Nashville parties With Your Friends
Last weekend, Nashville hosted the latest gathering of the electric counterculture. The freak community showed up in droves, clad in traditional, psychedelic, rave regalia, for the With Your Friends festival at the Lawn at Riverfront Park, featuring Skrillex, Pretty Lights, Nas and Santigold.
The crowd was alight with glow sticks and multicolored torches, tribal Native American costumes and even a group of kids dressed as Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. You could catch a glimpse of a 20-foot-tall, paper-maché Hunter S. Thompson or a giant, neon Octopus circulating through it. All had come out to Nashville on Oct. 26 and 27 to celebrate music and life with their friends, as Pretty Lights said during his performance.
The lineup represented a diverse calling of artists, ranging from Santigold’s diva-style-reggae-infused dub, to hip-hop legend Nas, to the melodic experimentalism of Eliot Lipp.
“I love a diverse lineup because it brings together such a diverse group of people,” Lipp said.
The festival kicked off on Friday afternoon with performances by Two Fresh, Tokimonsta and Dillon Francis. When night arrived, Santigold took the stage, bringing with her the intensity characteristic of her music. Pretty Lights then smoothed things out with his driving melody and cerebral energy; however, Skrillex brought the rage of dubstep back into the crowd when he ascended his sci-fi-esque booth that more closely resembled a spiked spaceship.
On Saturday, the afternoon sets included Eliot Lipp, Michal Minert and 12th Planet. Nasty Nas followed swiftly and stirred things up when he halted the music; apparently, some kids in the front were blowing marijuana smoke into his face. He descended from the stage into the crowd to play the rest of his set among the audience.
Skrillex then played his arguably better set, with more of a streamlined sound. Pretty Lights held the crescendo of the night and the festival, bringing a more emotionally evocative and energetic harmony than the previous night.
The crowd consisted of a variety of young people, middle-aged adults and even a few children. The large majority, of course, was college students, including Reid Terry from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville.
“I live for these festivals. It’s just like the only time you can have 10,000 people come together to have a great time and listen to some awesome music,” Terry said.
Festival DJ Eliot Lipp provided a behind the scenes look of the festival and the music industry in an interview. Lipp hails from Tacoma, Wash., and now lives in Brooklyn. He’s been touring since 2004.
“Nashville is the perfect place for this festival. It’s such a big hub for music. It feels like the music scene that they have in LA or Chicago,” Lipp said.
In regards to becoming an artist or apart of the music industry in general, Lipp stressed personality and inventiveness.
“Be yourself, try to be creative and an individual. Your own voice is the most valuable thing you have as an artist,” Lipp said. “Even if it’s a weird style that’s not popular, if you’re really good at it, people will dig it.”
Though the festival is now just a memory, the culture of the electronic world continues to pulse with energy. The With Your Friends festival represented a climax of the rave scene, but it will not be the last one. Electronic music will continue to allow people to transcend the world and reality, if only for a night.