~Simply Serenity~

This should have been done so long ago but this past month has been pretty hectic and this review/recap kind of escaped us. Apologies!

Our lady group was driving on a dirt road zigzagging through grassy hills, not entirely sure if we were on the right path, until BAM, we heard the sound of electronic music playing loudly in the distance and a box office in our view with people waiting in line. Serenity Gathering is a 3-day electronic music festival that occurred April 26-28th this year in the beautiful Woodward Reservoir, which is about an hour and a half southeast of Sacramento, California. The festival included a range of music from Troyboi, Yheti, to Kaminanda and an array of workshops to attend throughout the day.

We figured we would have to wait in a long line to get into the venue and have to fight for the size camp we needed, but we were actually shocked to find out neither were the case! We drove straight in with no backed up traffic, almost no line at the box office, and a great spot! While there were already plenty of people that had gotten in before us (they provided early arrival camping for an extra fee), our campsite was still only a mere 10 minute walk, if that, from the center of the festival grounds! We knew this festival was about small-medium size but were so happily surprised with how quick and easy everything came in terms of arrival and set up. The lake was only a couple camps over from ours, and we took full advantage of spending our afternoons relaxing in our floaties while enjoying some drinks.

Something that my fellow festival babe and I do have to be honest about is the fact that there weren’t a lot of art installations or interactive art like we were anticipating. We are by no means throwing shade, simply just stating what we observed and what we wished there was more of. We have been to our fair share of festivals on both ends of the size spectrum and were definitely expecting more items that attendees could gawk at and/or climb on given the vibe that Serenity was promoting.

There were a few pieces, though, that we did enjoy! The first was a giant art car that was actually an old bus designed to look like a willow tree; you could actually climb up to peer out from a deck that was atop the car. There was also the Frick Frack Blackjack table where festival goers could play their hand at blackjack while using items they have on their person to use for bets (since they don’t allow any cash). I have to admit that was probably one of our favorite spots to be at since there were always people playing with such joy and excitement as more and more obscure items were brought on the table as the betting continued throughout the night.

They did do a good job with the stages! There were 5 stages each styled with very intricate designs and structures that promoted its vibe of music: Serenity, Psyrenity, New Moon, Heart of Serenity, and The Cove.

Serenity stage was the main stage and that is where the headliners of the festival performed, like Blunts & Blondes, Emancipator, and Mr. Carmack. What we liked about the Serenity stage was that it was big, had a great view of the other stages across the land’s many peninsulas, and all throughout the crowd there were flow artists moving to the music while their LED toys lit up the darkness. Of course our favorite headliners were Minnesota, Emancipator, Medasin and Troyboi; each had amazing sets that kept us wanting more, and we had a great time grooving to their energy regardless of whether we were front and center or in the back with the flow artists.

The Psyrenity stage is where, you guessed it, they had psytrance artists performing pretty much all day and all night, so there was plenty of music to go around. We aren’t big psytrance lovers so unfortunately we have nothing to report about that stage since we would only walk by it and never stayed to listen to any artists, don’t hate us! Haha

The New Moon stage was really dope. This stage played different types of dubstep and bass artists. What kept it interesting, besides all the bass heavy goodness, were all the fire dancers and aerial artists that would perform on their own side stages during various sets. One artist I did not know well prior to the festival was Tiger Fresh, and damn did he HIT IT, our group was getting down so hard to his set! Props to you man for getting weird and letting us feel those beats. I wish we had some pictures of this stage and the performers, but we were too caught up in the moment.

Heart of Serenity was another favorite of ours, with anything from experimental beats, psychedelic bass, to world singer-songwriters with haunting voices. The stage was set up more like a traveling performer’s tent with string lights hanging everywhere and foam pads on the ground, so if people wanted to dance barefoot they could do so without problems. Two artists who I’d like to give a shout-out to is Heather Christie and Arula, both I didn’t know about prior to attending, and their performances were so chilling and wholesome. They had the whole tent dancing freely and sensually to their sets. Another good point about Heart of Serenity was the fact they had many workshops held in it, making it a very relaxing yet engaging environment. From a relationship building class to a twerking class, there was plenty to learn, and many ways to open yourself up to new experiences and new people.

The last stage was The Cove, this stage played an abundance of house music and had a very mysterious yet appealing feel about it. We’re not sure if it was the moody lights or the fact it was tucked back on the left side of the festival grounds, but it always seemed to have many people dancing at any time of day. We never got a chance to check out The Cove since we don’t listen to much house music but there were some recognizable names on the schedule.

