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Symbiosis 2016 Family Tree ~ Coming Together to Collaborate and Co-Create [Festival Review]

~~Note: For this article Dino Durkin and Santiago Burelli have come together to give two very different yet very awesome, authentic accounts of what they both experienced at Symbiosis~~

It’s all too often that I go to festivals and find a few people having an amazing time and a lot of people standing around waiting for the good time to appear. Symbiosis was different; it was clear that people were out there to let it all go. To enjoy, to learn, and to share. The entire weekend was an easy going fun fest which had an ongoing hum of warmth that did not go close enough to the sun to turn into an anxious mess like so many festivals do. The defining variable were the people – the people who weren’t afraid to let it all hang out. It is those people who let those who are unsure do their thing.

GET TINY Copyright © Juliana Bernstein


“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate, our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. Your playing small does not serve the world, there is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We were all meant to shine as children. It’s not just in some of us, it’s in everyone and as we let our own light shine we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same as we are liberated from our own fear. Our presence automatically liberates others.” (Perm Podcast 02 – E/Tape)


What makes Symbiosis is not the headliners, art, or the talks alone. It is, most importantly, the people who participate wholeheartedly in creating the mutualistic symbiotic relationship that it becomes by day four of the festival. Our position is but that of humble critics in midst of this relationship and we can only say thank you to those people who have liberated us and bonded us closely with our new friends who have become family and tribe.


Santiago Burelli:

Symbiosis 2016 – Family Tree: a giant playground built for young and old, psy-trance weirdo and techno snob, scientist and hippie alike to play and interact as they choose.

Symbiosis is unlike any festival I have attended thus far due to its diversity, ease, music, and art. Together these four variables come together – symbiotically? – to create a really beautiful event. For starters, it was great to see people of all ages and walks of life coming together and having a good time. When I tell non-festival goers that toddlers, ravers, parents, and grandparents can attend events together, the look of shock and disbelief is almost priceless. They imagine crowds of drugged out rave kids clashing with babies and old folk. What actually happens is a conglomeration of experience comes together to help each other progress as human beings. We come together in a setting outside of the real world, where the status quo does not apply. We can feel free to act like the fools that we are, be our true and authentic selves, and then openly learn from each other without the invisible walls of pride and prejudice.

Before coming to Symbiosis I had a few acts that were at the top of my list. Pan-Pot was at the top with Seth Troxler following close behind. I wanted to see the Desert Hearts Crew because I have always had a good time at their sets but I missed them due to a late arrival. Everyone else was pretty inconsequential to me and I planned on focusing more on the general vibe of the festival and where it took me, rather than actually having to make it to any sets or keep any schedules. I arrived Friday night and went directly to The Grotto for Patricio’s closing set which was a good introduction to the happy times that were to come during the rest of the weekend. Patricio played a good vibes house set which normally is not my cup of tea but it seemed appropriate for my first set at Symbiosis. I danced a little with some friends and proceeded to check out the rest of the grounds focusing on the amazing Trash Tipi installation located behind The Grotto.

Saturday started early but slow as I walked around the venue soaking in vibes and rays while getting my wits about me as to where exactly I was. The music I was hearing wasn’t very inspiring so I took a paddle out to The Atoll: an incredible, hand build, lighthouse raft located about 50 yards inside the lake surrounding Symbiosis. I kicked back in the sun and enjoyed the scene. I later found myself at the top of the lighthouse during Atmos’ set which I expect would have been great if you could hear the music. The stage was beautiful but the sound system was not up to par. So I made my way over to Swimbiosis for a swim-dance. I found myself at an amazing beach-side stage surrounded by a crystal clear Funktion One sound system that begged me to wear ear plugs. I had no idea exactly what I was listening to but it was groovy. The music ebbed and flowed with the beach and its dancers yet I was surprised because I hadn’t listened to music like this since my early rave days. The snare was on the third beat and I was getting low to the ground and head banging like no other.  Someone eventually told me it was Random Rab on the decks that was causing me to lose control. A live guitarist ripped on stage and the sun slowly turned orange and pink behind us. I was happy and with friends and a bit confused because this usually is not my “scene” or whatever that means. Symbiosis worked its magic on me.

