These guys crushed our videos of the Lightning Inn at LIB 2017 and the Care-O-Sail at Oregon Eclipse Gathering 2017
The Times recaps an experience inside our installation:
"The admissions officer at the so-called Symbiosis University had an elective quiz for new students. Sitting behind her desk in a pink wig, a low-cut unitard and a maybe-fake German accent, the woman grilled applicants on their intentions.
What was their planned course of study here, at this loopy rave festival on a lake two hours outside Oakland?
“Dog psychology,” said one applicant, earning a nod of approval. And their favorite yoga pose? “Um, 12-ounce curls,” said another, lifting his can of Tecate and taking a swig. “And how will you be paying for your tuition,” she asked yet another. “In beard hair,” he said, offering her a handful of his fluffy face coif.
She signed their admission slips and let them into a hidden room, whereupon the students had to promptly drop their pants and get smacked with a canoe paddle, thus joining this fraternity of dust-caked techno hippies."
You can read the full article here:
303 Magazine says:
"If Captain Planet and the Planeteers were building Hollywood-caliber movie sets for music festivals, it might resemble The Imagine Nation’s operation. The Imagine Nation is a collective of artists, builders and performers that regularly transforms trash into treasure, utilizing upcycled materials (whenever possible) to erect immersive environments for the amusement and entertainment of festival guests. If The Imagine Nation builds it, you will come. Symbiosis enlisted The Imagine Nation to assemble and populate this year’s popular University installation. After being greeted by a sexy desk clerk and guided by a flow chart-conceiving admissions counselor, students faced off in occasionally pornographic Pictionary battles before getting appropriately hazed at a “fratority” party."
Read the full article here:
A video tour of our hotel!
Well, we did it! Our crew of creative comrades not only ventured halfway across the good ol' US of A to Oklahoma, but also the top to bottom of California multiple times, with a few trips to Vegas for good measure. We just pulled off our biggest consecutive stint of events in the shortest amount of time in our short history as a collective. Here is a play-by-play recount of the extensive journey:
This was an Imagine Nation first. A double-booking. Two huge production at two different festivals thousands of miles apart from each other in the same weekend. With the help of an amazing crew, we managed to build 2 stages, (The FunkHouse/Om Stage) and our first ever shade structure, a 12,000 sq. ft. beauty! It was the first and last things attendees could participate in each night. It started in the mornings as the refreshing and revilitizing yoga center, transforming into the SilentDisco in the late nights as the after-hours dance spot.
Backwoods Music Festival
That same weekend the other team went wandering into uncharted territory, as they set out to build the largest structure we've ever conceived, smack dab in the middle of Oklahoma!
Coming in at a massive 90 feet tall and a million feet wide, she was truly something special and impressive. Honestly, standing ovation to that team. The two Twin Castles stood on either side of the "MotherShip" stage as her 100-foot reclaimed wooden eye stared gazingly at the audience in what was our official first Main Stage for Backwoods MF
But as fun as it was to go huge, the family favorite, of course, was the enigmatic Globe Theater, which we had nestled lakeside in the festival forest. It was a fun change of pace to go back to our roots and create a more mysterious zone, filled with little secrets and passageways that only reveal themselves if you chose to venture deeper.
Aiko In Wanderland
Another first was had along the way as we built the "Niner," our classy and rustic saloon, in just under 12 hours! We randomly met R&B singer/songwriter Jhene Aiko when she wandered into the "BeatNook" at Lightning in a Bottle. She fell in love with the ascetic and the vibe it brought and wanted to recreate that feeling for her fans at a show in Downtown LA. So in middle of building for Symbosis a team was sent down to build an installation on an extremely limited timeframe.
Read here what the LA Times had to say about it:
Oh, boy. The magic was in the air for this one. We were thrilled to be creating along our art HEROS and friends.
We built 3 simultaneous and symbiotic projects:
- The Spring Stage. "The last stage built by humanity" A completely stand alone wood trussing structure build from 90% reclaimed materials.
