Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Summer Meltdown 2012

"What a great time dude!"
"I'm Melting!"
"Did you see them play down by the river?"

Were all phrases that could be heard at the 2012 Summer Meltdown Festival held every year at the Whitehorse Amphitheater in Darrington, Washington - 12 times running. This time around Sensebellum and friends travelled in group up to the mountains north of Seattle to see what it was all about!

It was myself, Casey Scalf, as Lead Visual Artist, good friend Tate Petersen, Zixent (Rashad Collins), and a host of other mates made up the Visual Arts campground. Settled next to the Chazzam sign guys and the people at the Wild Buffalo Camp we all shared the hospitality of the evergreen woods and their sun blocking power to let it be chill. After breaking camp it was time to go explore the grounds and oh was it not the most perfect setup I've seen. In fact, I had seen this place before. It happened to be the site of the first music festival I had ever been to, The Classic Rock Festival of 2006 when I was in 8th grade - gooood times. Either way, the grounds are flanked by a slow river with the Main stages and areas to gather caught between the forrest and grassland camping.

Walking up to the sites of the stage we got everything setup. Glowing orbs: check. Massive amounts of sound equipment: check. High powered short throw projector for Northern Lights stage: check. Stretchable, mappable fabrics: also check. It was a great setup from a production standpoint too. The boys and girls at Meltdown had done everything to make sure this year was the best (and believe me it was!) including a killer meal for everyone working there to enjoy at night!

During the days it was mostly chilling: hanging out at camp in the shade, walking to the river and swimming with strangers in the nude; as casual as it could be. Once afternoon hit everyone would head down and grab some good vibes by the main stage as it warmed up. Then, just as the sun lowered past the trees, it was time for Sensebellum to shine. Integrating live projections with 11 stretchable shapes and a bamboo structure that covered the stage was a dream. Using Senses, a live visual content mixing program developed in house, along with a mapping tool, a beautifully lit and crafted stage came to life.

Working the visual elements at Meltdown was a realt treat. Not only was the structure fantastic but the parameters of the content resulted in a interesting content workflow. Creating and mixing visuals for live electronic music is a completely different animal than say blue grass, folk, jazz, or funk - yet great as well. I worked with the different musicians to find something that was suited to their style. Whether it be animating album artwork for The True Spokes of That 1 Guy, maybe integrating footage from the river of clouds on site for Ha Ha Tonka, or, my favorite, was working in sacred geometry, flower of life, and other forms into Acorn Project's set (as per request).

Then, as the Northern Lights stage wore down it was time to switch gears to the Late Night tent for some electronic magic. Using Canvas sections of the large outdoor tent a visual medley was unleashed from a mapped out triangular section. Once again, Senses cut the loops, modulated, mixed, and brought out all the crystalline themes of the tent and camp for a end of the weekend blast off.

When the 6th day on site rolled around, it was still sooo much fun but everyone was feeling it. We were all totally melted... Yet, still in good spirits - especially when the hot pancakes rolled out that last morning.

All in all it was a really great time. I want to thank Preston Hall once again for inviting Sensebellum out there. I'd also like to thank all the great musicians who played and brought down the house every night. I'd like to thank the volunteers and staff for working so hard and putting it all on. See you next year!

- Casey