MAGAZINE

The Most Magical Musical Moments of Burning Man 2016

Photo by: Galen Oakes
by B. Getz | @UPFULLife187 Thu September 22, 2016 | 12:00 AM

Black Rock City is home to the biggest, baddest, brightest, and blinkiest of art, dragged out to the dusty middle of Nowheresville to be enjoyed and celebrated by the city's ragers and ravers from dawn 'til dusk. Betwixt the behemoth art installations and bombastic sound camps lay proverbial Swarovskis in the playa, and to stumble upon one of these musical gifts is to truly Burn on the dance floor.

Veteran burners will be quick to denote that "Burning Man is not a music festival," and this writer wholeheartedly agrees. What it is is a fully functioning city, one with an indescribably diverse, fervently active, around-the-clock music scene. No matter where one may find themselves on the playa, be it the bass-hood of the 2 O'Clock side, or way uptown amidst the uptempo masses, or in the far-off netherworlds of the deep playa, there is no doubt a one-of-kind, art-for-art's sake music experience a few yards away at any time.

Some of the most magical musical moments were neither recorded nor released yet, and will forever remain glittered dust in the wind (see Goopsteppa, Random Rab, Bedouin, Leland Riiver, ChrisB., HVOB, and countless others). Thankfully, a smattering have begun to populate the interwebs, so Fest300 has curated a selection of music links and clips from Burning Man 2016, and assembled them for your listening/viewing/daydreaming pleasure. Whilst either plotting a future sojourn to see the Man burn, or reliving the dusty sounds and ashy memories of past burns, the trick is to surrender to the flow.

JAN BLOMQVIST: Robot Heart x Mayan Warrior

As far as music events on the playa are concerned, the biggest story was the unprecedented "tie-in" between the iconic Robot Heart and Mayan Warrior art cars. Never before had the two gigantic, global dance music communities come together as such, playing the same sound and providing a unified party. For the thousands of revelers who flock to deep playa on an unending quest for vibe, this was their panacea. To soundtrack this amazing affair, the organizers selected Berlin-based Jan Blomqivst and his hauntingly beautiful, emotionally vibrant vocal techno to serenade the massive. Here's the DJ in his own words about what this set was like for him:

"Normally I know that high expectations kill the vibe, so I always try to walk my way open minded and don’t expect anything special from the future, but this time I couldn’t help it. When the Robot told me that [they] wanted me to play the sunrise set and that we will be connected with the Mayan Warrior soundsystem, I could feel it already in Berlin a full three weeks before… Then when I finally took the bus over to Robot Heart it was even better than in my craziest expectations. This gig was by far the most emotional gig I have ever played. All I can say is thank you, I am even more happy now to be born on this weird planet which can be really beautiful sometimes, when you give it [a] chance to be free. Thank you for dancing with me and giving me so much love."

Abraxas Art Car

The venerable Abraxas dragon art car is a quintessential component of playa music culture, piloted by an inspired collective of samurai burners, providing both a portal into the cutting-edge world of psychedelic bass music, and a glorious ride into the playa night or sunrise.

The annual Thursday white procession sunrise on Abraxas is the stuff of legend, and this year set a new bar for what can be called truly epic. The morning saw an exchange of love vows, a memorial for a fallen comrade, and a four-plus hour tour de force from The Human Experience and friends, including vocalists Cheraki, Elijah Ray, and longtime foil Lila Rose. Below is a portion of the set, including much of the new music David Block debuted from his Slow Down project.

On Tuesday evening, Abraxas' 2016 maiden voyage was soundtracked by a newly minted maiden of a royal persuasion. The Naughty Princess is a veteran burner, but fairly new to the Trap game, though you would never know from listening. Mixing up a choice cocktail of shanti-ratchet, her tierra-bling glistening atop the dragon's back, Jasmine Fraser dropped two hours of crunkalogic science, hoodrat styles rough n' rugged with an empress's touch.

spacegeishA: Hyperbole at Octopus Garden, Friday Night

In the default world, Becca Sou is the resident boss-lady for trendsetting record label Street Ritual. Once the sun sets, the mogul opens up and operates as spacegeishA. Among the best kept secrets in the bass music scene, she got up all over town, all week long. We got an intimate sunset dose of the 'geishA at Intergalactic Sasquatch on Tuesday; here she is on Friday, rocking the midnight hour for Hyperbole at Octopus Garden.

