: A new House variation that could take over the dance floors around the world.

Will and Cary photo by:  Groove Cartel Instagram

Will and Cary photo by: Groove Cartel Instagram

By Tom Spiegel

Electronic Music in Mexico started to be really important in the early 2000's. The international live acts started to look at that third world country as an ideal spot to play shows when they all realized the inhabitants had developed a certain level of taste for this genre. Mexicans' natural taste for dance and the party also had something to do with it, and soon a native scene was growing fast. Early Mexican EDM artists' first influences included Sasha, the Chemical Brother, Fatboy Slim and Groove Armada. Not too soon after those artists made it to Mexican ears, psychedelic trance also made its way to cities such as Guadalajara. 

It is precisely in Guadalajara where the main subject of this interview was born. His name is William Gonzalez and he is a true trendsetter when it comes to Mexican electronic music producers. His journey has taken him through some of the hottest dance floors in Mexico; it has taken him high enough to meet the world famous Infected Mushroom, and from that meeting his current project, Groove Cartel was born. 
They've been playing live together for only a few months, but in that time, Will and Cary have managed to establish a message of positive vibrations with a groovy feeling in this new Tech House Variation. They call it Groove House. 

Full disclosure: Will and I know each other personally from my raving days in Guadalajara. My first impression of him was formed at a house party. He's joyful human being who always has a smile to give and a whole lot of talent to share with everyone. He was kind enough to grant Kinofilia this interview without Cary, who was in Los Angeles at the moment. I told Will that I'd be asking about their history and how this Groove Cartel movement came together, so sit back and enjoy this lengthy interview because there is a lot of ground to cover. 

Photo credit:  Menbar Photos

Photo credit: Menbar Photos

Kinofilia: So I guess the best way to start is by asking you who this other guy is, how did you guys meet?

Will: "Cary White is from Lake Tahoe in California. He studied drums in a sort of conservatory. He has played them all his life and while working as a drummer in Tahoe and near Los Angeles, he worked hard making connections. He played for a while with a band called Metro Station who are multi-platinum. They play pop/rock music. After that, he played with Tom Morello from Rage Against the Machine in a band he formed, and then he started playing with Infected Mushroom who now live in Los Angeles. They met and hit it off right away. They started touring around the continent and Cary has basically been busy doing that."

Cary White

Cary White

"When the two guys from Infected (Duvdev and Erez) started thinking about expanding, they came to Los Angeles and with the classical music background they have, they started thinking about playing their music in a live format which is the Infected Mushroom Live Band that we all know. It's a very well-organized project that has its basis in pshychedelic trance but they also have a hint of rock. They have a sick show. That's actually how I met them in person."

Kinofilia: How did that come about?

Will: "I met them in Mexico City. The first time I had the chance to contact them in any shape or form, was inside some Beatport charts back in 2011 when that electronic genre was wildly active in the country. On that website, how it works is that artists in general share their top ten picks of the best tracks from that month. One day I noticed they supported a song I produced that is called 'Savage' I think, I obviously flipped out at the idea that Infected Mushroom liked one of my songs. That's the first time I contacted them and a while later I realized they were going to perform at Pepsi Center in Mexico City in 2013."

Kinofilia: And then what happened?

Will: "That's when I decided to write to them. I have always thought that opportunities only come when you go after them, so I wrote them an e-mail. I was like, 'Hello Infected Mushroom, I really appreciate you supporting my song. I just realized you are performing in Mexico and I would like to help you guys out in the only way I see fit which is by playing music for you. I would love to be your opening act. That is if you allow me of course.' They quickly responded, actually they were really nice about it and told me they would be keen on doing that but I couldn't do anything unless they requested it."

"They were actually really cool about it, we arranged my opening act through some very diplomatic messages at first. I traveled to DF and played in their concert. At the end I came over to them and we started talking about music. I thought, "These are two guys who are very polite and diplomatic, with an impressive vision for business." So that's where I met Cary. After a few beers I immediately hit it off with him. We started talking about the industry and future plans. That's when he told me he wanted to start something new."

"Back then I was a little bit shy, I was going through a difficult time in my life. I was coming from one of the most difficult months of my life, actually, some really heavy personal and economic issues. I was in limbo. Actually, a day before the gig I was really close to not going to Mexico City because I didn't even have money for the trip, but a friend of mine at the time let me borrow 1,200 pesos for the trip and that's how I made it. It wasn't my best show, but making that trip changed everything for me, it was a learning process that proved to be beneficial for me because I met Cary and I also met Duvdev and Erez with whom I kept contact  later when they visited Mexico again."

