Should Live Music Be Epic or Should it Be Accessible?

Emotions are flying high in my little corner of the music community. The cause? A brand new, Pretty Lights-curated festival called Island of Light.

Island of Light is an all-inclusive, 4-day music-and-sun-and-luxury experience taking place this December in Puerto Rico. In addition to 3 sets of Pretty Lights with a live band, it boasts a lineup that is, for lack of a better word, incredible. It features a main stage on a private island that one can access only by boat. Poolside sets. Buffets. Drinks. Imagine going to a beautiful island resort and hearing your favorite music while catching some sun with thousands of people who either are, or could be, your close friends. People are pumped. Nay, ecstatic.

Yet Island of Light has made many hearts sink.  The reason being, of course, that when you factor in a flight on top of the ticket price (the all-inclusive part is not optional), it’s going to run attendees a minimum of $2,000.

Another recent Pretty Lights announcement has also led to some disappointment, albeit less. This summer, for the first time ever, PL will play at the astoundingly beautiful Gorge Amphitheater in Washington. This breathtaking yet somewhat inaccessible venue is a mere $500+ flight from New York City, so it took me (and others) just a few short minutes to go from “errr I probably can’t make this but let me at least think about it” to “WOMP.”

The Gorge

If you’re familiar with Pretty Lights, you know that over the last few years he has forgone the traditional multi-city tour in favor of fewer, yet more finely produced and curated weekend-long events, in addition to the standard annual slew of festival sets. While this is a huge bonus for those who live closer to the action – Colorado in particular is lucky enough to always have a Red Rocks show, and in both 2015 and 2016 had an additional weekend in Telluride just a few weeks later. Prior to the Gorge and Puerto Rico announcements, Telluride was unofficially considered the “premiere” Pretty Lights event. I was sadly never able to attend.

I was, however, fortunate to see Pretty Lights 3 times in 2016:

  • Night 2 of his weekend in New Hampshire (a 5 hour drive away, the closest of his weekend-long stops)
  • Meadows Festival in the Citi Field parking lot
  • New Year’s Eve 2-night run in New Orleans

Ask most PL fans to rank those and while you may have some debate between New Hampshire and New Orleans at the top, Meadows would almost certainly consistently come in third.

If I had to repeat any of those experiences, though, I would choose Meadows. There would not even be a close second. It’s not because I didn’t love NH or NOLA (I did). It’s not because the music was so much better at Meadows (it wasn’t, though it certainly wasn’t worse either). It’s because going to New Hampshire and New Orleans involved stressing over who my crew was, where I was sleeping, how much things cost, how I would get there, and a host of other stressful and expensive details.

When my friend and I went to Meadows back in October, we took ourselves out to a delicious brunch, hopped on the subway for the festival, danced all day, and hopped on the subway home.

There was no stress. I did not have to pack a suitcase or get on a plane. If my friend had dropped out of our plans, I would have gone anyway and had a great time without having to scramble for a replacement.

Such is the benefit of seeing live music in your own city. It’s easy. What you get out of it is lightyears beyond what you put into it.

Was Meadows an “epic” Pretty Lights set? I suppose not, compared with Telluride or New Orleans (where there was a WATERFALL on stage). But it was one of my favorite PL sets ever. I was in a great mood because I saw so much other fantastic music that day and the rain that was forecast for the day had magically held off. I was with one of my closest friends seeing one of our favorite artists and while it may not have been EPIC it was still incredible. No waterfall needed.

I love memorable experiences, I truly do. My one trip to the Red Rocks to see PL 2 summers ago is a life highlight for me. I crave the rush that comes with unique outings, which is why I’m excited to return to Electric Forest this year and which is why I chase every weird or fun event that exists here in New York. But there comes a time when I have to draw the line, when I have to say that something, even the most potentially thrilling event of them all, may very well not be worth the time and money that has to go into it. In this regard, I’m almost lucky. Because I can afford Island of Light – it would sting pretty badly, sure, but I could do it. I’m just opting not to because I know it’s not the wisest of decisions. Many other fans aren’t as lucky. They can’t even entertain the idea of going.