- A 6400sqft shade structure standing 24 feet tall atop ten 10-foot tall lodge-pole pines, and sewn together in the amage of a massive granny's quilt. (A big shout out to our awesome fabric crew.)
- To top it all off. The creme-de-la-creme (and my personal favorite) we built ourselves an art boat! Coined the "Piper Mystico," it turned all heads as it tugged along the waters, being rowed ever-so majestically across the festival shorelines.
Though the music wasn't our style, the memories, friends, and crew were top knotch. We brought in some Bay Area Folk Art Heavyweights to create their art side-by-side with us on a 120ft live-painting wall.
Curating a wall of this size was an incredibly fun experience and we look forward to creating much more art like this in the coming months and years.
Last, but definitely not least, was the DBCO. A masterful boutique festival that stayed true to every sense of the name. We played dodge ball, floated on the pond, scavenger hunted and all other sorts of activities which gave everyone a feeling if nostalgia. And could you believe it? We had another first! Building a tin roof on our "Late Night Lodge'" the structure looked exactly like the cabin we all had at our summer camp growing up. The stage went off each night, and we were proud of the fun that was facilitated. Tia is most definitely one to put on your radar. And if you were into comedy you probably checked out our "Bunk" stage, which had people in stitches all night thanks to the antics provided by the Grand Artique and the Fungineers. It was the most family vibes I've felt all summer.
To wrap things up I just want to say thank you to all those who let us work hard to do what we love, thank you to all the dedicated crew that put in their all, rain or shine, night and day... pushing straight through 48hr+ work days. Thank you to all those in the crowds that recognized the sweat and blood we put into making these things. We do it so yall could boogie your butts off! But what's more is holding the space for connections to happen, and dots to connect.
We hung with great friends, and met many new ones. If one thing is clear, it is that there is excitement in the air, and big things around the corner.
Imagine Nation Signing out.
Well see you on the upswing.
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Holy funk was that out of this world. Hold on, I need to take another minute and breathe. Phew, there we go. I could not believe what went down this weekend at the Funk House we built for Insomniac’s Beyond SoCal. My legs are still sore from dancing (and building for two weeks), but it’s the good kind…don’t worry.
So, it began like it always does…with a notepad and an idea. When we met Pasquale last year he said he wanted to bring back the vibe of old-school raves, giving the people an eclectic choice of music and the ability to have a space they can feel comfortable just jamming and letting loose…instead of raging the entire time. In early raves there would always be a ‘funk room’ where people would do exactly that. Our job was to build a space that matched the vibe…so we got to work, pulling inspiration from all sorts of classic funk heroes, mixing them all up and coming out with our own silly Imagine Nation style of funk. What resulted from this was the Funk House, and if you were there you knew it was something special.
The area was a 360 degree immersive space, filled with funky characters, stilters, and grooving dancers all setting the stage for a feel-good vibe. Whether it was rehearsed dance skits or random funky moves, the performers always had the crowd smiling, feeling relaxed, and at home. The best parts of the night came when all the performers would get out in the crowd and start a ‘soul train’ letting the headliners show off their top moves. It really connected everyone, and got random strangers to dance together in pure funky bliss.
The music was different than all the other stages, there was an entire line-up of old-school funk DJs just ready to give the headliners something new (but really way older) to listen to. Whether it was Troy Kurtz, Grahame Funke, or the Beat Junkies the mood was always set right. There was nothing to do but feel good when that music hit your ears. I heard classics I haven’t heard in years with Jazzy Jeff remixing songs from Nirvana, Jack White, and I believe I even heard a little Phil Collins getting in the mix.