Another point we wanted to make was that considering this was a smaller festival, similar I’d say to Northern Nights, there weren’t many shop vendors or food vendors. What was nice was the fact the ice vendor also sold popsicles and iced coffee, which was much appreciated during the hotter parts of the day. Killa Dilla, the quesadilla extraordinaire vendor, was there whipping up insanely good ‘dillas into the late hours of the night. The water station was also very easily accessible and at the beginning of the festival grounds so the paths didn’t get too muddy.

Overall, the festival was a solid good time. The lake made for fun and relaxing afternoons with friends, and the festival’s smaller size made crowds nonexistent. This also meant no crazy lines when needing to use the Porto-potties, which by the way were always very clean and close by. Camp setup was not stressful at all and an easy walk from the festival grounds. There were no cops wandering through campsites making people uncomfortable. Everyone we encountered was very pleasant, friendly and open for conversation. The weather was never blazing hot nor freezing cold and most importantly there were different types of electronic music for pretty much everyone!

If you’re looking for a smaller electronic fest closer to you, if you live in Northern/upper central California, and need a body of water to relieve yourself from the warmer temps, this is a festival to check out. This is also a good festival to go to if it’s your first time going to an electronic festival, and even more so if it’s your first camping music festival, since it’s low-key and those with social anxiety won’t be overwhelmed. We hope this festival brings on more art installations so festival attendees have more to interact with, as well as get more food and/or shop vendors so there’s a little more variety in the future, but all in all our lady crew enjoyed our time and are happy we experienced Serenity Gathering for the first time.

Snowglobe 2018 Review

Snowglobe is probably the most unique festival I have ever been to. It’s a New Years Eve festival that takes place in South Lake Tahoe. What makes it so unique? It’s outside. All three days. In the snow. Which means getting creative with your outfits and preparing ahead of time so that you stay warm! (See my previous blog post for tips on how to prepare and dress properly) I loved seeing how crazy people got with their outfits, there were people in onesies, retro snowsuits, furs, shimmery glitter, and everything in between!

I still have yet to find a better way to spend New Years than in the snow, dancing, with fireworks going off in the sky.

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New Years Eve is always the last day of the festival, meaning sometimes the festival falls on a weekend and other times it’s in the middle of the week! This year the festival fell on a Saturday, Sunday, Monday which was pretty perfect. This was my third year going to Snowglobe, so I was interested to see if some of the issues I had previously encountered were fixed. A big issue I had with previous years was how disorganized it was entering and leaving the festival. The last couple times I went it was always just a mass of people trying to get in, with very disorganized lines and lots of people cutting. I have to say they vastly improved the experience of entering the festival. This year there were very clear lines laid out and metal detectors, which made the whole process of getting in go by faster. Keep in mind I skipped 2017, so some of this could have been fixed last year!

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Snowglobe is a pretty small festival space-wise, but that makes it pretty easy to split sets and jump stage to stage. The Main stage and Sierra stage are both outdoor stages while the Igloo stage is indoors. I spent most of my time at the Sierra stage which had all of the bass and trap artists. The Igloo is known for mostly having house artists. There were artists I wanted to see in the Igloo, but it was so packed every night that it was impossible to even get in most of the time, which was such a bummer. Even if you did get in, you were pretty squished, which isn’t how I want to see music. It reminded me of when the Sierra stage used to be covered and had that same problem. I hope Snowglobe will move toward making this another outdoor stage so everyone can enjoy the artists they put in there. Snowglobe does have other indoor structures so I just don’t really see the need to have an indoor stage!

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There was a food lodge and a drinks lodge (called the MTV lodge), and every time I went inside one of them, they were full of people sitting on the ground camping out (I assume because they were freezing haha). I appreciated that there were a lot of different places to get a drink (the drink lodge plus multiple outdoor spots to order drinks) because I never had to wait in line too long. My favorite was the hot drinks spot where you could order a spiked hot cider, hot toddy, or hot chocolate. That pretty much saved my life on Day 3 when it was the coldest and windiest. Warmed up our souls!

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So I’m going to lay out my favorite acts of the weekend, and then try the impossible task of picking one absolute favorite for each day, along with my surprise act of the day (this always goes to an artist I didn’t really have on my radar and played a great set!) Keep in mind this was so unbelievably hard to pick a favorite act of the day, but for some reason I thought it would be fun and I forced myself to, so go easy on me! I think my picks might be surprising since I didn’t really pick the huge names (which I wasn’t really expecting!). I also missed sets I wanted to see, especially if they were in the Igloo or earlier in the day (still crying over how early G-eazy was).


