Raindrops,

heavier than I’ve seen in at least two years, crashing down on my head and face.  Plucked synth and steel drums pounding the air around me.  The bass seems to shake tiny droplets off my skin.  There’s mud splashed up to my knees but I’m having too much fun to care and so, it seems, are the dozens of barefoot people dancing their hearts out in the thickest of the soup in front of the stage.   A pink-haired girl is running around with a bubble blower, laughing and screaming at the top of her lungs.  A guy in a bear suit in the center of the crowd has popped a bottle, adding a champagne shower to the downpour.  Everyone is already soaked to the bone, so no one minds a little extra.  A girl lifts her head up and opens her mouth and he produces a box and starts pouring a thousand little golden objects over her.  Are those…goldfish crackers?

Yes, yes they were.  It was beautiful, bizarre, funny, carefree moment that encapsulated the weekend for me.  Well, that and when some geniuses flipped the giant “M”s by one of the stages to spell “Moogie Meekend,” and later, rearranged all the letters to say “Go Weed.”

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Photo courtesy of Joseph Park, founder of The Cooking Laboratory

 

The Do Lab (responsible for Lightning in a Bottle and yes, the Do Lab at Coachella) called Woogie Weekend a homecoming.  Before it got as big as it is now, LIB was held at this same venue, Oak Canyon Park in Irvine.  The total area of the festival and campgrounds was tiny compared to most festivals (no larger than a couple of football fields) and apparently only 1,700 full weekend passes were sold.  It made for a very intimate experience that didn’t require a ton of organization or security. The low traffic also meant the porta-potties stayed relatively clean the whole weekend.

 

I drove in at around 4:00pm on Friday and elected to park by the exit, but you could get pretty close to the lake.  After finding a place to park, you could walk freely too and from the festival and your tent without ever getting checked by security.  I took my wristband off the second night and didn’t have any problems at all without it the third day.  It felt more like a big party in someone’s backyard than a full-blown festival, and that was a wonderful thing.  Some people even elected to drag air mattresses and blankets onto the festival grounds themselves and slept there, while others camped right up against the fence separating the festival and campgrounds (this would later turn out to be a mistake, as by the third day this area was ankle-deep in brown water).  The campgrounds are the only thing I have to complain about: it was just a big expanse of rocky dirt (which later turned to rocky mud) and I wish it had been organized better, because after the second day when the rain washed away the chalk paths and late arrivals started camping wherever there was space, the paths kind of devolved and it was tough finding your way around through the mass of tents and RV’s, especially in the dark, and especially especially if you were under the influence.

 

The festival grounds themselves were, by some miracle , quite lush with healthy grass.  A small bridge crossed over a pond which could be boated on in the day. and was lit beautifully at night.  There was absolutely zero sound bleed between the two stages, which is incredible considering the size of the grounds.  Other features included:

  • A shitload of hammocks.  I’m not sure if they were put there by the organizers but they seemed to be for public use.
  • A bunch of painters working live, and you could bid on the paintings.  Several of these painters were super fucked up for the duration of the process, which yielded varying results.
  • The coolest vendors I’ve seen yet.
  • A gigantic slip and slide

Day 1 Highlights

Adam Freeland closed out the night with a sexy, almost jazzy set.  Didn’t see to much else that day as I spent most of the time hanging out with neighbors at the campgrounds.

Day 2 Highlights

Five minutes into Luca Bacchetti’s set, I forgot it was even raining. Those tenacious enough to brave the rain were graced with sensual deep house beats which eventually led to revelers slipping and sliding on patches of mud in their attempts to get their groove on. Not that we minded much- nothing felt more right than attempting to tango ankle-deep in mud. Luca himself seemed to be having a blast and connected well with us in the audience, making the space feel even more intimate.

Day 3 Highlights

Autograf played an eclectic set ranging from tropical house to heavy bass through the worst (best?) of the rain. Even when the weather took a turn to the worse, Autograf never lost a trace of energy, but rather seemed to be emboldened by how willing we were to dance through the rain. The addition of a live violinist and percussionist made their performance truly memorable and unique.

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Overall summary: amazing time, great crowd, relaxed vibe.  Rain couldn’t stop shit Rufus Du Sol’s live set was turned into a DJ set because of a torrential downpour, and even the DJ set was stopped by an electrical malfunction despite some hastily-erected tarps and plastic covering.  Instead of booing when the power went out, the crowd clapped the staff’s valiant effort.  A guy with a congo drum who during Autograf had simply been pounding along for fun (couldn’t hear the drum unless you were right next to him) was now the main entertainment.  Along with the standard “woop woop” were primal yells of pure joy.  For the Greek mythology fans out there, it was the closest I ever felt to a bacchanal (for the non-nerds out there, Bacchus was the Greek god of wine and revelry, whose worship rituals involved getting smashed on wine and having orgies.)

I didn’t see any orgies personally, but everyone was really friendly. I’m sure the small size of the crowd had a lot to do with it, but I never got bumped aside.  It was always a friendly hand on my shoulder or a smile and a high five as someone squeezed by me.  I  easily made friends with all my neighbors, who (for the most part) turned off their music at a decent hour.  On the last day a guy in dreads and a grateful dead t-shirt went around passing out watermelon slices with chile, salt, and lime.  It was truly the epitome of good vibes.

In fact, it’s put me in such a good mood that I’m offering free shipping on all orders for the rest of July!


SHOP

 

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