Z-TRIP was on fire, pumped up to be on a stage built exactly for his style. He gave a passionate speech right before his first set that can only be described as a battle cry. “We’re trying to bring back the funk, the hip hop, the soul, the b-boy shit, the breaks…just to change it up, man, so you don’t always have to be fucking raging with your hands in the air.” He was getting himself and the crowd more hype with every word. “We’re going to take you back to before it turned into raves and big shit. When it was a warehouse, and they threw the fucking hip hop guys in the basement, alright? Well, we’re not in the basement anymore. We’re here, tonight. To rock it for you.” It honestly sent chills down my spine, his passion and love for his art.
And if you thought his first set was crazy, it was just the beginning…because on night two DJ Jazzy Jeff and Z-TRIP played a 2-hour, 4 decks, live, scratching freestyle set. LIVE. LIVE! It was something else, man. For all the shows I’ve been to, I have never been that blown away. They really did bring back old-school DJing, and it was a historic night for music. And to have it all happen on the stage we built for them was the cherry on top. The music gods really blessed us that night with some spectacular performance.
Thank you. To Everyone. Everyone who played, everyone who danced, everyone who came with good intentions and left inspired. And thank you Insomniac for letting us build. The Funk House experiment was a great success. Can’t wait to do it again! Imaginator out.
With 2014 coming to an end we wrapped up our year with one last event…actually 2 last events & 4 separate projects all on the same night… NYE! The First being a stand alone Installation named “the Mirage Mahal” which stood tall at the lakes edge within the NOS event center in San Bernardino for Insomniacs “Countdown” Festival. Coming full circle the Mirage Mahal happened to be the first build we did in 2014 and was now also the last.
While the Mirage Mahal was reflecting SoCals warm rays off of its many mural mirrors the rest of our team was bundled up to the nine’s building and prepping in the snow for a New Years celebration in the Heart of South Lake Tahoe. SnowGlobe Music Festival is a rapidly growing event with a killer lineup. They had heard about our shennanery (is that a word? Let’s make it one!) at Electric Forest, and wanted to giving us the opportunity to create our own stage within their forested grounds. Not fully knowing what they would receive when handing us a project like this.. We went full board and not only created a stage, but an entire log cabin! Complete with skis, sleds, antlers, and fireplace mantle DJ booth!
Just as pleasantly surprised as the SG production team, was the event attendees. Stepping through the doors was like entering a time machine to the 80’s, the room was filled with onesies, hot cocoa, and jazzercize routines on stage. Our stage hosted the incredibly talented Robbie Fitzsimmons (aka The Steaz) Kim Manning, Klove, XO+∆ (Prescott McCarthy), & many more to set the musical vibes each day… And they didn’t disappoint.
As soon as the doors opened The Steaz was entertaining everyone with his funky brand of beatbox/synth looping and high falsetto singing, known as ODM (Organic Dance Music)… Manning was next up, blasting people off to space with songs from her new album Space Queen. During one of her songs, “Little Sailor”, performers would get on stage, reenacting a scene of a ship’s crew struggling to get through a storm…this, in turn, would tire everyone out. And what way to get your blood pumping better than a little 80’s jazz-ercise warm-up routine, am I right? So, that’s exactly what we did. Going into the crowd and teaching people the moves, getting them to stretch and limber up those sore, cold bodies.
It didn’t end just there, oh no. Prescott packed with his new turntables, put on those housey beats for everyone to get their feet moving inside the tent, before Kelly (aka KLove3000) would turn up the hyphy just a little bit, dropping the bass, and making everyone get out their seats and on to the dance floor.
When we weren’t entertaining the crowd, we let the crowd entertain itself. Letting them hop on stage to dance, take pictures, and one time even letting them show off their rap free-styling skills in an impromptu beatbox session ran by our very own Clarky, Mr. Bentley, and myself.
The highlight of the weekend was our 80’s ski onesie competition. A crowd of over 20 people were on stage getting their onesie judged by our panel of fine experts on categories ranging from tightness, neonness, impracticality, and several others…we twindled it down to 5 competitors before we let the crowd gauge who the winner was by round of applause. All winners received official SnowGlobe gear, and a special place in our hearts.
