Symbiosis Gathering 2016 Symbiosis: The Unconventional Wonderland for the Willful Insomniac: Festival Review

Symbiosis was like no other festival I had been to before. Constructed on the Woodward Reservoir was this interactive community, teeming with countless chances for round the clock entertainment. Music, art, fashion, food, sculpture - there was no shortage of opportunities for exploration at this carnival of creativity. Here on a 3000 acre waterfront property lay this utopian refuge from the outside world. The luring environment became a safe haven for festival-goers to shamelessly indulge in seductive stimuli for the mind, body and soul. It was like the most soothing sensory overdose. 

An array of sounds steadily vibrated along the oscillating hills of the festival grounds. Pronounced whispers from every direction guided the aimless drifter, closer and closer, as if a force like gravity. Each stage was like its own world with a unique energy and experience. The hypnotic rhythms emitted would pervade the body, compelling you to dance without reason. Beats accompanied by melodies left me entranced - unaware and unbothered by the dirt on my skin, dust in my lungs, ache in my joints or sun rising in the sky. The performers were auditory chemists, blending and brewing tones into intriguing patterns. The noise would surround the audience and disperse across the landscape.

Each stage radiated sound through a unique terrain and structural setting. Swimbiosis provided a party on the shore where attendees could dance in the sand and flow with their floaties. The Grotto offered a corner refuge with unimpeded views of the festival grounds and surrounding landscape. The Juke Lagoon’s interwoven green awning engrossed the audience while those in treehouses swayed overhead. The Silk Road oozed low frequencies beneath a canvas gallery - its interior embellished by glowing compositions and undulating forms. The Family Circus tent encased the crowd in an arena of acrobatic performances and swarming sounds. The Atoll provided an offshore getaway for buoyant bodies to bounce on the water.

As sets came to a close, my musically induced haze would steadily subside. Slowly becoming more lucid, I could not help but chase my next dose of Symbiosis. Wander to another stage? Nourish my hunger? Find the friends I had lost? Compulsively shop? Every one of my cravings yearned for satisfaction. My wants catalyzed an ongoing restlessness that propelled me past the sensation of fatigue. The festivals aura of perpetuity only furthered my adoption of nocturnal tendencies. The sunset triggered an influx of festival goers and the sunrise signaled their diffusion back to the campground. 

Sleep became little more than a pitstop for refueling. The journey back to the sea of temporary shelters marked a surrender to the body I had avidly ignored. Roughly 15,000 people inhabited this tent city for the duration of the festival. Make-shift streets and alleyways divided the grounds into communities and neighborhoods. The camp became a home and the festival a playground. Navigating between the two became cyclical and familiar. 

The festival was as relentless as the attendees. Though most stages closed at midnight on the final day, the remaining interactions pressed on. The final stroll through the festival felt surreal. As the speakers dimmed and the noise subsided, the opportunity for reflection and appreciation drew forth. The silence invited me to absorb the surroundings one last time. It was clear this dreamland was coming to an end and soon it'd be a memory I’d cling to relive. I woke the next morning in a pensive daze, attempting to make sense of my experience. The festival was over and it was time to return to normality.  


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