Backwoods brought West Coast festival culture to Mulberry Mountain
The perfect synthesis of my experience at Backwoods Camping and Music Festival
escaped me all weekend, until late Sunday night when, halfway through closing The Floozies lead singer Matt Hill said it so simply, “Oh my god. I’m having so much fun right now.
Sadly, it’s easy enough to envision the Southeastern United States, with generalized notions of literal hinterland, as devoid of progressive thought and experience. The Backwoods Music & Camping Festival, however, an oasis atop Mulberry Mountain teeming with West Coast festival culture translated into Southern roots, completely invalidates such sentiments. There are or have already existed in the geocentric capital of the country similar welcoming ambiences, let your freak-flag-fly, previously experienced at beloved gatherings like Wakarusa, Highberry and Phunkberry, where art installations, workshops and performances. healing villages, and mindfulness often reigns supreme in addition to music. All you have to do to prepare is leave the expectations behind, come to Mulberry as you really are, revel in its parallel natural beauty and breathtaking vistas, and experience the glorious expanse of Backwoods’ motto: “Good People.” Good music. Good time.”
Among the many tips that the organizers provide ahead of the festival, one nugget best prepares campers for this adventure: We are all friends here. Your time is just as precious roaming the campgrounds as it would be if you were in the foreground on the main stage. Meeting quirky neighbors with whom you might well make lifelong friendships is effortless in this woodland corner. Admire the abundance of wild clothing and body positivity, from talented artists and musicians. Welcoming campfires abound and the good vibes to light your way are everywhere.
Speaking of the ride to the festival grounds, at no point will you feel like you have to rush to the main stage. This is especially true if the exhaustion of the day has finally caught up with you. Here’s the trick: Backwoods is wise enough to tap AVL Productions for the sound design of the Motherland stage, and luckily for you, that means the sound quality, even over 200 yards, is impeccable as it goes. Slow down and settle in with new friends, as each remote light show guarantees a remarkable concert experience.
Party all day and all night
While I don’t claim to have traveled the whole world in search of the perfect sound design, I will no doubt confirm that if Motherland’s main stage provided the final notes to honor my ears before an unexpected demise, I might. transmit to the hereafter in true peace.
When we got to camp, my other half mentioned their disappointment that objectively heavier acts didn’t land the closing set every night. Honestly, I found this approach all the more compelling. Act like Snails, and Jesus space sonically destroys the scene, only for GRIZ, STS9 and The Floozies to seamlessly follow, rebuild and uplift the emotion of the crowd, radiating positive vibes and party all night long.
Each evening, as the lights on the main stage go down, many campers have chosen to continue the party on the Space Station stage. Impactful acts like Yeti and Jade cicada kicked off Thazdope Records’ late-night showcase, hitting heavy bass until dawn all weekend against the backdrop of spectacular light projections. Alternatively, the afternoon sets from this scene served as the perfect complement to the groggy sensibility of any late risers in attendance. I never realized how well a complementary coffee in nature would be suited to bass-laden styles of Brainrack, Yokai, Beardthug, and Ground relay.
Used to camping out on the main stages throughout the festival, I was deeply shocked as I spent time at the Globe Theater, an intimate, barnyard-like venue littered with hay on the muddy ground. A testament to traditional Arkansas roots, folk, bluegrass, Americana and jam bands thrilled crowds and squared dancing all day. Granted, Backwoods doesn’t need the Bassnectars and Jay-Zs of the world; instead, it calls for cherished regional acts like Groove, Arkansauce, and The 1 oz. Jitter to annoy the southern predilections of the crowds.
Leaves no trace
Unlike many large-scale popular festivals, Backwoods chooses not to send an ornate welcome package to festival goers with every ticket. In a much more hands-on and forward-thinking move, he partnered with 501 (c) (3) nonprofit Trees for the Future to plant a tree for each of the over 24,000 weekend attendees. Reverence for the sanctity of Mulberry Mountain was in the spotlight all weekend. By far my favorite memory of this involved returning to the campsite late Saturday night to discover my wonderful neighbors enjoying a dance party with, apparently, hundreds of glow sticks. They provided a delightful two-part explanation: It was just too much fun to light up the now neon-hued ground while filming Sound Tribe Sector 9, and things were currently so brightly lit that no more camper could not trip over our tents. flight lines. Such logic is both adorable and unmistakable, I thought. Shortly after I woke up the next day, these glow sticks were almost completely collected. Well done, family.
The “leave no trace” mentality was evident even across the entire vendor community. For example, I tasted the most delicious tomato bisque from The Grilled Cheese Incident with a rather helpless wooden spoon. The awkward moment I spent ineffectively shoveling hot, freshly made soup down my esophagus was beautifully offset by a tremendous sense of pride in our collective respect for this place we called our home.
Daily visits to Deep Ellum Art Village provided the serenity and sanctuary of non-stop partying. Whether it’s a form of healing as simple as group yoga or as deep as the Sunday Post-Festival Depression Prevention Session, Backwoods provides campers with the tools to maintain well-being and spread the Backwoods Way well beyond their momentary mountain excursion.
Noteworthy here are ten-minute sonic healing sessions in which campers sit together with their eyes closed amid several gently vibrating gongs. At first glance, I immediately remembered a digital art installation in Houston Day to night
festival, that of Ryoichi Kurokawa Octfalls. The backwoods conceptual iteration, raw and natural, therapeutically softened any nerves the wilderness has brought.
Immersion also took the form of sound emancipation, as a young man moved late into the night in Deep Ellum to teach passers-by how easy it is to make music.
If we remove our lens to see the big picture, these moments perfectly illustrate the Backwoods Way that I have come to appreciate so deeply. Faced with new experiences in uncertain places, especially at the festivals we venture to along the way, there will undoubtedly be a friendly face and a knowledgeable hand to guide you to the other side.