By now the songs of praise for Bass Coast have reached far and wide. Why does everyone love her so? Patrons replete with admiration for the 9th iteration of the Merritt, BC based Bass Coast Music Festival have no shortage of appreciative adjectives for the party, breaking into beaming smiles when asked how their weekend was. In fact, you wouldn’t have to ask, because anyone who was there will be sure to let you know. There’s a sense of pride in participating in something so positive. Also, everyone is just so goddamned impressed because expectations were defied to the point that you could not possibly want for anything and you just kept getting more.

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Allow me to foolishly attempt to put into words what I felt. Fuck it, let’s gush. Counting down the days until the next time you get to participate in a community which so wholeheartedly encourages movement, delight, engagement, laughter, kindness and the state of being present – all on top of a painstakingly curated soundtrack – is a wistful undertaking that builds on the lore of moments spent there. This narrative is sweeping and alive.

Ultimately a festival is a space where normal life turns off momentarily in focus of music and pleasure, so of course we like it a whole lot. But considering why this space in particular feels so good is compelling to me, because festival catharsis of this sincerity is something that feels like an especially rare treat. I also think that the generative nature of what Liz Thomson and Andrea Graham have built asks that we do it together, so I thought we should engage in a game of ‘when I went to Bass Coast’ with you all; below I’ll share some favorite moments and would like to hear your anecdotes that make up the story of 2017’s space-themed year. It’s a funny thing that while you’re there the days and nights feel so long and full, yet once it’s over it seems like it went by in a flash and the jokes and memories quickly curl behind us.

Liz, Andrea, Director of Communications Paul Brooks and their excellent team have created a space where the careful consideration of every detail deliberately crafts an experience whose purpose is as expansive as space in its scope. When I looked around at the grounds, the stages, the art installations, the lighting (shout out to the luminous work by Coven Creative) I was almost overwhelmed at the level of mindfulness in their creation. Those thoughtful details provided an environment that was comfortable, interactive and collaborative in a living, breathing space designed to yield happiness and creativity. Making the time to be in the sun with music, art, friends and nature was so appealing that everyone in attendance couldn’t help but be really good at it. A part of this appeal perhaps is the feeling that being a part of a community such as this brings out the best version of yourself and those around you. The connections facilitated through this brilliant execution of company are what people seem to really search for and thrive by. Imagination grows by reciprocity.

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I think a part of this success is that the organizers seem to have really honed in on what people would like to find within their festival utopias, consciously delivering to ask for a sense of agency and contribution from the participation of attendees right back. Such honesty, attention and forthrightness are especially apparent in a critical area like successful harm reduction. According to a statement by Brooks, though attendance went up 30%, participants continued to be safe throughout the weekend with no major drug incidents reported and no Narcan (emergency treatment for opioid overdoses) administered. Informational materials and resources were always available and moreover, communicated at top caliber, just like most everything else on site, from the excellent app to interactive panels at the Brain stage.

Feminism is very important to me and often I feel as though unfortunately the times I most consider it are when I am in disheartening situations that affirm the need for its existence. Once again, I found a difference at Bass Coast. This festival celebrates humans with a positivity that is powerful and effective. I feel this space is one that has been created equally, where the power plays of regular society are no longer the battleground, but far in the distance, presenting realizations of what can be achieved through the normalization of safe, open and creative spaces. It feels good to feel safe, it feels good to be kind and it feels good to be loved. Again, this seemed effortless, yet considerations towards the most inclusive realms existed everywhere. Thank you, Bass Coast, and congratulations for creating a place that no one wanted to leave and everyone can’t wait to get back to.

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A handful of my “when’s” followed by some of Freq writer and photographer Max Foley’s favorite moments:

When Steve the Trex forged the river with the timely totem “We go hard on Earth/Earth go hard” (reminiscent of the old dinosaur’s prayer which goes: “Lord! A little more time!”) while we watched on crying with laughter “IMAGINE IF HE CLIMBED THE MOUNTAIN!”- and then he did.

When I passed by the huge art moon on the ground below the full moon in the sky and there was a guy lying starfished underneath, bouncing it up with his legs

When a random dude asked me what the last colour I wanted to see before I died was, while his girlfriend swooned with embarrassment, moaning, “Stop ASKING people that…it’s soooo weird” and I told him, “Well, red,” and he said, “What shade?” And I said, “the shade against your eyes when they are closed and looking at the sun”

When Isis Graham (Esette) played her subliminal sunrise set at Radio Stage on Friday and her oldest friends, the ones she went to her first raves with, the ones that came to her very first gigs, danced before her completely unbidden with their hands in the air to Barbara Tucker’s “Beautiful People”. One of them pointed towards the mermaid and Isis behind her bellowing “YOU’RE DOING IT! YOU’RE DOING IT!! ” with the most genuine inflection of pride and believing in your homies I have heard in a long time.

When Sam Binga-ed

When I saw a mannequin lying under a tree and I pointed her out to my friend, and she squealed ,“free panties!” and robbed the mannequin of her one item of apparel

Walking through the art installations and feeling like one too

Anna Morgan’s fire sunshine set at the Cantina

The art installations Baba Yaga’s house and the enormous kaleidoscope that had to be spun like the Price is Right wheel

The underestimated heroes amongst us, our long-suffering legs: “Let’s hear it for the calves!”

The lone tree on top of the hoodoos, and the philosophical musings around its strength as the last one standing

The heroic dancer Flavio actually defying gravity and LEANING against the music with movements which made it possible to also see what we could hear

FREQ. Bass Coast Medley

Max Foley

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Favorite Moments:

Being in the midst of several neurofunk-fuelled moshes. Kasra and Enei came correct, elegantly balancing the Critical Music archetypes with all manner of offerings from minimal molasses-like bounciness to frantic, over-engineered organized chaos from the likes of Noisia, and Mefjus.

Experiencing both faces of Paul Woolford – by first dipping one’s toes into unapologetically spacious and infectious house beats at Slay Bay, before going right off the deep end into intelligent, time-capsuled jungle that felt straight from the 90s at the Radio.

Watching SHADES wrap up a more out-there and ballsy variant of their usual heaviness with ‘Skeng’ – further cementing Bass Coast as an entity as self-aware as it is forward-thinking.

Witnessing Bassos Rancheros on Sunday morning. The infamous Vanuatu native served up a rollicking good time that seamlessly fused his typical Latin flavors with more tribal offerings, delving deep into an ocean of future bass. Not to mention the sublime tacos, stacked high on massive brass plates and constantly flying into and out of reach. The whole experience felt even more polished than last year’s iteration, pulling this author into ecstatic insanity for just a moment.

Being immersed in the simmering energy of Thursday night. An incredibly fun set from Mat the Alien and the Librarian – featuring live drumming by Waspy – left the Cantina packed well past when the music stopped. Further down the street, a giant moon perhaps a dozen meters in diameter, installed under a cozy stretch tent, enthralled those diligent enough to show up early. An inflatable cow made its way to the front of the crowd, and naturally, about twenty people endeavored to put the cow over the moon. When they finally succeeded, the resulting explosion of cheering might’ve been the loudest of the weekend.

Words: Magdalena Gorski and Max Foley

Photos: Kayla Graham

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