For me, this raises a question – to an artist, what is the value gained in creating memorable, unique experiences for fans at the expense of alienating so many others? If The Gorge or Island of Light were one option amidst other opportunities to see Pretty Lights at smaller shows with a lower production value, I think a lot of people would feel less upset at not being able to go. Because when it comes down to it, seeing an “average” (yet still awesome) set from your favorite artist is better than not seeing him at all. But with fewer, more expensive shows, many fans are precluded from being able to attend any shows at all.

Perhaps living in New York has spoiled me in that I’m so used to every artist stopping through here on their tours. Not only that, but they’re excited about it, because it’s NEW YORK. Sure, I choose to travel for music all the time, but until now I’ve never been forced to. If I want to see Pretty Lights this year, I have to leave the state. If I want to see Pretty Lights in an event that is not just any ol’ festival set, that is the result of an outpouring of creative energy and hard work and that Derek would probably look at it and say, “this is my baby,” I have to travel over 1,000 miles and spend over $1,000.

I would never want an artist to do anything other than express what’s in their soul. I firmly believe that you have to follow the path of your creativity, and I know this is something that music fans – or film fans – or whatever fans – don’t always like. When someone you admire takes their art in a new direction that you no longer enjoy, it sucks. But you must allow them to do what they want to do. Or need to do.

But you know what else sucks? Feeling excluded from something that once felt universal and open. No one should consider putting themselves into major credit card debt just to see live music (I have seen this). No one should consider skipping a friend’s wedding so they’d have more vacation time to allot to Pretty Lights shows (I have seen this too). Live music is a joyful experience that should be available to anyone who wants it. Luxury experiences – the EPIC ones to write home about – those can stay too. But there should be options at a variety of price points and locations.

Music can – and should – be both epic and accessible. Even if it’s not always at the same time.

I Want to Marry Into Vinyl

Some people strive to marry into money. I would love to marry into a good vinyl collection.

If you follow me on Twitter, you will occasionally see me lament the fact that I am not cool enough for vinyl. Which I’m not, sadly. The cool associated with a record collection is an effortless sort of cool. Being a vinyl collector says, “I have casual nostalgia but not a desperate attachment to the past.” It demonstrates an appreciation for the quality listening experience and an admirable level of music-loving.

I like to think that I’m cool (ish), but certainly not in a record-collecting, hipster sort of way. I’m cool in the way that I’ve set up enough apps on my phone that I can tell you what good (and bad) shows are happening at any given moment and I’ve found the right social media accounts to follow if you want to win concert tickets (which I do, and often). I am not, “welcome to my humble abode let me put on a record and give you a delicious local craft beer” cool. I do not have any craft beer in my fridge. I’m not even entirely sure what “craft beer” means.

There are other reasons why I’ve never started a record collection, and those are the reasons that are at the core of every New York problem – money and space (or lack thereof). The money I currently put into my music collection consists of the $9.99 I give to Spotify every month for my premium membership. And that’s it. Can vinyl top that, and by “top that” I obviously mean NOT top that, money wise? No. Furthermore, I have exactly zero space for a record player unless the floor has suddenly become an appropriate place for a turntable and also a place where I would not step on it resulting in injury to both foot and record player.

But the thing is, I really like music and love the peace and enjoyment that it can bring to my moments relaxing at home. I’ve been trying to be more thoughtful about how I curate my space, and after figuring out a good lighting scheme (candles!) and getting my essential oil diffuser going (there’s no better way to make your room smell like a massage parlor than by giving it a boost of lavender scent!), amping up my home listening situation (was that a pun? I think it was!) seems like it should be next on the list.

You know what makes you feel like a real music fan? Definitely not listening to music through your phone, that’s what. And though I’m likely never going to want to develop the infrastructure to get a vinyl collection going, I think if I magically inherited one, I would really take to it. It would make me cooler by proxy, I think. Almost as if you’re not cool enough to have a record collection until you actually have one, and then all of a sudden, you are.