SYD GRIS: Opulent Temple, Wednesday Night

SYD GRIS has been part of the Fest300 family for some time now. He shared a few thoughts about his set from Wednesday evening at Opulent Temple.

"It was Opulent Temple's 14th annual Wednesday night Sacred Dance 'white party,' thrown very specifically to be a conscious party and raise the frequency and intention of a night of music and dancing to 'wake up,' and take the wakefulness out of the desert into the rest of life. Playa sets at OT for me are all about covering a range of energy, emotion and sounds so it's never about one genre. There's meant to be dirty grooves, smooth and playful sounds, fist pumping rhythms...and so on. Hope it takes you back to the desert. I seriously had tears in my eyes during the last song I was so happy and filled with emotion and appreciation."

HÄANA: PLAY)A(SKOOL Dome, Sunday Morning

The divine HÄANA ran rampant through the city, violin in tow. For the entirety of the Burn, HÄANA (aka Hannah Thiem) could be found rocking DJ sets of exquisite, Nordic-tinged femtronica at various sound camps and art cars. She also debuted a collaboration with side project DEEPSØNØS, as music by HÄANA accompanied a guided meditation from Elana Meta. Here's a spirited clip of Ms. Thiem at her final engagement on Sunday morning.

"My favorite gig on the playa. And it nearly didn't happen. Got moved to a new venue, major white outs, super cold that morning. Despite it all, the annual Sunday sunrise party hosted by The Human Experience and Treavor Moontribe prevailed. Random Rab, HÄANA, Kaminanda, and Traveler World Music made for a very connected and magickal morning party at the Play)A(Skool dome. Thank you for magickal forces that align despite so much that could have opposed. This track I'm playing is a remix by Haji Ji of my original production Skaldic Roulette. Mmmm."

Crossroads Collective: 9 O'Clock Keyhole, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday Nights

We've all overheard people discussing the scarcity of live music options on the playa. One cannot overstate the difficulty in building and sustaining a live music stage, from transportation, production, striking, mooping, sound mixing, and so much more; it is a logistics nightmare on this landscape. Maybe the most impressive live music endeavor is the Crossroads Collective, a fully realized, big band production located at the 9 O'Clock keyhole. The enormous ensemble slays, their songbook seems bottomless, and they absolutely nail every tune, from Beyonce to Ludacris to Steely Dan to Deee Lite. It's the closest thing to a full-blown rock concert on the Playa. Watch their emotional encore of Prince's timeless anthem "Purple Rain," as the power finally gives out, and the audience joins in on a cathartic singalong for the collective's final coda.

Daft Funk: The Funk Hunters are Daft Punk (feat. GRiZ), Camp Ego Trip

For many years, "Daft Punk at the trash fence" has been a right-of-passage prank to play on virgins. It seemed that the joke had jumped the proverbial shark, as a few different versions of the Daft Punk/trash fence "sets" had surfaced over time. Leave it to Tucker Gumber, aka The Festival Guy, to up the ante for another hearty guffaw. Gumber recruited Canadian DJ duo The Funk Hunters, financed the helmets and costumes, and conspired with Camp Ego Trip to facilitate the Daft Funk secret set. GRiZ joined in on sax toward the end for good measure. The entire operation was well-executed, and caused a virtual firestorm of whisper-down-the-lane (a Black Rock tradition) – so much so that both Billboard and Rolling Stone felt the need to report the story.

"This year at Burning Man we were gifted an incredible opportunity by our friend The Festival Guy to perform a secret set at Camp Ego Trip as Daft Punk, complete with helmets and all! We had 45 minutes to put our spin on things and somehow managed to keep it a total secret this entire time. Easily one of the coolest experiences we've had after three years at the Burn and being DP fans for as long as we can remember. Big love to our funk brotha GRiZ for rocking live sax with us at the very end. Enjoy."

