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“It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, it’s a new life for me…” was exactly what was going through my head as I departed one chapter of my existence and embarked into the next. The Bounce served to be the beginning of that new chunk in my book. I had just taken a brutally long and exhausting Greyhound from Denver, Colorado, leaving my festival tour with relaXsonic only to be thrust back into the festival world less than ten hours later. Hey, I’m not complaining, I had gotten used to living at festivals, but is there no rest for the weary?

I hadn’t really told anyone I was coming back, so when a group of five cars full of my friends convened to caravan up to Twain, I hopped out of my car like a Jack-in-the-box and surprised them all just as much as that endearing toy might shock a two year old. The Bounce had grown out of Belden Town, one of my favorite places on earth, and this year the event would take over the old mill that had previously been used as the parking lot for a few events at Belden since 2012. This place holds a weird place in my memory as my last visit here resulted in lost keys, a lengthy tow and an altogether annoying end to Stilldream 2012.

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Day One

We rolled in and found our arrival to be speedily accepted by both greeters and ticket gurus alike. Good thing, that Sierra Nevada sun was already threatening to fry the skin right off our backs. We found a perfect little spot amongst a grove of pines to establish our temporary homestead and setup our fresh new geo-dome for its inaugural run. Soon it was off to The Lookout stage to check out the place that would come to be my stomping grounds (literally) for the weekend.

The Lookout’s design was unique, with the overall flow of the setup reminding me very much of some setups at Burning Man. The DJ booth itself was set within a black and white facade that came together to form a sort of abstract psychedelic owl (that bird often featured by Fresh Bakin’). But more than just a sound system with an artistic backdrop, The Lookout went one step further with dancing platforms and shady wooden tree-umbrellas. Set within the middle of the absolutely epic high mountains of the Feather River Canyon made this stage one of my favorites all summer.

One of the first sets I caught here was SubDocta, an artist who I had just caught wind of. This groovey fellow layed it down just how I like it, full of swinging funk, bubbly glitch, infectious baselines, and naughty horn sections. Hit set was rife with hip hop samples, interstellar womps and even some down and dirty moombah. You can hear his whole set, just like I did (minus the Soulstice Sound System), below!

Next up on the decks came a bearded grizzly bear with a fuzzy fro, no wait, that’s Boggan! He supplied the dirty beats, mother earth supplied the dust, and the crowd brought their dancing feat to whip the place into a mini dust storm that I more than enjoyed.

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It wasn’t long before that big ball of magnetically charged plasma in the sky chased me deep into the chilly waters of the Feather River. Being used to the swimming hole at Belden, this spot was a tad small, but that all brought an even more intimate feel to the place. Surrounded by reeds and rushes, overhanging trees and little cascades, it became an instant sanctuary for all those fleeing hot tents or sweaty dance floors. Although The Lookout wasn’t immediately next to the river, the music was very much audible, enough for one to stay wet without any F.O.M.O.

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After some much needed belly filling it was time to see the place explode like a box full of fireworks. All manner of glittering fairies, furry monsters and sexy cats were abound by nightfall, converging on The Golden Eye Amphitheater like gnats to a porch light. What we all found there were The Fungineers, a personal favorite, but from the looks and gasps coming from the crowd, to many they were as fresh as a newborn child. These guys know. how. to. party. The Fungineers engineer fun, what more do you need?  Paragon, a robot-monkey-unicorn puppet DJ who can improv and beatbox like it’s no body’s business leads this crew of whacky fun loving performers. I’ve seen them perform as just a duo (Paragon and Lil’ Dino) but they brought out all the stops with a whole crew of dancers and MC’s. Weaving a tapestry of awesome with his words, Paragon took the audience on a “silly safari” to the mythical “Land of Tuba” with live-looping freestyle songs and goofy covers alike. Highlight of their performance was “Drop It Like A Mop”, an altogether silly reworking of “Drop It Like It’s Hot” complete with plenty of mops to be dropped. Get a taste of their talent below and be sure to catch these guys anytime they roll through your town.

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After some waiting and roaming and goofing around, Beats Antique came to grace the stage in their usual cinematic style. Right from the start, I knew I was in for something different. Like something out of a Dia de los Muertes pageant, a skeleton man crawled out from beneath Zoe Jakes’ skirt in a haunting performance. As if transformed she cast of the skirt and the show took one of many turns. The night would see the stunning Jakes changing costume many times, from queen of the dead, to exotic bellydancer, and finally, to something no one expected. Donning a massive rack of antlers, Jakes’ flowing dress blew up like a children’s parachute lit up from inside like a living backwards disco ball. Yet again, Beats Antique was stunning, but I had a diplomatic meeting to get to with The Polish Ambassador…

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A short jaunt down hill, past a few forest nymphs, art installations (epic owl? yes please!), and The Grand Artique, I landed at The Lookout, to be greeted by the sultry sounds of The Polish Ambassador. He lead us through his album Ecozoic with the finesse and funk I’ve come to expect from the guy. His set seemed to last hours (I was TOTALLY fine with this) as I got completely lost in the sound that washed over me and fully encapsulated my being. Every second he seemed to validate my decision to leave Beats Antique (no offense, I just love this guy’s beats), and the smile on my face became immovable.

