Tour Tales

Adventures In Moksha 2012

Adventures In Moksha 2012

Art Basel week serves as a meeting of the minds for some of today’s most creative thinkers. And, last week, the city of Miami was transformed into a metropolitan canvas, dowsed with all forms of expression. As the sun set Saturday, it appeared as if the city’s thirst to party was growing exponentially. Copious galleries and clubs opened their doors catering toward festival attendees, but the most anticipated late-night soirée occurred at the legendary Moksha Family Arts Collective. Located in the middle of Little Haiti, Moksha is truly it’s own weird bubble of an artistic paradise. In what appeared to be a gathering for the Burner community in preparation for Burning Man, Moksha embraced the Art Basel chic and drew an eclectic crowd of Burners, ravers, hipsters and a wide array of flat-brimmed, pinned-out dreadies.

Art Basel week serves as a meeting of the minds for some of today’s most creative thinkers. And, last week, the city of Miami was transformed into a metropolitan canvas, dowsed with all forms of expression. As the sun set Saturday, it appeared as if the city’s thirst to party was growing exponentially. Copious galleries and clubs opened their doors catering toward festival attendees, but the most anticipated late-night soirée occurred at the legendary Moksha Family Arts Collective. Located in the middle of Little Haiti, Moksha is truly it’s own weird bubble of an artistic paradise. In what appeared to be a gathering for the Burner community in preparation for Burning Man, Moksha embraced the Art Basel chic and drew an eclectic crowd of Burners, ravers, hipsters and a wide array of flat-brimmed, pinned-out dreadies.

The Venue:
Upon entering the venue, visitors transcended into an alternate universe saturated in sensory stimulation and artistic captivation. The main gallery contained hundreds of astonishing psychedelic exhibits, as well as the main stage for the evening. The production arrangement for the main stage included an elaborate light rig complemented by protruding lasers, a projection screen, and a series of LED cubes on each side designed for projection mapping. With a relatively low stage, and a bar within prime viewing position, it seemed this gallery had transformed into the ideal setting for an intimate artistic adventure. It was a perfect environment for some of the best acts of the night.

Outside stood the secondary stage, complete with enchanting trees surrounding, and a campfire to commence around. The outdoor stage was the setting for mellower acts, including Moksha regular Baga Tracks and the Moksha Roots All-Stars, and a surprise, ska-heavy set from South Florida natives, the Heavy Pets. The outdoor stage was a calm and relaxing setting, and served as a great place to take a break from the madness occurring at the other two stages. Unfortunately, the stage suffered some sound issues throughout the night, most apparent during Baga Tacks’ performance. The outdoor stage was also the setting for the fire dancers. Adjacent to the stage, near the vending area, was the ever-popular “Moksha-Mushroom,” a sculpture about seven feet tall that’s cap circumscribed a small, private standing area complete with a counter to rest drinks. The inside of the mushroom was covered in day-glow paint and served as a social hot spot, and an ideal scene to mingle with fellow guests.

The third stage was located in a room in the back corner of the venue and served as a hub for many of the featured electronic acts and VJs. The DJ booth was located inside a pyramid with two spheres suspended symmetrically from both sides, all of which was designed for projection mapping. Directly next to the booth hung a screen used for projecting visuals, and across the dance floor stood a sand pit with mesmerizing motion-sensing lights – this provided welcomed amusement for countless “wide-eyed” guests. The third stage had immense potential for copious raging dance parties, but unfortunately, the over-abundance of fairly generic-sounding dubstep and trance acts deterred many partygoers. The one performer able to draw a sizeable crowd, MOBIUS8, used his unique space orchestration and laser morphing visuals to spawn the interest of the masses. A unique remix of “Age of Aquarius” drew more interested spectators, however, as the show progressed the intense visuals became negated by generic dubstep beats and overpowering bass that seemed to drown out all melodic properties, causing the crowd numbers to dwindle. Although his visuals were top notch, he was unable to cultivate a sound that maintained a large audience – it seemed many people were only interested in his visual presence, which resulted in a short-lived pit stop, through the unique realm.

Performance High Notes
7th World – Built around percussive mastermind, Robert Thomas, Jr. (Santana, The Weather Report) this group provided a unique transient odyssey through time and space via experimental improvisation. Although it was the band’s first time playing together, they successfully melted the minds of all attendees. Their blend of spacey synthesizers, brain-busting bass lines, gyrating guitar riffs and a prominent percussive presence yielded an enchanting musical experience.

Toubab Krewe – Ashville’s afrobeat all-stars unleashed a rip-roaring set fueled by raw energy and artistic collaboration. Guests were lucky enough to witness a rare treat when the band called steel-pedal guitarist and front man Roosevelt “The Doctor” Collier of the Lee Boys to join them on stage for the majority of their set. The Sorcerer of Steel helped add a tinge of southern blues to the afro-infused melodies. The pinnacle of the set occurred when an acrobat emerged from back stage and began performing a routine on a suspended aerial apprentice. As she contorted her body in every conceivable direction, her movements synchronized with the music – as she began to spin, the tempo increased and began to peak as she reached her maximum speed. From the conclusion of her routine spawned an absurd drum solo by Luke Quaranta, who happened to be blindfolded. Witnessing this astonishing fusion of expression was a breathtaking display of artists collaborating as a cohesive unit to manifest electrifying and captivating works of art. It was also quite enjoyable when bassist David Pransky jumped into the audience for an impromptu dance session with a man dressed as a rabbit on stilts.

Govinda – This groundbreaking Austin-based producer achieved the most success of any electronic act at Moksha. His incorporation of Middle Eastern blissful beats, dancey electro grooves, vibrating bass lines, and, of course, his captivating live violin, yielded a set-long heightened consciousness for the entire audience. The musical climax came in the form of an extremely funky remix of beloved ‘80s track “Down Under,” originally by Men At Work. His multidimensional performance included a live painter, as well as a peacock-dressed belly dancer. The accumulation of sensory stimulation penetrated every soul in the room, leaving all audience members entranced.

An afterthought: Despite sound issues mostly occurring at the outdoor stage (which ranged from static, to fuzz, to ear-piercing feedback), the music was enjoyable, but would have been more so with crisper, less problematic sound. And, with such an incredible venue and elaborate stages, it was a bit of disappointment when a large portion of musical acts fell below expectations. Although it was obvious that the emphasis was on the fusion of all forms of expression and the overall experience, rather than just the musical acts, it would have been nice to see some more prominent acts at such a great venue. The electronic acts (with the exception of Govinda) seemed especially run-of-the-mill. The stage for the electronic acts was immaculate, so it would have been nice to see a few of the performers match the stage’s majesty with a great delivery. Overall, the Moksha gallery hosted a fantastic event. The production value was high, there were multiple enjoyable acts, the staff and security were extremely helpful and pleasant, and the incorporation of circus acts (such as fire dancers and an aerial contortionist) created an especially unique experience. A true safe-haven for the Burner community, Moksha is a must-see for anyone remotely interested in unique and experimental artistic expression.

Photos by Melodysiac © 2012

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victor

December 12th, 2012

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