“Sacred, Sexy, Silly & Saucy” — Enchanted Forest Gathering 2016

Enchanted Forest Gathering

It was a dusty hot mid-July day in Laytonville, California. Driving up Highway 101, I finally came across a “Special Event” sign and cones leading me directly off the road and into the Will Call area. Taking my car down the short dirt road, I was greeted by smiling faces welcoming me into the 6th Annual Enchanted Forest Gathering.  While the venue was strikingly close to the passing cars on the 101, this interactive and beautifully designed festival nestled among the redwoods transported attendees to a dreamy, distant place.

EFG_05Held at Black Oak Ranch, the intimate space, with short walking distances between all attractions and camping, was occupied by just the right number of festival goers, estimated at 2000. Music on the Mighty Oak (the main stage) was just getting going on this gorgeous Friday afternoon. Wandering around the festival grounds, I instantly became relaxed and grounded by the surrounding natural beauty, while my excitement grew. Almost immediately this festival began to feel like one big family gathering, with the sight of friends meeting, reuniting, and embracing.

EFG_04The get down commenced at the Mighty Oak just before sundown. I was able to make it there just in time for a beautiful set from CloZee. As an accomplished instrumentalist, who started playing guitar at the age of 11, this talented young producer opened the festival perfectly with her smooth blend of melodic world-bass music, written from her home in Toulouse, France. I caught up with her later that night for an interview (coming soon), just before she took off to catch a plane. As the breeze picked up and the sun dipped below the surrounding hills, smiles swept across the crowd and the weekend was off to a great start.

After a tasty meal with close friends at the charming food court, we were off to catch some bass with PANTyRAiD on the main stage. The production duo (MartyParty & Ooah) started with some brand new tracks off of their freshly released album, After Glow. Their signature low-end heavy style got the crowd hyped nicely. However, what stole our attention was the gorgeous and intricate lighting and visual designs by Audiowaska and PhotonicBliss.

EFG_06As great as that was, the biggest stand-out of Friday night was not the sights and sounds at the Mighty Oak, it was our experience late night at the Nectar Temple. From the outside, this giant red draping tent structure appeared much like any chill space you would find at a similar festival. Passing by, however, the glow and hypnotic sounds peaked our curiosity as we found ourselves being sucked in. Lying down on the provided cushions and pillows, we were treated for the rest of the night to the innovative and enchanting music of DanceHer. Layering live instrumentation, including vocals, keyboard, didgeridoo, and pan-flute, ancient sounds bounced around the surrounding speakers, panning from corner to corner in a dynamic 4-channel technique. Mesmerizing visuals danced above us as a vocalist hopped on the microphone and surprised all with a robust chanting of ghostly opera-style melodies. Eyes wide at first, and then slowly closing, I’d found the perfect bedtime spot for the rest of the weekend, even with my own tent only 20 feet away.

EFG_10Awoken by the blazing sun on Saturday morning, it was time to hit the water. The Swimmin’-Hole stage was setup beside the running creek, featured shady awnings to dance under, and boasted the second biggest sound system at the festival, washing the surrounding camp areas in pleasant daytime tunes. The cold water surrounded by redwoods was so refreshing; I waded and swam for at least a couple hours before drying off on the dance floor.

EFG_09Late afternoon was a big highlight when SOOHAN took over the Swimmin’ Hole. The whole river area was packed, with people crammed under the awnings and large merry groups dotting the perimeter. In the center of the clearing, just outside the large crowd, flow-folk danced with their array of hoops, poi and staves, of which I was compelled to join. SOOHAN finished his set off with a remix of System of a Down’s track, B.Y.O.B., which brought huge, nostalgic smiles to many faces.

