Published: August 14, 2013
Story by: Tooesday Behr
Photos by: Joe Zaizar
Ah, the ol' backyard boogie. As I live and breathe (copious amounts of Mary Jane). It’s great to call Humboldt County home.
This year, the startup Northern Nights Music Festival hit the quiet redwood-encrusted hills and the meandering river valleys of Humboldt County, California. BLAP productions, a San Francisco Bay Area production company along with Humboldt’s own World Famous Productions threw out the red carpet to some of the biggest acts in the EDM scene and made a little nest of heaven under the canopy of my favorite place in the world.
After burning through 4,000 miles of asphalt this summer – hitting up five different EDM style festivals -- it was nice to escape to one that was just down the road. Cook’s Valley in Piercy, California is situated on the Eel River in a giant redwood grove on the border between Northern California’s Mendocino and Humboldt counties. The weather was warm, the river was life-changing and the three-day festival left me feeling refreshed and ready to get back on the road for The Next Big Festival and Symbiosis. Here is a run-down of the weekend, Tooesday Behr style.
I have seen a ton of music producers and DJs this summer. Some of those sets I had seen the week before and I was still blown away by the differences and the professionalism they bring to the table. Like this freaking guy
Miles Ross, aka PSYFI, puts out music that reminds me of visionary landscapes painted with the future and the path towards a different tomorrow. He’s a musical storyteller, a feat that many producers just can’t get a handle on. His production is tighter than a stocking cap on a mugger’s head and his summer has been filled with festivals from Lucidity to Enchanted Forest – on the bill for Symbiosis too -- and his name has been climbing on handbills and posters around California. Keep your eyes peeled for greatness when he rolls through your town. His sets, on the main stage and the Silent Frisco stage were art, imitating a kick ass party, imitating art. Brilliance.
In between runs to the river for bikini/board short madness I grabbed some shade and an earful of Hypha and Danny Corn. Great producers and Hypha has more sound arrows in his Abelton quiver than most producers have in their entire crew. Caught him late night at the disco on Sunday and he killed it again.
The sun went down sometime around Thriftworks and Deejay Theory and the dance floor filled up like a water balloon, stretching, and wobbling like a pregnant hippo.
Then VibeSquaD came up the batter’s box.
Let me preface what I’m going to say next by telling you that Vibesquad is one of the main reasons I got back into the electronic dance music scene after a multi-year hiatus. Aaron Holstein has a certain amount of swagger to him; he’s a living monument to booty shaking and is one of those people who makes his bones on lifting the crowd to heights and finding that magic wiggly place. It was nice to see him find the warm and fuzzy and get the night teed up for Minnesota.
Oh Minnesota, how I love your mad-cat ways. But, I gotta say, I was a teeny bit worried. As much as I love me some Christian Bauhofer, I have literally played the guy out on my home system. I have. It’s sad.
It didn’t matter.
Minnesota came through with a stunning new set with highs and lows, villains and heroes, clacks and bangs and a fantastic glitched-out Cali boomathon. It was pure sherbert with all the tracks you would want to hear and more surprises then a fun house mashed with a coming out party at a Republican presidential convention. I am now rinsing his Collie Buddz collaboration like it’s going to be discontinued. So badass dude. I heart you. Big time.
After that it was silent disco till the sun came out. I would be remiss if I didn’t say how awesome some of the late night sets were. Especially Touch and Onhell. These two do it like their hearts are on fire and I loved every minute of their sets. Big ups you two.
Time for sleep.
And the river.
And another nap.
Did I mention how peaceful and soul cleansing this spot is? I could wrestle a gorilla I feel so good. But now I just wanna DANCE! Please! Just give me some fucking incredible music tonight! Pretty please!!
The heavens opened and god -- or the universe, or whatever – gave me a highlight real of the best sets of my summer. G freaking Jones--are you kidding me dude, I ate six servings of kale before noon because of you, Sugarpill, Andreilien, Gladkill, a little saucy shimmering sassiness by dancer Luna Moon, then Kastle, then that damn jump suit wearing Pole, again. (Click the link to see what I have to say about that damn Pole and his undeterred mission to take over the entire EDM world). In short this was my favorite festival Saturday of the entire summer.
The river, the sun, the music and the people all came together in a collaborative vibe of unadulterated ecstasy. No, not that kind of ecstasy silly.
Oh, I know what you’re thinking. What else? What else could they possibly do to make the whole thing a little bit more over-the-top spectacular?
First you would have to get this shiny faced, 15 year old looking swamp master Treemiesta to play. This guy kills it like OJ Simpson – too soon? –then looks at you in the midst of a mind-blowing set like, “What, of course you’re supposed to be dancing right now” as he punches the air like Frank the Tank with a beer bong. Weirdo debauchery at its finest I tell you and I loved every minute of it.
Then you would have to have Nit Grit do a sunrise set. He wasn’t on the bill; just a surprise for those Peter Pan types who followed the second star on the left until morning, or whatever. You sneaky little promoters. Jah bless you.
Then more nap time.
I never set my alarm at a festival. What’s the point? Most times I just spin in circles wondering where the harp music is coming from. Then, after hours of searching I realize it’s the phone in my pocket. But I set an alarm for Kelley Mak and DJ Dirtbag.
The dance floor was not as lively during the daylight hours as it was at night. Most people opted to listen to the music from the comfort of the Eel River or the redwood grove a handful of steps from the main stage. Except on Sunday. Kelley Mak and DJ Dirtbag are known for producing a high energy, get silly type of set and people came out for it. Last time they were up in Humboldt together they played before Charlie 2na from Jurassic Five and just slaughtered the entire room. Disclaimer: It was my and EDM photographer extraordinaire Joe Zaizar’s birthday party. More than 700 people carried on like deranged monkeys. They did the same thing in the hottest part of the day on Sunday. Kelley’s lyrics and vocals are so insane and Dirtbag throws it down like a bass junkie on bass, while snorting bass. It was incredible.
Then it was Ototoxik and the Pressure/Anya duo to keep my feet moving until Los Rakas came on.
Sunday was all about the sexy and Los Rakas provided the perfect hip-hop/reggae bangers to keep the mood going. These two cousins from Oakland carried the night until the Dirty Bird flock consisting of Christian Martin, Worthy, and J. Phlip finished the Main Stage off with a bang.
After that it was the silent disco till Shauna came on at sunrise to wash down an incredible three-day experience. The two other notables that night, at least in my opinion, was the solo set by DJ Dirtbag (with Kelley Mak hoping on the mic for two tracks ) and Basscraft’s work horse Rhizae. Both played incredible sets that kept the floor buzzing until Shauna came on.
In short – lol – it was an incredible festival. Bob Doran, music aficionado from the North Coast Journal called the festival an exercise in organic dance music; coining a new phrase and foreshadowing a new type of funky river party.
Some nice innovations were the late night acoustic stage with a slew of incredible performers, the comedy acts, and the local den of yoga instructors from Om Shala Yoga. The Silent Frisco peeps were on their game and the stage could be seen from space thanks to Brian and the crew from Double D lighting. All in all an army couldn’t keep me from the place next year.