Featured Photo taken by: Erika Forsberg just after the rainstorm blessed our hot bodies.
Before I dive in to one of the most heart-warming experiences of my 25 years of existence, let me take you back to your childhood for a moment: It’s summertime, and the fireflies are out in abundance. Eight-year-old you is laying in the grass looking at the sky, when all of a sudden — SWOOSH! — you see your very first shooting star. You close your eyes, make some crazy wish, and then run inside to tell your parents the exciting news.
Fast forward to today: It’s dark outside, and the stars in Western Pennsylvania stretch farther than the eye can see. Right as you pull in to Cooper’s Lake, you witness a shooting star stretch across the sky, and you tell yourself “Happy Resin’Hits!” Ha-ha, did that make you laugh? It’s a phrase we kept hearing throughout the weekend at this year’s Resonance Music and Arts Festival, and it definitely kept us cackling away.
It was dark on Thursday when we arrived to Cooper’s Lake; however, the drive to West-Penn is beautiful, and I have come to accept that I will be fashionably late to festivals due to my desire to take in as much of the adventure as possible. Thankfully, Cooper’s Lake is designed to accommodate the late arrivals as best as possible, so our campsite was only a 10-minute walk to the main stage, and a 5-minute walk to the Deep Dub Dragon Stage (which featured very unique projection-mapping, mind you). Not only was this my first Resonance, but it was the first time Resonance took place at Cooper’s Lake – the new venue did NOT disappoint.
Let me be the first to tell ya that those Funktion-One Veros at the Main stage made every set at camp feel like a set in the venue. Yes, I literally mean that while chilling at my campsite I could hear the music as if I were on the rail. Talk about the clearest sound ever. I mean, I could literally be lounging in my half-blown up chill bean and hear every single note played by every single artists on that stage. Production level was definitely over 9000.
After we set up camp, and helped our neighbor Dave get his Prius get unstuck from a ditch, my boyfriend — Jimmy — and I made our way to the venue where Pigeons Playing Ping Pong was welcoming our bodies with bursting energy and happiness. We bobbed around the merch booths. buying trinkets, while giving away leather key-chains I made. Of course, we checked out some live painters, which were all PHENOMENAL by the way, and vibed to the sounds emanating from the speakers. I found myself lost in this moment as we scrambled around the venue. Everyone was so friendly, and the intimate size made it feel like a family gathering.
One of the major selling points to Resonance this year was SPOONBILL! I have been a big fan of his work for quite some time, but finding him on a festival line-up with all the homies is a rarity. Unfortunately, we got there too late to see that twilight set, but his uptempo set at the Dragon stage ended up being one of my favorite sets of the weekend. The stage is already built for a good time, considering it’s placed directly in front of a color-changing tree-line, contains live projection mapping, and let us not forget, Funktion Ones. Plus, the stage is in the shape of a castle with two dragons on top. . .when was the last time YOU hung out with two dragons?! Anywho, I found myself wookin’ around, wobblin’ about and making strange faces with my love, all the while making friends with strangers dressed in LED fur coats. (shoutout to you girls by the way, never got your names but you were really cool). All of a sudden, the man dropped “Coolabah” but added some extra scratch, and the crowd all started duck-bobbin’ in unison. He was much gnarlier than my anticipations lead me to believe, and he had this old-school Pretty Lights vibe about him that just cut deep to the soul.
A brief intermission at camp to “prepare for the wurst” (Jim and I’s way of saying “cook some bratwursts”), and refuel with straight vodka down the hatch before Papadosio. I had never been huge on jam-music prior to this festival, but seeing that OG Dosio set on that beautiful stage really inspired me to broaden my horizons. The crowd’s reaction to their sound was captivating, and the way the guitar and keys clashed together created such a beautiful picture. I found myself sippin’ my vodka-OJ with my love just swaying together back and forth feeling humbled to be a part of something so wonderful. A perfect way to end the first day.
