Sacred Vibrations Festival Review – A Perfect End to the Season
Posted November 3, 2017
I found out about Sacred Vibrations from a Facebook post less than two weeks before the gates opened – not a lot of warning to prepare for a camping festival, and especially so for myself, coming from Canada.
But as soon as I saw the lineup and the ticket price, I knew I had to do it. The venue was only a 3 hour and 20 minute drive from home, which seemed like an absolute breeze compared to some of the other trips I’ve made this summer for festivals within my own province of Ontario. We truly have nothing else like this available to us – camping festivals are limited, and the ones that we do have mostly focus on tech-house. The psychedelic bass community in Ontario is almost non-existent, but the lineup for Sacred Vibrations was completely stacked with some of my favourite artists including Desert Dwellers, Kalya Scintilla, Whitebear, and AtYya. It was a first-time festival; it’s always extra enticing to know you could pioneer an events’ attendance. I couldn’t miss this one.
Vibrations fell on a Canada’s Thanksgiving long weekend, which was perfect for me because it meant I’d have the Monday off work, even if it meant arriving later on Friday. The downside to this, though, is that I couldn’t find anyone who was available to make the trip with me. I decided that it was worth going alone. I’ve done quite a few solo festivals, but I always knew someone attending that I would surely bump into. This was my first time attending an event where I knew absolutely no one else there. It made me a little nervous, but I know how to keep myself safe, and if it really got that lonely it was a short trip back home. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, right?
Getting to the festival was extremely simple, though I did get some odd looks at the border when the border agent asked me to list off the “bands” I was going to see. (“Kay-lie Kin-till-sa? Is that what you just said? I’m going to need you to roll down your windows…”). I drove through Port Huron, passing through Flint, Sawginaw, Bay City, and Midland on my way. The trip was easy, and fast, considering Michigan’s 75mph speed limits – just be on the alert for deer on the drive, as they are EVERYWHERE. Even at rush hour, traffic was light, and I arrived right on schedule.
Entering the event was also fast and easy. At around 8pm, there was no wait to get in. With a quick check in, a car search, and a peek in the cooler for glass, I was on my way, and told to set up wherever I liked.
I took the first spot I found – in the open area, right ahead of the entrance, beside another car that had just arrived. Had I spent a little more time looking, I could have easily nabbed a spot in the trees and scored some shade. Ultimately I was happy with my choice; I ended up having great neighbours, and the grounds were compact enough that shade was always nearby. All camping at Sacred Vibrations was car camping, which made set up a breeze. I quickly set up my tent before heading to the music, because I knew it wasn’t going to get done if I tried to do it later – being able to hear the stage from my campsite made it extra urgent. I barely bothered to unpack my things from the back of the rental car. I met the neighbours I’d pulled in beside, who I ended up hanging out with for the entire weekend; though that probably would have happened regardless of where I set up, since great people were everywhere.
The grounds at Sacred Vibrations made for an absolutely perfect campsite. Unlike most festivals where camping is a hacked up open field, it was clear that Salt River Acres was an actual campsite. The ground was flat and the grass was well-kept; I wouldn’t have even bothered to put down a tarp if there wasn’t rain in the forecast. There were trees in many areas with enough space that anyone could set up in the shade, and plenty of spots for hammocks or canopies. Anyone could bring an RV or a trailer for a small $20 fee – RV hookups throughout the grounds meant that both power and water were easily accessible every few feet. Space wasn’t limited and you could take up as much room as you needed for your things. Aside from running water and electricity, the campsite had plenty of bathrooms spread throughout the venue, as well as garbage and recycling always just a few feet away, all of which were well-maintained. Plenty of picnic tables and seating which made for a great place to congregate and meet neighbours.
Friday Night – Set Up and Music
Though the vibe was incredible, the lineup is what really attracted me to Sacred Vibrations – an amazing mix of all of my favourite artists that don’t often come around on tour outside of the American festival circuit. I was disappointed that I couldn’t make it until later in the evening on Friday due to work as I missed a few I’d have loved to see, but the rest of the weekend was more than enough to make it worth it. Ultimately I had hoped to make it in time to catch Peanutbutter Williams, but a late departure meant that I rolled in just as his set ended. I also missed Dixon’s Violin whose live music is a treat. Next time I would try my hardest to come for the entire first day.
If the rumours I heard are true, the schedule got a little thrown off due to Kaminanda missing his flight. I was absolutely alright with this, because it meant that I didn’t have to miss the next artist on the schedule I was excited to see – Whitebear. I was setting up my tent and cracking my first beer (hands up for BYOB festivals!) when I heard him at the main stage, called Phoenix. I’m thankful the sound travelled, or I’d have thought I missed him and not rushed.
Whitebear was fantastic as always, full of grimey, futuristic bass – I’ve had a few chances to see him, and he’s consistently been one of my favourite sets. He doesn’t get the recognition he deserves.
Next up was Kalya Scintilla (not Kaylee, Mr. Border Agent Man), with the ever-present Eve Olution. Before this year, I never seemed to be able to catch them on tour, but this year I must have seen them a half-dozen times; I seem to be following them around the country. Eve Olution always interests me – personally, I love watching her and how she adds interaction and emotion to their performance. Some people find it strange to have an interpretive dancer with a DJ. Nevertheless, their set was amazing.
