Thumbnail image by @gudvibesphoto
For some people, a festival is just another festival is just another festival. But in anticipation for Northern Nights, many of my close friends boasted about how “Northern Nights is the best festival” and for some, even their “favorite” festival. I was skeptical – I go to a lot of festivals – how could this one be so great?
Well. Okay – now I see…
The Location – there is a weird geographic anomaly about Piercy, CA. Locals say there are some places where water runs upstream, gravity is “stronger,” and supposedly, a compass will flutter heavily at true North due to an overwhelming magnetic force surrounding this area. Not sure if any of this is true, but once you arrive at Cook’s Valley Campground at the Mendocino – Humboldt County line, you can certainly feel a sense of belonging. The grounds are beautiful. The trees are so majestic that if you look up at the tallest branches, you can basically travel through time. The overall sense of welcoming was incandescent.
The River – the river was probably my favorite aspect of the entire weekend – partly because it was almost 100 degrees and it kept most of us from dying of heat – but also partly because it was a fun-festival-sea-of-floaties. I saw everything from swans, peacocks, and flamingos to donuts and popsicles. As a matter of fact, an entire group of friends each had a single slice of pizza to form one large pepperoni pizza (squad goals AF). Huge unicorn islands dominated the river, while rafts with built-in canopies and coolers floated by too. A river dragon made its way through smaller floats which made way for the gigantic rubber ducky. An incredible sight for sure. The river stage was strategically placed right along the riverbed so you could hear the music while you lay there chillin’… What other festivals even offer that?
The People – there were soooooo maaaaaaany peopleeeee. Organizers say this was the largest crowd EVER. It was insane the number of festivalers who attended this thing. And to be honest, I recognized a lot of faces (and totems) from previous festivals this summer, but everyone’s squad seemed to be bigger than before – including mine. The whole weekend, everyone I met was so extremely kind. Neighbors peaked into our camp to say “hi” and introduce themselves. People passing by stopped to compliment our setup. Some of my crew came all the way from Tahoe and attracted other Tahomies. Someone let me take over our camp’s aux so while I was blasting Mac Dre, pretty girls stopped to get a little hyphy. Even people working the festival made a lasting impression. From the guy who guided us to our camping spot (and then was so patient and flexible when we asked to move a few spaces over) to the lovely lady who took her smoke break at our camp in the shade after picking up trash all day in the scorching heat. Yes – the people. You will NOT find these genuine people at any other festival.
The Vibes – needless to say, with the environment and the people on level 100, the vibes were beyond outstanding. Obviously, the music speaks for itself (no need to include how great it was – you saw the lineup!) There was yoga, a forest full of hammocks (perfect for mid-day naps), a cannabis area, a silent disco, art galleries, and tons of things to spend money on: vendors, plenty of food options, and a general store stocked with everything you forgot. I’m not sure what consumes one’s soul when going to Northern Nights, but even the shyest people seem to have the courage to come up and tell you how beautiful you are. Sometimes you just need that kind of energy and Northern Nights was just that. The vibes at the Bunker Stage were the strongest. I saw the sun set and rise from various spots at the Bunker. Weird-5am-shenanigans took place there, but during that time in space, it was anything but weird.
A New Family – so many crews linked up for this. I had my crew (who started festival season off at Serenity Gathering and kept screaming “Serenity Day 91” all weekend), my crew had their LIB and Buku crews, those crews had their friends. My friends ended up knowing their friends. My SnowGlobe squad reassembled… Never in my entire festival-going experience had I ever been in one place with so many loving people. Like it was impossible to get lost when everyone knew where to return you. I went with about 25 friends, I left with about 25 more, and I gained about a million new memories.
All music aside – now I see why everyone claims this to be the “best” festival ever. And while some of us are still not unpacked, still a little sunburnt, our voices barely returning – we so anxiously await next summer when we return to do it all over again at the 7th Annual Northern Nights Music Festival in 2019. See you all on the river (or at Bunker). Peace out, festie fam.
All photography by Kristina Baky @kristinabaky.
Enchanted Forest Gathering took place last weekend at this little campground in Northern California called Black Oak Ranch about 3 hours away from the Bay Area. Enchanted Forest featured three music stages, a spa, fire dancers, a mobile art gallery, a kid’s play area, belly dancers, plenty of vendors, boutique camping (and of course, regular camping), ample drinking water, delicious food options, workshops, and hardly any cell service.
Many people, like those who pay thousands of dollars to attend EDC or Coachella, will see a lineup like Enchanted’s, where they don’t recognize most of names, and look right past it.
Here’s a suggestion: go to the shows, concerts, and festivals where you don’t already know half the lineup, even better – go early, catch the openers, and support the local, independent, and underground talent. This is the best remedy for anyone who has self-proclaimed Music-ADHD, like all of us over at KSJS.