Top acts of Snowglobe 2018 (in no particular order): RL Grime, Big Gigantic, Ekali, Slumberjack, Nghtmre B2B Slander, Manila Killa B2B Chet Porter, Kaskade, Cray

Favorite Saturday Act: Big Gigantic             Surprise of the day: Party Favor

Favorite Sunday Act: Ekali                             Surprise of the day: Sam Gellaitry

Favorite Monday Act: Slumberjack             Surprise of the day: Medasin

I wish I could write about all of the sets I saw at Snowglobe as there were so many I enjoyed, but I’m going to try to limit myself to my top 3 favorites so that I can try to finish this review within my lifetime (and stay sane in the process).


Big Gigantic

If you have not seen Big Gigantic live before, then you really need to. What I love about this duo is they so perfectly mix electronic and funk music, that every set I see them just becomes a huge, funky, dance party. You can’t help but smile and have the best time at one of their sets. Dominic always plays the sax during their sets (just more reason to love Big G), and I have to give him major props for playing in that cold weather. It’s my absolute favorite when an artist or group can mix electronic music with live music like that. Their music is always big and thunderous; it’s addicting, it just invites you in. Big G is always full of surprises, and you honestly can’t put them in any one genre, you never quite know what they’re going to pull out next. During their Snowglobe set, they got down and dirty at times, throwing down some harder tracks. You could tell how excited the crowd got too, and I gotta say they did a great job at transitioning these tracks with their funky music.


Ekali

Full disclosure, I love Ekali, I will always love Ekali, he’s the freaking best. I’ve seen him so many times and will always go see his set at a festival no matter how many times I’ve already seen him. Not only is he just a good human who’s very open about mental health on twitter and very encouraging/grateful to his fans, but his music is so hard-hitting and fun to get down to. His music is trappy goodness where you’re just throwing down and getting grimy the whole time. This is a you-never-stop-moving-the-whole-set kind of set, trap music at its finest. He released some new remixes during his Snowglobe set and the crowd went freaking crazy for it. He really knows how to remix a song, but his original music is so good too, and I hope he puts out more of it. His new EP, Crystal Eyes, features some more airy music with really catchy lyrics, featuring some well-known female vocalists like Elohim and K.Flay. In my opinion these songs show a softer side of Ekali, and during his set, he manages to remix these songs so that they start off beautiful and then after the drop you realize they are complete bangers.


Slumberjack

Okay so I have been waiting to see Slumberjack for what feels like forever! I first discovered them back in 2016 when listening to artists on the lineup for Northern Nights. I put them on my playlist and was stoked to see them, but as happens often at music festivals, plans went out the window and I missed them. I’ve regretted it ever since and have been patiently waiting for my next chance. Slumberjack is a duo from Australia whose music (in my opinion) is always melodic, catchy, but then also unbelievably dance-y and hard-hitting. I love how they can combine two ends of the spectrum like that. They really experiment with their music and give it such depth. Their set was a great mixture of their own original songs and remixes they’ve done (that I had heard on Spotify and was dying to hear in person). I can tell you I definitely did not stop dancing during their whole set, and it was so fun being toward the front, watching them do their thing!  The energy was amazing and everyone needs to go see Slumberjack right now.


I also want to give a quick shout out to Manila Killa and Chet Porter for absolutely exhausting me with their set because I couldn’t stop dancing. They remixed all of my favorite songs and their set just made me so happy. It was just pure and good and absolutely worthy of a shout out! I didn’t give them my surprise act of the day because I already love both of these artists and knew without a doubt their set would be so fun!

And Kaskade is just always going to have my heart. I can’t tell you how much jumping up and down I did when he last minute got added to the lineup. I actually first discovered Kaskade years ago at Snowglobe, and I’ve been obsessed ever since. Not much can compare to listening to his song Eyes in the snow…talk about MAGIC.

Okay I want to take a moment to comment on the shuttle situation at Snowglobe because boy have they STILL not fixed the same problems they have had for years. First of all, you have to pay extra for a shuttle pass, which would normally be fine except they don’t even check if you have a shuttle pass to get on the bus! Each time I got on, no one checked that I had a wristband, which made me feel like I completely wasted my money. The organization of the shuttles also leaves a lot to be desired. Each shuttle line was just a cluster of people all trying to shove their way on, with many people having no idea which shuttle went where. They need to have more clear signs, and more people working to organize the lines. The one good thing is I appreciated that they had two different shuttles this year (Yellow line and Blue line) rather than just the one to the casinos like they normally do. It provided more options for attendees. But the Yellow line just dropped off in a liquor store parking lot (with no signs anywhere) which was kind of weird and unofficial. So shuttles were helpful, but disorganized.

