Photo Credit: Mark Stylez Photography
Take your typical music festival here in the states; big name bands, producers, large scale production, and you’re generally located in some small off the map town that is entirely inundated with festival goer’s by the tens of thousands year after year. When you look at all that it makes one kind of wonder, what’s the big fuss about? If that scene doesn’t sound too appealing to you its about time you looked a little deeper, turn your eyes away from the established and sought after gatherings and look into the cracks. Every year there are more and more festivals cropping up all around the world boasting eclectic lineups and unique experiences.
One festival in particular that is working its way out of the shadows and into the limelight is none other than Envision. A conscious gathering where beautiful people and talented artists can all intermingle freely in the jungles of Costa Rica. Having just celebrated their fourth year nestled in the foliage of Uvita let it be known, these guys have tapped into something special. They started fresh this year with a brand new location, Rancho La Merced, a lush open plot that no one minded calling home for the weekend. From patrons that had attended previous years we heard word that the facilities were much more organized, there was much more shade to be found, and the trek on down to the beach was much easier so it sounds like the Envision team hit the nail on the head with this new locale. If you feel like you’re still in a bit of a fog let us paint you a picture of our adventures during our trip down to Envision 2014.
Late Wednesday night we piled into the preheated car and embarked on the frigid journey to DIA where we were greeted by a whole plane full of friendly faces that appeared to be headed to no other place than Envision. The short five hour flight breezed by as we were all awoken by the first rays of sun stretching above the clouds while we descended into San Jose. After scooping our bags we easily found the pick up area for the shuttle and before we knew it new friends were being made left and right. I don’t think anyone I made small talk with during our entire stay was anything less than grateful to be taking in this blissful weekend. As the buses rolled up a little later than expected most visitors got their first taste of “tico time”, but before we knew it we were whisked away and making our way to the coast.
:: Thursday ::
The hours flew by and before anyone knew it we were being dumped off at the mouth of Rancho La Merced to dive in to everything Envision had to offer. Quickly we made camp with a great team of new friends from Eugene, OR and made our way straight to the ocean. Immediately we stripped down, headed for the waves, and before we knew it the sun was sinking below the horizon to give each of us our first taste of Costa Rica’s picturesque sunset’s. Thankfully the Opening Ceremony was pushed back an hour so everyone could enjoy the sunset. The amazing team that put Envision together welcomed us at the Opening Ceremony, and from there on out there was a spark ignited beneath the weekend. As night took hold the stages came to life with rich visuals, talented performers, and positive vibrations aplenty.
While the Sol Stage was still receiving some final touches, the Lotus, Luna, and Village Stages were all alive and kicking! We found ourselves getting cosy at the Luna Stage for the evening as we were graced with flavorful sets from Soulacybin, Plantrae, and Nominus before Kaminanda closed things out for the evening. After being taken on a wild auditory journey with Kaminanda we shuffled over to the Lotus Stage to see what Kalya Scintilla’s side projected MerKaBa was all about. This psy-trance alter ego of Kalya had the whole crowd moving into the early morning, with the accompaniment of Anthony Ward on floral arrangements it was truly a special way to close out the first night.
Photo Credit: Zac Cirivello
:: Friday ::
Before we knew it the sun was already high in the sky Friday morning as a few of us fought to grab every bit of sleep we could before succumbing to the humidity and finding some cooler shade. A special feature of Envision that many other festivals don’t offer is that during the day you can entertain yourself with a huge smorgasbord of activities. Envision offers a vast lineup of workshops, speakings, and yoga classes that everyone can take part in on site while there are additional adventures you can embark on that take you into the local surroundings for an added experience. These day adventures range from horse back riding, to zip lining, and waterfall repelling while all being fairly affordable additions to the trip. If getting up early and committing the day to something isn’t how you like to plan out your festivals there’s also a beautiful waterfall in close proximity to the grounds you can enjoy. Being only a short taxi ride down the road in Uvita the waterfall boasts a slippery natural water slide, cliff jumping, and a restaurant atop the steps with some killer fish taco’s.
The afternoon flew by and before anyone realized, it was time to get down to the beach and catch another sunset into the pacific! As the jungle came to life with music once again you could tell everyone was much more ready to get down than the night before when everything was still settling. The Human Experience helped us usher in the night with a diverse set where he dropped all sorts of fan favorites while teasing us with tastes from each of his other projects he would be preforming as over the weekend. The Sol Stage was thriving with live bands and performances when we made our way over that evening. After grabbing a bite to eat and puruseing some merch we found our way back to the Sol Stage to check out a band recommended by a friend called The Human Revolution. These guys brought forth a great positive message that was truly an awesome start to the night, you can check out a clip of them playing “Dedication” here. They drew their set to a close and turned things over Nahko & Medicine for the People, after catching their soundcheck earlier in the day we were all throughly excited to see what kind of set they had up their sleeves! Nahko’s tumultuous upbringing feeds the life behind many of his songs so it was great to see those emotions packed in to each tune they belted out.
Soon the jungle air was riddled with positive energy and we found our way over to the Luna Stage to catch our buddy Stylust Beats jacking up the energy levels with a high octane set of his own. Following Stylust our ears were infiltrated by the glitched out stylings of JPOD who came through and delivered one of our favorites sets of the weekend. With the energy still high it was time for The Polish Ambassador to take the stage! Bringing on Ayla Nereo for a couple of Wildlight tracks he soon worked his way into a funky bass strewn set with his companion Liminus right by his side. With a stage appearance from a few look alikes adorned in the classic Polish neon jumpsuit this was definitely another highlight from Friday night.