Kinofilia: Ok so, now that we know how you and Cary met, I'd like to know how your whole production process happens. Who does what and how do you divide work?

Will: "We divide chores into several layers. First of all, any creation process needs to have a proper inception. In general, he is the one who sends me most of the ideas for any song. I pretty much always compare his ideas with mine and then proceed to select the best ones to start producing something. Once I have a clear idea of what we are both looking for, I spend time at my studio and start mixing or producing the music. Because we aren't together - he is in Los Angeles and I'm in Guadalajara - I'm the one who has invested more in equipment to do all the mixing and producing."

"It's way easier for me having an objective technical reference about what I'm doing and then sending him the ideas of what I produce in the studio. He has a good sense of rhythm and he has quick thinking. As soon as I send him a one-minute idea for example, he quickly suggests other complementary ideas that help me complete the track with the best possible quality. It's that same back and forth process that lasts between three and four days for a single track. I pretty much always begin with a percussion section, bass, kick and high hats on the first day. I produce that as clean as I possibly can. Then I try to balance it as well as I can. Then on the next day all we do is share our melodic input for each track."

Kinofilia: Sweet, and what genre would you call this style you have? Because I see influence from a lot of different concepts. It has house. It has some progressive trance influence, but it's a whole new different thing on its own. 

Will: "At first we were thinking about doing something like adding a whole new style as a little bit of marketing, as if we were aiming to create a whole new genre, a new sound. But finding a name for that genre was complicated, so we decided to combine the group's name with the genre. We call it Groove House because to us, it's a type of house that isn't tech house. It's not techno either because it's not as cold or raw as techno tends to be. The whole sequence and composition is a bit more free, a bit more bubbly. It's a lot like a new genre that has been blowing up in Asia called Power House but that's a name that doesn't resonate with me that much really."


"Groove House gives it a more fun spin and ring to it, it has more flavor. So this is not completely tech house because sometimes you listen to some really boring tech house, it's music to just hang out and not really dance that much. I think that because of my trance background, we also have some progressive trance elements."

Kinofilia: Groove House sounds perfect! And speaking of influence, which are your main influences in electronic music besides the obvious classic rock and classical music you have from your childhood and adolescence?

Will: "One of my biggest influences is a dude called Didi or Bizarre Contact who is starting to focus a lot more in producing tech house. He is incredible, one of the producers I deeply respect because his work is remarkable. He is a great human being as well. I actually gave classes where I analyzed the harmony of many of his songs. He recently played his first tech house set and talking to him, he told me this is a huge moment, and I think the same way as he does."

Kinofilia: How old is Groove Cartel?

Will: "This project was born between June and July this year. We have been invited to perform in several places so far. The problem is that I haven't been able to travel for many of the invitations we've gotten so far. I've been working 24/7 in Mexico because I'm more interested in opening this act here in Mexico. We look at Groove Cartel, and we are business partners. As such, we both have to keep in mind the best interest in the project. Right now we don't have the range the best in the world have. Being honest electronic music is not very profitable."

"This has a lot to do with self-funding, you have to be prepared to work really hard at first and then start getting results about six months or a year later. Playing our music at Burning Man, for example, has been a great help. That happened thanks to a series of contacts Cary got in LA. He started showing our stuff to some producers over there and we got invited. Unfortunately, Cary told me just a few weeks before the festival, a trip to Burning man involves getting mentally, psychologically, emotionally and economically prepared, and I just wasn't ready for it. You are ten days in the desert. The desert literally wants to kill you. It wants to leave you dry as a corpse as soon as possible. You need to be very well-prepared for that."

Groove Cartel  @ Burning Man

Groove Cartel @ Burning Man

Kinofilia: Yeah! It must be great knowing your music is being heard in one of the best music festivals in the world. And what's next for Groove Cartel?

