July 29th-31st, 2016 ~ Page Farm, Croydon, NH
Written by Kaitlyn Stocker
Photos by Kelly B. Strunk
Six days ago, I arrived at Page Farm and set up camp before my first ever Wild Woods experience. We arrived Thursday evening, before the official start of the festival, and after we got our gear in order I set out to peruse the grounds. I was immediately struck by the three intricate, artfully crafted stages set in the middle of a forest glade. Each stage was graced with beautiful woodwork designed by The Reliquarium. They almost seemed like wooden cuckoo clocks from which bands might emerge to emit music into the festival night. I retired to my tent that night nearly trembling with anticipation of the festival ahead of me.
I was not disappointed. In fact, I was blown away by just about every aspect of the festival. There was not a musical act that I didn’t enjoy. The stages, which held such an earthy beauty in the daytime, transformed into luminous visual storms of lights and lasers at night.
The shift into the strange and wild nighttime at Wild Woods was smooth and absolute. The first night, Of the Trees came on just after sunset, and with his ethereal and throbbing beats came the first luscious taste of the other worldly wonder that were the Wild Woods stages at night. And I, of course, found myself wandering into the thick of the crowd, and letting the music move me as it wished. The crowd was as open and weird as you expect to find at a festival of this sort, and I found myself easily dancing and interacting with my fellow festival goers as though we had met long before that night, in the midst of that pulsing crowd.
Towards the end of Of the Trees’s set, the music stopped and Tyler Coombs called one of his friends on the stage. Right then, a truly beautiful festival moment occurred: that friend proposed to his girlfriend on stage at Wild Woods, and when the music resumed, he rejoined the crowd with his fiancé.
The daytime hours of the first two days of the festival were hot enough to discourage all but the most determined dancers, so the festival was scattered with groups of friends sitting on blankets and soaking in the psychedelic sound waves drifting towards them. I found myself inspired and moved by the quality of music, the beauty of the crowd, and the welcoming atmosphere around me, and ended up stirred into writing scattered lines of poetry in my journal. Here’s a snippet I feel captures the mood of the late festival afternoon:
“Life force bleeds plenty
into an atmosphere of sound
and sweating bodies scattered before
the cuckoo clock, music box
where the sound weavers stand
coalescing and dripping wet
with psychedelic imaginations of melody.
This is the river where we dreamers
come to be reborn.
Dirty loyal rebels with hearts
as large as harvest moons, or setting suns
over forest glades.
Come now, child, the time for dancing is upon us.
Swim with me deeper into these strange waters.
Let the waves pull you under,
farther still into the electric night
Howl with me your melody
Melt with all your might
We are nothing
if not made of light.”
The second night of the festival, RAQ ascended the stage at that crucial post-sunset time slot and quickly stole my attention and heart. I had never seen RAQ live before, and I was absolutely blown away by the precision and raw power of the jams they sent out into the crowd. Without a doubt, RAQ was my favorite set of the weekend. Though I thoroughly enjoyed my three helpings of The Breakfast, and the three headliners (Tauk, Turquaz, and Ott) all met and exceeded my steep expectations, I found myself the most absorbed by RAQ’s psychedelic and full-powered jam set. My face didn’t melt, my entire body did. My jaw slithered off its hinges and hit the ground as they power washed me with sound. I must say, I will jump at any chance I get to see these guys live again.
Throughout this overpowering musical joyride, live performers and artists added an extra element of intrigue and inspiration. There were jugglers, fire performers, hoopers, and interactive art pieces that were stunningly skillful, unique, and undeniably entertaining. An interactive painting by Pat Anglin of Because of the Lotus set up next to the main stage stood out in particular. The painting, during the day (pictured below), was an intriguing exploration of the human experience. At night, however, it became something strange and magical when VJ Silent Stream used cameras and some seriously cool computer editing to project a continuously shifting image on top of the already awesome painting. Walking towards the painting the first night, I wasn’t sure exactly what I was looking at. Then, I slowly realized that it was myself and my fellow festival goers that were distorted and projected over the painting. It became an amazingly fun and strange mirror to play with. I grabbed my LED hoop and had a blast watching my dancing transformed into melting and shifting trails of light projected onto the painting.
The last day and night of the festival, rain fell fairly constantly. Though it was disappointing to come back to a damp tent, and to sleep on a damp sleeping mat, my mood couldn’t be too dampened by the rain. It was cool enough to dance during the day. The accumulated dirt of three nights of camping and festival going were washed from my body. I was dancing to Turquaz with some of my best friends. I was on the tail end of a weekend I doubt I will forget any time soon. How could I complain?
And, despite the 8.5 hour drive, I expect to be back next year. Thanks for an amazing weekend, Wild Woods!