Back to Bat Country: A Gonzo Raindance Festival 2013


A week or so ago, I went to Raindance. I try not to go into an adventure with too many expectations or hopes. So I don’t get let down, you know? I did set an intention though – to create a Bacchanalia Cove. The intention of fanning people with my giant heart-shaped leaf, feeding them grapes and cheese and olives, and serving quaint cocktails out of tiny goblets. I started out in Arcata, where I rented a car to make the 6 or 7-hour drive. Whenever I rent a car, I’m reminded of why I am only meant to have old, shitty cars. For this trip, they gave me a Volkswagen Jetta. Uh-oh. Leadfoot Lupe on the loose. Besides the beer, wine, cheese, economy, and scenery, do you know why I love California? They have practically no cops. I mean, of course there’s cops. Just not a lot of them. I got calluses on my hands from gripping the steering wheel, but I did not get pulled over.

I arrived a few hours before dark and waited in a line of cars inching towards the front gate. I glanced in my rearview mirror and saw the driver behind me standing outside of his car. Turns out, it’s Wink, a multi-lingual MC who played a warehouse party I threw in Brooklyn a few years back. I popped in his new CD… Proper-produced beats with both Brazilian Portuguese and English.

Arriving at a festival solo is always an interesting experience. It’s dark by the time I’ve gone through the commotion of getting in, setting up, and prepping to party. I went with my neighbors down to the Mothership main stage – there were some beautiful art installations and the stage was intricately done by Audiowaska. I was digging who was playing before Random Rab, but decided to trot all the way back to my camp spot to re-stock on beer for the night. One of the greeters along the dark path said hello to me, and on my way back, I gave her a beer and sat down with her for a bit. I think Tara was her name – she and her friends were awesome. We were too busy talking about the different delicious beers we love, tequila, the possible curse of Pyramid Lake, Mount Shasta aliens… You know, the typical Northern California topics of conversation. I ended up missing Random Rab, but I don’t regret it. Sometimes I am too enthralled by the people I meet to catch all the music I hope too. It’s an occurrence that’s balanced out by new surprises of talent I’ve never seen before.

We made it back to the Mothership Stage for EPROM, and I gotta be honest. I ran away from the music. Like… My ears couldn’t take what they heard so they screamed at my legs to get the eff’ outta’ there. I ran like I was running the mile in high school – kinda fast and awkward, over to the Bluff Stage. divaDanielle, you saved me! My ears thank you. After a bit, I caught JOBOT back at the Mothership, and then Mikhal, whom I’d really been looking forward to. It was a foggy sunrise, but if I remember correctly, he did a trap-heavy set. Whatever it was, I enjoyed it. I will seek out his music and performances again, cause he’s a keeper.

He also had a dancer with him on-stage. However, it wasn’t a beautiful bangled feather leather goddess. It was a shirtless longhaired hot guy. I felt tones of sarcasm during this thing I was watching, but that could be just me. I enjoyed it though – both aesthetically and for the comedic value. I like how the tables were turned and I, as a female got to watch the male form on-stage. A little thought on objectification/archetype/stereotypes in the festival community fluttered its way to my mind at some point. But mostly I laughed and danced, ’cause the music was good and that guy dancing was funny.


The entertainment continued when I was greeted by the Boston/San Francisco Use Your Head ladies, clad in full-on animal suits. (It reminded me of my 2012 Raindance, when I donned my friend Sheldon’s chicken suit, chicken head included, and gave sunrise lapdances to some random strangers. Anonymously, since you couldn’t see who I was.) The beautiful Boston ladies gave me more laughs, taking over platforms to dance during Mr.Rogers‘ set, which was great as usual.


He even had his brother Cole on stage rapping at one point. After that, we made it to the Bluff Stage and fuck! The view hit me in the face with a fistful of glory once the sun was up – I’d only been there at night and was not expecting it. The beauty was unreal. UN-REAL. And I was not on drugs.

Saturday, I awoke, and had 1 main priority: getting all my stuff to the River Stage so I could set up an area to fan people and give them stuff. My tent and car were way too far from the River Stage to carry the stuff, and luckily, I convinced a guy in a golf cart to give me a ride. He bought me to the top of the path and wouldn’t you know it, here comes the Boston girls, ready and willing to help me carry the stuff down the rocky way. The River Stage felt like a magical forest, and the river itself was devine. We set up to the left of the stage, in a little clearing right next to a heart-shaped firepit. Perfect! Smoking on this property is allowed next to the firepits, and I love to smoke!

We spent some time lounging on the river in giant floats. Then, back to the spot, to create Bacchanalia Cove. I was pretty busy socializing and putting out the olives, cheese, etc. (thanks Christine Binko for helping with the brie!) so I don’t recall exact details about the Black 22’s, but I do know they held it down and I liked them enough to ask where they’re from…LA.


Then the heavens opened up and it rained invisible drops of lovejoy. Pumpkin played. For so long. He did “Diamonds On The Soles of Her Shoes” by Paul Simon. He did “I’m On Fire” by Bruce Springsteen… A song you’d never expect to hear at an electronic music festival in the summer of 2013. He did Modest Mouse‘s “Float On.” Then did “One Day” by Asaf Avidan and the Mojos, and I lost it. I got temporary Tourettes syndrome, screaming, cursing, the whole shebang.