Will: "Right now we are preparing a showcase in Guadalajara, the first official Groove Cartel event in town. I would like to tell you everything. The event will take place in about a month in a place that has had good artists performing in Guadalajara, but right now I can't give you more details. I want to bring people from all over the country, people who know me and have shared a lot with me throughout the years, mostly people who have been close to me and love their job. I think those connections are the ones that make this whole experience of making music worth your while. The official invitation will come out three weeks prior to the event. We want it to be a private event. We want a fluent dance floor where we can all enjoy the music and dance because this isn't deep house, we need enough space to dance freely."

Kinofilia: Will it be just you guys playing? Or will you have other artists in that event as well?

Will: "We've been looking at other artists who can do the warm-up and some others who can close the event because we want to be democratic with the range of music we want for the event. Everybody likes something different, we want someone playing techno at the end and something more down tempo for the warm-up. We don't just want people to come and enjoy the new project, we also want people to have a great party night where we can offer this new project as a bonus."

Will: "I have a very clear vision of what I want, the professional decisions I make are based on the professional goals I have as a producer. Right now, Groove Cartel is a project in which I'm dedicating my heart and soul because I have a mission to accomplish with it. I want to get to a certain point and when I get there I just want to keep going forward with it. I have some other personal projects and a few more that I'm doing collectively, one of them will be released in October. One of those projects has been in development for a year and a half and by the end of this month we'll get together to polish it and fifteen days later we will release the first video. This is also electronic music with some indy urban influence."

William Gonzalez

William Gonzalez

Kinofilia: We'll be happy to attend your event and cover it in Guadalajara. Just to end this tasty minutes you've given us, could you tell us what your vision for the future is and where do you see yourself in a few years?

Will: "I have a very clear vision of what I want, the professional decisions I make are based on the professional goals I have as a producer. Right now, Groove Cartel is a project in which I'm dedicating my heart and soul because I have a mission to accomplish with it. I want to get to a certain point and when I get there I just want to keep going forward with it. I have some other personal projects and a few more that I'm doing collectively, one of them will be released in October. One of those projects has been in development for a year and a half and by the end of this month we'll get together to polish it and fifteen days later we will release the first video. This is also electronic music with some indy urban influence."

During this 45 minute interview, Will was very gracious about the whole set of questions I had for him. My impression is that people like him, those who stay humble and grounded, are the ones who usually succeed in what they do. He has always been a wildly talented dude who never acts better than anyone in an elitist way, and that's the key to being liked by everyone. He already knows the amazing art he produces. All he cares about is sharing it and that's the reason why I am confident he will succeed alongside Cary. 

Mr. White was unfortunately absent for this interview. When he comes to Mexico in October, we gladly extend an invitation to give us a second interview so that we can share more of his life and background with all our readers. Maybe after Groove Cartel's show in Guadalajara... By that time you will be blowing up and we'll have the first exclusive if you give us the honor! Thanks Will for doing this with us, we hope you like it. Groove Cartel's new release, 'It's Alrite,' is out now and you can listen to it on their official Soundcloud page. It's part of a 12-track repertoire they have ready for us when their first big event comes to Guadalajara. Check it out!

You can also check out all of Groove Cartel's social media outlets and web page here:

Their official website.

Instagram account.

Soundcloud account.

Facebook page.

Their official presentation in Mexico will take place on October the 15th in Guadalajara. 

Wonderfruit 2016

Thailand's globally renowned Wonderfruit, is happening December 15th - 18th, and they've just released Phase 1 of the lineup for the third iteration of this conscious, boutique camping festival.

According to organizers Scratch First, the festival stands on six pillars: music, arts, farm-to-feasts, wellness, workshops, and family.

The eclectic lineup includes drum-and-bass ensemble Rudimental, Scottish hip-hoppers, Young Fathers, and a genre-bending down-ticket collection featuring Kate Simko & The London Electronic Orchestra, Wolf + Lamb, Nastia, as well as local artists Zero Rasmee Isan Soul, Yena, and The Superglasses Ska Ensemble. 

The wellness offerings include world-class yoga instruction, bike trails, muay thai, and floral sculpture.

As if the music, and beautiful location, The Fields at Siam Country Club, weren't motivation enough to head to Pattaya, Thailand, there's the fact that attendees can feel good about Scratch First's pledge to offset this year's carbon footprint by investing in the Rimba Raya Biodiversity Reserve in Indonesia. In support of this sustainable ethos, there will even be a stage, designed by PO-D Architects x Thor, made out of harvested rice!