Unfortunately, the brick wall hit me half way through Kalya’s set, and I ended up heading back to my tent. A lot of people seemed tired; but that’s always the case on the first night of a festival, when everyone’s worn out from the journey. I fell asleep with the full intention of getting up to see Soohan, or failing that; Kalya’s alter-alias Merkaba – but it didn’t happen. I woke up to the sound of rain and couldn’t drag myself out of the tent.
I later found out that after Kalya’s set, all late-night sets were moved to an indoor stage called The Barn. This seems like a brilliant solution to avoid the threat of noise complaints from the neighbours – I could barely hear the music from my campsite a few hundred feet away. The barn also had the benefit of being completely indoors, which proved to be a blessing, as it rained both nights.
Saturday Morning – Art and Vendors
I woke up embarrassingly early on Saturday – I think I was awake before many people went to bed. This gave me a chance to wander the grounds a little more, and check out what else the festival had to offer.
Aside from beautiful fall nature and landscape including lush woods and a pond, the Sacred Vibrations had plenty of vendors – shopping is always a guilty pleasure of mine at festivals. I found some intricate wooden pieces that I’d have loved to have, and took a stroll through the gallery – there were no less than seven different pieces I considered buying, including an amazing original painting of an owl. I was particularly interested in clay work by Intoxikate Designs – her pendants, pins, and dabbers were fantastically detailed, and featured colourful eyes and fungi adorned with crystals, glitter, and other delicate features. I ended up running back to the booth on the last day as she was packing up and purchased a pendant with a multicoloured eyeball in a spiral shell, adorned with a UV-reactive crystal.
One thing I did find a little underwhelming was the food selection – there were only two vendors, with only a handful of options. I usually thrive on having a variety of culinary treats available, but I ended up not buying anything but a coffee all weekend (…it was a good coffee, though.) If you’re a picky eater or have restrictions, you’ll likely want to bring enough food to sustain yourself for the weekend since there weren’t a lot of options. The festival did allow grills if you’d rather cook, and in and outs were allowed if you’re really lazy and would rather just drive into town.
Saturday Afternoon – Workshops and Relaxing
Camped right near the gazebo hosting workshops, I got a chance to check out the Gong Journey and Meditation on Saturday afternoon. Feeling especially lazy, I dragged my Wind Pouch over and lounged, while most other people sat or lay on the ground. I usually fail at any type of meditation, but for once, I could actually get into it. By the end, the crowd surrounding the gong was huge.
After some time at camp, I spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing at the Phoenix Stage with a few people I’d met over the weekend. Several painters brought their supplies, giving artists and opportunity to find inspiration amongst each other and collaborate. We checked out Dizgo, a three-piece jamtronica band that had everyone dancing, followed by Vinja, who I don’t even know how to describe. Many people brought out blankets or flow toys and spent a lazy afternoon in the grass.
Because I’m way too old for this shit, I needed a nap before the night started. I came back to a packed main stage. Every artist I saw that night was fantastic. Stylus Beats threw down some old favourites and Bluetech was a new-found surprise that came highly recommended; another artist who’s genre can’t be specified. It rained for most of the night, but that didn’t seem to damped anyone’s spirit. The air was warm and most people seemed to be seasoned festival-goers who came prepared. The main stage turned into a sea of umbrellas every time the rain started. The raindrops gave the lazers a sparkle; a little touch of magic for the main stage.
During a break from the rain, a giant bonfire was lit. I had flashbacks to the too-giant bonfire of Eclipse Festival in Quebec (the fire department had to be called in to put it out…) but thankfully this one stayed under control, and provided a warm refuge from the rain.
I was especially excited to see Desert Dwellers again, who I’d just seen play an amazingly psychedelic set at Oregon Eclipse a few weeks earlier. I loved their set at Vibrations even more – maybe because it wasn’t a million degrees outside like Oregon. Their set seemed to end far too soon; I swear I blinked and it was over.
I also loved Ott. more than I expected – I must admit that I always tend to gravitate to electronic over live bands. I’ve seen Ott. with the live band before, and I just wasn’t feeling it. This set was amazing and I couldn’t stop dancing.
After Ott, the party moved back to the barn. Despite having both a poncho and an umbrella, I was drenched and frozen, so I headed back to the tent to change into some dry clothes and warm up. Despite my best intentions to head back to the party… I accidentally fell asleep. I had really hoped to see AtYyA at 3:45 – he was one of the reasons I came to the festival, after seeing him at Envision Festival. I even set an alarm in case this exact scenario happened and I passed out. Instead… I woke up as the sun was rising, just after AtYyA’s set ended. It was super disappointing, but when you need sleep – there’s nothing you can do to stop it.
Sunday Morning – Leaving
Packing up and going home is always sad – I wasn’t ready to leave, but I had to head back to Canada for Thanksgiving dinner. The festival did offer people the opportunity to stay an extra day and help clean up in exchange for 2018 tickets; I’d have happily jumped at this if I didn’t have somewhere to be. Exiting was smooth; there were plenty of places to drop off trash, and no wait to get out at the gate and get on the road.
Overall, this event was a steal at just $100 for a full weekend of music, workshops, nature, and great people. There was no extra charge for car camping, and with the ability to bring your own food and drinks – the weekend was extremely affordable. I didn’t spot any ATMs, so do bring cash if you’re interested in buying merch or food. Some vendors did take credit, but service was spotty. In the end, I only spent a few dollars on some merch and a coffee aside from the ticket and gas, making this a great option for those who can’t afford bigger festivals, or who just want to add one more late-season event onto their festival tour. I know I’ll be back next year!