2006-05-26 – 2006-05-29 —
The Sacred Earth Open Air Chilluminati event was entirely wonderful. The NCN campgrounds turned out to be a great place for what surprisingly seemed like an intimate gathering of people who just wanted to enjoy some music, outdoors, and meet other like-minded people. The moods ranged from mellow to intense – all vibrant with positivity.
Everyone was friendly and helpful – staff, volunteers, and patrons alike. I had never been to a music festival such as this, yet I, along with my wife and her sister, felt very welcome. By the time we left, we were extremely relaxed and ready for the world again.
The music was shared between two stages – the Psy stage and the Chill stage. Both ran nearly continuously starting Friday afternoon until Monday. DJs would rotate every 2 hours or so. I’ll leave the Chilluminati forums to describe the individual sets. Suffice it to say here, that we would spend nearly the entire days on the spaces in front of the stages and consistently enjoyed the music. Fire dancers, hula-hoopers, and poi spinners were present in full force. People were jumping in and out of the lake for a swim throughout.
I performed twice. The first performance was solo; the second was a first time collaboration with Josh Brill aka Convolution Integral.
Saturday’s performance at the main stage went very well. Before I began, Josh and I discussed how we would fade out and into each other’s sets. As we talked, clouds began to form, and the rain that I thought would not come until Monday turned out to be making an early arrival. Ultimately, it turned out for the better.
The rain came pouring, and I just had a blast playing in it. I was covered by a rooftop, and the wind blew just right to not get my equipment wet. The staff covered the speakers and the music played throughout the campgrounds. Once the set was over, the rain stopped. The whole thing seemed rather magical. I couldn’t have asked for a better backdrop.
My performance was well received despite my hesitations prior. The music I play is not exactly like Goa-Psy trance, but it does tend near the ambient styles. As such I was worried how the performance would go. Ultimately, everyone seemed happy about it and gave some great feedback.
Apparently, some people were making wonderful slow dance movements with and without swords under the rain. Others seemed to be doing yoga on large wire spindles during all during the set!
The speakers were just amazing. They were designed and built by one of the staff known to me only as Woody. Crisp clear sounds, excellent bass, loud, and yet they did not hurt the ears and one could talk over them as necessary. The feedback they provided to me while I performed was a great boon. I can’t understate how important it is to hear a good sound while playing to really reinforce the internal processes necessary to play well.
Sunday, I played on the chill stage alongside Josh. We’d never played together before, though we had talked about it. We had some very cool moments during the set. Hopefully, we can play some music together soon at a future show.
Everyone seemed to enjoy the sets and I felt relieved that they did. I hope to join future events like this. There’s something quite magical about a large group of people who just want to enjoy music and the outdoors together. The feeling that one gets after a day or two of relaxation away from the hectic city and work life is indescribable. I think it is the feeling of a successful vacation.
So why do people go to events like this? I’ve run into several people who have attended Burning Man as well as other events. I had never been to anything like this before. One person I ran into said that everyone gets something different out of it. Some people view it as an art show, some people hear a music festival, and some people have life-changing experiences. It all depends on what the individuals put into it of themselves.
The same can really be said of any venture and Sacred Earth is likely no different in this respect.
I was watching the poi spinners do their dancing. One of them was working through what looked to be a difficult move. After several tries and with help from outside observers, she was able to make it through the move and integrate it into her routine. It was quite beautiful to watch in the dark, under the black light, set to chill psy-trance.
There was something unique about the scene. Here we were, separate from general society. We weren’t doing anything that was outside of societal convention. But the reduction of complex demands that constantly inundate us in our day to day allowed the natural state of play. For whatever reason, our society associates play with children and tends to erode the ability of play in many people to the point where they have to camp out in the country to do so.
Here, these women were playing with what amounted to spheroids on tethers – one in each hand. They would spin them while they were lit. It was beautiful to watch this fascinating dance.
I asked one of them what they were doing. She described it as something originating as a mating ritual from the Maori’s in New Zealand. If so, I could see why – the movement of the person as contrasted with the lights was very attractive and sensual.
However, in another sense, it amounted to playing with rocks on tethers – playing with centrifugal force and tracing shapes in the air while observing the lights as they pass. Then it occurred to me that this was play at a fundamental level.
As a musician, I can say the most important things to practice are the most fundamental and basic. Even touching the keys without playing sounds is a practice that needs repeating. When people meditate, they often practice breathing for the same reasons. Everyone notes that when they have the fundamentals of a project in place, the rest seems to work out for itself nearly effortlessly.
And here, at play, we do the same things. When we repeat the play of tracing shapes in the air, the aspects of our lives that resonate with vision and motion are improved and rejuvenated.
When our lives are as complex as they are, we need to be able to return to basic play. Some do it through yoga or meditation. Some go through music. As our lives rapidly grow more complex, it seems we have to remind ourselves to practice the basics. Everyday, the world is getting more complex and without the ability to play we risk losing ourselves. We cannot forget to play. It is the wellspring of creativity, joy, and happiness. But, perhaps even more importantly, it helps us realize a bit more of who we are.