With a vision of cultivating creativity and inspiring personal responsibility, and a setting in the lush tropics of Thailand, Wonderfruit 2016 will surely cement this festival's position as one of the top conscious gatherings worldwide.

Enchanted Forest Gathering 2016

WORDS BY JOHN KARLO TORRES

PHOTOS BY Jacob Avanzato and Cremerica, Inc. Photography

 

I don’t know if you noticed but there is an emerging #trend among music festivals where camping, getting fucked up, and listening to incredible music is no longer enough to satiate the masses. Whether it’s the booming popularity of Burning Man, or social-media-induced disconnection, something is happening. Immersive, interactive experiences are becoming the standard for escaping the grind, and Enchanted Forest Gathering embodies this trend. 

I have been to my fair share of festivals and know the formula pretty well, but EFG reminded me that expectations are just that. Before stepping onto Black Oak Ranch in Laytonville, CA, I knew a few things about the gathering that perked my ears like a dog hearing the crinkling of a wrapper. One, you get to party – but in an alcohol-free environment. Two, there will be people there – but less than 3,000. Three, there is a prison for nipples – but this magical land is a safe space to #FreeTheNipple. And Four, cannabis is medicine – and your local pharmacy is going to party with you. These very four things broke the formula completely, and perfectly set the tone in line with the festival’s pillar of "cultivating clear and conscious connection.”

Somehow I managed to get there perfectly on time when the Box Office opened on July 22 at 9:00AM and wait in a line much shorter than you would see at some trendy new chicken sandwich joint in the city. You might like waiting over an hour for some chicken like a masochist, but dealing with virtually no line really kept me in a great mood. The best part of my inaugural morning was the sweet older gentleman who directed me to parking and wished me an enchanted weekend. When was the last time someone wished you an enchanted anything!? I was happy to be there to say the least. This no-line business was incredible and thanks to the gathering’s participant cap, there was no waiting for most of the weekend. 

You know that feeling when you are having a great time at a festival and you start to feel that pressure in your stomach and try to trick yourself you don’t actually have to take a shit? Well, you do, and lucky for everyone, there was NO LINE at the porta potties! I mean, that alone is something to celebrate. You get the idea: no one had to wait for much all weekend long. The delicious yummies found in the Nourishment Nook, the rad crystal-infused clothing in the Magickal Marketplace, and the hydrating drinks at the various Elixir Bars were all readily available when the cravings hit. The number of people was just right for me and you could really feel the intimacy it created. It was much easier to enjoy everything the gathering had to offer because time felt slower, people more engaged and aware.

Once settled into the beautiful oak speckled land and putting my sexy, "I wish I would wear these clothes more often” outfits on, I started to feel the importance of Enchanted Forest Gathering’s ethos. There were plenty of moments when I wanted a cold beer, some whiskey to loosen up, a bloody morning, but was happy to leave it all behind. This is probably the only festival I remember every single moment. It is a place where my morning started shortly after sunrise and not mid afternoon when one attempts to pick up their hungover, sickly body off the ground. Not having to deal with the aftermath of heavy day-into-night drinking made yoga effortless and I didn’t waste any time feeling like death. There wasn’t ever a moment where I had to dodge a belligerent drunk, translate meaningless ramblings, or step over puke. Thanks to being a sober sally I was able to participate in Shayna Zane's Chakra Flow, Pete Guinosso's Morning Cup of Vinyasa, and witness from a distance Live Music Vinyasa by Drishti Beats, which had the entire class completely activated. The Namastage Yoga tent in which these classes were held was beautiful. Not only did people leave their sweat behind, others left offerings at the Shiva Dharma alter that welcomed yogis to the space.

EFG’s value of “self-actualization through the process of sharing our gifts” was live and well with an entire Wisdom University & Community Center packed in with yoga and workshops all day. From workshops like Make Love Like a Goddess, Therapeutic Lap Dancing, 50 Shades of Yes, to Ritual Magic, Super Power Elixirs, and Banking with Bitcoin, the shared gifts were bountiful. I didn’t spend much time in this area; I kept getting there mid workshop times and just didn’t feel comfortable walking in after a class had started. While at the Center, I did witness a man and a women naked using body paint to decorate their bodies and thought that was pretty fun. I guess the lesson here is that no one is too old for body paint. Another area where gifts were shared was the Flow Zone, which was home to hooping, poi, staff and wand spinning, and other forms of movement. I stood around Mel Blue Moon’s Weird Hoop Rolls workshop and played with a hoop on the side lines while actual hoop dancers learned some new moves. There was nothing weird about the hoop rolls, they were all beautiful and visually pleasing. I was the weirdest part of the workshop tossing a hoop around and chasing it like a run-away toddler. 

