Gratifly Arts and Music Festival Review
29 Aug 2013

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This Review was Written by the Lovely Sally Watts.  

The word “gratify” means to indulge or satisfy a desire. The festival Gratifly was a time to pull away from material needs and focus on personal development in a spatial environment. A chance to turn on, tune in and drop out, as Leary would say. For me, I was able to re-connect with old friends, hear inspiring speakers, dance to a plethora of fantastic artists like Phutureprimitive, Papadosio, Emancipator, The Malah, The Werks, and many more. Not to mention, the Avalon land tract which hosted the festival boasted natural beauty beyond compare. The highlight of the land was definitely the waterfall behind the Tribal Council stage, illuminated by really colorful LED lights and opened up to Lake Hartwell. The rapids definitely drew myself and other festivalgoers to it all weekend like a magnet. At one point a vendor even set up his table in the middle of the river and you had to take off your shoes to go view the merchandise!

The campgrounds were tucked into woods like fairy communes buzzing with people playing on slacklines or practicing yoga.  There were oddly shaped white wooden boxes that were recording voice samples 24 hours a day, built by staff for musicians involved with the festival to use later in productions.  The stages could be heard from most campsites as a background ambiance.  One morning I woke up to Random Rab playing a sunrise set around 5 AM at the Tribal Council stage.  At Gratifly, there was music from 4 PM until 9 AM every day and plenty of yoga, workshops, and talks in between. At first, I was rather confused by the super late night music schedule, but understood after I realized how much else there was to explore within the festival other than just the performances of the artists and musicians.

PHUTUREPRIMIT

Phutureprimitive

naturesnestThe Nature’s Nest was one of the most intriguing freestanding sculptures at Gratifly.  The work of Nate Hogan, a permaculture artist who works mostly with twigs and creates immaculate nest-like designs, constructed a nest on site that was absolutely amazing.  Described on the Gratifly website: “Every installation is an improvisation of the imagination with several intentions woven and embedded into the energy of the piece including planetary healing, awakening our consciousness, opening hearts, seeing the spirit of the earth through the art, and having sacred spaces for people to commune with themselves, the earth, and the divine.”

Anthony Ward was in attendance, dancing with flowers onstage with the likes of Phutureprimitive, Random Rab, DesertDwellers, and a few others I may have missed.  You will soon find on SparkleberryLane.com a separate in which I will be interviewing him. His art form moved me because it was so different and original. He would make flower arrangements onstage with artists and DJ’s, and seemed to make an offering upwards with each flower. It was such a beautiful dance and perfect to watch with the tunes. He is best known for his performances onstage with STS9.  http://www.beingwithflowers.com/

ribbondanceWhen the sun went down the fire dancers came out.  One stage had a ribbon suspension performance area alongside the stage and pleased the crowd with acrobatic delights. The fire dancers would spin fire underneath the ribbon dancer setup every night. The Sonic Healing Dome could be spotted in the distance peeking up above the food court like a white snow ball, glowing wild colors during the evening times. The food court was called ‘Conscious Cuisine’ it had wonderful tastes from a juice bar to a smoothie bar to a couple of awesome health-conscious food vendors.

Due to ride restraints, I arrived mid-day Friday and had to depart mid-day Sunday and missed Emancipator’s set all together because it was on Thursday. I deeply regret that because I am a huge fan of Emancipator. I did however catch a lot of other amazing acts, my favorite being Phutureprimitive. He brought it down with hard bass lines and tribal beats; I could not stop dancing and completely lost myself in his music. He was followed by Eskmo, who, with more heavy bass and experimental grooves, kept the collective jamming into the dawn.

Papadosio performed onstage with a variety of ribbon artists and fire dancers. They had a great set with electronic roots and a classic jam band sound. This band has really grown on me. I love the sound in which they co-create.  They will be in Charleston in November and I cannot wait to see them again. The Malah performed melodic tunes that radiated through the forest and created a magical scene for an inner fairy to come out and shine. The sound The Malah has perfected is very close to the feel that Sound Tribe Sector 9 embodied years ago when they had a more grassroots following. Dopapod put on an amazing show and were completely new to me. I had heard of them but Gratifly was the first time I was able to experience the masterpiece!

Rising Appalalachia was another new-to-me group. It was a duo of girls with absolutely amazing voices and a bluegrass sound. “I’ll Fly Away” is such a beautiful song.

After catching some beauty rest during Random Rab’s sunrise set, I started Saturday with a trip to the waterfalls firedancerbehind the Tribal Stage. I was able to wash my face and swim minutes from my campsite. That day I caught the end of a casual lecture on DMT and the spirit as I was leaving the water at the Tribal Council stage.  The crowd was extremely diverse and the speaker was very enthusiastic about his ventures with the drug. After leaving that area I made my way to the center of the main stages where there was a ribbon and suspended hoop play area complete with water misters attached to fans, keeping everyone cool underneath a large geometric design made of metal. This structure was close enough to the two main stages that at any given time you could play or watch someone dancing in the air to the musical performers.

The Werks from Ohio (who will also be performing in Charleston with Papadosio in November) took the stage with a light, airy groove which I enjoyed under the Geo-Mister (as I came to call it). The sound was very different than a majority of the super-electronic driven acts at the festival. The Werks and Papadosio have a huge northern following, and each have their own annual summer music festivals (Werk Out and Rootwire). They played a few Grateful Dead covers and a Phish cover as well, pleasing all ages in the crowd. The sun began to set and the night’s festivities carried on with the likes of Plantae and Govinda. I really enjoyed the voice samples used by Govinda. I had never heard of either but really enjoyed them.  Both acts were very worldly and had hip shaking beats that were perfect for belly dancing and pretending you were a sexy dub-step gypsy in the Middle East! 

slacklineUnfortunately for me, I was unable to see any Sunday music except the sunrise set with Brushfire Stankgrass. referred to as the ‘Morning Gospel.’ I ended my weekend with a boot-stomping bluegrass session at 6 in the morning on a Sunday!  It was a very refreshing way for me to end my stay at a mostly electronic-driven festival experience. As a whole, I really enjoyed the first-year, grassroots festival that was Gratifly. The organizers were very accommodating, Avalon was beautiful, and the performance choices couldn’t have been better. The land, the music, the art, and the feeling of togetherness were unlike anything I had felt at a festival since Trinumeral at Deerfields. The Tribal Council did an amazing job with this one, and if you were not able to make it this year, put it on your list for next summer to refresh, recharge and unwind at Gratifly!

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