Duality is defined as an instance of opposition or contrast between two concepts or two aspects of something; a dualism. Duality can be found within nature, society, and within ourselves. I’ve never fully grasped the strange simplicity and beauty of duality until I entered the intangible experience that is Bass Coast. Nestled amongst a weaving river and the rolling desert hills in Merritt, British Columbia, Bass Coast 2019 was an experience of a lifetime.
For those that dont know me, it would be safe to say that you also probably don’t know that I consider myself a seasoned festival freak. I thought I had already experienced the best of the best. I thought that I’ve seen the coolest lasers, heard the best sound systems- heck, I even thought I had met the nicest people. But, nothing had prepared me for what I was about to experience as we drove down the winding road amidst the desert into our new home. Bass Coast truly blew me away. The standard of curation, production, and execution is something that I have never seen at a festival before.
I now know why Bass Coast earned the nickname Bliss Coast
Every inch of the festival is a layer of creativity and expression. This could be found while wandering through the immersive art installations carefully crafted by the loving hands of an artist. “Every single piece is interactive. It may not be obvious at first, but if you read that, you may find out how you can interact with the piece” said Liz Thomson, co-founder of Bass Coast as she spoke on the installations, “… the level of the show is really growing, that is something we have been really striving for… that it’s interactive or it has audio or visual elements. Some are educational or some of them are just humorous. They are made to deepen connections with people because they have seating areas so people can sit and relax with each other.”
The art isn’t just in the form of installations, each of the four stages has been hand-crafted into a visual masterpiece. The Radio Stage is an enormous structure with its famous “On Air” sign towering from above. It is made from recycled wood with warm lights emitting a welcoming glow. A side structure allows people to climb in and get a better view of the crowd or perhaps take a seat to rest their dancing legs. As I wandered towards the river, Slay Bay was there to meet me. This stage has some of the most gorgeous visuals I’ve ever seen, hands down. Its immense white lattice structure is dripped in magnificent colours at night making it a glowing masterpiece. Fun fact, Slay Bay is crafted by co-founder Liz and head carpenter Andor’s company, The Guild. The Main Stage, which is most definitely the largest, is set amidst a grassy field. There is a large area to dance, which is great considering some of the headlining acts that play there. My crew finds comfort hanging towards the back most of the time, it is great to take it all in from afar and watch the festivities unfold before us. The dazzling wisps of white floating in the sky above the dancefloor make for a magical time.
The last stage, which had started out as mostly as a daytime bar, has now made Canadian Electronic Music history. For the first time ever, Boiler Room streamed live in Canada which is such a huge feat for Bass Coast and the small town of Merritt, BC to host this massive international streaming platform. “We are very excited to have them join us,” said co-founder Andrea Graham aka The Librarian, “It’s the first Canadian festival that Boiler Room has featured and covered. It’s really exciting for the artists and for the community and just to see the culture that we have here being recognized on the international level, so… it’s going to be a wild party.” Some of the artists that were featured in the Boiler Room streaming were ESB, Sam Binga, Orson b2b Agrippa, and The Librarian. It has always been on my bucket list to attend a Boiler Room set. Bass Coast made my dreams come true. Not only did I get to experience the wicked vibe that Boiler Room brings, but I also got to witness The Librarian in her element during her Boiler Room debut, it gave me goosebumps.
The beautifully curated balance of genres made for a great balance of music (hey, duality!), from international headliners to the immerging talent from near and far. I could write a book about how mindblowing the music was (an article will have to do… stay tuned for that one). I found myself hopping from stage to stage, chasing whatever vibe that felt right. Friday night I found myself mostly at Radio Stage. Carissa Gem of Sub Chakra was the first set I caught of the weekend and had to be one of my top five sets of the entire weekend. Her moving and sexy bass music had us all vibin’ hard and set the tone for the night. Abstrakt Sonance encaptured me had had me gripped for the entirety of his set. I found myself closing my eyes and letting myself get lost in the vibrations pumping out of the speakers. Our crew ended the night with Lazy Syrup Orchestra. HANDS DOWN one of the best sets I ever had the pleasure of attending. Every soul on that dancefloor was grooving hard at 4:30 in the morning to the syrupy smooth tunes that these boys produce.
Saturday was a special day for me. With the recent passing of one of my best friends, I decided that I would find a way to connect with my special Dr. Brae. Attending my first Bass Coast without him was hard as it was his absolute favourite place on earth. He had always told me the beautiful stories about his experiences at this magnificent festival. To say the least, I was crushed to be there without him. Though, I found strength in the ability to honour him there. I had a special totem made with his DJ logo and made it to Claude VonStroke at Slay Bay to dance my ass off for him- front left of course. Just holding his totem high above the crowd filled me with such strength and love. I felt his spirit all around us, it was truly magical. People who I had never had the pleasure of meeting were coming up to me, telling me stories about how he had touched them in some way. He truly brought all people of all different walks of life and united us all, which is exactly what Bass Coast has accomplished. After a little power nap from a beautifully emotional day, we set our alarms to get our asses up for the night. The comfort of our bed was tempting, though we refused to stay in the tent hole. We wiped the sleep from our eyes, put on our dancing shoes, I slapped on some makeup, and we headed for Main Stage. It was worth the rally, The Funk Hunters, Stickybuds, and SkiiTour brought our vibes up. Other fire sets that night were LONE at the Radio Stage and of course Om Unit at Slay Bay.
To sum up the last day at Bass Coast I can use two words: Sunday Funday. Did you know that you can literally float through the festival? Seriously, it’s a thing. We spent our entire day lounging at the river, letting the refreshing water soothe our sore dancing feet. It was super entertaining watching the parade of floaties, waving and smiling as they went past. As day morphed into the night, we geared up for our final escapade. It was bittersweet getting our party gear on for the last time, none of us wanted to even entertain the thought of going back to reality. Our entire crew rolled out together and actually managed to stick together for the majority of the evening (which is almost an impossible feat). Top sets of the night had to be GREAZUS, Smalltown DJs, Yheti, Barisone, and of course Mat The Alien b2b The Librarian.
Now the idea of duality is not one that I had thought much about before Bass Coast. I found myself hyperaware of the duality that I found myself amidst. The lights bouncing off the trees that surrounded me, the darkness on the walk back to camp. The warmth of a hundred bodies on the dancefloor, the coldness of the river lapping at my feet. The peace of the early morning as the birds began to wake, the loudness of being front and center of the stages. The feeling of arriving, and finally the feeling of leaving a festival I never wanted to part with- already longing to arrive once again.
The vibe of Bass Coast is something I will never forget. It’s hard to explain the feeling you get being surrounded by the most gorgeous people in such a mesmerizing environment. The passion and love that pours through that festival is SO inspiring. All in all, I am awestruck. It was hard to leave such a perfect place. It was an entire weekend where I felt an overwhelming sense of belonging. I never wanted to go home.
“Bass Coast is a vibe.” – Bass Coast Co-Founders
*Featured Image via Michael Benz*