 

 

The campsite I called home for the weekend turned out to be an ideal spot. 50 feet away, the Swimmin’ Hole Stage played deep bass music and kept people dancing while the main Mighty Oak Stage rested for nights arrival. It was called the Swimmin’ Hole because it was adjacent to the river that kept everyone cool throughout the day. Nothing makes a festival better than access to water and the river was a daily party. Some notable EDM artists who played the Hole were Psy FiSOOHAN, and my favorite Champagne Drip. Opposite the stage was a convenient Elixir Bar where you could enjoy Revive Kombucha, ice cream, coffee, coconut water, and my new obsession Brilliant Elixir - "At Brilliant Elixir, we craft botanical beverages that deliver delightful sensations without the use of alcohol or harmful additives.  Our mission is to promote a culture of healthy social drinking and to deliver beverages that enhance our lives.  Our mantra: Shine tonight... and tomorrow!" These 100% plant-based botanical elixirs were so tasty and definitely the hit sauce of the festival. If you come across this beverage I recommend the Chocolate Lover.

Despite not drinking, there was another nap-inducer present at the gathering, the Sun. There is only one way to put it, it was fucking hot. Dancing, running around, and doing yoga in 90 degree weather really takes it out of you. The festival did a great job of providing drinking water stations all throughout the grounds and the river was the perfect way to chill the body quickly, but two micro-environments saved my life, the Nectar Temple and the Saucy Spa. Two very different environments but both served the same purpose for me, escaping the heat. The Nectar Temple was a huge, beautiful, flowy tent that kept cool throughout the day and was adorned with dozens of pillows and tired, napping bodies. It was an experience of the gods and a space to rejuvenate and heal. I am unsure of the frequency as I was drifting in and out of peaceful nap land, but every once in a while, someone would come around and spray cold water infused with rose essence and it was amazing. You probably know what a buffer is and you surely know what a body is, but did you know that they make body buffers?! The place was littered with body buffers small and large and if you have never had your entire body buffed before, I highly recommend you get on Craigslist right now and hire someone. Or better yet, start planning on going to Enchanted Forest Gathering in 2017. By far the most entertaining way to stay cool was the Saucy Spa. At first glance the madness coming from the Saucy Spa area looked straight out of an MTV spring break video where music and foam came together and people were in ecstasy. EFG’s newest addition was ALL DAY shower parties in collaboration with Dr. Bronners Foam Tub and special guest DJ’s. They were power blasting music and cold water Bronners foam all day to keep people cool and energized. Some people were naked dancing, others were legitimately showering, but everyone was having an insane time, a definite highlight of the weekend.

Enchanted Forest Gathering was quite simply, enchanting. In comparison to other festivals it would be considered a small gathering but was in fact a big production. I was excited to see one of my fav musical artists Thriftworks and was pleasantly surprised on Friday night at how mellow his set was. Jake Atlas really set the mood on the Mighty Oak Stage and that feeling carried over throughout the weekend; this was an intimate gathering. Saturday morning welcomed me with the most incredible sound that radiated throughout the Ranch. AtYyA was the first amplified sunrise set and what a perfect way to start the day. If only everyday started out with deep alluring basslines and futuristic ambiance, we would all be a much happier people. Saturday was definitely the day of dance and mind-altering music. Welcoming the incredible night-lit sky was Polish Ambassador and the amplified sets ended with headliner Shpongle or more precisely, Simon Posford. If the Mighty Oak Stage set hadn’t already blown you away with its elaborate design, Shpongle’s visual arts brought the stage to life and they were immaculate. By far the most enchanted visuals I have witnessed even topping the Shpongletron I saw at a Los Angeles show in 2011. EFG set the bar high for me when it comes to stage sets; I was lost in the giant arms of the radiating rays that enclosed us all into the space. The nights continued with late night silent disco sets, more Brilliant Elixirs, coconut water, and ecstatic dancing. 

