Earthdance | 09.25 – 09.27 | Laytonville

Words by: Zachary Sampsel | Images by: Michael Buchanan

Earthdance 2009 :: 09.25.09 – 09.27.09 :: Black Oak Ranch :: Laytonville, CA

Earthdance 2009
Although daytime temperatures soared into the upper-90s most of the weekend, Northern California's Earthdance 2009 marked the end of the summer festival season with three days of fellowship, celebration and late night fun for fans of all genres and styles of music and art.

For the past 12 years, Earthdance has brought together hundreds of thousands of people across the globe in a simultaneous celebration of peace and humanitarian efforts as part of the International Day of Peace. From New York to Brazil, more than 350 cities combine efforts each year as part of the global initiative.

Friday, 09.25

BLVD with MC Souleye :: 8:45 - 10:00 p.m. :: Main Stage

Hailing from San Francisco, BLVD and Souleye played to the night sky and the crowd's desires with a set that blended the worlds of electronica and hip hop in a clean package. Often led by guitarist Curtis Sloane, BLVD whipped the crowd into a hypnotic frenzy as wordsmith Souleye spit his patented brand of Earth-conscious lyrics, which were a nice fit for the event. Playing last year on the Arlo Forest Stage to a much smaller crowd, BLVD upped the level of sound and playing for the Main Stage as they delivered a strong set of live electronica. A few songs in, Souleye took a breather while Sloane, drummer Dylan McIntosh and keyboardist/bassist Tripp Bains showcased the roots of BLVD. Building up to an infectious, heavily layered groove within moments, BLVD began firing on all cylinders. And then came the lasers. Amidst the heavy smoke and fog, BLVD's laser show had many fans looking to the sky, chasing green lines with bugged out eyes. While the lasers were blowing minds, the band quickly synced into a groove and it was hard to tell where one song stopped and another started, which proved to be the perfect approach for a crowd full of dancers ready to go all night.

Ana Sia :: 9:00 - 10:30 p.m. :: Taj Mahal Dome

BLVD :: Earthdance 2009
Also hailing from San Francisco, the energetic Ana Sia already had the crowd frenzied with her typical mix of seductive, bass heavy tracks when I entered the Taj Mahal Dome. For the past five years, Ana Sia has been getting crowds sweaty across the nation with her masterful blend of dubstep and glitch hop tracks, and this set was no different. Merging a pop culture sensibility and a never ending catalog of tracks, Ana Sia impressed the crowd and had knees bending and booties shaking with a wobble-filled remix of Soul II Soul's "Back To Life," which is where her set began to reach full speed. If the "Back To Life" remix helped her set gain momentum, then the Nadsroic track "Room Mist" sent it into ludicrous speed and had everyone "looking so dumb" as they swayed back and forth to her sensual sounds.

Pnuma Trio :: 10:15 p.m. – 12:00 a.m. :: Arlo Forest Stage

It's been almost six years since I first heard the Pnuma Trio at Bonnaroo 2004, and a lot has changed since then. For starters, members Alex Botwin, Lane Shaw and Ben Hazelgrove have grown immensely in popularity, playing Red Rocks and numerous festivals across the nation, including Wakarusa and Rothbury. But the attendance isn't the only thing that has changed. In this short time, Pnuma Trio have grown as musicians and producers, with one of the highlights being that Botwin and Hazelgrove recently teamed up to produce a track for Virginia rappers The Clipse, and it shows. Although technical difficulties delayed Pnuma's set, no intensity was lost. The trio came out of the gates swinging and those who waited around for the start were rewarded. As Shaw pounded out the beat and Botwin and Hazelgrove padded the edges, an intricate and layered sound emerged and the band didn't look back. Keeping the intensity high, Pnuma played tracks with elements of drum & bass that had the crowd basking in its ethereal soundscapes. While everything was strong, the treat of the set came in the form of new track "Spain" (you can download a version of the song for free here).

Rastatronics and Knowa Knowone :: 12:00 – 3:00 a.m. :: Taj Mahal Dome

While most of the other stages shut down, the Taj Mahal Dome kept shaking through the night as DJ sets from Santa Cruz's Rastatronics and S.F.'s Knowa Knowone kept ears ringing until the early hours of Saturday morning. Playing mostly dubstep tracks with reggae-inspired a cappellas over the top, Rastatronics had attendants stomping their feet and raising their fists to his brand of monstrous bass. And Knowa Knowone was no stranger to the squishy low end as his set picked up right where Rastatronics left off. A heavy duty remix of Drake's "Forever" had the late night crowd in a flurry as the sounds of Burning Man and the Bay Area club scene came pounding through the speakers like a diesel engine.

Continue reading for Saturday's coverage of Earth Dance...


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