BY DYLAN SKRILOFF
PHOTOS BY AARON MOELLER
(Unless otherwise noted)
Hundreds of souls came together to dance, dance and dance a little more September 8 – 10 at Echo Lake in Afton, NY, site of Spirit Tribe’s second annual “Native Noise” festival.
Fans of “psytrance,” a subgenre of electronic dance music known for its hard and fast beats overlayed with eclectic sound effects and melodies, were treated to a three-day, two-night smorgasbord of auditory stimuli. Once it started Friday evening, the music did not stop until the festival ended Sunday afternoon.
The Rockland County Times was invited to take a peak at the Echo Lake environs several miles outside the Binghamton area, as well as assess the overall psytrance sound and scene. The venue, formerly one of the major northeast stops for aspiring country and western acts, is picture perfect for a mid-spring through late summer outdoors festival.
The audience and artists were noticeably diverse. Eleven of 20 sets at the festival were performed by artists from international labels. Four Israeli and four Brazilian DJs were on hand, as well as several from the New York City-area, Philadelphia and Connecticut, one from Austria and yet another from Portugal.
Hearing psytrance throbbing live out of 8-foot tall speakers was certainly superior to listening to the same style music from mini-speakers attached to my computer while working. And while I by no means lit the floor on fire, I had a good time bouncing around in 10 and 15 minute spurts.
DJs on hand to entertain and enthrall the faithful at Native Noise II included Ritmo (Iono Music/Israel), Justincaseboy (Parvati Records/Texas), Progress (AntiShanti Records/NewYork), Kabayun (Sangoma Records/ Philadelphia), Magnosis (Womb Records/NewJersey), Anyma (Ovnimoon/Goa Records/NewYork), Psypien (Psyde Effect/ Visionary Shamanic Records/Austria), Luis Campos (Psycheground /Brazil), Mojorisin (Substratum/Philadelphia), Epsylon (Respect Gatherings/India), Radmoura (Paradigm Shift/Alchemy Records/Brazil/Portugal), Izzy (Sangoma Records/Israel), Goatone (Fractaltribe/Massachusetts), Eduardo Dudu (Nuud Music/Brazil), Madhatter (Woo Dog Recordings/Israel), Green Tunes (Dynamic Psytrance Productions/Israel), Between Devices (Alladin Project/Brazil), Gabriel Ego (NYC Underground/Akashic Rift/Spirit Tribe), V-Cek (Spirit Tribe/Connecticut) & Synthetic Emotions (Dynamic Psytrance/Brazil).
Festival producers Eric Allen and Mikayla Miner (Spirit Tribe) were engaging and courteous, a trait reassuring for guests. Not all summer festivals are headed by persons interested in creating a community atmosphere. When attendees feel they’re nothing more than a dollar it tends to damper the enthusiasm. No such problem here.
Miner also performs as stage artist MICA – BLU. At her own Native Noise II festival, Miner/Mica took the opportunity to flaunt her charm, dressing in exotic Egyptian-styled garb and gracing the dance area with her presence.
Ivy Orth of LunoSol Productions headed design for both stage areas. Orth is flown all over the world to create dream-like atmosphere for dance parties. Says LunoSol’s Facebook page, “Her work is representative of a whimsical world of the manifested dream of feminine heart.”
Psytrance folk are a cheerful and inviting crowd, just ask Echo Lake venue owner John Phelan, a former longtime Republican town supervisor in the Echo Lake area. He told the Rockland County Times that after a few years in the festival and concert business he has decided to cater primarily to the electronic dance music crowd.
The decision comes not due to demand, but due to problems with other audiences. Specifically, according to Phelan, due to “fights.”
Festivals fueled by alcohol tend to end in brawls and calls to the police, Phelan said, not to mention amnesia and other manias. No such problem with the happy, healthy crowds found at a typical psytrance festival. “Electronic music fans are the friendliest and most loving group I have ever met,” he said.
Workshops on nutrition, yoga, holotropic breathwork and energy healing typically are featured at rave festivals. Beer is a distant afterthought, although still available.
Phelan stayed awake Saturday, September 9/Sunday 10 until 4 a.m. or so, serving coffee and food and chatting with his guests. Such folksy hospitality from the site’s owner and a former local political leader added another friendly touch to the festival.
I spent about a quarter of the night in the canteen talking to Phelan, party-goers not dancing at the moment and Phelan’s staff. Many instant friendships were made, some destined to last only minutes, others much longer.
Phelan said after watching outfits like Spirit Tribe produce dance music festivals at his venue, he has decided he will give it a try himself in 2018. If all goes according to plan, by next summer Phelan will add “rave producer” to his resume, alongside Republican politician in Trump-land.
Yes folks, you can leave your stereotypes behind and dance and vibe to your heart’s content up in Echo Lake. The Rockland County Times will be following the festival scene at Echo Lake next spring and summer and keep you filled in.
In the meantime, those looking for Halloween light and fright can follow Spirit Tribe to their Neon Nightmares in Brooklyn. The event runs 10 p.m. – 7 a.m., Friday, October 27 at the Paper Box, 17 Meadow St. Brooklyn, NY. The presale ticket charge is a quite affordable $30.
Allen and Miner again bring top flight music talent, as well as a team of artists and performers who promise to cultivate a spooky psytrance Halloween dance-osphere. Best male and female costume each win a $100 prize.
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