The obvious solution here, of course, is to marry into some really good vinyl. I’m talking a quality turntable, not one of those dinky ones they sell at Urban Outfitters (no offense UO, love ya!) and a collection that spans the decades – some classics (Beatles, natch) and current albums that can only be truly appreciated on vinyl. I mean, how much better would this sound on a record vs YouTube (no offense to you either, YouTube!)??

Yes, obviously one of my first vinyl purchases would be Pretty Lights’ “A Color Map of the Sun” album.

Even though records cost more than my Spotify premium membership, if I had a music-loving husband to start off my collection I would gladly invest the money into expanding it. So if you know anyone, send ’em my way! As a thank you you will receive an exclusive invite to one of my listening parties where I will grace your ears with excellent music for an evening. And snacks. And maybe even some craft beer.

What’s Your Power Song?

I was working at a tech conference some years ago, listening to a Nike exec talk about Nike Plus, a pre-Fitbit fitness tracker.

He explained that Nike Plus allows you to select a power song. This is the song that pumps you up when you need that extra boost of energy during your run. Maybe you’re feeling sluggish, or maybe you’re about to head into the home stretch of a half marathon. You press one button, your pre-selected power song comes on, and BOOM – the little kick of adrenaline helps you get through. He continued:

“We at Nike collect a lot of data from our Nike Plus users. There is one song that people overwhelmingly choose as their power song. The next most highly selected song is nowhere even close to this one. And I will give a free Nike Plus system to the first person who can guess what that song is.” It took about 2 seconds before someone in the audience shouted out the answer and received a Nike Plus.

Can you guess? I’ll let you think about it.

*cue Jeopardy music*

It is…

Eye of the Tiger!

“Oh….duh,” you are surely now thinking to yourself.

Now, as a non-runner (thanks to a cocktail of a bad knee and laziness), I don’t have or need a power song. My exercise insists almost entirely of taking various fitness classes in which the instructor telling me what to do is motivation enough to keep going.  But today I was in a particularly intense boot camp class, the kind where sweat was dripping onto the floor and my quads were slowly (or quickly) turning into noodles. I was tired. And then a great song came on and I felt completely re-energized and continued doing my seemingly endless set of mountain climbers.

That song was this one:

SO GOOD, RIGHT? A classic. And while not officially my power song, it was, at least for today, pretty close to one.

Do you have a power song? Comment! Tweet at me! Send me an ESP wavelength or whatever. I’m so fascinated by this concept.

It’s Weird That Hippies Rage to Bassnectar

bassnectar

This exact phrase has been sitting in the “Blog Posts” note in my phone for probably around a  year now (RIP, Basslights). Every time I open this note to review old ideas I see this and think, “Past self, that is so true. You are very wise.”

I’ve talked about Bassnectar a lot on this blog, although I’ve been kind of underwhelmed by the Nectar performances I’ve seen this year. Bassnectar, for the uninitiated, is a producer of what are often intense, hip hop-influenced, bass-heavy tracks. While he does have his more mellow moments, Nectar is an excellent go-to if you’re in the mood for some good ol’ fashioned head banging. His shows are high energy and high intensity and should come with a whiplash warning. Here are a few Bassnectar tracks to get you up to speed:

The crazy thing about Bassnectar is that, while obviously not true 100% of the time, a lot of his fans are just the most peaceful looking of hippies. We’re talking tie dye, dreadlocks, those funky pinecone necklaces (what are those about, anyway?), and crystals as far as the eye can see.

Let me tell you a story. When I was in high school, some friends and I decided to make a video for a French class assignment. We were reading Le Petit Prince at the time, and so for our video we decided to create an entirely new set of planets and act them out. My friend Arielle and I (this isn’t me just hanging out by myself, she is a real, live, non-me person who just happens to share my name) visited, among others, the Planet of the Spice Girls (“Si vous voulez être mon amoureux, vous devez être avec mes amis!”), and the Planet of 1969.  The Planet of 1969 involved us putting on some of not-me-Arielle’s mom’s vintage funky clothing, sitting on the ground, and aimlessly strumming on guitars while acting stoned and repeating “Paix” in a sing-songy voice to whichever friend we had roped into playing the part of the prince. It did not matter that we knew nothing about 1960’s hippie culture, being stoned, or playing the guitar.