Unfortunately, Polish would be the last set of the night for me. Unlike most festivals (I’m usually the dawn warrior, who rages far past the bedtimes of my campmates), I crashed super early, a pattern that would repeat itself for the rest of the weekend as a result of my exhausting trip back to California only a handful of hours earlier.

 

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Day Two

I found myself becoming a regular river rat, how could you not when there’s a floating island complete with palm trees and umbrella? Just about every sunlight hour on Saturday saw me floating on an astro turf form of cloud 9, drenched from head to toe.

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Just before the sun said sayonara, Paul Basic rolled up to The Golden Eye Amphitheater to give us a dose of that Pretty Lights Music style that we’ve all come to love. For me, this was one of the better sets all weekend. I’m a sucker for electro-funk infused with old school samples, twangy guitar riffs and epic jazzy horn sections. Best known for his tracks ‘Daydream’ and ‘Cops’, Basic brought the heat with a mixture of originals and saucy remixes that set the tone perfectly for Break Science and GRiZ.

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As their name might suggest, LowRiderZ know how to make the crowd get down low on the dance floor. But it wasn’t just the music that had everyone captivated, the duo of An-Ten-Nae and Laura Low were never without their crew of dancers and emcee diva Auberon. One minute a break dancer would be twirling on the stage, squeezing ooh’s and ah’s from the crowd, the next an animator would be getting hyphy before Auberon (resident diva) would yell some pumped up phrase from a blinged out megaphone that looked like it had been touched by Goldfinger. After releasing their first EP, Unplug From The Machine and an extensive festival tour this year, this super group has really dialed down their sound and performance into a fully crunked out package. Their set was loaded with live edits of their EP as well as stocked full of unique remixes, like a sexy new version of Thriftshop.

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Without a doubt, Wick-it the Instigator stole the show in my eyes. This musical maestro knows how to remix and rework classic tracks with such ease, it sounds like the songs were always meant to be together. To get us going Wick-It pronounced “Welcome to the future”, and dished out an insanely bassy remix of Walk the Line by Johnny Cash, the haunting sound of a freight train passing through the forest mixed with it to create a classic moment that just had to have been on purpose. To give you an idea of the range and diversity that Wick-It showed us, here’s a list of tracks and artists that he masterfully blended together: Obey Your Master – Metallica, Do Your Chain Hang Low – Jibbs, Everybody Dance Now – C&C Music Factory, Jump Around – House of Pain, Give It Away Now – RHCP, Nirvana, and to round it all off, Tighten Up – The Black Keys with a rap beat laid over, and Wu Tang Clain Aint Nuthin To F*** With as the whole crowd threw up the Wu Tang sign. Needless to say my mind was blown, my legs were thrashed and my spirit soared.

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Day Three

My stomach was being down right naughty on the last day of the festival and I ended up essentially “camp ridden” for the duration. I awoke to a light drizzle which kept everyone in camp for the morning, partially thankful that the sun was no longer there to roast us out of our tents.

In the wee hours of Monday morning I was able to muster some energy to hit The Lookout which carried the party on well into the afternoon. I found Miss Cooper there who massaged my ears with some ecstatic deep house which danced over to the techy side from time to time. Right as I walked up she was sampling a vocal, “so on it”, to which I could only yell, “hell f***ing yea you are!”. From here on it seemed like her set was a soundtrack to what was going down right in front of me. I sat back on one of the dance platforms right before a beautiful little number with Madonna dance moves hopped up on the stage to dance around for me. Seconds later Miss Cooper sampled another vocal, “shake it girl you’re driving me crazy”. I love those moments when the universe affirms that you are in the right place, at the right time, doing exactly what you’re supposed to be doing, fully in the flow. Catch the whole live set from start to finish right here.

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Miss Cooper wiggled my icky stomach right of me with her medicinal beats, leaving me aching for more up beat house music. Little John, a Bay favorite served up just what the doctor ordered with a bouncy set that served to say: “This is THE BOUNCE, let’s do it”. Little John raised the temperature and brought the heat with an obscenely bassy set of jungle and tech house. Happy and uplifting while being entirely naughty at the same time, Little John rocked the hell out of The Lookout and roused me out of my perch and onto the dance floor for a perfect close to the weekend (for me at least).

Conclusion

I gotta give a shout out to the crew, Fresh Bakin’, all the artists and volunteers for making this truly sensational festival! One of my favorite things about The Bounce is it’s size. It maintains that intimate community vibe while still pulling a sizable crowd. This year’s venue kept everyone spread out and I never felt even remotely crowded. Considering that, the production is totally next level for a festival of it’s size. All the stages were unique pieces of art in their own right. The owl-esque Lookout, the rustic and rugged Golden Eye Amphitheater which felt like an Asian cavern, and the old western themed Grand Artique were all immersive environments.  Art was abound and a feast for the eyes. I really enjoyed the tasteful lighting on the ruins of the old mill which combined with the periodic visitation of a howling freight train to create hauntingly psychedelic moments that you had to experience to understand. I can’t wait to see what they have up their sleeves for us next year!

Photos by:

Andrew Jorgensen, Album

Kenny Hoff, Full Albums One & Two

Dustin Becker, Full Albums One & Two

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