The stars at night are big and bright deep in the heart of Texas. Equally bright were the myriad of LED flow props and the fire circle that burned each night as the sunset on Blackland Ranch, northeast of Dallas. First-timers and pro flow artists alike were side-by-side experiencing the joy of physical movement with a large variety of props, from poi and rope dart to dragon staff and juggling clubs. The impressive lighting rigs and projection-mapped visuals were also out in force to say their piece and contribute to the nighttime landscape. The inaugural Quasar Festival lit up the night in a variety of ways and brought a special slice of music and flow culture to northeast Texas.
From its inception, the organizers of Quasar Festival assigned themselves an ambitious task: create an environment that was just as focused on the flow and visual artists as it was the musical artists. Typically, most events seem to focus on one, where the others often become an afterthought: either the music lineup is stacked with flow workshops hastily tacked on, or there is a flow gathering with amazing workshops and jams, but with an ill-conceived music lineup. Although many events have been successfully bridging the gap with excellent attention paid to both music and flow arts, such as California’s Universal Flow Gathering, there still remains work to be done to unite the two cultures permanently.
As the flow arts scene becomes more popular, the emergence of flow-centric festivals across the nation is gaining undeniable speed. People everywhere are picking up a litany of props and even crafting their own custom ones as they seek to express themselves through physical motion.
Music festival attendees are no doubt familiar with the back and sides of any outdoor stage’s crowd, populated with glowing props and gracefully moving humans. It was only a matter of time before more attention was given to the flow arts, as the variety of prop-based movements are often known.
Quasar Festival seized on this opportunity, even taking the rare and almost unheard-of step of adding featured instructors to the bill alongside music performers. Although there are often workshops that teach movement and flow at these events, the instructors are often only shown on a daily schedule and very rarely on the main lineup card.
The workshops themselves are often a significant draw for potential attendees, who hope to take a class from their favorite flow artist. The rise of social media and the ease of accessing short video has allowed prominent flow artists to gather significant followings, to the point that many of them become very well-known in the community. It’s this connection that makes the workshops a special facet of these events, as festivalgoers are able to connect directly with performers that they’ve followed for some time in an intimate setting.
At Quasar, attendees were able to take workshops from a variety of nationally-recognized performers, from renowned rope dartists Flow Mayhem and Frank and Sara Hatsis, to multi-prop extraordinaire Rager Rabbit, to poi master Drex and levi-wand legend Lux Luminous, as well as a legion of others too numerous to name. The workshops took place throughout the day and involved every prop imaginable. At night, contests were held for different props, including the popular LED gloves and LED orbits. In fact, the event placed an emphasis on LED props, where most flow gatherings revolve around fire. While there was a fire circle, the flavor of the event was noticeably geared towards LEDs, which is unique in the flow festival scene as well.
The atmosphere at any flow festival is noticeably different; everywhere on the grounds, there is a breathtaking collection of human movement and living art. The main stage at Quasar featured a fire circle where artists and attendees could utilize the fire versions of their props, and the bass music vibrating the scene provided an excellent soundtrack. The secondary stage, a short walk through a lit-up forest, provided a good breath of fresh air and featured more LED flow in an intimate setting, also with pleasantly booming bass from the forest grove’s sound system.
The projection-mapped visuals that took place on each stage were also a refreshing representation of the detail that the festival team so clearly paid attention to. Along with the well-curated music and flow lineups, visual artists Datagrama, Actualize, Daydreemer and Nimbus Labs were on site to provide a next-level visual experience. This completed the trifecta of any good artistic experience: sound, movement, and vision.
An independent production like Quasar Festival is always going to encounter significant logistical hurdles, especially in the first year of an event. The way the team handled the inevitable obstacles was impressive, notably dealing swiftly with a generator failure on the main stage and ensuring that the music was back running promptly. Blackland Ranch, while beautiful and a perfect location for such an event, is also in the middle of a Texas-massive region of farmland with very little serious infrastructure nearby. This makes it even more impressive that the team was able to overcome such a potential catastrophe. It’s almost certain that there was a long list of potential issues that never became problems, due to swift and professional action by event staff.
All of this was the backdrop for an excellent music lineup: the likes of ill.Gates, Defunk, Detox Unit, Spoonbill, and many more graced the stage with a dazzling selection of today’s forward-thinking bass music. Also featuring a selection of rising artists as well as local talent, there was tremendous creativity bursting from every speaker on each day of the three-day weekend. Even with a less formidable lineup, the weekend would still have been a well-crafted and enjoyable experience filled with flow and art, but the top-level musical performances were the feather in the proverbial cap that rounded out the festival perfectly.
Coordinating three days of music, art, and flow is never an easy task, and the Quasar team expertly rose to the challenge while championing a new style of event. Featuring flow artists and visual artists in the same breath as the music talent—and on the same lineup card– is a rare and welcome step, and it’s no wonder that their innovative formula was so successful. The world could always use more unification, both among human beings and among the variety of arts we participate in, and Conscious Electronic applauds Quasar for boldly moving forward with that vision.