GET TINY Copyright © Juliana Bernstein


After sundown I took a long and much needed refueling break and came back out for the beginning of Seth Troxler’s set at Juke Lagoon. Sidenote: Juke Lagoon was without a doubt my favorite venue because the stage was a shack which appeared to have been transported straight out of the Louisiana Bayou. The back of the stage was also host to a free beer and tequila bar which was really refreshing to someone dancing as hard as I do – sidenote discontinued. I went alone and got deep in the crowd. In the past I have had the pleasure of seeing quite a few Troxler sets but left slightly disappointed because they have been disco/happy vibes based sets. This set was the opposite of what I have seen Troxler do on stage. He warmed the crowd up nicely with perfect minimal tracks and built the tension for hours. I befriended almost everyone around me including two Argentinians, a group of Brits, a gang of Silicon Valley coders turned burners, and Dalabill.

I stood in the crowd grooving and at the corner of my eye saw two guys having the time of their lives and laughing. I too wanted to get in on the joke so I asked them what they were laughing at. It turned out I was standing next to Juke Lagoon’s architect and producer, Dalabill. The man was a gracious host who even let me handle the shack’s remote controlled chimney. I was sure to work the chimney only when Seth let the drop go and always on beat. Seth’s set got heavier with time and he played some pretty dark techno tracks which were exactly what the doctor prescribed me before coming to Symbiosis. Seth had the crowd oozing at the seams by the end of his set and Pan-Pot followed ready to bring the heat. Pan-Pot was my number one slot to watch at Symbiosis and they definitely did their job by throwing down heavy techno grooves, but it ultimately was not that impressive because they opted for load and aggressive techno rather than working and milking the crowd into their control. It was fun nonetheless and I watched the sunrise with a group of friends on a massive float which was beached under a tree near the lake – it almost felt like we had turned into a dying washed-up whale seeing the last of our days.

In fact, it was the last day when we woke up on that giant float so we crawled back to camp, took a nap, and hit the road running again to catch Tara Brook’s set at The Other. The Other can only be described as a low-key jungle gym in a tiny corner of the Symbiosis peninsula that features barges, climbable objects, and floating beds. This is where I found myself on Sunday afternoon. The most beautiful feature of this stage were its’ dual DJ booths. One booth was front and center while the other was located in a corner, actually quite hidden from the general area of the stage. Tara played in the hidden booth which allowed everyone else to focus on having fun, dancing, floating, and climbing instead of standing in front of a booth focused on the DJ. This was an unexpected feature that gave a lot of freedom that I really appreciated. The music was on point and featured poolside-good vibe minimalism at its best.

Top 5 sets of Symbiosis 2016 – Family Tree:

Random Rab, Seth Troxler, Pan Pot, Tara Brooks, Patricio

Favorite Art Piece: Delorean Art Boat

Favorite Stage: Juke Lagoon

GET TINY Copyright © Juliana Bernstein


David ‘Dino’ Durkin:

Symbiosis is a truly special event simply because everyone attending is there to ‘get into it’ – whatever ‘it’ may be. There are smiles on everyone’s faces wherever you turn, and you’re greeted with silly, dancing beings everywhere you look. Even in the intense heat the dancing and shenanigans refused to let up.

Symbiosis 2016: Family Tree was a magical and unforgettable gathering that will always live in the hearts of all those who attended it.  This event was the third and final time that the event will be held at the beautiful Woodward Reservoir. There is always something around to captivate the observer. There is art every which way the eye can look: being it sacred air, fire, earth, and water alters; huge umbrellas lining the shorelines; red and blue wooden bulls ready to butt heads; the mass of live painters dispersed throughout the dance floor; the Android Jones Samskara visual dome immersion; the Atoll, The Other, and The Other Floats Away art boats that were transformed into sound stages; the dragon that dispersed fire above the dance floor; or even every single attendee in the way that they interacted with this open, loving community.

After attending several years of Symbiosis, I’ve truly come to learn that this gathering is about the collaboration of art, music, culture, performance, and expression. It allows different tribes to come together as one to co-create a true symbiotic relationship for all.