Thank you for ringing in the New Year with us, as 2014 was one for the record books. We look forward to bringing you amazing new spaces in the coming year. Imaginator out.
EDC Orlando was like Insomniac’s test to see if we can build something at the next level. And if you were there, you saw the results. The Imagine Nation has done their first official main stage! At EDC we were asked to continue the tradition of the Neon Garden, and we didn’t disappoint.
EDC was the week right after Escape from Wonderland, so our hands were a little full with both those projects. An unfortunate two suckers, Zach and myself, drew the shorts straws and became the ones responsible for driving the stage over to EDC and missing Escape. We set off on our cross-country journey from California to Florida in a 30-foot box truck…which was actually a bit more fun than I had anticipated, even with the lack of sleep and food.
We got there safe and sound while the rest of the crew flew out to meet us at the site, where we could begin work. Everyone came in stoked and full of energy from Escape, where we built a bayou-style shack for Halloween, and we got started on this huge project.
We wanted to go a little more ’sacred’ this time with the theme, so the inspiration from the stage came from several different Buddhist temples. We thought this would blend in well with the style and vibe Bamboo DNA has, as we were collaborating with them on the space. And to make it even more fun of a project, we asked our dear friend ShrineOn to paint the archways of the temple. So ShrineOn + BambooDNA + Imagine Nation = EDC Orlando’s Neon Garden. Truly a beautiful formula for success.
After it was all assembled, even we were taken back at what it all looked like fully complete…a massive 50-foot main stage in a field ready to take on a crowd of 10,000+ dancing ravers.
Then the festival began, and the real antics started. Dressed in our Buddhist monk garb we walked around the crowd in single-file line chanting, lighting sage, and invoking a sense of mysticism…allowing the crowd to lose sense of where they actually were, as if tucked away in a sacred tibetan mountain top. But that wasn’t all these monks and monkess’ were there for, oh no..they also wanted to make your childlike enthusiasm come alive, taking you back to a time you had no worries except trying to squeeze as many minutes out of recess as you could. We had a pop-up parachute. We had beach balls. We had a volleyball net (and probably could’ve set a Guinness World Book of Records for the most people playing volleyball at a single time.) And we had good clean fun. The crowd was interacting with each other, and getting to know one another…creating an experience for themselves outside of the music.
But let’s not front, the music was pretty dope too. Especially Green Velvet and Claude Von Stroke closing out the show on the last night…while we were out in front of the crowd teaching them synchronized dance moves. The vibes were just right, even on that rainy night. The house was packed, the music was blaring, and everyone was smiling. And it was all very rewarding for all of us here at the Imagine Nation.
Another one in the books. Look forward to see you on the next one. Imaginator out.
7 days. That’s all we had. 7 days and 400 miles between us and our destination, the bay area…for an event known as Beyond Wonderland. We didn’t have any materials, and no contacts for sourcing in the bay…but we said we’d pull it off, so it had to get done. It was Friday night, and doors opened the following Saturday afternoon.
With no time to spare, we hurried up the I-5 and got to San Francisco Saturday morning. The first task at hand was getting a place to pre-build the facades. Luckily, our new Psychedelic Bingo friends shed kindly light, welcoming us with open arms into their beautiful warehouse known as One Hat One Hand where we stayed until the project was complete. This place was like a haven for us, everything perfectly placed, all the tools and saws we could ever need, and massive amounts of space. It was the ultimate builders playground.
The next step was to gather material, and by some perfect twist of fate there was a dump yard around the corner from the warehouse. When we walked by, we noticed some pieces of two-by’s that were perfect for framing wood. They were laying off to the side, in a dump pile…just enough pieces for the entire project. We grabbed them and got to work, tearing wood and making brick panels for the next day and a half.
Monday we were off to Shoreline Amphitheater, geared up and ready to start working on-site only to find the project would have to come to a hault on account of Lil Wayne playing a show the following night! This meant we couldn’t start building until Wednesday making our narrow build window even smaller. We used the time wisely gathering materials, and costuming at the local thrift stores, and restores.