To bring this to a close, I had an amazing time at Snowglobe this year! Shout out to Above and Beyond for bringing in the New Year with some crazy fireworks and emotional songs. Even though it’s not really my kind of music, it was definitely memorable. And a thank you to all the new friends we made, you guys were the best! This was absolutely a festival for the books, and if you haven’t made it to Snowglobe yet, you gotta put it on your list! Now excuse me while I continue to revel in my post-festival  blues…

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How to survive Snowglobe

With New Years Eve quickly approaching, it’s time to start thinking about plans and where you’re going to spend it!

Hands down my favorite way to spend New Years has been at Snowglobe (I’m looking at you 2015 and 2016). It’s such a unique festival, being a winter festival in South Lake Tahoe! Most festivals are in the summer with warm weather, and I love how different this one is from all of that. Dancing outside in the snow surrounded by trees with fireworks going off is an amazing experience that everyone should have.

The biggest struggle of Snowglobe is figuring out how to dress for a cold weather festival so that a) you’ll survive through the night and b) you can still have fun with your outfits!

Each year I went to Snowglobe, I had friends complain about how cold it was and how they wouldn’t go back because of that. Now I’m the biggest baby when it comes to cold weather, and I’ve never had a problem at Snowglobe. In my opinion, there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes! You have to bring the right kind of layers.

You need to start with a good base layer made of wicking fabrics. A wicking layer draws sweat and moisture away from your body, making it easier for it to evaporate. This is crucial so that sweat doesn’t freeze to your body! Since you’re probably going to be dancing at Snowglobe (you better be!), you’ll want this layer. This layer needs to be snug on your body to make sure it actually picks up moisture. For my base layer I usually choose something made out of polyester that’s like a spandex/athletic shirt. I really like this long sleeve from amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B075VK9T4C/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o05_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

This article was great  in terms of figuring out what kinds of fabric wick moisture and what the pros and cons of each were: https://www.rei.com/learn/expert-advice/underwear.html

Your mid layer is your insulating layer and provides warmth. It should be looser than your base layer so that it leaves insulating air between layers. A fleece works great for this and is pretty lightweight!

Lastly, you need a shell or outer layer. This is usually a ski or snow jacket that protects you from wind and water. This year for the first time I’m going to try a fur on one of the days, so stay tuned on how that works out for me.

This site does a good job of summing up the different layers if you want more resources:

https://www.rei.com/learn/expert-advice/layering-basics.html

Other essentials you want to bring include a scarf, beanie, gloves, and wool socks! I would also absolutely recommend bringing snow boots or at least waterproof shoes. There’s a waterproof spray you can buy and spray on your boots! I tried that one year and it worked just fine, but I’d still highly suggest snow boots over everything!  If your feet get cold or wet, you are seriously done for. Bring extra socks in case yours get wet!

A lot of people swear by handwarmers also, so if you get cold easily, think about scooping up some of these! Bonus tip, you can put some in your boots if your toes get cold!

So basically, I will be wearing a long-sleeve, a fleece jacket, and either a fur or snow jacket up top. For bottoms I will be wearing leggings that wick moisture, fleece-lined leggings over that, and then a fun bright pair of leggings over that! You could also just wear snow pants if you’re really worried about being cold (I did that both years I went and it worked great!). Then I have gloves, beanies/headbands, and scarves to choose from! I’ll also be rocking some LED jewelry for extra fun.

It’s better to have too many layers than not enough! Remember that you can always take layers off if you’re too warm. But trust me, when the sun goes down, you’ll be so grateful to have all of them.

Lastly, don’t forget lots of glitter 🙂

Here’s some of my crew from Snowglobe 2016 featuring my bright red snowsuit I scored at a thrift store for $3 (which I absolutely will be wearing again this year!) Stay warm and have fun friends 🙂 Remember to follow us on Instagram @festivalbabes2 if you want to see our Snowglobe adventures!

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For Funks Sake: For the Funk of It

California has many unique locations to choose from when it comes to festival venues; there’s the redwoods in the east, deserts in the south, and snow capped mountains in the west. With all these locations to choose from, dozens of electronic festivals, bass raves, mainstream mega festivals, and low key jam/folk festivals occur through the year…but not a lot of funk/soul type festivals if you think about it. Well…let me tell you a little bit about a funk festival that is located in the beautiful Sierra Nevada mountains that usually occurs the second weekend of the month of August.

