FESTIVAL REVIEW: SYMBIOSIS GATHERING (HEALING THROUGH ART AND WATER)
Driving up California's coast these days is not as easy as it used to be for the compassionate soul. Signs crying desperate pleas for respite from the water crisis and the jobs gone with it are too omnipresent to miss, and their reality just too scary to really even process.
Water, to many, is the most healing of all elements. It cleanses and rejuvenates and purifies in a way that even those skeptical of magic can appreciate.
This past weekend, in Northern California's cowboy country, I was fortunate to be a part of an experience that celebrated the mystic power of the water element, and the catharsis of art. Symbiosis Gathering was a 14,000 person social living experiment. More than a music festival, more than a music and arts festival really, Symbiosis is a celebration of both the light and the dark in all of us, and an encouragement to explore them both with an open mind and an unclouded heart. Through creating a 24 hour immersive art experience, and throwing rules out the window, Symbiosis provides a space for light workers and magic beings to push their boundaries and comfort zones and listen, learn, contemplate and dance.
I've never been to Burning Man, but the similarities are clear from the moment you get the schedule. With a handful of "TBA" sets and missing headliners, it becomes evident early on that the festival organizers want nothing more from you than to surrender to the flow - to get lost in the experience and realize that the journey is actually the destination.
The opportunity to discover never ceases, with yoga, dance, workshops and performance schedules from sun up to sun down. Yet, the playful mind is lured again and again over to the Swim-biosis stage, where the all day dance party IN THE WATER, ON FLOATIES says, "come on... that's what real life is for..."
True musical highlights were the ever impressive Four Tet, who probably crammed every musical genre ever invented into a three hour set while never snapping listeners out of his warm ethereal vibe; Griz, whose fun, funky dance party Sunday night was a celebratory swan song to the challenges of the weekend and the festivals highest energy set; Nicolas Jaar, whose deeply introspective and darkly moving set threw much of the festival goers, myself included, into ALL OF THE FEELS (good and bad); and The Dirty Bird Players Collective, whose Juke Town Takeover on Saturday night got every booty bouncing.
Sunday night, after all the music ended, I found myself atop a 30 foot art structure, a wrought iron tree, looking over the festival grounds in a cuddle puddle with 20 of my closest friends. I felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude for the brilliant minds and beautiful souls who dedicated their love and energy into Symbiosis Gathering. I'm on a tumultuous patch of my journey at the moment, and to say I had the best time ever at Symbiosis would be an outright lie. But I did have one of the most poignant and beautiful weekends of my life. I accredit that to having been given the space and opportunity of total freedom to explore the depths of my mind and emotions and the encouragement of my festival community to BE ART. To live each moment with the purpose of creating your own happiness. To love it all - the water and the dust.
There's an overwhelmingness to magic. By being open to the possibilities of a greater power and the ability to harness it, one must open their heart so fully that they bring to the surface buried emotions. Symbiosis invites a convergence of light workers, love spreaders & truth seekers brought together to be each others support system as they do just that. And they nailed it.
- Lauren Kroeber
Lauren Kroeber is an adventurer and believer in magic. With over a decade's reign as a unicorn queen and nearly 30 music festivals under her belt, she's dedicated her life to the pursuit of all that glitters and bumps with bass.