EFG_02Workshops were a huge part of this festival, with over 50 movement-orientated classes in yoga, dance, flow arts, and physical connection, held at 4 locations: the Namastage, the Dance Temple, the Flow Zone and the Yoga Dome. Many other talks and classes were given by world renowned instructors at five separate locations, each specializing in one area of content, from areas such as science, spirituality, relationships, permaculture, nutrition, and arts. After catching an informative and entertaining talk, by Eric Purp-Heal, on “sustainable raging”, I was inspired to get some rest before going out for the night.

jacob avanzato-enchanted forest gathering-3431-X3As my friends and I stomped into the main stage area with our glowing flow toys, like a pack of super heroes, Saturday Night started started off with a bang. Pumping through the crisp Funktion-One sound system was the funky, galactic glitch-hop of NOMINUS. Accompanied by the bright, futuristic lighting, the whole stage painted a very electric theme, as bodies bounced and eyes lit up. I even caught some guy with a futuristic get-up, wielding a pair of staves that looked like lightning bolts, adding to the charged atmosphere. Next, we headed to the Dr. Bronner’s themed Saucy Spa stage—an enclosed area that featured a ‘human car wash’ during the day, as well as a bumpin’ dancefloor and a chill zone at night. Friends boogied with huge grins to dirty bass beats from ONHELL and DJ Professor Stone as I met some amazing people and conversed on a 30 foot long glowing waterbed. Finally, it was back to the Nectar Temple to once again be lulled to sleep.

After greeting the Sunday Morning with a Kundalini Yoga class, I encouraged friends to venture to the far reaches of the car-camping lot where I’d heard about a renegade stage. This spot turned out to be the secret gem of the festival. A surprisingly large wooden stage decked out with a PK sound system stood tall beside the creek. The water behind the stage was the cleanest and deepest anywhere in the festival grounds. We marveled at the small fish sliding by our feet and swam around to the deep bass sounds that were heard loud and clear nearby.

EFG_01Later on, passing by the Live Lounge, a stage for acoustic performers, I was stopped dead in my tracks and drawn in to take a seat to watch Elijah Ray belt uplifting original songs, while he looped his acoustic guitar. A trumpeter joined him on stage, and together they had the whole audience smiling and grooving as a late afternoon breeze brought some relief during the hottest day of the weekend.

One of my final favorite sets of the weekend was during the last sunset on the main stage. Morillo’s eclectic bass music took us around the globe with remixes and originals ranging from jazzy salsa tracks to big, bassy ‘Roman Empire Trap’.

EFG_07It wasn’t until very late Sunday night that I felt the full ambiance of the enchanted forest. Music had stopped around midnight (besides the Silent Disco) leaving the space calm and quiet. Strolling around the glowing woods, temperatures had dropped significantly, so I decided to stop by a tea lounge that I’d passed earlier. The softly lit lounge turned out to be the perfect cozy spot to warm up as I was served a tasty brew and received a palm reading. Exiting the tea lounge and heading back to my tent, I couldn’t help but feel like I’d been transported to a far away fantasy land.


All in all, this was an extremely pleasing experience for my first time at EFG and I look forward to returning next year. I highly recommend it to anyone looking for an intimate gathering with solid production, a plethora of activities, and a killer music line-up. For a festival that bills itself as “sacred, sexy, silly, and saucy”, Enchanted Forest Gathering certainly lived up to its name.

More Information
Enchanted Forest: Website | Facebook | Event Page | Twitter | Instagram | Vimeo

Many of the photos in the article are courtesy of Jacob Avanzato



Electric Adventures at HARD Summer ’16

Summer’s in LA thrive with everything from evening concerts on the beach to the weekend festivals. For nine years now, HARD Summer has been putting on one of the most well known and loved EDM, and hip-hop, raves of the summer. Lucky for me, I had the opportunity to attend the festival as I have been spending my summer down south in the Los Angeles heat.

On the last weekend of July, I drove over to the Auto Club Speedway in Southern California, where I made a rather quick entrance with VIP parking (which I highly recommend!). The layout of the festival was so large it took me quite a while to figure it out. My favorite stage was hands down the HARDER stage which had some of the audience on the slanted race track and the back half of the audience sitting in the stands (which was a good dancing break without taking a music break).

