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Fresh off a couple hour plane ride and a few hours of shut-eye we were finally packing up the car with the essentials for a weekend full of amazing music and interconnectedness at the 2013 Symbiosis Gathering.  I for one could hardly hold back my excitement to get the final leg of our trek rolling as we closed in on the tiny town of Oakdale all packed up in our cooped up car we would call home-base for the weekend. Weaseling our way through the backroads of Oakdale we soon found ourselves sprawled in grass and dirt setting up camp with all of our other buddies and all of the beautiful people that also made the journey out to Woodward Reservoir for the weekend. In the midst of making camp we became acquainted with the neighbors, chatted with passerby’s, and got a good grasp of what would be at hand the whole weekend. Symbiosis is unlike any other large scale music festival; gone are the young, reckless, and irresponsible teens that can be found causing a muck around places like Coachella or Summer Camp. In their place we had a group of older, conscious, down to Earth, and overall enlightened festival goer’s to share these pristine festival grounds with for the upcoming weekend. The grounds were also strewn with armloads of vendors and beautiful cosmic creations that left us with endless entertainment for weekend. Oh, and did we mention just about every stage had some prime waterfront property to boogie down on all weekend? That’s one factor that brought Symbiosis 2013 to another level for us. Being able to cleanse and refresh in the cool reservoir was a great way to bring in the day while washing off the dust and grime from the preceding evenings shenanigans.

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:: Thursday ::

As the sun tucked itself away for the evening, patrons began to circulate throughout the main venue as the music began and the weekend came to life. Not having any real plans for the first half of the night we did out best to take in the ground before the cover of night was draped across them and we were left bumbling around aimlessly. Unfortunately, we didn’t seem to beat the sun but luckily enough most of the music was going down between The Cove and Pantheon stages all night and they were quite hard to miss. Each stage had its own unique design which really spiced things up as you wondered from set to set, while the Big Island boasted a huge monolith of a stage that was still under construction the first night all the others had a laid back homey vibe to them. First we caught a little bit of David Starfire and FreQ Nasty‘s bass infused set as Dub Kirtan All Stars in which they throw down a combination of bass laced chants and beats before we took to meeting up with a couple buddies that were vending for the weekend. A bit later we wondered back over to The Cove to catch one of the sets I was most excited for of the weekend but we wound up getting there a little early and my ears were greeted by an unfamiliar presence on the stage, I now know this mystery man was Portland’s Danny Corn.

Mario Covic 3Photo by: Mario Covic

He brought the crowd a bumping and tumbling bass set that seemed to travel into all realms of the musical spectrum as the crowd stirred in anticipation of Mr. Carmack to take the stage. Coming all the way from Hawaii to throw down this weekend I knew this was a pretty unique chance to catch a set from one producer that is truly killing the game in all regards right now. After a bit of a delayed start Mr.Carmack was going in with a set of truly forward thinking bass sounds as the crowd was riled up into a churning dusts and flailing limbs. While his song selection was on point throughout the entire set (we even got a string of Mac Dre tunes for all the Bay Area fam that was out and about) it was hard to tell if technical malfunctions were causing his sound to cut out or if it was Carmack himself, but that aside, he brought the goods for our Thursday night warmed up.

As his set came to a close Hudson Mohawke was next on the decks and boy-oh-boy was I chomping at the bit for that. After years of anticipation I finally caught a set from one of the top producers in the game and couldn’t have been more satisfied. Taking us through everything from contorting off-kilter beats, to heavy trap and bass tracks, and even a few of his productions for Kanye West it was an all around star spangled set that we couldn’t get enough of. As HudMo closed his set out we wondered back to the camp for some much needed rest before the rest of the weekend was underway.

:: Friday ::

Mario Covic 4Photo by: Mario Covic

Before we knew it the sun was up and our tents were boiling. As we each stumbled forth in the new days sun, fresh beads of sweat already present, we each had the simultaneous thought to go take a dip to start the day. Even though we already mentioned this a little earlier it was probably the best way to start every day out at Symbiosis. After a quick cleanse and change of clothes a few of us wanted to get a dose of bass from on of the stages that wasn’t active the night before, The Empire of Love, which was tucked away on a far island and adorned with a wild stage brought to life by Shrine.

Though we weren’t able to catch Kitty-D and Mustard Tiger (who came all the way from Australia) we were in fact able to catch Dov doing his thing. After a few connections with him on a more virtual basis it was great to see him really take hold of a crowd as the bass seethed forth from the decks. Next I tried to wait patiently for the UK’s Lapalux to get up next but due to delays and scheduling conflicts I wound up being pulled away before we caught any tunes from him. Over at The Cove both JPod and Plantrae brought some solid bass vibes to get the crowds blood pumping before Nahko & Medicine for the People graced the stage in their full fledge raucous manner. Bringing forth one of the most raw and lively sets of the weekend this was yet another group on the bill this weekend I had been waiting patiently to catch in a live setting.   

