A couple weekends ago, our team had the pleasure of attending the fifth annual Serenity Gathering held in Oakdale, California. Due to some scheduling conflicts, we could only attend the festival on Saturday, but that brief time was still a lot of fun.
It was around 10am when we pulled up to the campgrounds in our perpetually dusty Honda Civic. We set our camp by the water and enjoyed the cool breeze, as other festies wandered about the campsites waiting for their sleepy friends to get in gear.
The music on the Pisces Moon Stage started promptly at noon (although the moon was technically in Libra). The artist Entopic performed a very soothing set, which seemed to match the serene atmosphere. They performed a few cover songs from artists like Modest Mouse and a few originals. A personal favorite was the track “Waste the M(orning)” which I’m struggling to find online. If you have any details please tell us on our social media pages.
From there, we decided to wander the grounds to get a lay of the land. The Kusheen crew had actually been to that area before for Symbiosis Gathering. What made this festival so different was the number of people. Serenity Gathering was much less crowded and much easier to navigate. There was no 45 minute trek from the campgrounds to the stages. Just a leisurely stroll between activities.
We popped into one of the dance lessons for a short while. Everyone was having a good time, but none more so than the instructor. “It’s a very flowy dance. Go ahead and switch partners now. Yes. It’s a poly, flow, contact, speed dating party. If you have odd numbers, that’s okay. It’s just another threesome. This is still the Bay Area.” We laughed pretty hard at that.
We took in the vendors, which were offering dope clothing, accessories and merch. Everything seems extremely eclectic and high quality.
After we cycled through the vendors and stages, we went back to see Shiiva at the Pisces Moon. It was a lively set that brought out the dancers and flow arts into the afternoon sun.
By 2pm we were at the New Moon Stage, which became our instant favorite. Not only was the stage tucked into a little grove, it held a large white crystal that hung just above the DJ decks. Undoubtedly, pulling good vibes into the area. We listened to Trev Campbell throw down some bassy beats while we hung out on the dance floor.
As we mentioned before, the festival was spacious for the number of attendees. There was plenty of room for dancers to get their groove on and flow artists to spin their props. And while all of this is going on, a cigarette-smoking, bike-riding wizard weaved through the crowd with ease. On the far end of the crowd, a man in a white fur jacket carried a large purple crystal through the dancefloor to create a shrine in front of the stage. It was a super unique experience that you could only find at Serenity Gathering.
A little later we went to the Yoga Shala tent to take in some “sacred soul flow poetry” or “flowatry.” The presenters discussed the powers of sound healing and meditation, before switching to the art of vocal looping and jam flowartry.
It was mid-afternoon, and we were feeling a little bit tired. So we checked out Moldavibe at the Pisces Moon, who played a fire, genre-breaking trap set. We only wish we had more energy to give during it. We went back to the campsite for a little R-and-R, when I met a fellow camper named Rob.
I picked Rob’s brain about the previous day, who said that G Jones was by far the best set of the weekend. “Last night was so heavy! I loved it,” Rob told me. “But this morning, it’s like the festival hit you with a brick wall of serenity. You can feel the calm, enjoy the grounds, listen to the beautiful vocals [from Entoptic].”
He told me he was at the family camp with his three-month old baby. He and his spouse took turns taking care of the child, which he says was super special. “As a new dad, I just felt like everything is here for us. For example, I can see the Pisces Moon Stage from my tent. And when CharlestheFirst played, it was almost like a private set for me and my son.”
Once we refreshed our batteries, the Kusheen clan hit the aptly named Main Stage to check out Living Light and Bogtrotter. Both these artists were a dripping mess of bass and melody. Something you can really lose yourself in. The fashion game at Serenity Gathering was hella weird. The theme seemed to be “wear everything weird you own at once.” Just layers and layers of mismatched patterns.
We briefly visited the Euphoric Bounce Stage, which we recognized from Santa Cruz Music Festival; which we also covered earlier this year. While the music was solid, I gotta say, it’s not my favorite stage design. The colors clash and the design is just gaudy. It seems like it would be more at home at an Insane Clown Posse festival than at Serenity. But maybe that’s just me.
We went back to the Main Stage for Nominus, which was absolutely the coolest set we saw. Not only was the music prime, space and genre-defying, but the crowd was hype! There were fire dancers, aerial silk performers, dozens of talented people all sharing their abilities in this one sacred space. Nominus also showcased visuals wild and weird: classic video game references, Captain Crunch graphics, Beavis & Butthead, Pickle Rick, etc.
Following Nominus, we bounced around to different sets, never staying anywhere too long. We hit Mr. BoUnCce Man, who played some sick hip hop and EDM mashups. Lastly, we hit OTT. which is a longtime favorite for our crew. Sadly, the cold dry air was killing us. Our allergies were on fire all day long, and now it was taking its toll. We went back to camp, were we could hear and see SpacegeishA’s 2am set from our tent.
All in all it was a nice weekend. While the festival is small, the musical talent was top notch. Our advice is to attend the next Serenity Gathering with your whole crew. By simply bring 10 to 20 friends, you can really make it your festival. You can own the dancefloors and really set the vibe.
Before we let you go though, I'd like to take a second to introduce one of the newest additions to the crew, Joey Sherrock! Check out some of the beautiful photos of Serenity Gathering he captured for us 😊