A few weekends ago I played one of my favorite shows I've done as 9 Theory at an intimate mini-festival called Big Surreal. This is the second year of this festival's existence and I am honored and grateful to have been asked back to perform a sunset set again, just as I did last year for the first Big Surreal. I can't really explain the epicness of the location of this thing, but it happens on top of a super high mountain on the coast that takes about 30 minutes driving 6.5 miles up a really gnarly dirt road to get to. The stage faces straight West, and from the area the stage is at you have a 180 degree view from South to North of the ocean, but it's crazy because you are so high up that you're looking down on such a huge portion of the ocean that it is almost hard to fathom the scope. What makes it even more magical is that most evenings a thick cloud bank forms over the coast so this 180 degree view ends up looking down from way high up over an endless sea of clouds, rather than ocean. Combine this with the sun setting and it is just incredibly beautiful beyond words.
As if it weren't great enough to get to perform at such a cool spot for such a fun, positive, intimate crowd of rad people, my set was 7:30-8:30pm so the magical lighting and changing of colors upon the breathtaking 180 degree view happened while I was performing! It was amazing. The sunset is so spectacular from on top of this mountain that once the sunset really begins getting awesome everyone stops dancing in front of the stage and goes over to a better viewpoint for it nearby. This happened last year so I expected it to happen again, which it did, but what was different this year was that Mike, one of the main people who puts the event on, and who books all the music, told me and my band to take a quick break and watch the sunset with everyone. How fucking cool is that?! So we did; Christian (turntables), Kelsea (harp), and I stepped away and watched the sunset with everyone, hooting and hollering like they do at Burning Man when it finally goes down, and then we jumped back on stage and rocked our last three songs, and since the sunset was over people came back and were in front of the stage again for them, rather than being off to the side at the viewpoint and just hearing us. Those last three songs were awesome to do too! Of the three two of them are really new, and the song we closed with is especially new with that being the first time I have ever performed it live, and that anybody has ever really heard it. Also for the two newer songs I ended with, as well as "The Piece That Fits" that was earlier in the set, a super cool guy named Grant Chaser sat in and played cello with us! Earlier that morning I was all groggy from just getting up and had got an iced mocha and sat on the big logs where the epic viewpoint is to chill out and drink my coffee. Grant was sitting next to me playing a cello for fun and I could tell he is really good. I told him it sounded great and asked if he was good at improvising and had a good ear to jam along with stuff on the fly. He said yes so I asked him if he wanted to sit in on my set, and he was totally down. I love unexpected cool connections like that. What is hilarious is that Grant was actually asked by two other acts that day to sit in as well so he ended up playing for three different sets on Saturday with his cello, which is even funnier because he actually is mainly a keys player who performed the day before with his band Captain Nasty, playing a rhodes.
I don't think I have ever received so much love from an audience for playing my music before, it was truly special and humbling. So many people seemed to be way stoked off of my set, which is the best thing I could hope for when performing. There are also some great collaborations that will probably happen in the near future now because of it, or people who are able to and want to help me connect some great dots and get some good opportunities, which is unexpected icing on the cake, and all of it has left me really energized and motivated to keep doing what I do and stay on the grind.
Besides the beautiful location of Big Surreal, and getting to perform there, I also really love the people who put it on; Luvlab Productions. Luvlab is a start-up of a really smart, hard-working, motivated and dedicated, young group of friends from Big Sur who are already killing it in my mind for this being only their second festival. I have a lot of faith that they can and will grow to be something really special on the level of The DoLab, if they want to take it that far. The potential is definitely there, and besides the fact that they are doing these great things already, all of the Luvlab people and their inner circle of family and friends are just super authentic, kind, awesome people who I would be stoked to know no matter what. And that was the overall vibe of everyone attending Big Surreal this year; I met so many new people and had so many awesome and inspiring conversations all weekend, that was the best part.
Keep your eyes out for Luvlab and pay attention to what they have going on in the future. Hopefully I'll be playing at some more of their events as they grow, but so far to be part of the first two Big Surreals has been a special thing. I love playing live music!