Symbiosis Gathering was the perfect farewell to summer and the 2016 festival season. The energy was elevated, the people were wonderful, and it’s easily one of the best gatherings that I’ve had the opportunity to experience in my four years of attending music festivals. From basic festival logistics to mindblowing stages and musical acts, Symbiosis stole my heart from day one.
“It’s Like Burning Man, But With Water”
Burning Man threads were intricately woven into the Symbiosis tapestry. It was seen and felt in the crowd, the climbable art sculptures, the art cars, bikes, and overall dusty festival grounds. The one awesome twist though? The fact that the stages were surrounded by water! When temperatures climbed into the mid 90’s, we cooled off in the reservoir and enjoyed music by Desert Hearts, Random Rab, and Ekali at the Swimbiosis stage.
Art Boat Stages
When dancing on the beach wasn’t enough, three different art boats hosted surprise artists like The Librarian, Secret Recipe, and Haana. The biggest floating party was The Atoll, and crews spent weeks building the boat out of wood with a beautiful light house structure and slide to keep everyone amazed and entertained.
Symbiosis Spaced Out
Overcrowding at festivals can be frustrating, especially when people need their space to dance. Symbiosis capped out at 20,000 people, and the stages were surprisingly never crowded! The organizers did a fantastic job utilizing space and they provided enough stages to keep people spread out both day and night.
The spacious grounds at Woodward Reservoir also meant that some camping spots were up to a mile away from the stages. Instead of making people walk this far to and from camp, the festival allowed bikes and even provided a space for people to lock them up.
Partying for four days straight with minimal sleep is exhausting, and it’s important for festivals to provide areas for people to get comfy and relax for a few minutes before rallying to the next stage. Symbiosis had multiple tea rooms with rugs and pillows where people could warm up and take a quick snooze without trekking back to camp.
A few stages even had areas with turf-like rugs on the side so we didn’t have to sit in the dirt when it was time to rest the legs. During the day, these areas also doubled as shade structures!
Everything about Symbiosis screamed diversity. People from around the world came weeks ahead to help build the festival, and even more traveled across the world just to attend. Our neighbors for the weekend came from Brazil, and towards the end of the festival, a couple ladies from the UK also camped next to us. It truly is a world renowned festival.
Sweet, Sweet, Music
Symbiosis came out with a stacked lineup, and the acts that I was looking forward to impressed me. After settling in Thursday afternoon, we enjoyed Mihkal and Mimosa for some grimy trap and bass. Friday was my favorite night with performances by Opiuo, Gramatik, Warpaint, and Soohan.
They closed out the festival beautifully Sunday night with live acts by FKJ at sunset, Hundred Waters, and Oh Wonder. Desert Dwellers finished out the last night with their mind-blowing live experience show at the intimate Family Circus tent stage.
A Wholesome Experience
While Symbiosis was definitely a great party, it was also balanced with education, mindfulness, movement, meditation, and diversity. At the opening ceremony, four different Elders and Wisdom Keepers spoke about the four elements (earth, air, water, fire) and each element had its own altar.
It was beautiful to see a dedicated service and space for people to reflect on the foundations of life in relation to the whole and themselves, and pay honor to ancestry and native land.
The opportunity to take part in the ceremony, and then experience music and art with genuine, happy, like-minded people throughout the weekend left my heart full and inspired. Thank you Symbiosis Gathering!