Lucidity Festival – How to Fuck Up a Festival [Photos & Review]

Posted: May 3, 2012 by Esteban in Events - On the Town, Loud Music, WTF


In the heart of the luscious Santa Barbara foothills, bass reverberates through fields of mud, creating a sticky, grime glazed dance floor embraced by all. Ran simultaneously with the first weekend of Coachella, it feels like a majority of would-be Lucidity denizens were absent. Although stacking the two events side by side is akin to comparing film and theater, committed attendees at either event were blissfully oblivious to music outside the confides of their event of choice. (See our Coachella Live Review coming soon!) Still, you think that would be something to factor in while planning a 3 day event. Pooling the resources of several similar neighboring communities – notably Grateful, Elevate, Enclave, Walkabout Woods, Dirty Beetles, and far too many more to list – creative minds converge as Lucidity takes on a unique shape during the weekend’s progression.

In the sunny state of California, April signifies the beginning of outdoor concert season; a harmonious time on the west coast where doobies are smoked, boobies are displayed, and coodies run rampant.  Still, even the best made festivals of mice and men are at the mercy of Mother Nature, whom decided to put a damper on the this lucid wet dream with heavy rainfall and chilling winds all throughout Friday. As a result, many of the stages and camps were not complete until the late evening and a majority of the daytime performances and workshops did not occur.  In addition, the bulk of workshops advertised in the schedule didn’t happen due to any number of complications.

This being the very first, and likely last, Lucidity Festival, the production crew gets a little leeway with slight oversights. Now, when you’re announcing on the main stage that you fucked up and are behind schedule, as if it weren’t obvious to everyone in attendance as well as their rain soaked clothes, the last thing you want to do is put the festival patrons to work.

“Great. I paid nearly three hundred fucking dollars to help shovel truckloads of mulch over a muddy dance floor.” One motionless dancer tells me, who is upset that Lucidity made no attempt to refund attendees.

Trekking through thick mud made traversing stages an ordeal – the complete and utter darkness on any given path between the stages after the sun went down did not help either. Not deterred by the shitty weather, the bundled up dancers made the best of the evening, and as the old adage goes, the show must go on… eventually.

The art on display was breath taking. Pieces from the elaborately detailed to abstract psychedelia graced the gallery, which people found a more practical use for by taking shelter in from the rain. Thankfully, artists provided a solitary redeeming quality to the weekend. Also, as in most situations, lots of alcohol helps. As far as festivals with crazy as fuck on acid art structures, sculptures, and intangible miscellany “art”, there wasn’t a ton of fixtures to experience.

When they were finally ready to perform, the music was a single saving grace for Lucidity. Too bad the videography was being operated by a hook-handed, eye-patch toting, scurvy inflamed blind pirate. When visuals continued cutting in and out of colored lights and pseudo-psychedelic patterns to a blue laptop screen, over and over again, it tends to distract from the performance – even for the performers.

One of the very first performers on the finally erected and soaking wet main stage was Mihkal, whose unique hip-hop influenced electronic dance music is topped only by his beat box ability. By using a series of filter “tubes” attached to his utility belt, Mihkal is able to record accapella loops, control the reverb, echo, distortion, and bass until the final product is a beat incapable of being duplicated by any music producer.

Thriftworks played a set atypical to the rest of the Lucidity fare. His very down tempo music consists of a tapestry woven from chill and ethereal ambient sounds. “Thank you for getting all slow and molasses-like with me.” He gratefully announces before leaving the stage.

Like a hot, new actress on her 18th birthday, but without the dirty knees, Love and Light are surging in popularity, working their way up the musical ladder. With the advent of “acid crunk”, as the two fondly refer to it, the last few years has seen the two long time friends and music producers performing at clubs and festivals all over the country. Although only ½ of the duo made it to Lucidity, that was more than plenty to whip the crowd into a booty thumpin’ frenzy.

Thoguh Lucidity claimed that there was no official “headliners”, everyone who bought a ticket confessed to being there solely to see David Starfire (post comprehensive workshop cancelations). Starfire’s world influenced electronic dance music is derived primarily from the heavy bass manipulation he toys with as well as his electronic drum pad. Apparently a recipe for success, as hundreds of shivering fans would attest.