Wednesday came and we finally were allowed to work, with only 3 days before doors opened. The theme to the zone was a throwback to the 80s, the birth of hip hop, to compliment the Boombox art car that we were building a scene around. Picture a block party in New York, with stoops that led up to graffitied brick buildings with second floor windows, dilapidated old corner stores, a clothing line, and telephone poles, so real that the local fire marshall mistook them for actual telephone poles! Little by little it looked more like the Brooklyn neighborhood that this Imaginator grew up in. The piece that tied everything together was the 1983 Crown Victoria station wagon that we parked to the side of the building. All weekend long participants got to watch several different artists (including our own Mr. Prescott McCarthy) “bomb” out the car in various graffiti styles. We built non-stop until Friday night, framing the last door and stringing together the last of the “electrical” wire at nightfall.
The festival itself was a blast. We were decked out in our finest hip-hop style 80’s neon outfits…entertaining the crowd with dance battles, limbo lines, handshake competitions, and synchronized dances on top of the art car. Different performers would come up to our second floor windows and run skits and dances for the crowd. On one occasion, there was a scavenger hunt that ended in our zone in which the prize was an old-school cassette tape with a Donald Glaude house mix. We stood on our roof and leaned outside our windows and tossed out the cassettes to the ecstatic members of the crowd. An awesome souvenir, perfect for the theme surrounding it.
The best part was on Sunday when all the performers gathered around a long tea-table for an impromptu tea party. Dozens of performers from clowns to ducks to trees running around offering cups of tea in nonsensical terms. The faces in the crowd lit up and many people got into the fray, becoming part of the hilariously chaotic scene.
Somehow, in 7 days, the magic all came together and we all had an amazing time…thanks in large part to the audience who came there with the right attitude. Can’t wait to see what happens next. Imaginator out.
The month of September for the Imagine Nation has been a busy one, no doubt. It started with Nocturnal Wonderland. Nocturnal was a little different than usual as it was the first time we built a stage that had it’s own lineup… as opposed to the “secret” stage at Electric Forest. We were also building an entire theme zone filled with rooms, characters, and go-go dancers.
We wanted to give the zone a feeling of a castle, which the king/queen was perched on a high balcony overlooking their patrons. This was the DJ booth, a center “balcony” with three lower “balconies” on either side of it…which were window areas for performers to dance, run skits, and allow a few lucky participants to come up and get a little wild (which happened a fair bit over the weekend).
The rest of the zone was enclosed with five mag-arches…which gave the feeling of walking into a private area within the festival grounds. The center mag-arch was the main entrance and was made to look like a rabbit-hole, with the entrance getting tighter as you walked through. On either side of the rabbit-hole were two more entrances, lined with red flowing fabric, as if entering a lavish castle.
The other two mag-arches were our play rooms. The one to the left of the entrance being a tea-party room, decked out with a long tea table covered in fine silverware and tea cups. This area is where our male and female Mad-Hatters would run around wildly having faux-tea parties and enticing the people sitting around to join in. People would let loose, involve themselves in the ruckus and leave with smiling faces.
The opposite room was our creme-de-la-creme, so to speak. Since our area was named “the upside-down room” we decided to actually build a room that was upside-down. So we screwed some tables and chairs to a carpeted piece of particle board and hung it, along with a door for “entry” into this upside room, and some pictures hanging upside-down…just for good measure.
It was a thrill to see the response to these areas, as people had a place where they could sit and interact and not have the music blaring at them. Watching people walk into the upside-down room and crank their necks up while spinning around was a personal joy of mine. The stage was pumping house music all weekend, and there was a happy vibe every time you stepped in through one of the entrances.
A big thank you to Insomniac Events for allowing us the ability to create, and to all the people that showed up over the two weekends with their amazing smiles and awesome energy, with shuffling dance moves to boot! We look forward to bringing you more interactive zones in the future. Until next time. Imaginator out.