At Enchanted Forest, there were certain things that you’d expect – long lines to check in, somewhat unknowledgeable staff on the first day, wooks everywhere, dust (lots of dust), less than ideal restroom situations, you know – the norm for camping festivals, however, there were certain things about Enchanted that stood out.
The Grounds: The camping area was goddamn beautiful. There were tall, sultry, droopy trees. We got a good spot next to one. Ample drinking was available throughout the entire festival and camping areas (YAAAS). There was river access – I would call it a creek, but all technicalities aside, it was the perfect amount of chill for my feet after setting up camp. On Saturday – much to everyone’s surprise – it rained all day. It never really got cold, and the rain cleared up before sundown so, overall, I would call it a successful little storm. Each row of campsites had a name making it easy to tell friends how to find you – we stayed between Oak and Maple. Little things like this make all the difference. Overall, nature was good to us and I would go back to Black Oak Ranch anytime.
The People: A wide spectrum of people were in attendance. Everything from families with children to hipster millennials, middle-aged couples to college grads, rave kids, yogis, people with disabilities, and every race imaginable. I never saw a fight. I never saw security ruffle feathers. I never saw anyone unhappy. Not to say that Enchanted Forest didn’t have to deal any issues, however, they were minimal and respectfully handled. The good vibes were strong and people were so kind. Some standard festival guidelines to follow in case you didn’t know:
- Help your neighbor
- Return all things that are lost
- If you get a gift, give a gift
Keys N Krates
The Pirate & Smasheltooth’s Anniversary Sets
DEBO also highly recommends this mixtape from Smasheltooth for your hyphy needs:
Del & Amp Live
Every post-festival Monday always has me in my feelings about the worthiness of #FestivalLife, but here it is, Wednesday, convinced I was delusional because, YES, I am still very much all about it. That being said, the 2018 Santa Cruz Music Festival was a huge success, and having been to the festival last year, I can confidently say, each year is getting better and better.
Despite the light rain, the #SCMF brought together a versatile group of people. Everything from seasoned yogis to hipster millennials, to families, street faire enthusiasts, students, rave babies, foodies, hip-hoppers, and indie rockers. Downtown Santa Cruz was quite literally host to every type of festival-goer. It’s easy to bring together all the same kind of people, so by way of festival code, a huge virtual round of applause goes out to the organizers behind the #SantaCruzMusicFestival for entertaining such a diverse crowd.
If you only went for the Hip-Hop, you’re probably disappointed. Big name headliners like Ghostface Killah, Scarab (of Living Legends), and Smoke DZA took up less than two hours of the two-day show. And while practically every Electronic artist incorporated some Hip-Hop into their sets, most of the “real” Hip-Hop fans wanted less rave stuff and more rap stuff.
Author’s Note: the sarcastic use of “real” when referring to Hip-Hop simply refers the older Gen Y crowd who doesn’t support the evolution of Hip-Hop; and who seem to think the music created during their prime is ultimately the best thing to have ever happened. Also, they hate rappers with the prefixes “Lil” or “Yung” and preach about “hype”.
For many, the true gems are hidden in the earliest sets at the smaller venues. The lesser-known acts and up-and-coming artists are the ones really driving the crowd. Speaking of, I had the pleasure of meeting with The Rellies, a Hip-Hop duo from Santa Cruz and Maui who performed inside Streetlight Records on Sunday. They brought out Dave Steezy (of HBK) and went level-10 hyphy on us.
I’ve picked out some of my favorite tracks from The Rellies for you to get on:
If you like them, give ’em a follow!
If you listened to A Vibe Called West last week, you’d know that Pure Powers’ killed his set on Saturday (yes—we predicted it). Last year’s headlining acts were all squeezed into the big, but small Catalyst so the festival’s transition to the Civic Auditorium was much needed. It allowed us all to enjoy the show without being too close to the people dancing beside us, while also leaving plenty of space for people with a larger personal bubble in the back.
There’s a video out now for my current favorite Pure Powers song, which is phenomenal live BTW, check it out:
Other Santa Cruz Music Festival Highlights include:
- Bigger festivals charge $12-16 bucks a beer, but the venues participating in this year’s #SCMF sold regularly priced (and often, locally brewed) beer which made my pockets (and taste buds) smile.
- I lost my phone in the VIP area (because I saw pizza and was immediately distracted) and thanks to the wonderful ladies at the CloutKing table, I got it back along with a dope CloutKing t-shirt. You should get yourself one too!
- Icing on the cake for me: adding more really cool people to my network of #FestivalFamily ❤ Thank you!