After taking it easy for a little bit and wondering the grounds a bit more we found our way back to The Cove where Laura Low was getting the crowd ready for An-Ten-Nae to bring the party. And you know what? Bring the party he did! Before we knew it An-ten-nae had the whole crowd getting down and kicking up quite the dust cloud, soon after that the whole stage was flooded with scantily clad beauties that were having nothing short of a blast wilding out on stage for a majority of the set. After An-ten-nae brought his party to a close and announced another set of his later in the weekend Djemba Djemba was on deck and I don’t think half the people in the crowd were ready for what this multifaceted newcomer had up his sleeves. Bringing straight heat through and through his hour long set you could tell some anticipation was building as people began to crowd in wonder and who the secret guest of the evening was going to be. As Djemba finished up the veil was soon lifted as bass heavyweight Mimosa took the stage as the special guest!

Though he did throw down a rowdy set jam packed with trill bass I was still a little bit more excited for G Jones to get his chance to woo the crowd.  Soon after Mimosa wound down, G Jones had things turned right back up again as he came at the unsuspecting crowd with his truly unique take on bass music. Hitting us with all kinds of wonky, off kilter, and trill bass it was hard to not have a smile pasted to your face that entire set even though it was dusty as all hell. Greg packed up soon before the sun began to peek its eyes over the horizon but to help us bring in the new day we had Russ Liquid lay down a special down tempo set for all of us night owls. Easily this was one of my favorite sets of the weekend as Russ laid down a lush textured set laden with all sorts of live instrumentals he whipped out. That being said it was a great way to bring the second night of Symbiosis to a close while bringing in the next day at the same time.

Piak Boonlert 3Photo By: Piak Boonlert

:: Saturday ::

After Russ Liquid drew his sunrise set to a close Mihkal brought us into the cosmos with an otherworldly set of world bass music that was just what some of us needed to kick start the day. Soon after a little meandering, Bluetech was finally taking up shop at The Cove and I knew I couldn’t miss that. After being flooded out of his last show he was suppose to have out here in Colorado I knew I needed to get me my Bluetech fix for the weekend. Having gone back to camp to group up the crew and load my pack with beers for the day it was great to have the whole crew getting down in the shallows of the reservoir as Evan wooed the crowd so early in the day.

While the day wore on we were graced with wonderful sets from Lynx, Jupit3r, Staunch and the surprisingly talented Rising Apalachia. A group made up of two sisters from the South that I had never heard before but was completely hooked by the end of their set (thankfully David Block brought them out during his Human Experience set Monday morning). Soon the night took hold once again and as the lights of the ground came to life the UK’s Starslinger brought some wild electronic vibes to The Cove stage to get the dust churning yet again. Though he threw down a stellar set I couldn’t help but hold back my anticipation to get on over to The Big Island stage to catch a couple of sets from Sound Tribe Sector Nine. Being one of the top names (if not the top name) in the jamtronica scene these guys always put on a show. From their killer lighting and visuals to the great variation they can have in whatever kind of set they decided to whip out it’s always a blessing to catch some live STS9. Though I was running on fumes by then from lack of sleep and things of the sort it wasn’t nearly enough to keep me from having a great time! Before we knew it they worked their way through two sets and we were working our way back to the campsite to refuel before rolling into the rest of the evenings events.

Some added layers of warmth and a few pulls of ‘twerk sauce’ later we were trekking back in for more music. Yet again, we had a long night of sets from producers I had still yet to catch in a live setting so we were excited to get things underway. As we roll back up to The Cove, Norway’s Cashmere Cat was already behind the decks and slaying the crowd he had wreathing at his finger tips. Coming at us with a style of bass music that seems to be completely his own we were all floored by the set he dished out. After being cheated by weather when he stopped out here in Colorado last it was great to see him doing his thing in a much drier setting. Without a doubt one of my favorite sets of the weekend it seemed like his set went by in an instant because before I knew it he was saying his thanks and Lunice was getting people hyped as he dove into his set next.

There definitely was no shortage of turned up beats on Satruday night as Lunice held the door open for RL Grime to take the stage right after him. Keeping the energy turned all the way up to ten RL Grime dove in head first to the sea of already bumping and grinding patrons. Dishing out everything from familiar tracks to some secret gems, I’m sure he keeps under his belt for situations like that evening, I think everyone present was really pleased with everything RL Grime served up in his lengthy set. Though I really wanted to be a trooper and last until Random Rab‘s  sunrise set that was still a few hours out I just couldn’t push it and wound up having to get some much needed rest before the final two day haul for the remainder of the weekend!