Sunday was the dreadful goodbye for me but luckily I had Bluetech to start my day with another incredible sunrise set. Before leaving, I casually walked to every stage, every micro-environment, and every nook to bid my farewells. This was an hour’s long process but the constant nagging of the impending departure was hard to shake. Yoga, the river, the muddy misting station all provided temporary relief but the facts were real, it was my last day. The last time I was at Black Oak Ranch was in 2009 for Earth Dance and I felt like I had gone back to visit an old friend; an old friend that takes tender-loving care of me and my friends and provides us with a sense of gratitude and empowerment. This year was the 6th annual Enchanted Forest Gathering and I am happy to be a part of the enchanted family.

 

 

New Orleans' Buku Festival 2016

Coverage: Garrett Hazelwood

Photography: Lauren Rackley, BUKU/ALive

 

Off Tchoupitoulas, between the train tracks and the Mississippi River, Buku Music Festival kicked off its fifth year of auditory bliss this past weekend. In a city renown as a mecca for music, Buku has established itself as one of the highlights of New Orleans’ annual music calendar. But contrary to tradition, this festival eschews the jazz and blues for a lineup that winds it’s way from deep house to indie rock to hip-hop and future funk, without ever missing a beat.

This year’s headliners included GRiZ, Pretty Lights, CHVRCHES, Kid Cudi, Cashmere Cat, Above & Beyond, and Aluna George, along with dozens of other acts that kept all four stages occupied for two ten-hour days of non-stop performance. The venue sprawled out across an industrial district in the Lower Garden District, with stages in a vaulted ballroom, a massive warehouse filled with Mardi Gras floats, an alleyway just feet from the Mississippi, and an outdoor lot backdropped by the towering brick smokestacks of an abandoned power plant.

Though inner-city commuter festivals like this one tend not to have much in the way of community, Buku makes an effort to keep the “Bukulture” strong by building communal chillout areas, like the giant hammock they strung up between two storage containers and the seating area they installed alongside the river. Despite the sprawling festival grounds, there is an intimacy to the venue, particularly at the Back Alley stage, where DJs spun beneath a stack of wooden pallets as barges passed within a stone’s throw in the light cast by the Crescent City Connection Bridge.

There were also a few surprise shows in the central areas between stages, where local street performers rolled out a few speakers, plugged in, and had at it. One of these, a performance by “New Thousand,” was undoubtedly amongst the highlights of the weekend for those lucky enough to be passing when it happened. A mad violinist with a foot pedal, a keyboardist, a guy on a touchpad synth, and a hang drummer playing to a crowd of about fifty of us brought the energy to a peak that rivaled even the main stage performers. (These guys don’t have much web presence, but they’re well deserving of a wider audience. Check out their Facebook here.)

 

 

Of course, the headliners certainly didn’t disappoint. Though acoustics in the warehouse left something to be desired, GRiZ brought down the house mixing his heavy bass lines and fat drops with that signature sax. His Friday night performance also brought in an electric guitar, a female vocalist, and some fancy work with the trumpet. On the outdoor stage, Kid Cudi sang to the light of a thousand cell phones held aloft in the crowd, while as many voices in the audience sang along to “Day’n’Nite.” For those looking for a heavy helping of whomp, Baauer brought the trap and turned the bass up to eleven.

Those with milder dispositions enjoyed bobbing heads to BØRNS’ mellow indie rock. But there were few opportunities for down-tempo, and it wasn’t long after nightfall when Pretty Lights put on a live band performance that those in attendance will be talking about for quite some time. Many of the weekend’s best shows, though, were seen by smaller crowds, with the artists connecting up close and personal. Casey Veggies brought his A-game flow, CRWNS threw down with some heavy drops in his up-tempo trap as a light rain fell at sunset, and Tokimonsta slayed her set with characteristic steez, though relatively few were there to see it.

Supporting this stellar lineup of musicians, the Buku Krewe ran a sharp festival, with every performance going off exactly on time and the grounds staying clean and friendly throughout the weekend. And despite being set-up similarly to LA’s FYF Fest, the NOLA crowd kept the vibes unpretentious and down-to-earth.

A young festival with young event staff and a mostly college-age crowd, Buku is just getting started and already one of the premier festivals in the South. As they continue to grow and attract bigger names and attendance numbers, this is certainly a festival to keep an eye on. If they can manage to weather the growing pains without losing that spark of community that seems about to bloom, Buku has a bright future.