I stared my adventures on Saturday with Drezo at the HARD Stage followed by the surprising Rezz at the HARDER Stage. Rezz surprised me because I had never heard of her before and she was one of my favorites of the weekend with her grinding, almost punk-rock electronic set. Hip-hop artist Anderson .Paak followed not long after and smashed it on the drums with his band The Free Nationals.

Anderson .Paak and The Free Nationals at the HARDER Stage

The night closed off with Ice Cube who represented his N.W.A crew and kept the crowd bouncing with his classics. The last to go on were duo J2K and Autobot who are well known in the trap music community as Flosstradamus.

Sunday started with Slumberjack who is well known for his remix of What So Not’s “Touched”. Going into the night, Zeds Dead brought out dj Twin Shadow. Following, Dillon Francis started his set with a remix of the Pokemon theme song and then proceeded to stay true to his Moombahton style and keep the audience dancing all through his set. The last and by far my favorite set of the night was Porter Robinson who has been on my list of people I need to see for years now. He did not fail. Porter’s anime influenced visuals and unexpected tempo changes were carefully planned out and perfectly executed! I left the weekend with a huge smile on my face and ready to see what else HARD has planned next.

Keep track of the next HARD event or view the photos from past HARD events with the links below. Cheers!

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Dance to the Radio: Moving Units play the songs of Joy Division

This past Tuesday night at the Catalyst here in Santa Cruz was one filled with dimmed stage lights and dark clothing as seasoned LA-based post punk band Moving Units payed their tribute to the Joy Division. The band have not been shy talking about the tour on social media and the hype was building since the tour date pop-up on the Catalyst’s concert calendar. Needless to say the crowd that night was dancing and singing along to every Joy Division and Moving Units song played.

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This summer in SoCal, HARD Summer is near

Ice Cube, Flosstradamus, Porter Robinson, Anderson .Paak, Major Lazer, Dillon Francis, Zeds Dead, Boys Noize and more this July 30th and 31st

HARD Summer in the Auto Club Speedway in Southern California will feature Ice Cube and Major Lazer this July 30th and 31st. The premier festival has made a name for itself in Los Angeles as every summer it attracts the best names in Hip Hop and Electronica. This year’s hip hop artists include artist Anderson .Paak & The Free Nationals who made an appearance at UCSC’s very own quarry with a free show last year. Dillon Francis, who has made numerous appearances at our very own Catalyst Club and on our OPERS Field a few years back, will be performing on Sunday and closing off the night second to Major Lazer.

HARD Summer is back with another year of their creative and funny festival trailers! Check it out and view ticketing information and the full line up below.

More information about HARD Summer can be found here:
WebstieFacebook | Twitter | Instagram | Soundcloud | Tickets

Full Line Up:



Getting Ready for NorCal’s Enchanted Forest Gathering July 22-24

This July Move, Groove & Shake Some Booty in Laytonville, CA with KZSC – NorCal’s Enchanted Forest Gathering’s Yoga, Movement & Flow Arts Lineup is Here!

Laytonville, CAAmidst majestic oak trees in the sprawling fairy tale forest of the legendary Black Oak Ranch, the 6th annual celebrated Enchanted Forest Gathering touches down July 22-24, 2016 in Laytonville, CA for an inspirational weekend of conscious living, globally-renowned music and premiere yoga, flow arts and movement. Honoring a key facet of the festival, Enchanted Forest Gathering is ecstatic to reveal the lineup for its yoga, movement and flow art zones showcasing 25+ yoga offerings and three days of flow arts and dance workshops designed to explore the realms of self-expression. Adding to the essence of the festival, Enchanted Forest Gathering 2016 will also feature 70+ musical acts, including heavy bass headliners Shpongle, The Polish Ambassador, and PANTyRAiD, and live music legends such as Hamsa Lila and Ayla Nereo.

Dive deeper into elements that make Enchanted Forest Gathering truly enchanted with the fanciful 2016 Movement Teaser Video, which showcases just a few of the many offerings at this year’s gathering.


