The dust has finally settled. Lasers, fur, glitter, paint, gems, and floating dragonflies – all remnants of the recent celebration – have been carefully and diligently cleared away. No sign of the intensity, the reverberating radiance, or the glowing satisfaction that was all things Esthetic Evolution is left.
As promised, EE’s last year went far beyond what most had expected musically and otherwise. This year’s festival ran for three days, instead of the usual two. Which, looking back, was necessary. The third day solidified the experience and gave everyone one last chance to say their goodbyes, and well, their new hellos.
Friday was full of the hustle and bustle of those setting up camp, finding space, and the constant “Hi!” followed by truly loving hugs from friends and family who have not seen each other for far too long. You could almost touch the thickness in the air of anticipation and general happiness to finally be home.
By Friday evening all anxiety had fallen to the wayside. Camps were set, and all of the beautiful people had come out and showed off their metaphorical (and sometimes literal) feathers. Being a place of complete acceptance, EE set the stage for wonderfully colorful arrays of beauty with each person and their choice of self expression in clothing or lack thereof.
The music seemed to fill a void. Whatever small piece that was missing, or that hadn’t been let go of yet, so as to fully experience the weekend, had now been filled or forgotten. As the night grew closer and the music grew louder you could almost physically see peoples’ spirits floating with them as children of the meadow.
Everything from Monster Planet, which was lightly littered with attendees at the stage, to Hedflux, which had people bumping elbows, tutus, and any other flailing objects, while dancing to the cathartic trance that he created, was everything you could hope for on the first night. The music never stopped and neither did those in attendance.
The ambient dome became something of a recharging station. With couches, pillows and mattresses littered throughout the dome, it was very inviting. If that comfortable resting place after dancing your bum off was not enough to entice you, the dreamy, downtempo, sensual variety that was being played would draw you in like a firefly to the light. The shared love and relaxation reverberated with each sound wave deepening whatever thought or moment you found yourself in at that time.
The following day the sun shined bright and the river was calling, so after some much needed meditation with a guided group in the Ambient dome, we made our way to the river. That’s part of the beauty of it all. There is no schedule, no rush, no constraining obligations. Only the freedom to do as you wish, when you wish, how you wish.
Saturday was bursting with music from This That and the Other stages. There was so much to see and hear, so bouncing to and from each stage is something that most were apt to do. Recess, Filastine, Ott, Stormshadow, Longwalkshortdock, and so many more.
There is a spectacular river located close by where so many came together and enjoyed a cool dip in the heat both Saturday and Sunday. The music continued there bringing the laughing and dancing to the beach and making this an altogether rejuvenating experience for everyone. A beach party with good vibes and beautiful people.
Sunday completed the transformation that started when you step onto the meadow’s dusty trails and scattered pine filled mountains. The unity with the people, the environment and the earth all around you is a beautiful experience.
Everyone came out in full force to celebrate the last night of over a decade of love and community out at the meadow. The performances at each stage and from those in attendance were spectacular. LED hula hoops, fire staffs and poi, dancing LED fireflies, and bobbing dolphins as far as the eye could see.
The rainbow of smiling dancers at each stage was the perfect reflection of the beauty of the music on the last night. Everyone brought their A game. Curtis Porter, the highly anticipated Antix, and of course Adlib and Ryan Duley each with their own flavor going hard and obviously loving every minute of it.
If on the last night being the dancing fool you had been the last few days wasn’t in the cards for you, there were a variety of camps you could roam to, or my personal favorite, the Altitude Lounge. Located far enough away from the stages not to be included in the masses but close enough to hear everything. There were couches, pillows and blankets already available and an array of people to enjoy the many dazzling stars and bold music with, from afar. The best part of the Altitude Lounge would definitely have to be the height. It sat in the back center of the meadow so everyone who was up their could view everything happening down below or up above.
In the end it all comes down to freedom. The gratitude that you feel to each and every person that welcomes you and congratulates you for being completely you and no one else. The freedom to live without a clock. The atmosphere within EE takes you out of the every day “real world” patterns and routines and isolates each individual. It forces even the most reclusive individual to look at things and communicate in a new completely authentic way.
The end of Esthetic Evolution was a bittersweet one to say the very least. Running into Dave Hertling as I was packing up with my camp and witnessing him get choked up over the last day of what him and those close to him created made my heart heavy. At the same time I know from speaking with him and others that this is something that has been coming for a few years now and each will continue to be involved in the music community and do wonderful things.
This does leave a large void in the music and music festival community. Who will pick up the mantle and create something that Idaho can call their own again? I am excited to see what new beginnings will come from all of this now that we see what our community has the potential to create.
The newest festivals that are being managed and put together by some of our very own are Konnexion and I hear MASSV is in the works still as well. It will be interesting to see the direction things go and to watch these flourish and adapt as the possibility of a new evolution continues.
In closing, many blessings to those who pour their heart and soul into something that is much more than just a music festival for so many. It is an emotional, mental, and physical experience. Continue to be fearless.
Photos courtesy of Sean Sweeney