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For the Funk of It Music Festival is California’s only 3 day all funk camping music festival and is located in the Plumas National Forest two hours northeast of Sacramento, CA in a hidden gem of a town called Belden. It took place from August 10-13th this year and celebrated its 5th wonderful year at the beloved Belden Town. With a festival max capacity of just over 1000 people, due to the land space of the town being so small, it makes way for a very intimate and wildly euphoric experience as you are implanted into the mountainside as this lively festival takes place.

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Besides a small motel, restaurant, bar, a few cabin homes, and a tiny post office not much else is there but open land, which makes finding a camping spot for you and your crew very easy. While some people may bring their RVs and camp at the front of the festival grounds there are many beach access locations, tree covered flat land or hammock worthy spots to choose from as you walk down the path to get to the rest of the venue.

The overall vibe of the festival is something I know and love and is probably one of my favorite aspects of the festival. Everyone who goes there, whether it’s families with kids, young adults,  old hippies, unfamiliar festival folk with a love for brass, whoever…everyone gets along and no one puts up with any bad energy, shady behavior, or close mindedness. Every attendee smiles as they cross in passing and you can just feel the accepting nature of those that come to this festival. Every individual who comes to this festival just wants to have a good time enjoying good, live music in a beautiful environment during the summertime!

For the Funk of It, though small in size due to the intimate size of Belden, has 3 stages: the main stage, which sits more towards the front of the festival venue in a cleared out space with trees shading around it; the beach stage, which is pretty self explanatory- a stage on the main beach access part of the river where hundreds of people bring out there floaties while raging to the music; and the bar stage, which is inside the restaurant/bar part of the motel building that allows folks to dance inside while enjoying their cocktails and food. With all the music played at the festival being of funk genre, For the Funk of It does a good job of making sure bands do not overlap too much so the attendees are able to optimize their time at each stage without missing too much.

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Speaking of music, FTFOI always seems to get a lively bunch of artists to be on the lineup. From Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, Afrolicious, Nigel Hall Band, and funk bands everywhere in between, FTFOI bring in musicians that the crowd will dance their asses to until the sunrises, literally! There technically is no noice ordinance so the festival is allowed to schedule music to play until sunrises, which of course it does! This year some of my favorites who blessed us all with their talent were: Big Sam’s Funky Nation, Smokey the Groove, Mojo Green and Diggin’ Dirt.

When a last minute band cancellation happened Friday afternoon of FTFOI, none other than Smokey the Groove saved the day by gracing us with their lively sound during that Friday evening slot. Their music is unique and one that I thoroughly enjoy listening to every chance I get; their progressive yet upbeat, trippy style funk music has you breaking out in an energetic dance that you are happy to get lost in. Their stage presence is also so fun and memorable! They always bring different signs, toys, props, etc that they decorate the stage with and will sometimes dance around with masks on, to me that brings such an authentic vibe. I truly enjoy their music and get more and more excited about their sets each time they play whether at a festival or show, love you guys! Diggin’ Dirt came on later that night and oh man was that a fun show to witness and dance to. They gave the audience a sexy, smooth funk style whose sound ranges from old school blues to reggae-rock. Diggin’ Dirt is the type of music you can feel your whole body swaying to as you feel the sounds of the drums, brass and vocals flowing through your soul. Jenes Carter from Mojo Green ended up being a special guest during part of their set and hearing her and DD’s lead singer, Zach Alder, vibe together was such a good time.

Ok now for my other favorite sets this year. Mojo Green with Hornmageddon both seem to be a staple group and performance that happen at For the Funk of It. Mojo Green bursts onto the stage every time with such energy in their funky music that it will surely light you up. Their lead singer, Jenes Carter, has a beautiful voice and her spit fire dance moves get you excited as you see her petite self groovin away. A fun surprise during their set this year was that they brought Big Sam, from Big Sam’s Funky Nation, onto their set and let him absolutely kill it on his trombone, hitting these intense brassy notes that had us all vibrating. Now, what is Hornmageddon you’re probably asking? Well during the Mojo Green set they had a large selection of brass players from the various bands that were also performing at this festival come onto the stage and basically rage out all together on their instruments! How crazy is that?! It’s honestly one of the highlights of the festival because that’s just so much brassy, funky goodness all happening in harmony and there’s nothing better than that.