I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned this, but I’m one of those festival goers that likes to shower throughout the weekend, and cold showers for $5 in 88-degree weather with 90% humidity is right up my alley. It was after this shower that we discovered the general store, or should I say “A Wook’s Wal-Mart” because this place has everything you could imagine. Literally, you could show up with nothing in your hands and buy it all there for reasonable prices. Top notch quality, and the nicest staff around.
I was born with red-head genes, and require lots of sunscreen and shade, so for the most part of the daytime at festivals, I like chillin’ at the campsite vibing with the neighbors and my man. The fact that I could hear every act at both the Main stage, and the Blossom stage from camp is a massive perk. We didn’t use a speaker at all this weekend because the live music was clearly heard from camp. Artists like Tauk, Twiddle, and The Polish Ambassador blared their lovely sounds into the air while I munched on food and hooped my little heart out.
I have to say that of the 4 Papadosio sets over the weekend — The Gorillaz tribute set was by far my favorite (I even added the Bandcamp link to it so you can check it out yourself). Growing up, I remember blasting The Gorillaz as loud as I could, singing my soul out into the hairbrush microphone, and Jimmy will confess that he did the same. We were munching on some protein bars and bananas as we heard those nostalgic songs from our middle and high-school years. It was during this moment I learned that my boyfriend knows almost the entire “Clint Eastwood” rap. Not to mention, the group of women that harmonized in “DARE‘ really shook our insides from the on-point note hitting. Live music never ceases to amaze me, but when there are a group of Soprano singers that hit every single note, I am truly swept off my feet. Of course, they threw in “Feel Good Inc.” and of course, I sang all the words. I swear, 13-year old me was so happy. I fell in love with Papadosio in a special kind of way that day.
Jimmy and I made sure we were well equipped for the upcoming Chris Karns set because we missed him at Tipper & Friends. For those unaware of who Chris Karns is, let me be the first to tell you to do some research, and listen to his mixing styles. Not only has he won multiple DJ awards for his scratch techniques, but his song selection is incredible. He even turns tables for the Pretty Lights Live Band, and we learned first-hand why that is. We spent the first half of his set getting funky beside the soundboard, and the second half watching fire performers. One thing I was not expecting was how funny Karns was going to be. He threw in some 1980’s rap layered with some dark dubby goodness, and the fluidity was so nice I found myself drooling. Again, when was the last time you got down with two dragons? (Shoutout to that dude who approached us during the set and asked that unforgettable question. You are a kind soul).
We decided to go watch some live painters before we got Tipped. We linked up with one of our friends we met at T&F — Bri — and wandered around a little bit taking in the art – I even scooped up a Grassroots hat. I traded one of my leather keychains for an original sketch of a shrimp from one of the live painters, and took that buddy back to camp so we can refuel before the big Tipping. We grabbed our lawn chairs and pashminas before heading back to the main stage for the uptempo Tipper set featuring Fractaled Visions on the visuals.
Before I go into the goodies Tipper delivered, let me state that every Tip set is different from the last. He’s got this way of making uptempo darkness and ambient lightness mix together in such a way that melts your insides and your outsides. I highly recommend you seek out a Tipper set if you’ve never had the opportunity to.
We were patiently waiting for the madness to start, gazing at stars and the people around us, when all of a sudden Jimmy put his hand on my knee and said, “Chrome Splat.” A little backstory on this song — it’s Jimmy’s favorite, and Tip had just opened with it. A set designed for my boyfriend from the very start. Plop…plop…plop…plop…squeak-noise…plop. Yeah, it goes like that. The broken-beats and hesitation he used in this opener truly took charge of the situation and forced us out of our chairs and onto our knees. I don’t think I have ever danced that weird before, but I looked around and everyone else seemed to be dancing in some weird way or another. Flailing my arms, stomping my feet, and roaring like a tiger, I was truly in some kind of element.