Taking strides to ensure Black Oak Ranch remains an enchanted land for years to come, Enchanted Forest Gathering has implemented numerous green initiatives including the widespread use of solar power, plentiful recycling receptacles, composting, and a renewable dish program, and has reusable utensils available for purchase. Purchase a ceramic tea cup at the Tea Zone and receive free tea throughout the course of the gathering — $5 well worth it!

Rounding out the list of marvels to discover at the festival are over 60 educational workshops and forums covering subjects around relationships and sexuality, science and spirituality, permaculture and ancestral arts, as well as health, wellness, nutrition and nourishment. Also nestled in the forest is an interactive Kids’ Village with professional day care services, and an array of playful micro-environments to find magical moments such as the Crystal Dome, Nectar Temple, Tea Lounge, Comedy Stage, and Visionary Art Gallery. Placing a heightened focus on maximizing participant comfort in as many areas as possible, Enchanted Forest Gathering boasts a healing sanctuary, dance floors made of foam, shade and chill zones provided for every stage with Kombucha on tap, trees providing natural shade for camping, delicious and healthy food vendors, and artisan merchants. Splash around in refreshing watering holes, meditate around the sacred fire circle, and relax in the natural splendor and beauty of Mendocino County.

Go here for ticket information and be sure to read about the event eameneties and camping options!

Stay Connected with Enchanted Forest Gathering:
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Wakin on a Pretty Day with Kurt Vile

Kurt Vile is almost a little too “hip” to be extremely outgoing during a performance, but that’s why we love him, right? To quote one of my new friends from Alabama whom I met at Bonnaroo Music Festival, “Kurt seemed more jazzed at the Ween show than during his own performance”. (Ween is an alternative rock band with a huge cult following and they performed after Kurt Vile’s set.) Seeing Kurt Vile and the Violators was a complete contrast to when a musician “creates energy for the crowd”. It was more like a casual conversation, the interaction between the crowd and the musician became one of an intimate setting, even though Vile was performing in front of hundreds if not thousands of people. I enjoyed seeing a musician who didn’t need to work so hard to interact with the crowd in such an “energetic way”. He went on stage, sang beautifully, and didn’t perform with an over exaggerated stage presence. He was actually quite shy, but in a way that made you feel like you could relate with him. It was like he was saying “hey, I know what it’s like to not want to act in an extroverted way, and I know that’s not your personality”. That’s exactly it, Kurt Vile doesn’t act like he has an outgoing stage personality when he knows he just doesn’t have that type of attitude.


The reason I can shed some light on Kurt Vile’s personality is because I was actually able to meet him inside the press tent at the festival before his show came on. He answered questions in a timid, introverted manner. He walked about the press tent with a cool, mellow look to his face, with his curly long locks hanging down the graphic on his t-shirt. When I asked him to do a station ID for KZSC, he looked at me and said in his soft, cool voice, “Hey KZSC Santa Cruz, this is Kurt Vile, Sup’” (Shortened for What’s Up, I assume) . It was magnificent, simple, and he didn’t need anymore words to make the station ID perfect for KZSC.


During the performance of Kurt Vile and the Violators they played a number of hits off his new album B’lieve I’m Goin Down, including “Pretty Pimpin’” and “All in a Daze Work”, as well as a few others. They also delved into some older songs of Vile’s, including “Wakin’ on a Pretty Day”, which is from his album Wakin on a Pretty Daze. Kurt Vile sang in a slow, mellow, dreamy voice. He played guitar while his band supported him with beach-like rhythms that made you feel as though you were hanging out on his couch in Los Angeles on a sunny afternoon. (Which it was reported that he wanted his records to sound relaxed, like he recorded them sitting on his couch in his house.) His melodies were intricately presented, and his voice made you feel comfortable. He made the audience feel at ease and wanting to dance, and sway, because of his personality, his brevity of speech, and his way of maneuvering the stage in a relaxed manner.

I recommend going to see Kurt Vile and the Violators on August 11th in Santa Cruz, at The Catalyst! If you want a good time, and if you want to feel like you’re on some mellow vacation in a small beach town in California. (Which you probably are on vacation if you are in Santa Cruz at this time.) Go enjoy the show and see what Kurt Vile is all about!