My final favorite set at For the Funk of it was the one and only: Big Sam’s Funky Nation. Big Sam and his band have such a presence to them, both in person and in their music. Their music is both invigorating and smooth, all while blasting you with that true New Orleans jazz-funk that we don’t hear enough of on the west coast. Big Sam’s Funky Nation has a way of getting you to move your entire body in such a way that could honestly only resemble that of a noodle, you find yourself doing endless body rolls all over the place and it’s as if you are under some kind of spell. Big Sam always gives it his all and you can tell him and his band have such a great time performing and dancing to their own music. They also love to engage the crowd in their performance; during part of their set they ended up hand selecting different women from the crowd to come on stage with them and shake all that junk in their trunks; it was so fun and a carefree show!

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For the Funk of It is a wonderful festival experience that I think everyone should go check out; whether you’re a die hard funk music listener, only know of one James Brown song, or enjoy live music but have never gotten around to the funk genre! The venue itself is quaint and perfect for people that want to get away from the large, hectic festival life or just want to enjoy a more intimate camping experience in the woods. Music goes all day and all night and people have the freedom to sleep into the afternoon, run around in the wildest toucan onesie or splash around in a floatie on the river at 4am (while of course being careful and at their own risk). The people who go to For the Funk of It want to enjoy live music in a beautiful part of California and make the most of an August weekend. I have yet to have a negative experience at For the Funk of It and I can’t wait to watch this festival grow even more.

On another note I’d like to thank Tony Dellacioppa for allowing me to share with you a few pictures he took of my favorite bands I enjoyed seeing this year, I only took a couple videos the entire weekend so I appreciate him so much for his quality photography. Thank you For the Funk of It for a memorable 5th year, see you next year!

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Bassrush: A Review

This past weekend was proof that even when Jess and I don’t plan on going to a festival, we somehow still end up at a festival! You seriously can’t make this stuff up!

While visiting friends in Long beach for a much needed girls weekend, Jess and I were surprised with guest list spots for Bassrush, a two-day massive put on by Insomniac Events. Big shout out to our friend Marlee for making this happen for us! Bassrush occurs at the NOS center in San Bernardino and focuses solely on bass music (shocking, I know!) Not only is bass music one of my favorites, but I hadn’t been to an event like this in years, making me pretty excited to get to experience this!

Insomniac did a great job organizing this massive, making it really easy and painless to get through security and leave the event at the end of the night. There were also plenty of water refill stations, which is super important, especially at an outdoor summer event like this. I  never had to wait in line for food, drinks, or to use the bathroom! For the size of the event, I was pretty impressed!

After getting past security, we were immediately mesmerized by the fountains and water surrounding them; the water was almost shimmering from all the lights strung above and in the trees. It was simple, but so pretty to look at! I also loved the multi-colored light structures they had by the stages. I think they did a great job at keeping production simple but still having fun lights and structures! The most impressive part of production in my opinion was all the LASERS! They were beautiful and different colored and coming from every direction at some of the stages! So ridiculously cool.

 

Music-wise, I was so happy with this lineup! There were so many favorites on here that I ended up having to make some hard choices on who to see versus miss. This lineup had favorites like Minnesota, G Jones, Zomboy, Bleep Bloop, Yheti, 12th Planet, and so many more! I have to give it up to Adventure Club, hands down this was my favorite set of the weekend! Adventure Club was the group that originally got me into electronic music back in college, and I’ve never been the same since! This set was full of nostalgia as they played old favorites like “Gold” and “Rise and “Fall”. I loved how on songs like “Gold” they stayed true to the song by starting it out slow and stripped down with the vocals, eventually building it up to an amazing drop I could just lose myself dancing to. You could feel the excitement in the crowd building as everyone realized the song they were going to end their set with was “Crave You”! I think I speak for a lot of people when I say “Crave You” introduced me to Adventure Club, and it will always bring up all the feels. Adventure Club was a feel-good dance party from start to finish, and I was left feeling such a sense of euphoria.

 

My other favorite of the weekend had to be G Jones. I’ve seen G jones a few times now, and I feel like each time he still somehow manages to surprise me with his set. This time around, (maybe it was just because I was riding the rails) it was the most bass in my face set I have ever experienced from him. The bass was vibrating through my body to the point where I just felt frozen in place, with a permanent stank face on. The whole time I was thinking, yup, this bass is swallowing me up. I felt like I could stay lost there forever, without really knowing what time it was or where I was, completely taken over by the bass. Thank you G Jones for such a memorable set!

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I have to mention DC Breaks as they were my surprise of the weekend! I had never heard of them before, but they ended up being a really fun drum and bass sound. Highlight of the set was when the singer made eye contact with me, jumped down right in front of where I was standing, and handed me the Titos bottle he was chugging from! Too funny!

