Words by Tanner Wyer :: Images by Pixie, Brian Ulrich and Ross Johnson
Xingolati Groove Cruise :: 10.14 - 10.17
Oftentimes, we yearn to be a part of something great. Regardless of context, we have an innate desire to participate and to realize the awesome power of connecting with each other. It's why I never want to miss the next great show coming up - I want to be a part of it. You can't quite describe the feeling you get when you walk away from something great that just went down. Cloud 9? Cloud 85? You just know that you've celebrated in the best sense of the word, and this is an ecstatic feeling. This was the widely spread sentiment for those who were lucky enough to participate in Xingolati Groove Cruise of the Pacific - a cruise ship whose throttle was set to a different kind of pace – stimulation overdrive.
Promoters Who Is Guy Grand had clear intentions of what they wanted to accomplish upon this music festival on water. In fact, they defined them on their website. A four part definition that reads:
1. The blending of worlds
2. Symbolizes the yearning of the soul to break free from the limitations of matter/reality
3. The action considered to be that of loosening, dissolving boundaries, expanding and distorting
4. Representing Intuition, Idealism, Self-sacrifice, Glamour and Illusion; a smiling mystery
Think Burning Man meets High Sierra Music Festival, and they have a threesome with a circus. On a fucking cruise ship.
Xingolati by Pixie
Embarkation on Friday (October 14th) was a relatively easy task. After only being in line for 45 minutes, we were on the boat – cocktail in hand – and ready for the festivities to begin. With over 30 unique and diverse performance artists on the boat, the attendees were definitely anxious to get the party started. There was a loud cry from all those on the Lido Deck when the first beats passed through the PA system. Instantly, people started dancing. It was a DJ whose name I don't know, and I'm pretty sure they were just testing the PA – but you could tell that people wanted to get down. The ship did not disappoint.
In addition to the enormously diverse range of performance artists on board, it was also the people who attended this inaugural voyage that made the cruise so special. The vibe was just so alive with energy. Who Is Guy Grand put a tremendous amount of effort into making sure people where dressed up and participating in the madness. They had a set of workers known as the "Glamourattzzi," whose sole intent was to make sure you had the opportunity to dress your best. Fake mustaches were everywhere, as were sparkles, primate costumes, and lots of smiles. Front man of The Flaming Lips Wayne Coyne said it best during their Saturday night extravaganza:
"People are going to forever be talking about this Xingolati Groove Cruise. We want them to see the craziest, the freakiest, the funnest, the most out of control party on a boat that there could ever, ever be. Anybody who didn't come is going to think, 'Damn, I wish I would have come on that thing.'"
The Flaming Lips :: Xingolati by Pixie
Musically speaking, there were many highlights for the weekend, perhaps none as impressive as the previously mentioned extravaganza put on by The Flaming Lips on Saturday evening in the Normandy Lounge (large inside theatre). The energy in the room was infectious. Dozens of attendees from the ship were selected to participate onstage and dance in full animal costumes. Huge balloons cascaded through the air, occasionally exploding. The amount of confetti in the air was comparable to a snowstorm... and this was the first song! By the time the opening chords of Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" started, the room had lost it, and the show took off from there. After a hand puppet, a huge 15-foot balloon filled with confetti attached to an air blower, three wedding proposals, some amazing renditions of some of the Lip's cherished tunes ("Yoshimi," "Tangerine," "Do You Realize?"), and a rebellious encore of "War Pigs" by Black Sabbath, which had the entire ship ready to storm the White House, the show ended as quickly as it had begun, leaving everyone who attended feelin' pretty good about where they spent their Saturday night.
As stated, there were many highlights. It was impossible not to get lost in the musical beast that is The Mutaytor. Their hybrid of electronic groove mixed with tribal drumming kept the dance floor upbeat. All the while a troop of fire dancers, aerial performers, dancers, and hula hoopers performed simultaneously. A treat for all the senses, The Mutaytor brought the Lido Deck (outside pool stage) to life, at one point even adorning an enormous blue dragon that looked as though it had flown in from the Chinese New Year. The puppet throbbed along to the pulsating beats under the near full moon. That was pretty cool.
The Mutaytor :: Xingolati by Pixie
Georgia's Perpetual Groove and San Francisco's Tea Leaf Green each delivered two solid sets of fantastic improvisational rock. Throughout the weekend, both bands brought serious amounts of energy to their fans. Those catching Tea Leaf Green on Saturday evening were treated to a smokin' complete version of "The Garden," which was matched the next evening by their set on the Lido Deck featuring guests Al Howard and Jordan Feinstein for a blistering second half of the set containing some of TLG's signature anthems including "Panspermic De-evolution" and "Sex in the 70's." Perpetual Groove's sets were also impressive as the band tore down Friday evening on the Lido Deck and welcomed in Saturday morning with a scorching "All Night Long" (Lionel Richie) placed nicely after a thumping "Three Weeks." "Breeze" made its way out for Primate Night, along with "TSMM." Both bands did a fantastic job of having well-placed covers mixed in with their originals, creating a perfect vortex of upbeat, danceable jam-rock.
Trevor Garrod of Tea Leaf Green
Xingolati by Brian Ulrich
DJ Logic gets the MVP for the weekend. He had his hands in so many sets, I don't think he even remembers every single one of them. From dabbling with old friends Medeski Martin & Wood to picking up the energy at the G. Love free cocktail hour, to throwing his own mix of beats at DJ Logic and Friends (featuring a smoking John Medeski/ Jordan Feinstein/ Steve Molitz trio on keys), DJ Logic was everywhere at once.
Banyan :: Xingolati by Pixie
It was honestly as though there was always something redeeming to go see. Bassnectar spun an amazing set with nearly 100 people on stage dancing right next to him as he morphed beats and bass into a euphoric heart-pounding dance party that sounded like Jedis were standing above the speakers, waving their light sabers in front of the beats. Matt Butler's Everyone Orchestra lived up to their name as they got the entire boat screaming a chant of, "Xinggoooooooooooooo...Xingolati" as fire dancers and spinners graced the stage, while Vince Herman, Jamie Janover, Brock Butler and others tore it up. Stephen Perkins's new project Banyan was heavy and rocking, while Slightly Stoopid's set outside in the rain on Sunday made everybody wet. Al Howard & the K23 Orchestra continue to improve every time I see them, and the Austin band olospo floored spectators with their screaming guitar licks and lightning-quick time changes.
In a musical sense, Xingolati provided an onslaught of diversity, giving artists an outstanding opportunity to reach out to new fans. As with most music festivals, often times there were scheduling conflicts. You can't see everything; it's just not possible. It was so very easy to get sucked into any one performance and miss something you might have wanted to check out. In no way does this review cover everything that happened on the ship. All of the performers earned major kudos.
Xingolati by Pixie
Then again, Xingolati was so much more than just music. It was performance on all levels. It really felt as though all who were there were engaged in what was going on. I have not spoken with one person who was out at sea who didn't think that Xingolati was "the craziest, the freakiest, the funnest, the most out-of-control party on a boat." It absolutely was.
Furthermore, Who Is Guy Grand deserves a lot of credit for putting on this event. They knew they wanted to put on a different type of music festival that would bring together a common collective of people to experience something truly out of the ordinary. Not only did they accomplish their goal, but they managed to do so while stepping out of the traditional festival model that has been failing recently. It just goes to show, you don't need to have the same acts headlining every single festival in order to make it a success. Perhaps diversity in performers is the key to success for future festivals? Xingolati was a complete act of fusion, and it was also a portrait of success.
JamBase | Xingolati
Go See Live Music!