The reason I share this story is that because visually, Bassnectar fans often remind me of the sleepy, amicable hippie vibe we were going for in our Le Petit Prince video (and also I wanted you to know how very cool I was in high school). While I realize it is quite unfair to judge a book by its cover, life isn’t always fair, or whatever. That’s why I don’t get paid to pet puppies all day.

So the point is, I see Bassnectar fans and I expect them to give me a sleepy smile and strum fake chords on their guitars and flash me the “Paix” sign, but then I go to a Bassnectar show and they are going absolutely HAM (that’s “Hard As a Motherfucker,” Mom). The dreadlocks go flying and it’s a total trip, a complete disconnect between expectation and reality. And while I stand by what I wrote in my Notes app, that it’s “weird,” it’s also one of the many things I love about music and this scene in particular. Always keeping you on your toes, full of surprises.

 

Jukely, Explained (Kind of)

For anyone who goes to concerts as often as I do, the concert subscription service Jukely is a game-changer. Though I’ve been meaning to write a post about Jukely for awhile, I’m glad I waited until now (or…was lazy) because their membership options keep changing and even if I had written something last week it would be somewhat outdated by this point.

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Basically, Jukely charges you a monthly fee, a la Netflix or a gym membership, and then you have unlimited access to concerts. You pick up a pass on the app or website, go to a show and check in both at will call and on your phone (the first so the venue lets you in, the second so Jukely knows you went), and that’s it. If you don’t attend a show, Jukely blocks your account for 48 hours, as a way of discouraging people from hogging precious passes and not using them.

Jukely is wonderful, but it is not without its caveats, the most important being that while Jukely gives you access to a lot of shows, it does not give you access to all shows. So if you’re hoping to use your Jukely membership to see one of Billy Joel’s monthly sold-out Madison Square Garden concerts, think again. But a few weeks on Jukely will give you a pretty good idea of what venues or promoters tend to show up there, so you can often predict what’s going to be available.

The second caveat is that you do not have access to a full calendar of available shows. Different membership tiers allow you access to shows a certain number of days in advance. A basic membership will give you concerts 2 days out (i.e. you can see Friday’s concerts on Wednesday), an extended membership will show you 5 days’ worth of events, or an annual membership will now give you 8 days of concerts. There are also loyalty rewards, so if you remain a Jukely member for a certain number of months, they’ll reward you by extending your view so you get access to shows even earlier. Early access is pretty crucial for the more popular shows, as Jukely only has a limited allotment of tickets and if you’re a 2-day member your odds of picking up a pass to a big-name act is pretty slim.

The third caveat about Jukely is that you can only hold on to 1 pass at a time, or 2 with an upgraded membership. So, as an annual member, if I claim a spot to a show 8 days in advance, I can’t attend any other Jukely shows or pick up any new passes until I check in to that show on my phone. So you really have to be thoughtful about how you want to use your account – sometimes waiting the 8 days is worth it, but other times I choose to just attend other concerts in the mean time and then cross my fingers and hope that there will still be a ticket left for me closer to the day of.

Which brings me to Jukely Standby. Standby is a relatively new function where you can put yourself on a waiting list for shows whose Jukely spots have all been claimed. In the days leading up to a show, members are allowed to pick up and drop passes as they change their minds, so occasionally spots to full shows will become available. If someone drops a pass to a show you’re on Standby for, you get a text message telling you a ticket is available and giving you a small window to claim it. In the month or so that Standby has been around, I have only ever gotten off the wait list for a show once (out of maybe 5 times I’ve tried). I had a 20 minute window during which to claim a pass for Exmag at Baby’s All Right. Luckily for me, I was taking a wonderful Saturday afternoon nap during that entire 20 minute window, so when I woke from my nap I saw not only the text telling me that a pass was available, but also the text telling me the window had closed. Damn. I put myself back on Standby but never got a pass. Womp womp.

