Burning Man 2014: Skrillex, Snark and Senioritis.
30 September 2014 – Benjamin Guest – The DJ List – http://thedjlist.com/news/2014/09/burning_2014_skrillex_snark_senioritis/
Article and Photos by Benjamin Guest
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This was my fourth year at Burning Man (2011-2014), so I guess in the American educational sense, that makes me a senior. Like seniors in any academic institution I feel like with the years since I first set foot on the Playa, that I’ve gained some perspective and maybe even a tiny bit of wisdom. So, what’s my advice?
Don’t go. Just don’t. Its hot, dusty, and played out. Everything you read about Burning Man jumping the shark is completely accurate. The Safari camps, the number of virgins who never bothered to read the survival guide, the severe spike in MOOP (Matter Out Of Place), it’s all true.
Or maybe I’m just mistaking my wisdom for another quality that Seniors the world over posses; jadedness. Am I jaded? Probably, even the shiniest of festivals has lost some of it’s glitter, but just because something has lost its overall shine doesn’t mean that there aren’t diamonds waiting to be uncovered.
Lots of people will tell you that every burn is different; my jaded response is: Really, you mean 70,000 people build a whole city and they don’t build it the same every time. Maybe they should take a hint from Coachella and just do the thing on repeat, that would be nice; it would certainly solve the ticket scarcity problem.
…Burns are always new and different and this burn for me was about acknowledging my jadedness and the fact that things that were amazing in the past lose their luster and so I searched out and found some great diamonds in the rough, and it’s those diamonds that will keep me coming back year after year.
So without too much fanfare, here’s a list of things you will hear about, my jaded opinion of them and maybe some things that will still be awesome next year.
…A person wiser than I said that you should schedule your burn around sleep, here’s what I have to add to that: Go to bed at 9pm and wake up at 3am. Here’s why: The two greatest times on the playa are sunrise and sunset. If you crash out after the sun goes down, set an alarm and wake up for sunset, [you’re] not missing either. From 9pm to 3pm it’s cold and you’ll sleep comfortably in your tent with a sleeping bag.
Also, Burning Man like anywhere else has it’s share of macho frat bros, they are not pros. They drink beer, and by 10pm they are drunk and annoying and they will continue to be drunk annoying until they crash out at 2am per their default world schedule. At Burning Man the party never stops, so when you wake up at 3am all the yahoos are gone and you are left with the pros, who you can continue to party with till the sun comes up and into the next day. You’ll be energized for the rest of the day, you can go hit up Pink Mammoth, go to workshops and won’t feel like a zombie having been up for a day and a half.
Bring or make a MOOP bag, while you’re at it bring one for a friend. I made one out of an old pair of jeans and tied it to my camelback. If you see stuff on the ground, pick it up and put it in the MOOP bag, doesn’t matter where you are. Pros will notice that you are doing your part. Instant burner cred.
There is was so much amazing art out there. Burning Man is first and for most an art festival and the art out there is way more interesting than any set from any DJ will ever be. I’d go into detail on every piece, but it would take too long. Google Burning Man Art and prepare to be amazed. Better photographers than I have taken thousands of pictures of all of it. Some notable other photographers that never fail to disappoint: Trey Ratcliff and Cliff Baise.
In 2011, not that long ago, I remember coming across Robot Heart on a friday morning, and there was maybe 100 people there… Oh how the times have changed. Last year and this year Monday through Saturday morning, Robot Heart was a mad house. I stopped in several times throughout the week. Their sound system is super impressive. Less impressive is what a scene it has become. Forget about good house music, the Mobs of Furbros and Furbies all seem to be much more interested in vying for top model-douche at the worlds weirdest fashion cluster f*ck. The music was top notch, but suffice to say I never stayed very long.
That being said, Monday morning at the Bus was a completely different story. A common theme this year was people leaving the burn Sunday before the temple burned. Maybe they were trying to avoid Exodus, maybe they thought the party was over or maybe they were just so green they didn’t know that the temple did burn. By Sunday evening our block was kind of ghost town. Many of those early abandoners must have frequented Robot Heart, because when I woke up at 3am to go check it out the, the crowd was maybe a tenth of what it had been early in the week. The music and vibes were awesome and it reminded me of going to Robot Heart in at my first burn. True to form, the pros had stuck it out till the end.