 

Bassrush was such a fun event with beautiful people in attendance! Everyone was so nice, and I always felt like I had enough room to dance and move around. No one was pushing or shoving to get to the front, which can be so prevalent at EDM events. Great job to Insomniac for putting on such a fun event with a dope lineup! We had the best time dancing and headbanging to the point where we were all sore the next day. One for the books!

 

Jammin’ in the Desert: Gem & Jam

With the official festival season fast approaching and the temperature getting warmer it’s almost hard to remember that just a few months ago the days were cold and short with not much to do; however, this is precisely why I’m going to tell you a little bit about a lovely event that happens in the middle of winter with plenty for you festival lovers and festival newbies to do: Gem & Jam Festival!

Gem & Jam Festival is hosted by Euphoric Conceptions and is a 4 day camping music festival now located at the Pima County Fairgrounds only 20 minutes southeast of Tucson, Arizona. The desert is probably not a place where you would think to find a festival (except for the legendary Burning Man), let alone one in the winter time, but because of this festival taking place in a desert climate the winter is the perfect time to host a festival, comfortable temperatures during the day time and chilly at night but nothing a jacket couldn’t fix! The venue is a decent size and was comfortably able to fit all the RV passes, car passes, and walk-in camping passes in their designated areas within the campground without feeling cramped. Another feature that I thought was a step up from all the different festival venues I’ve experienced was that because it was on an actual campground there were actual bathrooms/showers! I personally have used one too many port-o-potties in my festival days and, depending on how efficient the company hired is, those bad boys can get pretty nasty and not get stocked up as frequently as they should. There were some port-o-potties in the walk-in camping section of the festival since that happened to be a little further out in the camping layout however there were a few actual bathroom structures in the festival vicinity and that was such a relief for those attending the festival, especially for the ladies (am I right, girls?).

Let’s talk about the set up. This festival brings the two very different worlds of jam and electronic together with a beautiful collection of artists, from longtime groups like STS9, Greensky Bluegrass, and Lettuce to artists like Maddy O’Neal, Russ Liquid Test and Marvel Years who all seem to have exploded into popularity in the festival community within the last five or so years. Gem & Jam I would say is a small-medium size festival and surprisingly can fit a total of 5 stages: 2 big stages, 2 smaller stages, and 1 indoor late night stage.

The festival did a great job not only in physically spacing out the stages so music didn’t clash together but also set up the schedule in a flowing way so there was only about 10 minutes of overlap, and sometimes none at all! It was so satisfying to be able to wander the festival grounds while still being able to hear whatever artists you were interested in based on where you were standing in the festival. The stages themselves are given gem/mineral names, in respect to the gigantic international gem  and mineral festival that occurs in Tucson every year for 2-3 weeks, along with some of the stages having a sort of crystal altar that is at the front of the stages for decoration.

OK…music. Some of the artists on the lineup I was personally excited to see were: Emancipator, Big Wild, Breaking Biscuits, and Russ Liquid Test! Of course there are many more but these are a few of my newer loves. I also had to leave Sunday since I had a long drive ahead of me back to Northern California so I was unable to see Lettuce and Greensky Bluegrass who are two bands I enjoy so much.

Emancipator’s performance was very pleasing to the ears, the instruments linked with the subtlety of the electronic vibes brings such a fulfilling flow and one you can listen to no matter what time of day and no matter how you feel. During his performance I would look around me and see so many people with their eyes closed, totally in peace, while swaying to the music.

Big Wild is someone that I have such a giddy time seeing perform. I was on the other side of the festival, probably wanting more naan or tacos, when he came on stage. As soon as I heard Big Wild begin I jumped in the air, made an embarrassing squeal and dance-skipped all the way to the stage area. I don’t know if it’s the deep vibration of the drums when he plays, or the fact his music in general has such a happy and upbeat tune, but that is an artist I have seen multiple times and plan to continue seeing. Breaking Biscuits was a fun collaboration I was eager to see.

Breaking Biscuits is a side project that brings together the guys of Break Science with the very talented keyboardist and bassist of the infamous Disco Biscuits…honestly what could sound better than that? This group brought all the jammy feels without hitting plateaus in their set, something that is hard to do in 7 minute long songs. Break Science added their hints of hard electronic tones to the songs and all in all everyone couldn’t help but dance around, making friends in the process.