I arrived on-site as early entry on Wednesday night and grabbed a camping spot as close as I could to the entrance gate to the festival grounds.  I managed to find an amazing spot right in the middle of a little peninsula where there was water to swim in all around us and even a little Symbiosis approved renegade sound camp that played chilled out House music all weekend. Having this sound playing by where we were camped made it all the better when hanging out by the water cooling off on the hot sunny days. We could also hear the music from the louder stages from where we were set up, so we knew exactly when it was time to head out from camp.

GET TINY Copyright © Juliana Bernstein


Thursday morning consisted of meeting new friends and neighbors, while also meeting up with friends who were finally arriving into the grounds.  While being around camp, I always found myself conversing with interesting and unique individuals; be it my friends, or random people who I happened to connect with. I then hurried my crew over to the Juke Lagoon where Spacegeisha was opening up the festival with a top notch, ultra dance-able, genre crossing DJ set. The whole crowd had no problem getting loose as her beats matched the high vibrations of everyone pulsing with anticipation for the weekend ahead. After that set, those who stuck around the Juke Lagoon were treated to some funky glitch music from Soulacybin, Bumble, Pega5us, Birds of Paradise, Psy Fi, and then some psychedelic glitch from Hedflux. Some heavier, trap bass music was going on at The Grotto all night but I only managed to make it over there to gig out to An-ten-nae, who sounded amazingly clean on the stage’s Void Acoustics system.

Friday afternoon had Desert Hearts start off the Swimbiosis stage early and go all day on the Funktion-Ones while everyone floated in the water and danced their booties off to the tech house music. After going back to camp to layer up for the night time, we made it to The Fringe for the first time to catch Gaudi lay down an ultra silly, unique, multiple electronic instrument performance.  After him, Opiuo performed a electronic drum kit inspired, glitched out, break-beat set that I have come to being used to see from the amazing producer from New Zealand. Gramatik then followed up with a funky, ultra electronic set that inspired and impressed all of those who caught it. We then ventured over to the Juke Lagoon, catching the very end of a hard hitting set from X&G into the infamous Ivy Lab from the UK. They did not disappoint as they awed everyone with their dubbed out heavy bass lines and moved and grooved the people across the dance floor. After getting properly house’d at The Grotto for a bit of local SF based DJ Atish, we moseyed back over to the Juke Lagoon where Tsuruda closed out the stage with one of the most unique and stand out sets of the weekend. We ventured as a group over to the Silk Road to try to stay up to catch Kaya Project at sunrise, but we ended up throwing in the towel and heading to sleep for the night to rest up for a packed Saturday. (But from what I heard from friends later, it was an epic, magical, instrumental, ambient sunrise set.)

I arose Saturday ready to take on the day after diving into the water first thing upon awakening in the heat.  It was cooking out in the afternoon, but we managed to make it over to the Juke Lagoon to catch Gaudi in Dub, which was just as entertaining as his first set, but this time with more reggae-dub influence.  Making it over to the Swimbiosis stage for Sun:monx was one of the best decisions of my weekend as the duo laid down one of my favorite sets of the entire weekend.  Sun:monx consists of Opiuo laying down electronic bass grooves on his MIDI drum kit controller as Austero constantly grooves out funky riffs on his guitar.  The whole shoreline was vibing while listening to this duo synchronize over the bumping Funktion Ones. I wanted to stay for Random Rab closing out the Swimbiosis stage for sunset but I had to head out to the find The Other art boat to catch my friend Duffrey throw down. (You’ve always got to support the homies!) I arrived to not find him playing yet and realized that it was Mr. Rogers throwing down an epic glitched out set. I observed that the DJ booth was way out in the water and the speakers were on the land making it for a very dispersed dancing scene. Luckily I had a gut feeling and checked to just the other side of that art boat and low and behold we found him! Duffrey’s set ended up getting moved to The Other Floats Away which I actually enjoyed more because you could get right up on the boat close to the producer and actually feel connected as he laid down the beats with you.  His set on that art boat was easily one of my most memorable of the weekend as we invaded the stage area with homies and had the whole thing shaking as we danced as hard as we could in the close proximity that we were provided.