His transitions were unstoppable, and Fractaled Visions put on a 3D display of the artwork, created by Incedigris, of Tip’s newest album Jettison Mind Hatch which truly had the crowd applauding. He literally brought the album artwork to life. Tipper blessed us with a “Viscous VIP (scratchy-synth version),” “Bilirubin,” and I swear he teased “Usul” throughout the entire set. Most of the set comprised of a bunch of unreleased music, and some glitch-hop goodness of course. I kept watching Jimmy’s face light up as he said “This is my favorite Tipper set to date.” I must say that seeing him get down with a smile like that really iced the cake with some buttercream sweetness.
After Tipper, Jimmy and I walked back to camp trying to piece together what had just happened. I was trying to talk but the words weren’t coming out right when he looked at me and said, “I’m really glad we get moments like these together.” I smiled, kissed his cheek, and managed to get out the words “Chrome Splat.” He knew what I meant.
I woke up to a hot sun, and tasted the humid air through our tent. Cooked us some breakfast biscuits, drank up some coffee, and soon we made our way to the cold showers. The line was much longer today, but with the strong heat in the air, it was not surprising. Didn’t matter though because we were making friends with some people in the line. We met this chick named Crystal from Cincinnati and found out that she’s this outdoorsy girl that could literally speak to animals. No seriously, during the line for the shower this 4-foot black snake appeared (mind you there’s about 60 people around us), and I just froze. Crystal, who is about 5’3 115 pounds soaking wet, takes it among herself to snatch the black snake up by the head and just walk away toward the lake to let it go. I was stunned. What the heck did I just witness? She came back to her place in line to people applauding. She said, “I like snakes. It was just a rat snake. No big deal. I let him go by the water.” Jimmy and I were sitting there shaking from astonishment — it was quite the way to start the day.
There was talk all over the festival about this guy name Andy Frasco and let me tell you, I understand why after witnessing him live. We were just aimlessly walking around the lake when we hear this guy at the Cooper’s Cove stage jokingly sing: “1-2 Unbuckle my pants, for Uncle Sam is watching us through the Webcam. . .1-2 Buckle my Shoe…” he then proceeds to hit some whips on stage and the crowd erupted with laughter. Quite the character that Andy Frasco.
Back at camp with Twiddle in the background, and the air started to chill. There wasn’t a call for rain, but boy did the rain appear. Neither Jimmy nor myself have ever been caught in a storm at a festival, and we were both pretty buzzed, so this was a first. With canopies being blown down, and Dave’s tent flooding, it was quite the experience. The real storm appeared when our other neighbor stripped completely naked, ran as fast as he could between our tent and toward the treeline screaming “You come to Resonance to show some dong, and then you go about your day!” Yeah, that was an adventure to witness. Discouragement kind of started to set-in when we realized that the 3-hour run down of Tipper, Jade Cicada, and Detox Unit started in 20 minutes, and the rain was steadily coming down. I looked at Jimmy and said, “Whatever happens will happen for a reason; but boy am I just glad to be here with you.”
6:30p.m., and the sun peaked through the clouds as a sign that the storm was over. And what do ya know, a double-rainbow appeared right as Tipper started on the ambient “Journey” set. a HUGE shoutout to the crew at Resonance for pulling everything together so fast after a storm, and just pushing all the set times back 30 minutes. The rain makes the job so much harder, but you guys did an awesome job coming together so fast. With a sky painted pink and purple, we made our way to the main stage with our lawn chairs, and found a nice spot in the back to see it all. It’s really a special moment watching all the fam gather together after a rainstorm to celebrate the moment with music. I love a good uptempo Tipper set, but these ambient downtempos are my personal favorite. He fills in with the perfect amount of scratch, and transitions from song to song in such a melodic way. He gave us that lovely “C’est la Vie” with a “The Re-Up VIP,” and a big fact “Vection VIP.” I think one of the most memorable moments of this weekend was the moment we witnessed this random dad flying on a shop-fan projected lawnchair device with a hang-gliding parachute right through the middle of the crowd like a superhero. Right after a storm he came in with a WHOOSH, and flew off into the sunset. I guess he wanted to take a journey, and it did not go unnoticed.