I fanned the crowd with the heart leaf during “Dog Days are Over.” Served the dance floor from a silver platter. What a day. After doing some prep for the night, my highlight of the evening was Nominus. I’d never heard of him before – he stole the show Saturday night in my opinion. In an awesome way. Me and my oldladybones retired early Saturday night, satisfied.


Sunday I really wanted to see Smasheltooth. I woke up early, and my knee was fucked up. I over-did it I guess. I had a bunch of food and booze to carry again and it was just too far for me to do myself. I hobbled to First Aid to see if they had any arnica (no) and then sat at the volunteer tent for a while, waiting for someone to give me a ride to get the stuff down to the River Stage. During this time, which was a few hours, I missed Smasheltooth, but met a volunteer named Elliot. He teaches junior high in Ecuador, and was seriously cool as fuck. Finally, a nice staff guy, by the name of Matthew, brought me and my stuff to the River Stage – he and a guy Nicolai helped me carry it down the rocks. Thanks guys! Finally, I’d arrived to Bacchanalia Cove. I learned (or re-learned) that day that it is both impossible and pointless to rush when one is injured. Cripples are simply not meant to hurry. Patience is a must and although you may think you’re missing out on one thing, you could also be gaining something else you’d never even known about.


The area I’d setup had expanded… A funny musician named Marco a.k.a. Ninjanation had a bunch of crystals laid out and they were free for the taking. The chocolate guy moved from his spot the day before over to the other side of the fire pit… Not quite part of Bacchanalia Cove, but nearby. Just across the way was Portland artist Gusherz – I bought an alien-glyphic piece with some arrows intertwined as a gift for a fellow Sagittarian friend. That day I also met an author I bought a book from – Proxy by Jason Mallory, and it seems to be a futuristic novel where robots have replaced much of human labor, and a presidential candidate proposes that each citizen should have voting power in how much of the workforce is pure technology vs. human.

The libations of the day were peach gin gimlets, out of the tiny little black wooden goblets I’d got in Arcata the week before. Gin is thought of as an old-timey drink, but gin is the shit! Saying “gin gimlet” after having 1 or many, is a tongue-twister. Try it some time. Tunes flowed as Jocelyn, a DJ whom I’d met earlier in the day, spanned the whole spectrum of genres and styles. She can do anything and she can do it well. We got chatting… I like that chick – she’s got mad skillz and she’s real. I’d wanted to catch Smash & Grab on the Bluff Stage, but I let El Papachango finish my day by the river. Yup, great as usual. There were a few songs where my lazy-ass really really wanted to get up and dance, and I tried but the knee was just not having it. Then I hobbled back to camping with my new gemini friends Obo and Kelsie, and we prepared for the evenings festivities.


We were watching the last bit of the sunset from some rocks near the bluff stage, chatting about life. That’s when we saw the glowing drone floating around in the air. I don’t know what the story is behind that, but I’d sure like to. And once again, I was not on drugs. We made it back to the Mothership, and the bats were going crazy. Over the course of the weekend, the stars were astounding, and sometimes you’d spot one shooting across the sky. Other times, it wasn’t a star. It was a bat. And that night, it was as though the bats knew how good the music would be. For some reason, I usually don’t enjoy sets at the main stage as much as smaller stages – I prefer things more intimate. But that last night, I got what I needed. Although my knee kept me from dancing much, I was amidst good company.


I sat at the fire pit near the live art, next to a guy with a bottle of champagne named Brandon. We got talking – he works with Sacred Installations, and helped build the cool structure where yoga classes were being held. We talked about a lot of stuff, and whoa and behold… Brandon loved EPROM‘s set. He didn’t run away from it like I did. Goes to show, different strokes.

While sharing my crazy Guatemalan clay flask of tequila with the people around, I met Dan, a hot older guy who is the electrician for the event. What a task. Representing Dub Kirtan Allstars, the bass of FreQ Nasty pounded through the entire Earth, massaging my body as I sat in awe.

Next was Liberation Movement – I loved what felt to me like a fusion of Native American and Indian beats. According to their Facebook bio, their music is “infused with recordings of 20 Shipibo Shamans made by Resurrector over the course of 30 traditional ceremonies in the Peruvian Amazon” and “channels the healing power of the plant spirits’ Ikaros (medicine songs) with the intention of removing the veils that separate us from the vibratory pulse of the Earth.” Well, I can tell you – it worked. I felt it, and I am not on a soul-searching quest, either.


After them, Bluetech played, unscheduled, because he couldn’t make his set time from earlier in the weekend. Of course, he was lovely as usual. I would’ve liked to see him as Evan Marc, his house DJ project also scheduled that weekend, but I’m happy I got to catch him at all. He was the perfect end to my Raindance.


So – did I have a good time at my favorite festival? OFCOURSEMENTE! It was rough terrain, I’ll be honest. But the breathtakingly beautiful landscape made up for it. That wasn’t even the best part. And it wasn’t the music either, although it was grand, as expected. It was, from start to stop, the people. The community. You can feel the love that’s put into the production of this event – the motivation behind it resonates throughout each and every person there. Thank you Raindance. Thank you.

Full Facebook Photo Album
Photos by Margaret Hunter

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.