To be honest, I’m not a huge fan of the Standby feature. I used to always have really great luck picking up passes to previously sold-out shows just by checking Jukely at 11:01am or 4:59pm. 11:00am is when new shows are released (2 days in advance if you’re a regular member, 5 days out for extended, etc.), so when the new shows become available at 11, sometimes people will drop passes to shows they were holding onto in favor of picking up a pass for a show that was just released. 5:00pm is when the guest lists close for each day’s shows, so right before the 5pm mark is when a lot of people drop passes when they realize they can no longer attend and don’t want their accounts to be frozen for 2 days. All of this is null and void now that the Standby feature is here, because even if people drop passes at 11:00am or right before 5:00pm, it’ll go to someone on the wait list.

All of these things make Jukely sound sort of difficult, but I’ve found that it’s enhanced my music life in a huge way. I’ve used Jukely both to see shows I really wanted to see, as well as shows I was mildly curious about but never would have paid for. Having the shows be part of my existing membership also puts less pressure on me to make a whole night out of going to concerts, and I often will stop by a show for 20 or 30 minutes just to check out a band I didn’t know much about. Jukely also helps me learn about shows that I wouldn’t have heard about otherwise – such as tonight’s Paula Cole show that I’m going to at City Winery. Remember Paula Cole? I DON’T WANNA WAIT! FOR OUR LIVES TO BE OVERRRR.

I’ve been a Jukely member since January 2015, and I spent much of 2015 bouncing up and down between different membership levels as it suited my needs. In 16 months I’ve spent approximately $467 on Jukely membership fees, and attended $1,472 worth of shows. This doesn’t even count the times where I’ve had a Jukely membership with a +1, where I was able to bring a friend without any additional cost. Last year I brought a friend to one day of Electric Zoo, which right there is another $150 of value on its own.

My annual subscription is up in December, and I’m likely just going to downgrade to a monthly membership when that happens. It’s a few more dollars per month but because I’ve been a Jukely member for a long time, my viewing window will remain exactly the same due to the loyalty program. Plus, I’ll have the option to upgrade to 2 passes for a month at a time, if I want. As an annual member, upgrading to 2 passes would impact the remaining 8 months of my membership, so they’d charge me a decent chunk of money that I’m not willing to part with.

Jukely is available in a ton of different cities, and while I have yet to use it elsewhere, I imagine that I will at least use it in Philadelphia at some point this year. It’s really opened up option for me (especially having pre-paid for a year’s worth of service) and I’ve gotten some awesome new concert experiences out of it. Hooray!

More Music ‘Moji

I remember quite clearly how overjoyed many of my friends were when Apple introduced the taco emoji to the iPhone. As an Android user I suppose I should be jealous, though to be honest I’m a low-level emoji user and an infrequent taco eater. I have noticed, however, a distinct lack of a drums emoji, which I have tried to locate on several different occasions before realizing that I would have to suffice with words to express whatever percussion-related sentiment I was trying to convey (probably something to do with Big Gigantic, which is comprised of a saxophone and drums).

If Android were to add a drums emoji I would probably be as excited as my taco friends.

So this got me thinking about other music emoji I’d like to be able to use when texting people about shows, songs, and the like. Here’s my list (emoji creators, take note!):

  • Drums
  • A ticket (this could be multi-functional – film and theater lovers, this is for you too!)
  • A stage with a band (even in a tiny emoji I think they could make this work)
  • Dancing, either one or 2-3 people. (Regular Android texting doesn’t have this but Whatsapp does! Does this mean iPhones have it? Now I might be jealous.)
    o-DANCER-570        nrm_1417796868-screen_shot_2014-12-05_at_162728
    I don’t know if either can-can lady or the dancing cat alien twins really exemplifies what I’m going for, though.
  • A person with headphones. Big ones for a DJ (or just those people who walk around with giant headphones), as well as earbuds. I have an emoji of both types of headphones, but not with a person wearing them.
    f8bb8b8fd825d95afdc73c7d712839c9

And here are a few ideas that are a little more specific to the electronic/festival/whatever community:

  • A person wearing a flat-brim cap. No one bends their caps anymore because I guess it’s not cool, or something. Bonus points: an emoji of a cap with lots of pins on it would be heavily utilized, I assure you.

