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The Dark, Beautiful, Bass Driven Culture That is Emissions Festival

July 7, 2017Jason Flores

I’m definitely not short on words when it comes to Camp Questionmark’s Emissions West Coast Bass Culture Festival. If I had to describe it in one word: surreal. The short walk from the camping area to the Beach Stage really nails home how unique this experience is. As you emerge from a canopied and forested camping area, you come upon an unexpected and surprising lodging area styled like a western movie set—complete with hotel rooms, restaurant, and a full bar. The massive shaded deck in the back provides a relaxing place to eat and drink with friends while overlooking Feather River.  As you make your way further upstream during the day, you pass the dormant Frequency Stage and are transported into an almost 90’s hip hop beach style party scene. People are swimming in the river, lounging on the beach, and dancing nonstop to infectious sets curated by the likes of Courteous Family, Tiger Fresh, Stylust Beats, and Yheti’s laid back funk vibes to name a few. At the Beach Stage, the only sound you’ll hear more than music is constant laughter. All of this, paired with the sight of giant smiles everywhere you look, makes it impossible not to be swept away by the amazingly positive and upbeat vibes.

Photo courtesy of Jesse Rather Photography

One of the things I love about Emissions is the stark contrast as night falls over the festival. You can feel an electricity and excited tension in the air. As you look over the lineup for the night you can immediately understand why: Emissions is a nonstop barrage of heavy hitters, one after another, and it goes well into the morning. I rarely go to festivals wondering when I’ll have a chance to take a break between sets. I can assure you, it’s a great problem to have. Powered by an earth shaking PK speaker system, the Frequency Stage really comes alive at night. With visual artists projecting on a 40 foot tall pagoda style stage and sprawling trees towering overhead, it really puts you in a completely different world.

Photo courtesy of Jesse Rather Photography

The most memorable sets at the Frequency Stage for me this year were NastyNasty, Proko, Tsuruda , Lunice, Potions, Huxley Anne, Oxóssi and Hapa. NastyNasty and Tsuruda were explosive as always, playing out fresh tracks and bringing an energy to the dance floor that Emissions is so well known for. Proko and Potions went above and beyond with really heavy and unique sets, and I can’t wait for them to drop all the unreleased tunes that they put on display this year. The Courteous Family Don known as Hapa brought a nonstop arsenal of bass-flexing bangers that really set the tone for the night. Huxley Anne put on one of the most diverse sunrise sets I’ve seen to date—she never ceases to amaze. Lunice’s energy levels and seamless transition of genres were beyond impressive, while Oxóssi’s very dark, almost haunting bass vibes stood out.

Honestly, I found it increasingly harder to tear myself away from the Vision Stage as the nights went on. Some of my favorite sets of the weekend happened there, and considering the names playing, that’s no surprise to me at all. Friday night ONHELL set the bar high for me with what I can only describe as a clinical performance. Woolymammoth had the same effect on me with his experimental set and at times had the crowd just watching in awe. Shiny Things, Ethan Glass, and Chase Manhattan all kept pace with their sets as well. With an armory of unreleased music and crowd control second to none, these three were nothing short of amazing. I’ve seen all these artists at the Vision Stage multiple times, and I’ve never seen or heard sets out of them like I did this year.

Photo courtesy of Jesse Rather Photography

Camp Questionmark always does such a phenomenal job of fusing together hip hop acts with solid bass music at Emissions. This year was no different with OG’s such as DJ Craze, DJ Nu-Mark, and The Pharcyde carrying the torch. Another thing I love about Camp Q is their willingness to give up-and-comers a chance to play their stacked festival. Emissions is an incubator for new sounds and styles in the bass scene. This year, producers like Šuma, Indigo Beck, and LSV were a few examples of fresh faces that played out and impressed. Emission’s compact size provides an incredibly intimate experience, and paves an easier path to new friends over the weekend. The carefully curated festival gives you the feel of a giant house party. I can’t count the number of people I met just from hanging out at camp. Emissions festival is so special because of the culture and community of people who are so willing and open to hang out with literally everyone. I can assure you this is an experience not to be missed, and I can’t wait to do it all again next year.

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