For the record, I didn’t hear SKRILLEX play at Robot Heart, but I heard from reliable sources that It was actually a pretty good techno / tech house set.
Usually a shit show, can be fun if you catch the right act, I saw STANTON WARRIORS play at Opulent in 2012 and it was amazing, this year I had the not so good fortune of randomly stopping to Opulent Temple during Skrillex’s set, I could tell it was him by his little screechy voice, I didn’t stay long, but yes, I witnessed SKRILLEX at Burning Man, it was hardly memorable. I’m scared to know what his presence there this year will do to the ticket scarcity problem.CELTIC CHAOS
They built a full on Castle over on the 2:00 side. An impressive two story castle wall enclosed a bar and dance floor. More impressive was the massive fire poofer mounted over the DJ booth that startled everyone when it would go off. The amount of heat that it put off seemed to be carefully calibrated to almost singe hair and eyebrows of the dancers below. I wasn’t expecting much out of this camp but was pleasantly surprised by the type and quality of their music. The bartenders and others involved with the camp were incredibly friendly, definitely worth checking out.
“Thank God for Disco Knights”. I spent the majority of my sunrises at Disco Knights and for good reason. They had an unbelievable lineup that never failed to disappoint. Their sound system delivers a hard punch that makes deep house and tech house sound amazing.
Anthony Mansfield is the force that runs Disco Knights and a hell of a DJ to boot. He and GUY GERBER played sexy, sexy music Wednesday morning into sunrise. I was enhanced by the vibes and the music and all I kept thinking was, “damn, Disco Knights is the classiest sound camp on the Playa.”
Disco Knights keeps that classy reputation being honest upstanding people, playing sexiest house music, and respecting LNT and other BM ethos: I loved their MOOP for drinks exchange program, also, for the amount of traffic they had it was encouraging to see that their entire front area was green on the MOOP map.
VOTED BEST CAMP (VBC)
VBC was the next camp past Camp Question Mark on 2:00, I’ve know about this camp at 2:00 and K for several years and I’m pretty sure they get better every year. I try to make at least one pilgrimage there every year and try to bring along as many lovey raver virgins as I can. VBC is a punk rock camp, they have a skateboard ramp and three sided plywood house / bar, the insides of which is covered in vial sharpie graffiti. They have their own radio station that plays nothing but punk rock and other weird music, the DJ uses a dell desktop from 2004 to play tracks from the hardrive. It’s stark contrast to the rest of Burning Man makes it a welcome relief to the constant huggie hippies and the constant unce unce.
This years trip to VBC was no different. After an epic sunrise at Disco Knights we corralled a bunch of VBC virgins and said that we were going to show them something awesome and they better come now. We walked over, did shots of bottom shelf whiskey, and attempted to remember how to skateboard. 15 minutes into our excursion the DJ started into the “My Dick Power Hour” which was essentially a bunch of classic karaoke songs in which the singer had thoughtfully and skillfully replaced the lyrics with “my dick” at every opportunity. I forgot my camera, but sitting on the half pipe, laughing my ass off to “panio dick” with old and new friends is something I will never forget.
The girl with the giant arrow pointing down that said “Awesome Spot.”
The giant “BORING” sign art car. I wish I had thought of that.
The crew who brought a fully stocked cooler of alcohol to the center of the dance floor at Pink Mammoth and started making drinks. You guys rock.
Bleachers art car. So much awesome.
The Petting Zoo Zebra striped dive bar of sorts over on 2:00ish side, I’ve managed to stop by at least once a burn for a beer. I don’t think they are going anywhere soon.
If you should learned anything from my ramblings its that you need to seek out and make your own burn, avoid the crowds and the things that were hyped on social media for months in advance. Go against the flow, avoid the sheep, go seek out the hidden treasures. There is tons of super fun amazing and authentic things happening in the city.
Finally, live by my three rules of BM
1) Don’t Die: We love you and we want to see you again.
2) Don’t Suck: Certain caveats apply, but generally be awesome and conscious of your actions.
3) Don’t Let it Hit The Ground: Seriously, it’s one of the great things about Burning Man, if you see MOOP on the ground, pick it up, use that MOOP bag you brought.
Burner Benjamin’s original post is worth a read in its full glory.