Recap: Symbiosis Gathering 10-Year Re:Union

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Photos Courtesy of JAR Photography

This past weekend, Symbiosis Events held their 10 year anniversary of Symbiosis Gathering at Woodward Reservoir. What ensued was a festival full of top tier musical acts, mind-blowing artwork and structures, and a unique collection of workshops and speakers. As a whole the festival could best be described as a carefully crafted gathering of people from all walks of life, coming together to celebrate, relax, and witness creativity amongst beauty.

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Upon our arrival on Thursday, we witnessed the Desert Hearts takeover at the Juke Town Stage, a makeshift, western-style stage complete with multilevel buildings and a wild-west touch. The Desert Hearts family kicked off our event right as they certainly “brought the bass” and set into place the party vibes that would carry on throughout the weekend.

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With the festival in full swing on Friday, our first stop was the Swimbiosis Stage. Consisting of ample dance space on land and a full-blown float party in the water, this stage was the place to be anytime of the day throughout the weekend if you were looking to lose yourself in the throws of a non-stop rager.  Netted islands packed with dancers, swarms of rafts/ group float stations, and the brisk water during the heat of the day made this stage a truly special experience to see acts such as Quantic, Raja Rham’s Shpongle set, Kaminanda, and others. Later on in the weekend, at the same stage, we would catch the dirty bass tunes of Dirty Bird’s own, Justin Martin, and the acid crunk magic of An-Ten-Nae.

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Friday evening brought about our first peek at the intricately illuminated art installations as well as the opening of the Big Island (Main Stage). An impressive series of acts included a rare ensemble performance from Emancipator, a groovy set from the Polish Ambassador, the creative performance art of the Lucent Dossier Experience, and a bass-heavy, upbeat back to back set by Minnesota and G Jones. The party continued deep into the night and Symbiosis raged on, music bumping full force, until after sunrise each day. Favorites of Friday’s early morning were Gladkill, a special set from Dimond Saints, the masterful beats of Four Tet, and our favorite of the night, Crying Over Porcelain, the joint collaborative side project of Ooah and Edit of the Glitch Mob. The duo began their set at 6:30 in the morning. Their down-tempo grooves perfectly accented the sunrise in the backdrop.

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After a relaxing day recuperating from the previous night’s festivities, we ventured out Saturday evening to catch the performing troupe, Quixotic, as they took over the main stage in a surreal display of acrobatics and near-superhuman abilities. Following their act we sought out Bob Moses who revitalized our party spirits before we headed off to catch the mindblowing improvisational set of EOTO. Each time we catch an EOTO performance they provide us with a truly innovative experience. They never play the same exact set, making their live show something you can see countless times without it getting old,  played-out, or mundane.

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The prize jewel of the evening was Nicholas Jaar’s headliner set on the main stage. Being one of the most impressive sets we’ve ever witnessed, Jaar displayed not only his musical ability, but his ability to blend in subliminal messaging while keeping the crowd engaged. The icing on the cake was his wide array of lasers and noir-style stage production, maintaining Jaar’s dark silhouette throughout the set amongst beautifully composed light and laser patternsfought  in smoke.

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Going on into the wee hours of the morning, the Dirty Bird crew took over the Juke Town stage once again with bass-heavy house music from Christian Martin, J.Phlip, and Ardalan. As if the late night/early morning festivities couldn’t get any better, Symbiosis had one more surprise in store for its attendees.

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Although listed as a headliner, Tipper was unlisted in the festival schedule. Symbiosis stated Tipper would be playing a surprise set, but many festival attendees were unsure of when it would be or where. Early Sunday morning, however, the festival surprised its eager participants with a special sunrise set from the promised Tipper overlooking the water. The set was nothing short of a magical and beautiful experience for all that were able to carry on into the morning (or were lucky enough to wake up in time). The blissfulness carried on into the morning with the Human Experience.

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With Sunday already upon us, we ventured out to catch a marvelous set from Coco Rosie on the main stage as the sun was setting, followed by the musical genius of the Tuneyards. Following these main stage acts, we checked out a special visual-dance set that was performed by the legendary Android Jones and his wife, Phaedra. Known as Phadroid, Phaedra performs a live dance while Android Jones live paints/projects the results onto Phaedra. The end product is a multimedia dance performance blending psychedelic beauty and music. 

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To conclude the evening, we headed back to the main stage to catch the booty shaking jams of Griz. A prime artist to close out on, Griz brought the festival together one last time for an epic dance party infused with his sexy sax skills. 

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To wrap up, Symbiosis was much more than just a music festival. It was a communal playground where attendees could explore the creativity within themselves and the creativity of others. It set the standard for what a festival should offer and can be. More than a place to just party with your friends, but a source of inspiration and bliss for all those lucky enough to tear away from the physical world for a weekend.

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