Laniakea Transformational Arts Festival

September 9-11, 2016, Hannon’s Camp America, College Corner, OH

By Joey Trent

Photos by Zachary Beecher of Life Through Lenses

Laniakea Transformational Arts Festival was nothing short of a family affair as music lovers from around Cincinnati and Oxford gathered at Hannon’s Camp America for the inaugural weekend of the event.  Taking the theme of a luau, Laniakea set forth to integrate community and art with a musical environment in a way that truly felt like home.   Music festival goers around the Ohio area are no strangers to the “transformational” side of festivals, but there was something about the intimate setting of Hanon’s that made the entire weekend feel special.

A small delay put off what would have been an early start for music on the first day, allowing everyone more time to get settled in and mingle with old friends.  After Eyeris Wide kicked everything off, the attention was soon turned towards The Jauntee, one of the weekend’s most anticipated bands.  Being one of the most jam heavy acts on the lineup, The Jauntee delivered with a fresh, releasing sound that helped build momentum for what would be a fantastic night of music.

Earphorik continued to set the tone with some of their experimental rock, then it was time for Strange Mechanics to take the stage for what was arguably the most energetic set of the entire night.  During their brief 60 minute set, the funk driven band from Cincinnati laid down some of the most impressive improvisation of the whole weekend, while still being very precise in their movements on stage.  Ending with a cover of Rick James’ “Mary Jane” was an especially entertaining way to finish the show.

The Magic Beans w/sg from The Jauntee

The night pressed on and the loose, intimate environment made for some fantastic jam exploration and the Magic Beans seemed to harness this aspect more than anyone throughout the weekend.  Though the Colorado band was definitely playing for a new fanbase, their free flowing energy was more than enough to provide for the perfect headlining act for Friday night.

The “Party Barn” served as an excellent space for visual artists to share their creative visions with all of the diverse dance music being played around them, especially for the late night events.  Being completely surrounded by an immersive art gallery in a music barn was a spectacle in itself, and  made for one of the best ways to lose yourself in the late hours of the night.  With acts like SIXIS and Spacelounger playing until 4 a.m. each night, this was the place to be until everyone finally started to wind down.

Spiritual Rez

Saturday night’s festivities felt just as energized, with Spiritual Rez’s natural ability to entrance the crowd.  Between the enthralling preacher-like banter of the lead vocalist and the progressive reggae sounds of the band, Rez turned the main stage back into a dance party in no time at all.

The anticipation was already built to an exciting degree, as Particle prepared for the night’s headlining set.  Their natural ability to captivate with shredding livetronica was enough to control the stage, but adding in Freekbass turned it into a certain kind of wild jamtronica dance party.  Watching Freekbass groove so fluidly with Particle was really a special treat, as the band gave way to an epic bass battle that seemed as if it could have lasted the entire night.

What really made Laniakea an event the every single person could connect to was the workshops.  From early morning Qi Gong, to deep open ended discussion sessions, there was something to be explored for everyone at the workshop dome throughout the whole weekend.   And while there was plenty of music and things to discover at Hannon’s throughout the weekend, Laniakea found its magic in the small details that added up to make it a different kind of connected experience.   Whether it was through participating in one of the many workshops, or just passing time with others in the barn, everyone really helped to make this the one of a kind event it was intended to be.