It’s Monday morning. We lay on our backs draped in synthetic furs, our feet propped up against the legendary PK sound speakers on the Pirate Radio Stage. It was Sabo’s early morning set and like many other morning set artists that weekend, he played for four hours, fueled only by the unspeakable vibe running through the audience. In our hearts, we knew that when he stopped playing, this magical happening would be over, and then reality would set back in. We picked up the bubble wands that were strewn about the dance floor, looked up with the sun gleaming on us and our fellow festers and thought: it cannot get any better than this.
Bass Coast 2015 was a weekend that we will never forget. As first timers we had heard many whispers about how wonderful the festival was, and after experiencing it first hand we can certainly say its reputation holds true. For those of you that are not familiar, Bass Coast is run by a team of visionary, strong, and talented women within the local music industry. Many people that we spoke to believe that Bass Coast is so lovely because it is run by women. However, what we discovered was that these women are strong leaders and THAT’s what makes Bass Coast what it is. Andrea and Liz’ vision has been carried out through the efforts of many wonderful staff members and volunteers, both men and women. The fact that the founding team is made up of beautiful babely ladies is secondary to the incredible leadership skills, experience, and knowledge they possess. The festival has a very welcoming and nurturing feel to it as a result of the people in attendance: the community that comes together to celebrate Bass Coast Project. The attention to detail within the production, the art installations, and the workshops – right down to the layout of the grounds – was deliberate, methodical, and passionately executed.
Each stage was intricate, beautiful and unique in its own right.
You can’t go wrong at Slay Bay… The billowing white triangular stage literally had wings on each side creating a whimsical and angelic character. With a carefully designed white canopy extending out into the crowd for shade during the day, and offering cozy coverage at night, Slay Bay was a real looker. The stage had custom visuals provided by different projection artists each night, giving it a constantly changing flavour with ever-new dizzying fractal displays to admire. Slay Bay also played host to some incredible talent, and many moments stuck out for us including: Neighbour’s morning Disco set, the impossibly danceable Small Town DJs, Dubconscious’ reggae-, latin-, and island-inspired vibes, and our favourite festival moment of the weekend… JPOD’s afternoon dance party set: Bliss Coast! It is here where JPOD debuts the bulk of his new material every year, which reliably and joyously climaxes into the world’s largest group hug. HUGE shout out to that!
Deep in the heart of the forest on the other end of the vendor village offered its own delights. The unique multitiered wooden stage had strong character and genuinely resembled an old wooden ship. Added bonus features were the constant shade and straight up good vibes Pirate Radio Stage gave throughout the weekend, especially Saturday night with the Lighta! Crew, who rinsed out track after track of minimal techno classics, culminating with a legendary multi-genre ‘blissfest’ from Max Ulis, one of the chief contributors to the festival. The shady mecca also provided the perfect playground for such events as the jam-packed late afternoon twerk session made possible by Vancouver’s Light Twerkerz.
The Main Stage:
One of the quirkiest zones one could ever find at a festival. For starters, this future-focused, forward-thinking festival (most of the materials used in construction of the stages are from reclaimed and recyclable materials) builds its main stage out of the back of a massive white barn instead of from-scratch construction. Once upon a time this barn was the focal point of the country music festival that used to take place on the land until violence against women became an issue. Now reclaimed by the Bass Coast team, the old barn and pasture now hosts a beautiful, peace-loving event. True to their ‘tentacular’ theme, they transformed that barn into something magical, transcending its original purpose to the joy of Bass Coasters. The Main Stage had fabric streamers hung on wires over the audience area, turning the wind that whips through the valley into a beautiful spectacle, further emphasizing the individuality that is Bass Coast. Everything from the seductively risqué performance of the Sweet Soul Burlesque to the cornucopia of future bass brought to you by The Librarian, to our favourite dance party of the weekend The Funk Hunters followed by Fort Knox Five, looked absolutely fabulous with the consistent movement of this aesthetically pleasing stage.
If the stages, music and performing arts aren’t quite enough for you, Bass Coast also brought us The Brain. The aptly named Brain is the epicentre of this festival’s consciousness, where festival attendees came to listen and learn. You could find out the meaning behind “Wood Whispering” or take part in a beginners guide to “Honest Non Monogomy” or perhaps tantalize your tastebuds with the “Healing Alchemy of Spices and Ayurveda.” The Brain had something for everyone.
Didn’t dance enough the night before? Danced too much and need to stretch it out? The Yoga Stage, draped in dream catchers and lily-padded with individually built wooden yoga platforms, provided a space for healing, balance, and meditation – something that can sometimes be difficult to find during all the excitement of a big weekend. This stage also played host to pole dancing, belly dancing, and contact improvisation for all the Babe Coast Goddesses and Gods wanting to hone their sexy skills and learn a few extra moves to bust out on the dance floor.
The jewel of Bass Coast’s increasingly unique, multi-faceted flower is their art sponsorship program. Money from ticket sales is diverted every year into funding innovative, fun, and occasionally physically challenging installations, i.e. art that often invites the viewer to participate in the experience. The autonomy the artists have in thinking outside the box resulted in a diversity that is unparalleled in our experience with artistic components at other festivals. Some of the artists that take these grants have transformed their lives and discovered new careers and opportunities, much to the pride of the festival founders. Many festivals pride themselves on being a place where a person can find themselves, but there is no question that a ‘new you’ is waiting to be met at next year’s Bass Coast.
There is a place where the wind flows softly through the trees, creating a dance of branches with the breeze. Streamers hang in the air floating in the sky like the tentacles of a squid floating in the sea. It is a place where art is expressed cleverly in alluring and charming ways. It is a place where rich soundscapes flow through the air and resonate deep into parts unseen. This place is not a dream world, this place is called Bass Coast.
We can’t wait for you to find it all there next year.
Lots of love from: Betty and Kora ❤
Words By: Betty, Kora and Jones
Edited By: The Lion at Large and Bree
Photos By: Betty and Kora