    It is surprisingly difficult to find a photo of a hat with pins on it.

    It is surprisingly difficult to find a photo of a hat with pins on it.

  • Lasers! I’m not sure how they’d capture this but I actually looked for a laser emoji the other day when texting my friend about electronic rock band SAVOY. Had to suffice with just saying, “LASERS!”
  • Beaded bracelets, or “kandi”
    plur_kandi_bracelets_by_sweetaskandi-d5on9xd
  • A person on the rail. If you’re at the rail it means you’re at the very front of a show, literally on the gate that separates you from the stage. People tend to be pretty obsessive about getting a rail spot at shows because it gives you “_____’s biggest fan” street cred or whatever, but I personally prefer to be a little further back where I have room to dance.
  • A port-a-potty. Disgusting, but if you ever go to a music festival, you will become very well acquainted with using them.
  • Camping/tents. Again, Whatsapp seems to have this but regular texting does not. In any case, Whatsapp only has one lone tent and in order to convey the festival feel I would need at least 700 (or 2 is probably fine).

Did I miss any? What other crucial music emojis (is “emojis” the plural of “emoji”?) are there?

When Fans Become Friends Who Become Family

The first electronic music festival I ever went to was the Electric Daisy Carnival (EDC) in 2013. It wasn’t even that long ago, I realize, but those two and a half years feel like a lifetime. This blog certainly didn’t exist then, but I wrote a recap of the festival on the blog I had at the time. Part of it says:

“EDC was insanely fun because it was a collection of 20,000 of the nicest, happiest, most helpful people I’ve ever met. There was no anger, no drunken fighting, no drama. Just dancing and making new friends and everyone complimenting everyone else on their outfits. It felt like we were all part of one big family.”

EDC isn’t even really a festival I’d get that excited about anymore, now that I’m more knowledgeable about both the music and the crowds that different festivals bring. But even back then, as a total newbie, I felt an energy that was different than anything I’d experienced before. This was not just a collection of people who liked the same music. This was a community, a shared experience, and yes, a family.

“Family” is a word that’s thrown around a lot in the electronic music scene. In just a little over a year of having this blog I’ve talked about festival families and artist families (AKA groups of fans) and have posted pictures of my various rave families and have had amazing times with my weirdos (who are also family). To an outsider, I’m sure it’s hard to imagine that a group of people you like to go dancing with can be considered family. After all, I’ve been dancing to top 40 music at bars in New York for 10 years now and while I’m grateful for all those nights out with my NYC ladies, those experiences are just that – nights out. To be a part of a music family in this scene – whatever the common thread may be with your particular tribe – is something that runs deeper.

fam

Forest Family!

You may meet your family because you happen to have taken the same bus to a music festival. You may meet them because you’re fans of the same artist, or because you go to the same type of parties (there’s a spa in Brooklyn that used to host weekly dance parties and I’m pretty sure there’s a SPAFAM group out there on Facebook somewhere). But your connection to these people doesn’t begin and end with loving the same music or spending your summer weekends at the same festivals. To be a music family is to care deeply about other people, to love them and look out for them. You may not even be able to articulate why you love those people or why you feel such a strong connection to them. You just do, because that’s what this scene is about. It starts with the music but ends with this invisible web that somehow connects your heart and your soul to everyone else around you, even if you have nothing besides the music in common. Even if you might not have ever been friends if you met under other circumstances.

teddy

My Mysteryland rave fam!

