Photos by: Juliana Bernstein (Get Tiny Photography)
Story by: Ali Van Houten
The dust has finally settled at Live Oak Campground after Lucidity Festival’s fourth year, Kindred Quest. This year, Lucidity—as is to be expected at any festival of this caliber—was a battle of favorites: Should I wander down to Nomad’s Nook to worship the Funktion-Ones nestled in the lowest corner of the grounds? Or should I forgo the beauty of the majestic domed Lucid Stage to scale a jungle gym at Trickster’s Playground and get a bird’s eye view of one of the smaller acts?
Even the hours in between the more hyped sets were peppered with hard decisions. Numerous venues were interspersed between camps, art installations, workshop spaces, and other interactive experiences, and each featured a unique schedule of quality music all day long. The Alive Stage held it down with some amazing acoustic and instrumental bands (Elephant Revival’s cover of "White Rabbit" was epic!), and other smaller stages like the Goddess Grove gave you plenty of options, no matter what you were feeling. And if you were too exhausted to dance, you could always go chill on the Pyro Bar or relax in a towering scrap structure without missing the sounds of the nearest stage as they wafted through the incensed air.
Friday got things rolling at the spacious Lucid Stage with names like Dabis and MORiLLO, and before I knew it I had to tear myself away from David Starfire to head down to the Nomad Stage. Tucked away in the trees, Christian Martin got the bodies moving during his two-hour slot with some signature Dirtybird tech house. Over at the Alive Stage, Dirtwire closed out the night with a wordly set featuring their vocal collaborator, the Tuvan throat singer Kongar-ol Ondar. However, Friday night truly belonged to Thriftworks, who threw down some of his awesome, stylized weirdness at the Lucid Stage later on. His set was a perfect blend of brilliant new stuff from the trio of releases he put out last fall mixed with old-school Thriftworks tracks, like the classic “Greenie Beanies,” which he remixed to feel as fresh as ever. And despite the technical interruptions that plagued his performance (and some others’), Thriftworks still played the killer set I’ve come to expect from the East Bay producer.
Saturday saw festival favorite Pumpkin keeping a sizable crowd bumpin’ during his early-evening set, with his characteristic flock of acorns out in full force to show their love. After dark, those that could resist the lure of the gorgeous folk-rock stylings of the Alive Stage caught acts like Mumukshu and Duffrey at the Lucid Stage. Ratchet also played a well received set there for his biggest performance yet, and followed it up with an equally dope set at the silent disco a few hours later.
The ladies held their own at Nomad’s Nook the next afternoon. Lucidity is always very supportive of the local community, and it was great to see some fresh local talent like Lynx_ms, a young DJ from Santa Barbara who played Lucidity for her second consecutive year this April. She dropped an awesomely eerie dubstep set for those that made it out to Nomad’s early in the day, after which another badass female, A Hundred Drums, kept it going with her own psychedelic brand of dubstep and psytrance.
With the sun sinking low, Tha Fruitbat emerged from his cave to glitch things up a bit before Sayer took over with a heavier vibe. Afterwards, the up-and-coming Bay Area producer Shlump threw down a monster set of bass-heavy tunes that was good enough to distract attendees from Wildlight and even The Human Experience’s guest-heavy set on the main stage. This kid’s one to keep an eye on as he comes up in the music world!
As the final night wore on, Plantrae’s beautiful viola-infused harmonies filled the air at the Lucid Stage, soothing sore psyches after a long couple of days, and PEGA5U5 (who rocked SoHo for the SB pre-party back in March) took to the spotlight. Despite a disruptive power outage during the height of their set, the brother duo of producer Mr. Rogers and rapper Pharroh soldiered on, delivering a fun and refreshing set that explored the boundaries of genre.
The Polish Ambassador was Sunday’s star, performing as Wildlight with partner Ayla Nereo (who also played a solo set) before headlining the last night of the festival. The crowd certainly boogied down for the duration of his set, but it seemed as if the Ambassador of Funk was having the best time of all, bounding back and forth across the stage, arms pumping until the very end. His visuals were reminders of the ideology behind his recent Pushing Through the Pavement permaculture action tour. Lucidity, only the second festival after Envision to host post-tour stops with the same philosophy, featured permaculture workdays in the surrounding area, as well as a Permaculture Action Hub inside the festival itself where attendees could attend workshops and panels and learn about sustainable living. Permaculture is the name of the game for Polish and his associates these days, and it’s heartening to see an artist using his status as a platform for positive change.
Despite incredible performances by Polish and the rest of the Lucidity lineup, however, some of the most unexpectedly engaging sets were those that weren’t listed, or even planned. Hobo with a Laptop’s 4 a.m. renegade set of glitchy goodness and future funk mash-ups, for example, went down behind a row of portable toilets (which, by the way, were kept pretty pristine all weekend—and any festivalgoer knows that clean toilets say more about a festival’s principles than a thousand good words can). Other random acts popped up throughout the festival, like one jam sesh that sprung out of the backside of a camp. It initially appeared to consist of a guitarist, drummer, stand-up bassist, and singer, but the longer I stayed, swaying with the honeyed melodies, the less sure I became of who was really part of the act and who was just spontaneously joining in. And that’s the thing about Lucidity: it draws you into interacting with the festival on every level, whether you’re a musician or an artist or just someone who wants to have fun. Everyone is an equal part of the amazing experience that is Lucidity Festival. Even before the build crew had begun to tear down, I was already dreaming of returning to my family in the Santa Ynez mountains for next year’s festival.
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