As the evening rolled on there were a few cracks that needed filling as a few artists couldn’t make the trip, but that didn’t slow anything down. Colorado’s Cualli was suppose to take the stage earlier in the evening but this slight adjustment aided in setting the perfect mood for the rest of the nights performances. Cualli dished out a set that took people all over the sound spectrum. Sliding in live instrumentals here and there it was truly captivating to see this talented producer at work as he opened the gates for Kalya Scintilla to take the stage just as the first hints of sunlight were teasing the tops of the trees. Kalya delivered a rich set that was loaded with all the psychedelic tribal bass one could need while ushering in another beautiful day. While many people retreated to their tents to grab some shut eye before the sun took over we stuck around to see what Kystyn Pixton had arranged for her set.
:: Saturday ::
Photo Credit: Charlie A Photography
Each day we found ourselves getting to sleep a little later so that made it that much harder to grab some z’s before the sun was blazing once again. Taking the day to lounge around the waterfall and cool down we were right and refreshed to dive back in for another night of music in the jungle! After catching Rootz Underground at the Sol Stage for some reggae vibes earlier in the day we soon found ourselves bellied right back up to the same stage to catch Rising Appalachia. Leah and Chloe delivered a majestic set while even donning us with a brand new song they were still putting the final touches on. From there we wound our way back over to the Luna Stage where Biolumigen was draping the crowd in a rich layer of textured and constantly contorting bass music. Sasha Rose and The Librarian took over after the fact and soon Fractal Tribe was doing a wild performance showcase with musical accompaniment by Plantrae.
We were soon pulled back to the Sol Stage were one of our favorites groups, Papadosio, was gearing up for what turned out to be one of the best sets of the weekend. Right from the get-go you could truly feel how excited each one of them was to be there and that really shined through over the whole course of their set. Thankfully you can already grab a download of this set from the guys over on their Bandcamp, it is well worth the $10 price tag.
Afterwards we followed the masses back to the Luna Stage where Phutureprimitive was stilling working the crowd before Tipper took the stage for one of the most talked about sets of the weekend. After being fairly nonexistent on the festival circuit last season due to a heart complication that needed tending you could feel the excitement building around this set from Dave Tipper all weekend. Once he got behind the decks the energy was immediately relinquished as the trees began bumping to the mind warping sounds oozing from the Funktion-One’s. Andreilien picked things up with the Metamorphosis Ballet right after and kept the balling rolling until it was time for Random Rab to take the stage and don us with one of his beautiful sought after sunrise sets.
:: Sunday ::
As we roused ourselves for one more day chock full of music you could begin to see some wear in a few faces around the camp. Three long days of roasting in the sun, sweating, and bogeying down in the dirt will definitely tire you out a bit. All everyone needed was refreshing dip in the ocean and they were ready to finish out the weekend strong! We took in one last sunset into the pacific and made our way into the grounds to check out Soul Visions, the collaborative project between David Block of The Human Experience and the girls of Rising Appalachia. They announced this was their one year anniversary when they took the stage and from there on out they blew our socks off. The powerful and emotional voices of Leah and Chloe paired amazingly with the earthly bass vibes put forth from David, least to say this was a great way to kick off the evening.
From there we circulated around the vendors a bit to buy a time before the Envision Orchestra took the stage. The market area of Envision featured vendors from all reaches that brought their handmade and organic goods to show. Between the earth conscious vending and the minimal waste generated from the food vendors it was great to see a festival of this scale taking things like that into consideration.
After tuning into the Envision Orchestra for a bit we cruised over to catch a little bit of another Colorado local, kLL sMTH. He dealt out a glitchy big bass set that was the perfect accompaniment for The Funk Hunters to follow up on. Word of this Canadian production team was buzzing around all weekend so it was great to catch a raunchy set from them before Mr. Rogers took over. Being one of the few producers on the lineup we hadn’t seen before it was truly electric to see this Northern Californian based producer pull out all the stops in the jungles of Costa Rica. Up next was Whitebear, a young Australian producer whose production was first brought to my attention before his set at Sonic Bloom last summer. With roots that put his music in the same outlandish box as Tipper himself it was truly exciting to watch him get down and do his thing. As the night wore on you could see signs of the coming day begin to blot out the stars. While the sun worked its way into the sky Dave Tipper took to the decks one more time to deliver us a soothing, light, textured downtempo set to welcome another day. As Tipper’s set wore on more and more people rose from their slumber to come get down for what was the final set of Envision.
We said our good-bye’s to the festival grounds and made our way to the campsite to gather everyone’s belongings for the trip back to San Jose. When we got back it was clear many people were much more ahead of the curve than we were as half of the campsites had already packed up and disappeared. Slowly everyone gathered their things, said our good-bye’s to new friends, and before many of us realized we were climbing back on a shuttle back to San Jose where we would patiently wait our flight back to Denver in the morning. The look of satisfaction was spackled on everyones faces; whether it was reminiscent of the amazing weekend we just endured or the fact we were in such a serene setting it didn’t matter. Everyone was blessed to have been a part of Envision 2014.
Photo Credit: Amber Zuckswert