The spirit of PLUR (Peace Love Unity Respect), as corny as it may be, is ever-present. While I don’t think I’ve ever heard someone use that word seriously, the idea of it is something I see embodied all the time. I’ve seen people post in Facebook groups asking for help and receiving it from total strangers. There are people who volunteer to spend their time at shows not dancing with their friends, but walking around giving out water just to make sure that everyone is hydrated and having a good time. Because it’s not about you and me just happening to like the same DJs or producers. It’s about you and me being a part of something larger than ourselves, of being at this show, or at this festival, or just generally in this world, together.

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Gramatik Girls xoxo

My most recent dose of music family love was administered this past weekend, when I made the 6 hour trek to Hampton, Virginia for Basslights, an annual 2-day extravaganza of Bassnectar and Pretty Lights (and others). This was my first Basslights and my first time spending any quality time with people from the Pretty Lights Family. To say I was looking forward to the weekend is an understatement, but absolutely nothing could have prepared me for how many amazing, wonderful people I got to meet and spend time with. While inside the Hampton Coliseum, positive, joyful energy absolutely abounded. You could start a conversation with anyone and the feeling of being around 10,000 people who had all made the same pilgrimage as you did was incredible. But the shows were only a small part of it.

There’s a subset of the Pretty Lights Family group called the Pretty Lights Mamas, which is the ladies-only contingent of PLF. The women in this group come from all walks of life and geographical areas, and on the surface, it seems that the only thing we share is a love of Pretty Lights music (which, to be honest, is not something to be taken lightly in and of itself). In actuality, though, the Mamas group could also be named, “Where Did You Find All These Ridiculously Nice People Seriously How and Why Are They So Nice No One Is That Nice All the Time Are You Sure There’s Nothing In It For Them?” For whatever reason, the people who choose to join this group are all the paragon of what women should be but all too often are not: supportive, welcoming, and loving.

In New York City, gossip is a valuable currency and judging people is the lifeblood that runs through our veins. We thrive on schadenfreude and elitism. And while my friends here are some of the best people in the world, I also meet a lot of women here who are truly awful. So I’m naturally a little suspicious of meeting new lady friends because so often the people I meet who seem cool at first end up being just flat out mean or empty. So to spend a weekend surrounded by women who are so warm, caring, and thoughtful was both reassuring and empowering. Instead of having an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other, it was like having an angel on one shoulder and then turning your head and having another angel on the other one. And then more angels come around and you have just a group of happy angels circling your head saying positive things to you all the time and encouraging you to be the best version of yourself. Also those angels have awesome taste in music and are happy to indulge you in your desires to talk about music ALL THE TIME (this analogy got out of hand, but you follow me).

Mamas

Pretty Lights Mamas at the MOTHERSHIP in VA!

This is not to say that the PL Mamas are the only great people out there. Over the last few years I’ve made awesome friends – both male and female – through a number of artist family groups, and since Basslights is kiiind of a big deal, I got to catch up with a lot of those people too when I saw them around Hampton. The Mamas may have been my core for the weekend, but the love and good vibes certainly didn’t start or end there. Everyone is wonderful. After the weekend was over I even sent a text to one of my friends from the Big G Family, telling him how much I appreciate him incorporating me into the Pretty Lights Family community a few months ago.

“That’s what family’s about,” he said.

For awhile I always thought that college – or possibly my early 20s – were the best years of my life. But I truly believe that I’ve found my tribe in the years since that first Electric Daisy Carnival. I’ve found something I’m passionate about, and I’ve found people who share that passion with me. I’m a happier person, and while I’ll always be that snarky New Yorker, I do make an active effort to be a little warmer and a little kinder.

To anyone in any of my families who may read this – PLF/PL Mamas, Big G fam, my Gramatik Girls, all my festival rave families, or anyone else I’ve met and obsessed about music and shows with over the last few years – thanks for coming along on this crazy ride with me. I had no idea that I’d end up here but I’m insanely happy that I did. I love you all.