Zipporah Lomax 3
Photo by: Zipporah Lomax

:: Sunday//Monday ::

Though sleep was needed it took me much further into Sunday than I anticipated and in turn made me miss sets from Dirtwire and Sidecar Tommy. After a rather slow start to the day consisting of eating, drinking, and frolicking in the reservoir once again we were finally fueled up and ready for the rest of the music. Making our way in to promptly catch Shpongle aka Mr. Simon Posford from a nice blanketed spot on the back hill we were graced with a sunset set from this legendary producer. Being that Simon was without and visualizer or production he tended to keep the set fairly mellow but it was just what we needed to reel in our minds for the rest of the evenings performances. As some stages drew to a close for the weekend The Cove and Pantheon showed no signs  of slowing up what so ever. Following Shpongle’s sunset set Australia’s talented singer, songwriter Chet Faker lulled the crowd with sweet harmonies and his dreamily catchy voice. Playing out all sorts of his original tunes one of my favorites throughout his set had to have been seeing  his rendition of Blackstreet‘s ‘No Diggity’ in a live setting.

After a bit of a delay Ryan Hemsworth took the reigns and brought us another flooring set chock full of laid back hip-hop remixes and sexy soundscapes that left many of us in awe. With Mount Kimbie coming right up on his tail there was no way I was leaving The Cove for a good while. Before we knew it the talented duo that makes up Mount Kimbie was taking the stage in all of their splendor as they belted out tracks that spanned their entire catalogue from new to old. Up next were a couple of producers I was fairly unfamiliar with prior to hearing them out at Symbiosis. Phaeleh, another taleneted producer out of the UK, showered the crowd with whimsically woven beats that took us off on a wild journey as they secretly assembled the set for IAMAMIWHOAMI behind a wall of secrecy. IAMAMIWHOAMI trekked all the way from Sweden for Symbiosis this year and once they took the staged it only seemed fitting that this be the place for their US debut over anywhere else. Coming at us with a wild style of pop music that they made completely their own this was certainly not an act I thought I would catch out here at Symbiosis. With a wild stage demeanor much unlike anyone else that performed over the weekend it was hard to not have IAMAMIWHOAMI imprinted in my brain after they closed out their set, you can get a little taste of that for yourself via this fine video The Confluence caught below.

As soon as IAMAMIWHOAMI brought their set to a close Emancipator was hot on their heels with Illya Goldberg right by his side playing strings as he sewed us up in a web of ethereal beats and rhythms for the next hour or so. Staying from Emancipator for a little bit to catch the queen herself Ana Sia over at the Juke Shack was just what I needed to keep my energy flowing for the remainder of the night as Michal Menert took over closing out The Cove.  After all of this time listening to Menert’s music I was suprised I still hadn’t caught a live set from him so getting over there and seeing that he was already elbow deep in this crowd was awesome.  Easily one of the music high energy set of the weekend Menert brought out all the stops and had the whole crowd going wild.  At one point he brought us a new track and enlightened us by telling us it was something like  “what riding an elephant through the jungle might feel like“. After staying for his whole set I wound up not making it to Ott over at the Pantheon but there was plenty of quality music on deck over there to make up for it.

Zipporah Lomax 1Photo by: Zipporah Lomax

One last trip to camp to rouse some slumbering troops and it was back to the Pantheon we went for our last big dosage of music for the weekend. As the sun climbed higher and higher in the sky and the layers of warmth began to be shed we were right in time for Kalya Scintilla, Kaminanda, Thirftworks, and The Human Experience to close out the weekend. Kalya dished out a wild down-tempo set that brought everyone in the crowd off onto another plane of existence before Kaminanda threw us for another whirl with his set right after. With the sun already high in the sky, Thriftworks took the stage to serve up that sizzling bacon and eggs everyone was in need of. Throwing out everything from old tunes to remixes that we are still yearning for, this was a great warm up for The Human Experience to take the stage with an entire pose of talented musicians to sit in with him. Though this wasn’t the end of all the music it did bring our weekend to a sudden close as everyone we trekked out with had to get packed up and back into the real world.  With that being said it truly seemed like everyone brought their A-game out to Woodward Reservoir for the 2013 Symbiosis Gathering! We can only be grateful that were able to be a part of it, help some of you experience what it was like, and hope to see each of you out there next year!

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About Amelia Waters