It was 8 a.m. as I walked barefoot right through the middle of about fifty different campsites — lost, dripping wet with creek water, holding all of my clothing in a bundle — that I realized Saturday was over. What an insane ride it had been so far. My profoundly crazy Saturday night was the only anchor I had to gauge time as one day bled far into the next. Sleeping for only an hour at a time meant I was now walking around in a near-dream state. However, my experiences had been so rich and my revelations so profound that “dream state” doesn’t quite depict the clarity with which I saw things.
I could have left that morning and been completely satisfied. It goes without saying that I’m glad I didn’t (I’m writing this review, after all!), mostly because I was missing a few pieces of my mind I probably left somewhere near the dome, a piece of my heart I let someone borrow at the creek, and more pressingly, I had no fucking clue where my wallet was.
After a brief nap in the shade, it was time to get Sunday.
Each day seemed to belong to a local band, and this day it was SunSquabi battling against the midday sun for energy from the crowd. With a relaxing, cool creek right near the camping area, I’m surprised ANYONE chose to brace against the heat and rock out with Squabi but there were at least one hundred people who were wearing lots of sunscreen or clearly insane.
Ott and Tipper were a deadly back-to-back booking. Ott may not have been given the gloss of other acts throughout the weekend and he perfomed against a mostly static backdrop (a pair of eyes and two hummingbirds), but just like Random Rab I think there’s a very fervent crowd that understands how deep this dude goes.
As I mentioned before, Tipper‘s Saturday set was right at the threshold of being too much for me to handle, so I prayed against conventional wisdom that he would take it easy for his second set. “Take it easy” is not what Tipper does — ever — and even during this less frantic set he still found plenty of opportunity to get a heavy dance party going. By the time he dialed back the tone to “majesty” and a plain background dropped in front of his booth so a dancer could play around in the projected light, I was so over the idea of a “mellow” set that I wished I could do Saturday all over again.
Aside from Ott and Tipper, Govinda and Supervision were my sought-after Sunday sets. Govinda can rip it on the violin and he knows exactly how to prioritize beauty over blunt psychedelia. Supervision is definitely one of my favorites on the Pretty Lights Music roster, and though he doesn’t quite have the mystic touch of Govinda, I think he is a highly underrated producer and he certainly helped me find a second wind. Gladkill and DOV both did great as well, and at the end of a four-hour dome session I came away from it unable to really tell who did better.
I’ll be honest when I say the Sonic Bloom Orchestra did not do it for me. That said, a friend of mine illustrated quite perfectly that the point was not to sell CD’s or take this act on tour; it was purely an opportunity to see a stage packed with as many stars as possible and watch them create together. I couldn’t believe I missed Ana Sia start it off with some DJ love before the vocalists and instrumentalists took over for the night, and when I’d check in occasionally, the crowd seemed to be basking in every second of it.
Crushendo wouldn’t be my first choice for a Sunday late-night set, but luckily I was in the mood to get 3 am trill and sprint to the finish, and so was everyone else who stuck around the post-headliner grounds. They didn’t make it easy for Kaminanda to take the next set, with an awkward transition between supercrunk spunk missles from Crushendo to Kaminanda whispering into a mic. However, he put on a really great set, I can see why he’s a Burning Man fixture and between getting mystical and weird he got downright funky.
After three nights of sunrises, I told myself I wouldn’t do a fourth but did it anyway. It was a time I’d normally spend playing the “Remember When…?” game, but instead I sat amongst the trees with a few friends in silence that was only interrupted by an occasional sigh. I’m sure that not everyone shared my experience: some people probably had things stolen from their camp, got too drunk or otherwise ran into trouble. But no matter how hard I resisted, Sonic Bloom took care of me. As a native Coloradan, it’s so easy to forget that this is a place full of magic that sits right in our backyard. I met people from as far away as Maine that confirmed how special of an event Janover and crew had pulled together, and all I can do is try to stay humble as I feel like a part of the magic.