Anyone that knows me can attest to the fact that I LOVE Jade Cicada! His neuro-bass and synth style really gets me going, and it had been quite some time since I had seen him live. What I was not expecting was the beautiful ambient set we were gifted. He brought the mind-melting Steven Haman to do live visuals for his performance, and he opened with “Lost Again,” so my heart was just so happy when those fluttering sounds of cicadas took over the Funktion One Veros. I love that all of my favorite artists don’t talk at all during their sets, but communicate with their crowds through the music they share. It just represents what music is to them: a language. Jade moved with such fluidity, and Haman’s visuals made a chemical reaction when combined with Jade’s sound. Cicada gave us this Soulja Boy mash-up that pulled me out of the chair to boogie like the weirdo I am. It was quite the treat. Jade Cicada constructed an all-out masterpiece for us in that field.
Bleeding into Detox Unit was really cool because you didn’t even know it happened. He brought Cullen Hassel to do his live visuals, and the deep liquid sound with the swirls Hassel projected created quite a beautiful mix. The entire performance was flawless, and he even mixed in a Missy Elliot song that took me back about a decade. He had the crowd moving together, and it was quite the experience to be a part of. These three hours really maximized the weekend, and I am still in awe of how blessed we were to expierce this “InsideOutside” takeover.
Jim and I bought some vegan noodles and linked up with Bri to groove to some Memba at the Barn. How I managed to eat these noodles, hold my stuff, dance, and not lose anything is beyond me. We strolled down to Cooper’s Cove where Supertask slowed it down for us with his sound. I don’t really know how to describe his music other than it will slow you down and cause a nice lean in your step to occur.
We went back to camp, and with everything still wet from the 100% humidity, we chilled and chilled hard. Drank some vodka, ate some food, drank some more vodka. We were beat to say the lest, but there was still one more act we wanted to see before the day was over — Tycho. I knew little about Tycho prior to this festival, but I was sure it was going to be a beautiful way to end the experience. I decided to bring the smarthoop out for this one and feel the flow state. Needless to say, I felt more than just the flow. Tycho brought out a surprise guest Saint Sinner to sing unreleased music live, and expressed that they had just finished a record together. Jimmy and I witnessed someone light a sky lantern and release it during this set, and it was very moving to witness. “To wish a long life and prosperity” is the meaning behind these sky lanterns, and I could not have picked a better set to release that off to. Whoever you are, thank you for that moment.
It was almost 3 a.m. when we turned in for the evening. We spent a few minutes under the stars again listening to the end of Tycho’s set coming from the main stage. We talked about our favorite moments together, and we realized that all of the moments together are our favorite. Jimmy and I take pleasure knowing that we can strengthen our partnership through these musical adventures.
We decided to spend the last day of the festival finding the perfect piece of art to decorate our apartment with. We had bought some stuff from vendors, but we wanted to drop some money on a memorable piece. One of the vendors there — Landon Fraker Art — caught our attention from the beginning. We made our way to the tent and spent about 20 minutes searching for the right piece. All the sudden I happened to look at the top of the left wall and spot two Epoxy Resin transfers of owls that color-contrasted one another. I pointed for Jimmy to look, and he said “which one?” I couldn’t pick one. So we got both. And I gave my last leather keychain to the artists — who by the way are super cool, and you should definitely check out their website because we bought prints from them too. The titles of the pieces are “Moonlit” and “Sunkissed“, and you can find them hanging on the first wall you reach as soon as you enter our apartment.
We left early Sunday feeling more satisfied and humbled than ever. Resonance truly created this sense of belonging, and I don’t know if I have ever been to a festival like it before. The attendance is small in size, but filled with love and acceptance across the board. I am still riding on the high that I acquired from Western Pennsylvania, and I’ll always wonder if that dude in the lawn chair device ever got in trouble for flying in during a Tipper set. 12/10 would recommend Resonance, and you’ll be seeing me there again next year.
Happy Resin’ Hits!