Review & Photos | Symbiosis Gathering 2013 | California

Shpongle was listed as a headliner at Symbiosis, and his late-afternoon/sunset performance was one of the better-attended of the weekend. During the daylight hours, Simon Posford DJ’d mellifluous tempos and energetic melodic elements, employed by the recreations of various acoustic instruments. Posford could be seen all over the place at various other artists’ sets, and the influence of this assortment of styles could be felt within his own selections, especially that of collaborator OTT. As the sun raced behind the horizon, Sphongle dropped more psychedelic, groovier explorations, sped up the BPMs, and supplied more atypical mixes that were fervently lapped up. Shpongle played “My Head Feels Like a Frisbee,” and the festival-goers regurgitated with spastic dancing from the teaming mass of revelers. When he completed his passage, Posford graciously thanked Symbiosis for letting him “Sphongle in your earholes.”

[Photo by Kauai Ric]

Thriftworks assumed his position in the cramped DJ area at The Pantheon and offered a definitive transition. Unmistakably in his patented style, Jake Atlas’s walloping purple bass lines plunging and bucking through wall-to-wall synths, Thriftworks had his East Coast swagger and West Coast G-vibes on swole. Incoherent Southern hip-hop chants were like a metronome as he worked OutKast “Rosa Parks” anthem into a luscious and celebratory jam. Thriftworks’ melodic keyboard work gave his music a fundamental feel and emotive threading often omitted in bombastic glitch-hop jams of the like. “Greenie Beanies” set it off huge with its computerized vocals and neck-snapping boom-bap, as did the harpsichord tweakage within “Pillow in the Woods.” Yet appropriately enough for the Symbiosis Gathering, Atlas used his most recent psychedelic sound explorations like those found on EP Deviation as a perfect counterpoint to the raucous energy of his roaring drums and dynamic hip-hop influences.

I caught up with Jake Atlas after his massive set, as he was swimming in fans, friends, and females. After giving him props on such a proper performance, he offered a short, simple yet serious quote for JamBase: “That was one of the most satisfying musical experiences of my life.” - Thriftworks

an-ten-nae is one of the Bay Area’s most sought after DJs, and two sensational sets at Symbiosis cemented that notion in spades. He has taken the art of live remixing to imaginative new heights, delivering his innovative Acid Crunk to teaming masses on two occasions at Symbiosis. His customized mixing setup and choice taste in pop and R&B tracks make for a stimulating, indecent exposure. Like any proper selector, an-ten-nae knew the time, and chose the perfect moment to drop a downright erogenous remix of AlunaGeorge’s “You Know You Like It” (sounded like the DJ Snake version but may have been original.) The 808s stayed popping and the drummer-boy snare rolls gave rise to some of the most outrageous dancing of the weekend. He then followed with another huge forward, lacing a remix of Jackal’s “Bubblegum.” To top things off a few hours later, during an-ten-nae’s surprise 930am set Sunday morning, the Acid Crunk maven delivered titanic spins of his new music that was highlighted by a fantastic original edit of Lorde’s ecstatic carnival in song “Royals.”

The Edwardian Ball Roadshow had many curiosities to explore, beginning with a traditional circus-style midway, buffoon dancers playing croquet, steampunk creations and swirly-collared stilted characters abound. The event within Symbiosis got underway on Sunday night and was an elegant, whimsical celebration of art, music, theatre, fashion, technology, circus, and the beloved creations of the late, great author Edward Gorey. Vau de Vire Society, Rosin Coven, Delachaux, Dark Garden, Shakti Bliss, Fou Fou HA, Shovelman, and The Klown Korps provided a world within a world, an immersive magical place filled with theatrical entertainment, acrobatics, electro-swing musical styles and ballroom dancing. It was indeed as advertised, a site to behold, and was so wonderfully different than anything else on display at Symbiosis 2013.

[Photo by Kauai Ric]

The Human Experience, David Block, provided yet another mammoth performance to greet Monday morning and close Symbiosis. For nearly four hours, Block offered his entire catalogue of music, literally, to a breathing and throbbing crowd who assembled at the Pantheon to send off Symbiosis in a righteous display of Zen aerobics, sky and sun worship. Block welcomed longtime friends Rising Appalachia for a complete run through their astounding album Soul Visions. This portion of the recital was highlighted by their spirited take on “Nobody’s Fault But Mine.” The Human Experience brought singer Lila Rose onstage for an emotive, cosmic reading on their ethereal collaboration “Dusted Compass.” Tears began to fall down my face, the cathartic marathon dancing on pause, as I reflected on the vastness of the enlightenment I had been blessed with at Symbiosis on the lake for five days… I had a truly human experience and the music that David Block performed spoke to me in that moment, at that certain soulful place. Surreal and yet totally present, the synapse in time and space was not lost on anybody who was at The Pantheon that morning. It would have been a perfect ending to Symbiosis Gathering, yet there was one alien who needed to be heard.

“Symbiosis has always had a special place in my heart amongst festivals. 2009 was my first west coast festival. Symbiosis 2013 felt like the culmination of 5 years of exploring the world of festivals around the world. Playing a 4 hour set Monday morning sealed one of my favorite performance experiences of my life. Symbiosis has unparalleled musical diversity of the highest quality. I left glowing with inspiration.” - David Block/The Human Experience

[Photo by Kauai Ric]

It has been reported that the artist formerly known as Heyoka “was abducted, cosmically mind-probed, upgraded and reconfigured into an extra-terrestrial lab on the planet known as Marklar. Fortunately he has returned almost entirely unharmed, and now shall be the artist currently known as Andrelien. “

Andrealien (Heyoka) was the very last to perform at Symbiosis, and this came on the heels of The Human Experience’s four-hour emotional odyssey at the Pantheon Monday morning. Andrei’s reggae-tinged, glitchy, fat-bass rollers spiced with dancehall fused bangers were a nod to the past and a look toward the future. Invoking the creativity and ingenuity of his former self within this newfound promised land, Andrealien retained the cosmic levels of dopeness that he had acquired performing as Heyoka. His staggering knack for spicing raga-verse betwixt the illest rub-a-dub, glitched-out, bass gymnastics made for an outstanding set, and also focused the myriad of symbiotic sonic energies on the potential and promise of tomorrow, a driven resolution to create and manifest, a tenet that is the core of this entire Symbiosis Gathering community.

Video Playlist featuring STS9, Shpongle, OTT and more:

B. Getz For JamBase | Levitation Station

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[Published on: 10/3/13]

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