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[Festival Review] Our Cosmic Journey Beneath the Pisces Moon: Serenity Gathering 2015

Serenity Gathering was a weekend flowing with inspiration and beauty. The drive up to La Jolla Indian Reservation from San Diego, California started the trip off on the perfect foot. Winding up into the mountains of the Puma Valley, myself and assistant writer Josh Krol drove through winding miles of scenery, including an orange farm that smelled better than anything I have ever smelled in my entire life – it was as though we were on our way to Heaven.

When we finally arrived on the reservation, we took the opportunity to check out the beautiful grounds. A long stretch of domes dotted the landscape, perfect for those communal hang outs, and the live art on each stage really set the spiritual tone of the weekend. Being surrounded by so much beauty left us feeling entirely grateful; from the artists and music to the land itself, Serenity Gathering truly inspired us to take this attitude home and spread it within our lives.

Stages at Serenity Gathering. Photo by Josh Krol

There was a river running through the grounds, a godsend during festival season. It was refreshing and serene to pass our hot midday hours down by the river listening to the music coming out of the venue’s Funktion One speakers near main stage. The main stage was a beautiful work of art with its intricate woodwork combined with high level light projections, turning this stage into a beautiful monster that ruled the night. Our favorite piece of live art was a beautiful psychedelic cow with a third eye beautifully done by LA artist Kevin Vigil. The full art gallery on the grounds, curated by Molly Gardner, was so breathtaking that we found ourselves lingering in awe at its mesmerizing walls.

Artist Kevin Vigil with his third eye cow painting. Photo by Sarah Hoffman


Then of course, was the music! We knew what to expect from Serenity when we saw this incredible line up, but each performance blew our minds in ways we hadn’t even thought possible! Here, we’ve listed our top five sets at Serenity Gathering that completely stole our breath away. Read below and experience the magic for yourselves!

Thursday night started off right with a performance by hydro electronic funk trio SunSquabi. These Colorado natives threw down an extremely intricate set. We have been following the Squabi boys for quite some time, and their performance at Serenity Gathering really portrayed just how far these musicians have come. Their energy and passion for music is easily felt through the energy they project onstage.

They also sat in with Manic Focus to play their latest collaboration featuring GRiZ, titled “Get Down,” and when they dropped that track that’s exactly what the crowd did. We cannot wait to see more collaborations between these artists in the future, and are stoked to see what they have in store for their upcoming Red Rocks show in September! The talent and raw passion that SunSquabi brings to the stage is exactly what made them such a highlight for us at Serenity Gathering.

SunSquabi performing at Serenity Gathering. Photo by Sarah Hoffman

G Jones kept the feels going on Friday night, and though it were my first time seeing him live, this glitch god definitely brought the heat to the stage. Not only is he a total freaking babe, but his music is sick as hell. I was extremely impressed by the level of production that G Jones brought to his set; every track flowed flawlessly into another and each drop was perfectly orchestrated. From straight glitch to hip-hop, G Jones is crushing the music scene right now. His energy was out of this world, and I loved every single moment of this producer’s set!

Since Serenity Gathering, G Jones has released several announcements about tour dates, new music, and more. You can catch him at the Lightning In a Bottle Pre Party, Farm Fire Music Festival, Counter Point, and Shambhala. Also be on the look out for free music coming your way, as G Jones tweeted shortly after his appearance at Serenity hinting towards a drop of free new releases. This is definitely the summer to catch G Jones in action, as his unique sound is seriously taking off!

Fire sculptures at Serenity Gathering. Photo by Sarah Hoffman

Desert Dwellers played one of the most organic and ethereal sets I’d ever heard from the duo at Serenity Gathering. The first time I’d seen Desert Dwellers was two years ago in Georgetown, CO at Sonic Bloom. That was the year I fell in love with their sound, and I’ve been seeking out their shows ever since. Their Serenity Gathering performance was by far the most beautiful and spiritually awakening experience of the weekend that left me swooning.

Amp Live gave an insane performance on Saturday night. He got the crowd super hype when he featured his new track with Lafa Taylor, “You Could Do Whatever.” Amp Live brought the party like no other, throwing down bangers left and right that were just incredible.

He also played a Radiohead remix in particular that had the crowd going nuts. This being my first time seeing Amp Live, I loved his addictive bass sound mixed with hip hop vibes. I was exposed to so many amazing producers over the weekend, but Amp Live was by far one of my favorites. 

Stickybuds at Serenity Gathering. Photo by Sarah Hoffman

Stickybuds brought the heat to the stage Thursday night. This international producer hails from Kelowna, BC. He has performed at Shambhala Music Festival for the last 14 years, thus gaining a residency with this festival. His style varies from reggae to glitch hop to straight drum and bass. Stickybuds was getting down super hard on stage. I loved watching him whip his mane around as he grooved to the beats. He seemed to be an extremely conscious individual, and the type of producer that CYM could really get behind. He dropped his personal favorite track, “Clean Air Clean Country,” a song combining reggae and glitch hop beats, to shine light on issues surrounding pollution. We loved it! We can’t wait to see Stickybuds back in the US for Sonic Bloom. We have been playing his music non stop since we left Serenity Gathering. Check out one of our favorite mixes by the producer from Shambhala 2012 on his Soundcloud here.

EOTO performing at Serenity Gathering. Photo by Sarah Hoffman.

Serenity Gathering was a beautiful weekend that was truly inspirational for me, and I left Serenity floating on a cloud all the way back to Indiana. The vibes I felt at this festival definitely encouraged me to come home with a renewed spirit to continue adamantly pursuing all things that ignite passion in my heart; such as immersing myself in music, culture, and art. Now back home in the Midwest, I can’t help but think back fondly on my trip to California. The beach, Serenity, the palm trees – that life. It was all so beautiful, and I cannot wait to return! Thank you Serenity Gathering for an incredible and life changing week in the sunny mountains of California. We’ll see you next year!

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