An eclectic and driven fusion of neo-archaic tribal earthiness and otherworldly futuristic electronic sensory overload, Rootwire Transformational Arts Festival fully lived up to its name. Reaching back to our grounded and well-rooted tribal past in communion with Mother Earth, alongside our technologically expanding wired future; this festival seemed to span eons in all directions, creating a timeless space that was rooted in the past, wired for the future, but so comfortably right here in the present moment. So many festivals can fall too much to one side of the spectrum, losing their grip on where we have come from or where we are destined to go. Rootwire did not have this problem, as it brought back something to the festival scene that it very much needs growing into this next decade: balance. Not too much, not too little, always mindful, but righteously getting the funk down; this was Rootwire 2018. When we go to a festival, we are choosing to encapsulate ourselves within something. We are choosing to give ourselves over and fully commune with this little node, this bubble, this temporary autonomous zone. You are what you eat, and at these music gatherings, we eat not only with our mouths, but with our eyes, our ears, our minds, our hearts, and the full radical spectrum of our untethered senses. Since our entire personal reality is a feedback-loop between our awareness and what it is “aware-ing,” what we take in, what we “choose to eat” with our senses, has a direct influence on our experience, and therein our output. That’s why it’s so important, especially at these festivals where we are so trusting in opening ourselves up to fully absorb into the scene around us, that set and setting must be purposefully manicured in such a way that is conducive to a loving, connecting, safe, intentional, ecstatic whimsy. I can fully say that Rootwire 2018 took this notion and ran with it in all favorable directions, manifesting what in retrospect very much feels like a utopian dreamscape, or at the very least, a three day experiment in calling down a fresher, more joyful, euphoric, imaginative, collective way of being.
Hidden Gems off the beaten path in the event grounds
The Wisteria Campgrounds themselves posed such a magnificent setting and backdrop for the event, ornamented with bright green grass, rolling hills, simple pathways and plenty of shade. The event staff were all as humble, helpful, and down-to-earth as you could possibly imagine. I have never been to a festival where the staff felt as much part of the experience, and they all really added to the fun at every moment. They were always there to lend a hand, crack a joke, or offer you a ride on their cart for a free express trip back to camp or up to the stage. On top of this, there were none of those hidden fees you always end up running into at festivals. Once you paid for your ticket, there were no extra fees for camping, unless of course you wanted to upgrade to camp-with-your-car, which was totally worth it to be closer to the venue and camping in the shade of the beautiful foliage. There were none of those pesky untold of parking passes that you don’t hear about until driving into a festival, and even reiki, massage, and other offerings at the Healing Tent were 100% free of charge the entire weekend. The well-advertised pre-party, hosted by Yheti and Toadface, was beyond worth it for the small price, giving everyone an entire extra day of getting groovy.
Metanoia Art vibes
The weather over the weekend was absolutely gorgeous, as the sun shone brightly amongst rolling storybook clouds, intermittently adorned with some sprinklings and spatterings of light rain, which pleasantly cooled down the toasty scene rather than completely perforating it. Once the sun set and the comfortably cool, dark nighttime swathed over our little forest basin in the Appalachian foothills, hundreds of fireflies decorated the tree line which encircled the festival grounds. This bejeweled twinkling further enchanted what was already a magical scene, a wink from Mother Nature, that some of the most potent beauty is natural, unplanned, and without effort. Further illuminating the breathtaking natural setting, there were designated trails in the woods for hiking and exploration, alongside a phosphorescent cornucopia of interactive art exhibits. A glowing altar wrapped inside of a giant birds nest posed a comfortable and rejuvenating knoll under the shade of the forest canopy, while hypnotically radiant pieces by Metanoia shimmered away nightly near the Wired Tent. All of this while astrologers offered views of the cosmos and the passing International Space Station through high-powered telescopes, which stood directly adjacent from the twisting meditative art-journey entitled The Labyrinth. All of these engaging exhibits, conscious vendors, and visual artists were intermingled with the venue’s stages, keeping the event unified in an interconnected flow.