Powel: Robot Heart, Friday Night

Filled with post-punk and no-wave injected into physical techno, lilting oscillations within minimalist deep house, and a dash of psychedelia, virgin burner Powel's Friday night set on Robot Heart was the sound of acid.

"It was already a really overwhelming, but also exhausting, week for me at my first Burning Man. Then there was this Friday night. From the moment I started playing I felt so good and watching all those tiny lights on people's bikes heading towards the bus, it looked so beautiful. After my set I had so much energy that I stayed and danced on the bus for at least 12 more hours. This was a very special experience and that bus is definitely one of the coolest things I've ever played on, and I'm more than happy that I had a little role in this whole adventure."

The Scumfrog on Christina, Wednesday Afternoon

On Wednesday afternoon,The Scumfrog christened The Christina with a swanky and sweltering set of adult-oriented rock and funk grooves. As the land yacht rolled around the playa, the Queen of BRC swaggering with a debauched panache, belligerent boaters were treated to exquisite mixes of David Bowie, Dolly Parton, Giorgio Moroder, among other legends of generations past.

David Satori's Appearances at Shift Camp, Camp Questionmark, and Abraxas

David Satori made the most of his abbreviated stay on the playa in 2016, rocking several sets with Sidecar Tommy as Beats Antique, and delivering two breathtaking blends of electro-Americana as DIRTWIRE. Check out the video of BA blasting Camp Questionmark well into the night, and a choice Burning Man mix of the vibes DIRTWIRE dropped at Shift Camp and on the Abraxas dragon.

Wednesday Night at Camp Mystic

Camp Mystic's annual Wednesday night party is among the most spiritualized and sensual soirees on the playa. The shanti and the sexy coalesce seamlessly, guaranteeing an exquisite, exceptional evening on the town. The camp's carpeted floors and grandiose décor make for a decadent vibe; the artists and producers collaborate to curate a specific selection of song and dance. 2016's edition saw the likes of Phutureprimitive, Random Rab, The Human Experience, Deya Dova, Treavor Moontribe and a few others bless the assembly with medicinal tones. Above is a juicy set from ALIA, and below you'll find Nimitae at Camp Mystic.

Lee Burridge: Robot Heart, Saturday Sunrise

Not much can be said about Lee Burridge's sunrise sets on the Robot Heart bus that has not been said already a thousand times over. It is, quite simply, an institution; this year would be no different, aside from the fact that after Lee had rocked the teaming masses for three hours, he invited Hoj on board to go b2b for a few more. It was another triumphant run on the decks for the British legend of the playa-tech sunrise.

Camp Questionmark

Wednesday night at the awe-inspiring DIY compound Camp Questionmark was particularly mammoth, as ToKiMonSta, The Glitch Mob, Morillo, and Skrillex went hard in the paint for three hours of bass gymnastics. The vibes and energy among the assembled burners and nocturnal mavens was wild and untamed, while fire spinners and demonstrative dancers ruled the roost.

ToKiMonSta

The Glitch Mob

Morillo

Skrillex

Delhi 2 Dublin's Black Rock City Mini Tour

Delhi 2 Dublin went on a mini-world tour within the confines of Black Rock City, delivering their patented blend of British-Columbian-Bollywood-bhangra-crunk around the clock, letting everybody know a simple and unifying message, We're all Desi, man.

DJ Professor Stone: Monkey Love

"Immediately after having to be peeled off of my back from the Surlybird by the Surly Crew and practically carried to the Top Deck of the all new, Funktion-One hosted Monkey Love stage, I somehow managed to produce this, and had a great freakin' time! For those who were there, and for those who were not, here it is again. I'm missing the Playa immensely already."

Alok: Roots Society

Alok's sixty-five minute workout on Roots Society is nearing a million plays on Soundcloud. The gargantuan sound camp stage that juts out into the Playa at 2 O'clock was transformed into a raging EDM madhouse by this Brazilian's punishing, pulsating set.

Miyagi at The Kazbah

Hamburg, Germany's house heartthrob techno wizard Miyagi mesmerized The Kazbah on Tuesday morning for sunrise at 10th and Argo.

What were your favorite sets at Burning Man 2016?

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Start Date: August 27, 2017
Black Rock City, Nevada, United States