GET TINY Copyright © Juliana Bernstein


After going back to camp to replenish and layer up, we wandered over to Austero laying down a grooved-out set with constant guitar rifts over the entire thing. It was the beginning of a great and unforgettable night at the Silk Road stage. Young 19 year old prodigy Charles the First came on early and ended up playing all original bassy bangers for almost two hours straight. Then we ventured over to RL Grime at The Fringe to catch what was an interesting and different set which was way too pop influenced for me to enjoy. I really liked some of his older, heavier originals; but he mostly played remixes of popular songs or other recently released remixes that were not his own.  We approached the Family Circus to catch the very end of Dimond Saints, who were accompanied by a trumpet and french horn. I left the Family Circus tent for just a moment, but ended up getting sidetracked and came back to my friend telling me that I had just missed Random Rab playing his MOUR side project set as a collaboration with the performance group the Pyronauts. After a turned down Plastician set due to the 2 AM sound ordinances (the only negative about Symbiosis Gathering), we made our way over to a folky, stringy, yet still bassy Dirtwire set at the Silk Road. For some reason, due to the type of speakers or something, the Silk Road was the only stage that still sounded decent if you got into the ‘sweet spot’ of the speakers.

We made it over to BOGL over at the Family Circus where the set would have been amazing if the sound were turned up, but it was honestly too quiet to even enjoy the music. Quickly scampering back to the Silk Road, we got up close to the stage so that we could see the maestro himself, Ott., go to work as the gangster that he is. His electronic bass lines and melodies bring you under a gravitational pull where you have no choice but to move your body and let go with the music.  The set was complete magic as all of my friends made it to groove with me and he also dropped my all time favorite Ott. song, ‘Squirrels and Biscuits’.  After coming back down to earth from those cosmic vibrations, Headphone Activist took the stage and absolutely blew the entire crowd away.  We were stunned at what we were listening to as the beats moved and grooved us with a smooth, yet always serene flow.  He brought in the Sunday morning sunrise with the perfect vibrations before the galactic goddess of bass, Spacegeisha, took over and closed out the stage with an intricate, groovy, always-on-point two hour smooth glitched out worldly performance that set the vibes for the start of the last day of the festival.  I was continually awed and inspired by her consistency to pull out some of the best bass music from all over the world. She somehow always channels the exact right vibrations to match the moment.

GET TINY Copyright © Juliana Bernstein


Sunday consisted of Oneness and BioLumigen throwing down flowy yet glitched out sets at Family Circus to start off the last day of the festival. Then Partywave threw down a very danceable chilled out trap set before I headed back to camp to prepare for the night. I missed FKJ, Ekali, and Rising Appalachia but I heard raving reviews from all those who happened to catch it.  Making it back out, we caught a bit of glitched out Gladkill at the Juke Lagoon before heading over to get a good spot in the Family Circus for Ott. & The All Seeing-I (which is Ott. plus a live band playing out his tunes on live instruments with him on the keys). I absolutely loved this set as it was turned up and the whole band was vibing and bringing the heat. In the middle of the set, they even went into an improvised jam session which lasted at least ten minutes but felt like a rift into eternity. Having myself and my crew take over the little raised platform in the sweet spot of the dance floor was definitely a highlight of my entire weekend. We had a straight crew of beautiful weirdos take over that spot and we were all gigging every which way and definitely feeling the music. After that, we ventured over to the Silk Road where I caught the very end of psy-break-glitch artist Symbolico, who came out here all the way from Israel. His music is phenomenal and I recommend that you go check it out if you haven’t yet heard it. Then Erothyme took the stage, and was laying down smooth and beautiful melodies before I had to leave to catch artsy FKA Twigs at The Fringe. The music was very different but the experience of that set was like nothing I have ever seen before. The music gave off a very indie feel, and always managed to captivate all of those who were observing. It was definitely a performance art that was a sight to behold. My crew and I left feeling truly awe-inspired and made it over to the end of Thumbprint over at the Silk Road. The stage was scheduled to end but music kept on playing and a live band took the stage as I drifted off back to camp to sleep and take in all that I’d seen and experienced throughout the epic, unforgettable weekend.


Top 5 sets of Symbiosis 2016 – Family Tree:

Ott./Ott.&The All Seeing I, Sun:monx, Spacegeisha 2hr sunrise set, Duffrey, Headphone Activist

Favorite Art Pieces: Dalorean Art Car, Atoll Art Boat Stage, The Other Floats Away

Favorite Stage: Silk Road (always had the best vibrations!)

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