Why go to festivals? It is a question I’ve been asked many times over the past few years, and my answers are always the same: the artists, the food, and the community. It’s all about the months of planning your outfits to match your significant other or besties, making sure you have everything you need for camp, and putting together the Kandis and trinkets that you will trade with other ravers. And don’t forget that minor moment of panic when you pull up to the venue as if you’ve forgotten something, knowing full well you’ve overpacked. Immerse yourself in the joy of finally arriving at your site, where even after a grueling day of travel, you can’t wait to set up your home for the next few days. You just know you are in for the time of your life. For me, that was Bass Canyon.
Bass Canyon 2023 was my first Bass Canyon, and I can safely say I don’t ever plan on missing one again. Despite getting off to a rough start, we were so excited to finally make it to the venue. After going through security, we followed the guides to our campsite in Gold Camping and got to work unloading our gear. As we were getting set up, we noticed that camping just a spot away from us were the same people we camped next to for Beyond Wonderland earlier in the year. We were super stoked about this as not only were they great camping neighbors, but they also had a giant 20’ skeleton that they set up on top of their bus, which is a LIFESAVER when you are trying to find your camp at night. You wouldn’t believe how many times we heard “There’s the skeleton!” in those 5 days. Since we arrived only a few hours after camp opened, we were lucky enough to get a close spot, with a 2-minute walk to fancy, air-conditioned restrooms, as well as a row of shower rooms, with the venue itself a mere 5-minute walk from camp.
Thursday morning/afternoon was spent preparing for the pre-party, an add-on purchase to turn the three-day experience into four. After carefully applying my makeup, making sure my camera was ready to go, and everyone getting their ravewear on, we headed over to the venue. We patiently waited as the gates were finally opened and we started the entry process, security was quick but thorough, about 3 minutes a person, a full bag search, and a walk through a security gate. Once cleared, you have finally entered Bass Canyon. The excitement was almost explosive, with attendees getting emotional as they walked into the festival grounds. I saw the tears coupled with giant grins, hugs being exchanged, and sounds of pure happiness all around. Everything felt right. No matter the state of the outside world, no matter the jobs or the life responsibilities that awaited us after, there in that little oasis, for those 4 days, everything was perfect. We took a quick walk around the venue before we headed to the pre-party stage and caught a spot along the rail. The anticipation was building as the show began, artist after artist came out, doing a massive, back-to-back-to-back-etc. with selections from artists such as Yookie, Sippy, Bernzikial, Blaize, and many more.
It was insane to watch so many DJs perform together, but the night was far from over. The evening finished up with a set from The Forbidden Four, (Excision B2B SVDDEN DEATH B2B Wooli B2B Sullivan King) This was only the second set ever performed by the four-man-powerhouse. Heavy bass, grimy drops, and metal vocals filled the grounds and shook me to my core. What a time to be alive.
Friday, the real work began, I was scheduled to shoot for four artists that day; Subchvrge, Blaize, Yula, and VLCN. We woke up around 9 am, showered, and got ready for the day. We headed into the venue, to Starlight Stage to meet up with my first artist, Subchvrge. After a short delay to the gates and a technical difficulty due to the heat, patrons were finally filing in, and it was time for the show to start.
After a killer set from Subchvrge, the rest of the day passed in an insane blur, full of incredible memories and moments of meeting new people, trading Kandi, taking photos, and my favorite, dancing with my boyfriend, Derek. I also received my very first, and to date, only, Kandi cuff on day one, a beautiful ocean-inspired piece created by a kind raver named Cody. “Blue, to match your hair,” he had said, but all I could think was how long that piece had to have taken to create, and how honored I was he wanted to give it to me, a complete stranger.
On day two, things got really crazy. After a lovely breakfast in the artist area (perks of being a photographer), we headed into the venue early, took a walk around, and headed over to Canyon Stage, which overlooks the gorge, which, unlike the previous night, was now empty. We laughed as we discussed how different it looked without all the ravers occupying the lawn and creating the pit. We went over to Starlight stage, and I got ready to shoot for Alleycvt. Her set was one of my favorites of the festival.
After her set, Derek and I headed over to the Scummy Bears booth for a Sullivan King meet and greet and ran into some of our camp neighbors. After some shared Dole Whip (delicious pineapple soft serve sorbet) and exchanging funny stories, it was finally time to meet the King. He was super kind and down to earth, genuinely excited to meet and spend time with his fans.
This has always been one of my favorite parts of the scene, seeing the artists interact with the fans that got them there, and seeing how grateful both parties are to be sharing in that moment together. We then made our way to Starlight stage, and I noticed Yookie and ATLiens backstage, I knew this was my moment. We showed security our credentials and walked through the gate. Derek has always collected signatures on his hats, and I knew how much he loves ATLiens, and I am a rather large fan of both artist pairs. We got autographs from both ATLiens, as well as both Yookie members, as the number of artists increased around us. We were now surrounded by some of the most talented DJs and we were all just hanging out! We eventually headed over to Canyon Stage and happened to be checking out backstage, just as ATLiens and Sullivan King walked up with Yookie. We made our way out to the front rail and got ready to close out the night with the next two sets, ATLiens and Sullivan King. My two favorites, what a way to end the day.
The final day of a festival is always the most bittersweet, because the experience you waited so long for, is almost over; but yet it was so amazing you don’t want to feel anything but joy. This is always the day I go hardest with trading Kandis. I set to work that morning and made 20 more bracelets to trade, (I had already traded the 40 I had made and brought from home, over the past few days) and got ready to go tackle the day. Once inside the venue, we grabbed smoothies and gyros from two different stands, both with minimal wait times. It is worth noting all the vendors were pretty quick the entire weekend, with small wait times, if any, and friendly service, every time. Everything we tried that weekend was delicious and priced fairly, considering the venue.
On day three, I got to shoot for PartyWithRay and UmDotDot, other than those two artists, we didn’t have anyone on the lineup that we desperately needed to see so we spent the day making friends and hanging out with the ones we came with. Spending the evening on the hill with our best friends, under the lasers, to multiple artists sets, and then finishing out the weekend with an Excision B2B Subtronics set, I couldn’t have asked for a better first Bass Canyon experience.
I left Bass Canyon, feeling so full of joy and PLUR, feeling so accepted and comfortable in my skin. Growing up that’s something I really lacked, a sense of community, a sense of belonging, just as I am. I always felt like I had too much energy or that I was an outsider in some way or another, but the rave community at Bass Canyon is truly one of the most openhearted and kind groups of people I have ever met, and I am so touched to have been welcomed in with open arms. Festivals are genuinely life-changing, and I will be recommending Bass Canyon to anyone and everyone who asks.