Russ Liquid Test, oh was I so happy when I saw you. This group performed in the late night building and did they kill it. Their live-electro, psychedelic funky sound filled the building with a burst of energy and groovy waves that no one could escape. The late night stage they performed on was made with laser-etched wood framing around the top and sides of it and color changing lights that shown through them, plus a virtual screen that had different images flashing from it. The music and performances provided at this festival were top notch to say the least.

Besides the music and venue set up itself, there were a few different areas within the festival where people could go to explore art installations, participate in workshops, and meditate. This area had a variety of gypsy looking tents set up in grass (i’m in Arizona?!) and within those tents there were pillows, rugs, and other bedding material to make yourself comfortable. There were beautiful cloth style chandeliers hanging from the tents and some had massage tables if you wanted to get a specific type of massage. The workshops included: event sustainability, yoga, being present in the community, consent, and much more. Gem & Jam also included a drum circle area were at various times in the day they would hold drumming ceremonies and classes for any that were interested in participating.

Some of the art installations were pretty trippy and so much fun to discover while I checked out every inch of the festival. In the grass area of the festival they had these large and intriguing alien-like “gods” all set up in a circle each holding different items with foreign letters and symbols written around them in a sort of halo, along with structures shaped like giant crystals popping out of the earth. The festival also had lights hanging from the palm trees scattered throughout the venue and of course an art gallery full of paintings, photos and LED art from pretty big name artists. Gem & Jam also had many live painters that you could find by every stage, painting anything from nature scenery, psychedelic experiences, deity  interpretations, etc.

One of my favorite encounters and pieces of art though was the Trolley Llama, a company owned party bus trolley decorated in clothes, parasols, and festival-gypsy decor and had the most comfortable outdoor living room set up I have ever seen at a festival, plus all the amazing individuals who came with the trolley and made it an experience in itself.

Out of everything that I experienced at this festival, I think the most important factor Gem & Jam had to offer was the people. During the entirety of the weekend I met dozens of individuals who all welcomed me to Arizona and the festival with open arms and positive attitudes. Yes there were many people who were from California, Texas, etc that I encountered but the vast majority of people were from Arizona (duh) and I had no idea how friendly they were until attending this festival. Even the people working security, guiding you to your parking pass spot, or scanning wristbands at the front were all incredibly hospitable and cracking jokes whenever possible. I didn’t see any fights, I didn’t see security making people feel uncomfortable, I saw eyes all around me full of excitement and people ready to help you enjoy your experience at Gem & Jam in whatever way they could. Gem & Jam impressed me whole-heartedly and I cannot wait to go back!

Lightning in a Bottle Packing List

Hello lovelies! After 2 years at LIB and countless other camping festivals, we’ve put together a pretty comprehensive list of everything you need to be comfortable and prepared while camping! It’s broken down into general camp, personal, and fun items!

General Camp Items

  • Rug/Comforters for lounge area
  • Pillows for lounge area
  • Camp lights
  • Table
  • Folding Chairs
  • E-Z up
  • Flag for camp
  • Tapestries/Clips
  • Trash Bags
  • Bigger water container/jug for camp
  • Toilet paper/Paper towels
  • Coolers
  • Breakfast and lunch food
    • We like to do eggs/bacon/fruit for breakfast and then make sandwiches for lunch, it’s been the easiest for us! We always do dinner in the fest since there’s usually so many great vendors!
  • Smoothies/Coffee/Yerba Matte
  • Plates and cups
  • Pots/Utensils for cooking
  • Sponge and dish soap
  • Portable stove
  • Cooking Spray
  • Salt/Pepper
  • Snacks/Fruit
  • Alcohol
  • Bluetooth speaker

Personal Items

  • Sleeping bag & pillows
  • Tent & tarp for under tent
  • Stakes & hammer
  • Air mattress & pump
  • Extra batteries for air mattress pump
  • Daytime & nighttime clothes
  • Sweatshirt/Jackets (layer up!)
  • Bandana/Face mask for dust
  • Hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Towel
  • Bathing suit
  • Floatie
  • Shoes/Socks
  • Flip flops for camp
  • Toiletries
  • Earplugs
  • Neti pot/ Saline solution nasal rinse
  • EmergenC
  • Water bottle/Hydration pack
  • Sunscreen/Bug spray
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Wet Wipes
  • Wristband
  • Portable charger and cord
  • Flashlight/Headlamp
  • Chapstick
  • Hair ties
  • Mirror

Fun Stuff!

  • Eco-friendly Glitter
  • Body paint/Brushes
  • Glowsticks
  • Temp tats/Scissors
  • Face Jewels
  • Onesie