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Looking Inward, Seeking Upward: Five elemental offerings that made Resonance 2019 a truly transformational gathering [EVENT REVIEW]

Resonance Music and Arts Festival just wrapped up their sixth annual gathering, this time taking place at Cooper’s Lake in Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania. The four-day event played out in the quick blink of an eye but the impact Resonance holds on each of its attendees will last a lifetime. Like a photo snapshot captures a forever memory, time stood still and yet passed you by if you weren’t soaking in every moment.

To be frank, Resonance isn’t only a music and arts festival. It’s offerings stretch so much further beyond the imagination. The event is a transformational gathering of like-minded individuals coming together to celebrate life, love, and the human connection, while also inspiring them to invoke change from within. The main goal, which is very apparent in each and every one of the workshops, artists, and musicians, is to teach lessons of the human spirit that are necessary for personal growth and healing.

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Cooper’s Lake, Resonance Music & Arts Festival, 2019. Photo: Chandler Hyatt.

Cooper’s Lake sits at the heart of Resonance’s 500-acre festival grounds, amplifying the beauty of it all. The spread of land was a new location that returning participants were a little apprehensive about from the start. That all soon changed when veterans allowed themselves to soak in the beauty of it all. The lakeshore created a peaceful space for hanging out, attending mindful workshops, admiring exquisite art installations, and camping. The space was absolutely enchanting, deemed the perfect place for sun lovers and night owls to explore within, metamorphosize, and meet their higher selves.

Because the festival ground provided the heavenly natural habitat to transform and transcend, we can’t help but talk about the best aspects of Resonance in terms of the five natural elements. At the risk of sounding like a corny Captain Planet re-run, we began to see every element of Resonance 2019 as equal parts of the same picture: earth, wind, fire, water, and heart.

Earth: Stages erected as foundation roots

Resonance offered five unique stages for attendees to either sit back and relax, get down and dirty in dance, reconnect with themselves, or engage with others.

The appropriately themed main stage, Apex, was strategically placed next to the Blossom stage so as to ensure nonstop music. As soon as an artist ended on one stage, the next artist would immediately begin on the other. Not only were the two stages were all of the headlining acts went off, the spaces laid the foundation of the festival’s epicenter together. Whether lost in the crowd or lounging on the fridges, this crowded complex provided the ultimate place to ground down to earth while bounding around barefoot.

Cooper’s Cove was the next biggest stage placed at the bottom of a slight incline so as to give off an amphitheater feel. Located just a few feet above the lake, attendees could dance upfront or sit down and watch perched from above. Artists like Charlesthefirst, Thunderthief, and Supertask all took to this lakeside stage, allowing patrons to let loose anyway they choose.

As Resonance’s only indoor stage, The Barn was located inside an actual barn, making it a perfect place to escape the baking sun of the day or to stay warm during the chilly nights. EOTO, Goose, Big Something, Psymbionic, and Sunsquabi all kept the party running deep into the twilight hours.

The Dragon Stage stood apart as a festival highlight for many, according to the rumblings among attendees. The structure was built as one lengthy wooden castle with two dragons guarding opposite sides and they stood facing each other. The scene was used as the backdrop for vivid projection mapping, combined with Funktion One sound to create an immersive environment. Things got weird and wonky late at night with artists like Spoonbill, Potions, Dorfex Bos, Chris Karns, Desert Dwellers, and Thriftworks, who all layered on the heavy experimental bass. This sector of the woods became the perfect place for patrons to detach from their egos and reconnect with their hearts and souls.

The Dragon Stage. Resonance Music & Arts Festival, 2019. Photo: Chandler Hyatt.

Wind: The music was as freeing as the passing gusts

Resonance is known for its diverse lineups that cater to many different tastes, all hovering around the same idea of letting the music speak for itself. This year’s musical roster matched effortlessly with the new environment, creating the ideal sound backdrop for the annual gathering. An appealing blend of jam bands and bass artists attracted open-minded, inspired, and creative souls to come together for a celebration of presence in the here and now.

Tycho, Papadosio, Twiddle, Umphree’s McGee, and Pigeons Playing Ping Pong brought the festival to life with their live experiences. Band members each became moving parts of the same wavelength. At the opposite end of the spectrum, Resonance brought bass artists Jade Cicada, Detox Unit, Thriftworks, and Tipper, who took the stage for two noteworthy sets. Tipper’s initial set was a main stage extravaganza on Friday night, bringing wiggly shenanigans to life through uptempo breakbeat. The other set took place during the breathtaking sunset hours on Sunday, providing attendees with the coveted church set. An unexpected rainstorm came pouring in causing a short delay in Tipper’s twilight set, but left an extraordinary double rainbow to soothe the soul.