One of the main things I cannot stress enough is how well curated Rootwire was. Outside of having a powerful, diverse, and whimsically mesmerizing lineup, you could tell they put unimaginable effort into making sure there was a specific flow to the vibration changes between acts, along with a smooth holistic representation of each day’s complete visceral journey. Rootwire truly had their finger on the pulse of the festival, understanding and giving mindful credence to the subtle nuances of each specific workshop, art installation, and musical act. They spent the time figuring out where best each act would fit in to create the most graceful and fluid collective masterpiece within each festival day, which were respectively hosted by MBFP, Jumpsuit Records, and Cumulus Entertainment. The entire event came together like perfectly fitted puzzle pieces, or a succinctly balanced and harmonious roller-coaster track; one that was as innately exciting and driven, as it was thoughtful, fulfilling and cohesive.
The hypnotic transcendence of the "Rooted Stage"
In a festival scene so overrun by such similar artists and sounds, it was a breath of fresh air to hear crisp new threads of inspiration running through the Wisteria event grounds all weekend. The diverse and eclectic musical lineup brilliantly showcased how utterly enthralling and uniquely encapsulating each individual act was. One of the big standouts was Friday’s Jumpsuit Records Showcase, where each of the artists performed with their solo-acts throughout the day, culminating together come nighttime into the floaty introspection of Wildlight and the funky fusion of The Polish Ambassador’s live band The Diplomatic Scandal. These dripping ethereal beats gave us all a comfortable and balanced sonic backdrop to explore the inner workings of our consciousness, sharing in an increasingly sacred space as the evening progressed.
The steady intuitive flow was not simply limited to the musical acts, as the daytime hours offered a well-curated smorgasbord of workshops built around various aspects of the human experience, using wisdom from numerous spiritual lineages and esoteric traditions. There is something so special about waking up in the morning on the final day of the festival, strolling over to the vast expanse of the intentionally manicured stone circle, and participating in a vibration-raising, bond-building, energy-gifting ceremony while being smudged by famous medium and intuitive, Julie North. The neo-tribal aspect of the event really surged forth in shared activities like these, keeping us all off of our phones, looking into each other’s eyes, and engaging fully in the present moment, which in today’s world is a deep revolutionary act. Rootwire gave complete and proper spacious credence to the weekend’s workshops, understanding that yoga, the healing arts, and directed self-inquiry, are the steady ground holding up the pure, unfiltered, loving and communal intent for the festival. To allow them their proper respect, they separated workshops into the morning hours, and the heavy musical acts into the evening, making sure that nothing was drowned out, and no difficult moral choices had to be made. All of the workshops that we attended were hosted by individuals who stunned us with their wisdom and kept everyone involved, no matter their level of knowledge surrounding the subject matter. Each workshop was an intuitively holographic experience, planting seeds for newcomers and watering the growing buds of veterans alike.
As the daytime workshops gave way to the thumping, pulsing, dripping beats of the evening music, personal walls were lowered that much more, as we all fell into one communicable flow, dancing into the night as one human sangha. The weekend was filled with auspicious feelings of that we had all done this before and will do this again through many lifetimes with this same soul family. It was as if putting down our phones, looking each other directly in the eyes, and dancing together under the stars unlocked something very special and deep within all of us. Instead of these separated beings having individual experiences within our personalities, we formed into one soul tribe, opening ourselves to those around us, freeing ourselves through sharing, laughing, and ecstatic dance. Our lives within conventional society can be so uptight and constricting, but walking into the Wired Tent on Saturday night, you could see that over the weekend all of our normal conditioning had fallen away. We had danced off our normal constraints, loosened the reigns we so often place on ourselves, and let the flow take us over in timeless moments of blissful merging and euphoric co-creation.
I don’t know about you, but this is exactly the essence of why I started going festivals in the first place. I bow to Rootwire for never once losing sight of that vision. Thank you Rootwire Transformational Arts Festival for keeping the flame lit and the fire stoked. Here’s to many more years of this utopian dreamscape deepening our roots, and wiring our paths towards the future.
The Sloppy Bhakti
Stay tuned to TheSloppyBhakti.com for in-depth, mind-bending personal experiences from Rootwire 2018, and visit our Instagram, @TheSloppyBhakti for visual and audio highlights, as we use the lens of Devotional Spirituality to unpack and unravel the festival experience from the inside out.