Saturday saw fewer noteworthy musical performances, but nearly decent weather. Heyoka wrapped up the evening on the main stage. Other Lucidity performers which quickly cultivated large crowds around the main stage include Random Rab, Gladkil, and of course Auditory Canvas, all of whom we are presently featuring free music downloads from on our #DailyDownload page.

By Sunday, the sun had decided it was time to make a guest appearance. By then, however, the once pristine camp grounds had been transformed into a literal wasteland. Some structures still had not been erected while overflowing restrooms were all roped off, spilling forth filth. The free water Lucidity boasted became busted along with the alkaline water machines, forcing patrons into dehydration or poverty with the only other liquid being the $7 a cup juice, tea, and coffee. If you were thinking, “Well, good for those vendors!”, think again – both vendors and performers had to not only buy their own tickets, but pay a percentile of their earnings toward the production. Conjuring up the image of a suit and top-hat clad monopoly-esque man gripping a fat sack with dollar signs on it, I really hope that someone made a lot of money from this whole experience; that way I can sleep soundly knowing it was a blatant hustle and not just a terrible attempt at throwing a festival.

Maybe we live entertainment junkies have been spoiled, maybe we as, an attention deficient generation, have become jaded and ungrateful, or maybe the bar for quality, or even acceptable, festivals has been raised. After years of in-your-face light shows capable of making your eyes roll into the back of your head (Without drugs, no less!), sounds systems set up in the most remote locations that are still capable of destroying your hearing (in a good way!), and a team of competent staff who can realize that at some point the port-o-potties will need to be fucking cleaned, I don’t expect perfection, but I would very much appreciate going to a weekend festival and not getting relentlessly raped in the ass for three days straight while being threatened with the social stigma of being “ungrateful”. In the end, that’s all I really want – not to get raped.


  1. John Sinclair says:

    WOW, you couldn’t have missed the point and beauty of this gathering any more than you did.. Its amazing that you seem to be someone who has been to a lot of these things because your perspective and experience was so superficial and frankly blind.

    Yes, there were technical difficulties due to the weather and the fact that it was their first fest. But NO ONE I encountered there had a bad time or let it ruin their weekend. What a left-brained, disconnected view of what occurred! I feel bad for you because you probably bitch about and don’t enjoy life in general the way you did here.

    The greatness of the event was NOT in the musical performances or production, or lack thereof. It was in the community and incredible vibe that came together! While you were whining about wet clothes and no free water, those of us that brought rain gear and our own water were having a ball.

    And save your negativity for Coachella reviews and custie bullshit!

  2. Rhymo says:

    A few corrections/clarifications if you don’t mind:

    *Shoveling mulch: While on site we ordered many thousands of dollars of mulch, which directly cut in to the paychecks of the festival producers, and had them delivered to areas in order of necessity (roads to first aid, roads in and out of the festival, roads to camping, then the dance floor, then non-essential roads). When the truck of mulch arrived at the main stage, a bunch of festival goers rejoiced and spontaneously joined in. Also, nobody paid $300 to go to Lucidity, you could nearly buy 4 tickets for that price, I think we did a good job keeping prices low to make Lucidity an affordable alternative to other large scale music festivals.

    *Vendors did not pay a percentage to us, and they did really well as a whole. We definitely didn’t have enough food/drink vendors though. We erred on the side of having too few, so that they were individually profitable… we obviously underestimated the demand, need a lot more next time around.

    *We had pump trucks on site every day, at times multiple times per day, for the portapotties. The weather corroded the roads so much that Marborg deemed some of the out of the way portapotties too risky to try to get to, they were worried about getting stuck. Our solution was to close off some portapotties, and service the remaining portapotties more frequently. At times, festival goers picked the locks and reopened the full portapotties which is probably what you saw. Next time we’ll have more portapotties in easily-serviceable spots and use padlocks instead of the built in screw locks that can be unlocked with a knife/screwdriver.

    Thanks for the honest review! We worked hard on the music and art so I’m glad you liked it. Many lessons learned in infrastructure but I think we did a pretty good job reacting to mother nature in whatever ways we could. Hopefully next year we’ll get the kinks worked out.

    Music Coordinator for Lucidity
    Producer/PR for Synaptic Productions

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