Written by Larry Pompa
With the end of summer fast approaching avid festival goers may be left wondering, “What’s next?” Thankfully, in two weeks upwards of twelve thousand people will congregate at the Woodward Reservoir in Northern California to celebrate the ten-year “RE:UNION” of Symbiosis Gathering. After an unbelievably beautiful run in 2013, the festival took a hiatus and is finally making its return. Lovers of this gathering are bursting with anticipation to see what surprises this year will usher in.
Symbiosis kicks off on Thursday, September 17th and will be in full swing through Sunday night. This gives you a chance to completely immerse yourself in an indulgent experience, and reconnect with the rhythm of your heart and the spirit of community for four blissful days. Symbiosis thrives off of a familiar festival mantra: “Leave it Better, Leave it Beautiful” which encourages people to be responsible for taking out whatever they pack in, in order to leave the land as they found it. Considering the festival takes place on the pristine, oak-speckled shores of the reservoir, the culture of environmental conscientiousness and conservation is warranted. Such a magical setting deserves respect, after all.
Symbiosis at its core is a transformative festival, but there are so many aspects that put it in a league of its own. Along with four days of live music, performances, workshops, and yoga, the festival will also be offering its Elemental Alchemy program, an immersive educational experience with three pathways of study. In the days prior to the event, patrons will be able to thoroughly learn about permaculture, visionary art, or yoga.
That aside, let’s not forget about the most important part: the music! With stellar acts from 2013’s bill including STS9, iamamiwhoami, Chet Faker, and Mount Kimbie, many were curious to see how Symbiosis would top the 2013 lineup. Needless to say no one was disappointed with the well-rounded line-up that includes heavy hitters Nicolas Jaar, CocoRosie, Tune-Yards, Four Tet, Griz, Shpongle, Sylvan Esso, The Polish Ambassador and many more. This festival caters to an eclectic crowd, with acts that stray from mainstream EDM fare. It offers an alternative style of music with many variants to satisfy people’s diverse tastes. These are many of the reasons Symbiosis is one of my favorite festivals. My best advice is to show up with an open mind and let your heart (or the bass) be your guide. However, with such an extensive line-up, you may need some help determining your must-sees. I’ve compiled a short list of artists you definitely don’t want to miss!
*If you like Big Gigantic then you’ll fall in love with Griz. This imaginative artist combines funkified electronic beats with retro samples and live instrumentation. The genre is a delectable recipe of future bass with underlying soulful melodies. On top of these stylistic elements, he also plays live saxophone during his performances. His contagious energy protrudes off the stage and flows throughout the crowd. At Hard Summer last month, he ended his set by playing the melody of the sexy sax man song, which sent his fans roaring for more. He just released a new album for free titled Chasing the Golden Hour Pt. 1.
*Dimond Saints is an Oakland duo consisting of An-ten-nae and Releece. These two are reinventing the genre of electronic music with their futuristic dripping beats and bass filled symphonies. Their signature sound has a potent resonance than can leave one feeling elated.
*Nicolas Jaar is a Chilean house producer who now resides in New York. He owns the label Other People and is also known for his work with DARKSIDE. He released his latest album, Pomegranates, completely free of charge for your auditory pleasures!
*tUnE-yArDs is an experimental project deriving from New England, but now based in Oakland. Merrill, the mastermind behind the catchy act, creates the drum loops, plays ukulele and keys, and her most memorable talent is her prominent voice. tUnE-yArDs’ latest album, Nikki Nack, was released last year.
*Some honorable Mentions are Four Tet, Sylvan Esso, Justin Martin (Dirtybird), Emancipator Ensemble, Max Cooper, The ACID, Lucent Dossier Experience, and edit + ooah of The Glitch Mob.
In terms of preparation, I suggest bringing plenty of coconut water, sunscreen, comfortable and colorful clothing, a disposable camera, a headlight, and fun gifts for people you meet. Also, floaties and rafts are a good idea to take full advantage of the beautiful body of water on site. Just be sure to keep it clean. If you’ve been considering attending this festival I highly suggest you do so! I’m looking forward to getting lost within this sonic adventure and following up with my anecdotes soon after. Stay tuned. Symbiosis is re-emerging with a bang this year, and I hope to see you folks out there enjoying it with me.