What? Productions Installation. Resonance Music & Arts Festival, 2019. Photo: Chandler Hyatt.


Fire: The live art singes the pathways of the festival

Resonance is home to bringing in artists from around the world to showcase their talent. With firey art installations stretching in every direction just about everywhere the eye could see, this year was no different. An entire walk-through gallery was dedicated to a few talented artists who each had multiple pieces on display. An emblazoned collection of live painters lined the main stage perimeters, all working to bring their inspired visions of Resonance to life while music blew through their pores.

Resonance was decorated in so many immersive art installations that the ground became an adult playground. The Jelly Dome brought out the inner kid in every attendee and made for a great place to cool down. Color-changing LED crystals surrounded the Jelly Dome and a huge LED floral swinging bench overlooked the lake. They all lit up at night but looked just as beautiful during the day.

The legendary Chris Dyer was busy crafting a mural all weekend long, bringing his unique graffiti style of art inspired by spirituality and tribalism.

Chris Dyer live painting, Resonance Music & Arts Festival, 2019. Photo: Chandler Hyatt.

Home is where the heart is: The workshops

The heart can be talked about on all three levels of the human experience. In the physical sense of our beating hearts. In the mental, or learning to think with our hearts instead of brains, which leads to empathy, compassion, and love. On the spiritual plane, getting out of the mind and into the heart’s center can open a gateway into the ethereal realm. Resonance’s workshops were the place for this.

Workshops took place in two smaller domes, the Home Dome and the Om Dome, which together represent the heart of Resonance. This is where soul strengthening took place. Not to mention, mind and body exercises that fostered balance for all who entered.

Heart-warming and inviting, the Home Dome held all art-related workshops as well as different therapies, lectures, and lessons. They offered henna and sacred geometry workshops, where attendees were taught how to draw sacred geometry and apply it their bodies using organic henna, hand crafted with lots of love. Other Home Dome inclusions covered topics in sacred yoni care, sonic alchemies, and a special workshop on moving through fear to love.

The Home Dome provided a safe space for people to heal by working through their traumas using conscious transformation. Guided group meditations were also held here, which showed attendees how sacred crystals and the power of breath could help foster conscious life change.

The Om Dome offered a variety of yoga classes, ranging from soulful surrender to laughter yoga, as well as breathing exercises, meditations, dances, sound healing, and more. There was a chakra cleansing and crystal charging workshop, where attendees were gifted “Boom Chakra Lakas” which were mini crystals for each of the seven chakras. An intense chakra meditation was provided, followed by the cleansing of the crystals. These transformative classes offered intense emotional release and acceptance throughout.

Together, both spaces represented one of the festival’s most powerful centrifuges as strangers came together on separate planes, laughed and cried together, and left as one family. This is just one of the ways the Home and Ohm Dome fostered the collective vibe of “home is where the heart is.”

The Jelly Dome. Resonance Music & Arts Festival, 2019. Photo: Chandler Hyatt.

Water: Building sustainable infrastructures

Water and sunlight are among the most abundant renewable sources on the planet. Yet, we live in the midst of a global water clean crisis, where solar is outspent and bogged down by the oil/gas industry’s special interests.

Transformational festivals like Resonance are conscious of these facts. They go out of their way to put sustainability into practice rather than on display. Still, festivals are amongst the largest amalgamations of waste, creating quite the Catch-22 for organizers as they try to minimize their carbon footprints.

Resonance places a heavy emphasis on picking up trash, recycling, and composting. Signs were posted all around the venue reminding everybody how important it was to remain earth-centered. The Zero Waste booth offers the chance to win 2 VIP tickets for next year for the attendees who brought the most bags filled with garbage and recycling they collected, as well as water bottles filled with cigarette butts.

The Jelly Dome, Swaysara, and the Home and Om Domes were all powered by Clear Green Solar Machine’s solar panels. As transcendental festivals grow in popularity and size, festivals like Resonance are leading the pack in incentivizing attendees towards leading conscious, sustainable lifestyles.

Resonance Music & Arts Festival, 2019. Photo: Chandler Hyatt.

Like the five natural elements, Resonance is a tiny microcosm of the larger world. In the most idealistic sense, festivals represent the utopian visions of how the world ought to look. Built like an ecosystem of love, it’s the stages, the music, the art installations, the workshops, and the sustainability that form the true essence of Cooper’s Lake.

Attendees do not depart feeling sad that the weekend is over or disgruntled over having to return to “real life,” whatever that may mean. Attendees are sent off feeling like their batteries have been recharged. They leave feeling as if their tanks have been filled with life and love. Most of all, they leave with a profound sense of direction and newfound appreciation for the world around them.

Resonance gives its attendees all the tools to take everything they learned over the four days and carry that light with them wherever they go — they just have to consciously choose to do so.