"How you feelinâ€™?!!!," shouts Rasta Stevie from the stage. The mass of people, some with dread-locks, some with no clothes, some on powerful hallucinogens, responds with a deafening roar. Reggae time has come again.
Heavy Weight Dub Champions, with their long twisted clumps of hair and eerie charisma, enter the stage. Their three deejays start to roll, submitting themselves to the music. Heavyweight's sound is a mix of dub, hip-hop, trance and dancehall reggae. With heavy, funky bass, itâ€™s perfect for dancing. The music builds and builds, faster and faster, until it peaks and the crowd hits climax; everyone jumping, dancing, breathing as one giant creature. Roving green, yellow, red and blue spotlights, stagelights and strobe lights twist the mass of eyes into a confusion of color. The culmination winds down. Tall, goofy Rasta Stevie comes back on stage and the individuals look to each other as they wander towards the expansive camp.
Dawn gleams onto the thousands of tents pitched on the bumpy river-rock. Heat shimmers off the ground, evaporating any moisture that condensated during the night. By noon, itâ€™s too hot for many to sleep in their tents, so they head to the water with a menagerie of inflatables. Trains of people on inner tubes, private islands and rafts drift down the quarter-mile of clear river. Dribbling rapids, barely deep enough to keep the floats from scraping the rock riverbed, lead into deep, fish-filled, green pools.
Around noon the music begins in the concert bowl. For many itâ€™s too hot to dance, so they lounge in lawn chairs, smoking marijuana and drinking beer under the parachute shade structures. Many others browse the numerous kiosks that carry clothing, jewelry, art and everything red, green and gold. Itâ€™s a rasta-themed bazaar with a matching soundtrack.
Dusk moseys off into the darkness. Saturday night is when craziness comes out of its hiding place deep within these escapees. Legions of reggae soldiers march to the front of the stage, determined to dance. Mushrooms, molly, marijuana, cocaine, acid, alcohol and adrenaline push on the brainstems of scores of fans. Pupils as large as dimes gaze into the lights, lost from everything outside of Reggae boundaries. Bodies, seduced by the melodies, uncontrollably follow the movements of the music. Again, the show peaks and everyone is unified through their positive enthusiasm.
Ziggy Marley closes with 'Love is My Religion' , a slightly banal composition, but good for uniting a crowd. The exodus begins from the concert bowl to the camp. Parties rage through the night and into dawn. Deejays quiet before the sun rises. Everything is still from 6am until 10am or so. Mid-morning, the river is clear and inviting. It isnâ€™t too long before the heat drives people to the water.
Reality seeps back slowly, Monday and a new workweek is a day away. â€œEnjoy it as much as possible before it slips away,â€ seems to be Sundayâ€™s sentiment. With hours to spare, people at the river become creative. Rock stacking is so popular at any given place along the bar there are piles of precariously balanced stones. Something about large camp-outs like Reggae Rising or Burning Man, attendees are always compelled to make art.
Tonightâ€™s shows are very anticipated. Steel Pulse, which has been around since 1975, is a reggae classic. And Damian Marley represents the future of rockinâ€™ steady. As the sunlight fades, people gather for one last bang, one last kick to keep them grooving until next year.
Steel Pulse hits irresistible notes, bringing the crowd to their knees. Being a part of an audience that worships the music to which they listen is a hard feeling to describe. Damian Marley enters the stage and booms a set mixed from all three of his albums. Bodies jump as high as possible to the beat. After each song, the applause is so loud, you canâ€™t distinguish your own yell from the roar. Jr. Gong comes with an encore and finishes with his well-known song Welcome to Jamrock. The sounds of appreciation follow him off stage. The music is over for this year.
Revelries spark up all over, but they wonâ€™t last like the previous nightsâ€™. For many, itâ€™s back to 'real' life in the morning. The last night always loses some of its euphoria.
Monday morning, itâ€™s a stampede of cars spewing onto 101, back to the Bay, back to Eureka, back to the office, back to reality. The recycling crew sweeps the empty camp, picking thousands of pounds of garbage. All thatâ€™s left of the festival are the lonely rock stacks and the memories of the music replaying over and over in the minds of the visitors; memories that will bring them all back next year.
WORLD - CULTURE
Copyright © 2010 DrSinValley
Inside the Gates of Reggae Rising 2007
Copyright © 2010 DrSinValley
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