Near the end of day two, a bit of madness had broken out.
“This feels like the Chinook salmon migration,” one festival-goer remarked, losing themselves further into the traffic jam of bodies stalled at the center of the festival grounds.
“Turn around,” others begged, twisting and turning their bodies in the dark, reaching toward direction they came. Others pushed forward even harder, clutching bags and bodies parts of friends, determined to make it to their next destination - no matter the struggle.
Twelve hours earlier, the scene was a different one. Where most acts served-up loud, ear-crushing sets meant to amp up the crowd, the majority of the lineup proved to do the exact opposite – providing early risers the opportunity to lounge around and soak it all in.
Rose Windows’ early set brought a mixed bag – some people swirling against the stage to their psychedelic hippy-rock as others dropped back, bodies sprawled across the drying grass.
Even more resting bodies filled the lawn in front of the Bigfoot stage, where Robert Delong mesmerized sleepy eyes with looping pedals, live beats and white noise. As the musician jumped behind the drum kit and stitched it all together, hips started to rustle and shake.
In the pit at Black Rebel Motorcycle Club the kids were rowdy, bumping against each other, jumping along. But on the hillside, people intoxicated by a variety of substances lined the lawn. Some sprawled across blankets, soaking in the afternoon sun. Others napped in their partner’s arms. And more, still, hid beneath costumes – a collection of fish heads and capes and floral headbands - passed out alongside a friend.
Across the grounds, Michael Kiwanuka serenaded the crowd with his soulful coo, surprising unsuspecting listeners when he invited friends Mumford and Sons (who'll headline ) to the stage. The stunt was a spark of electricity, a thrilling hint at bigger, more excitable things to come.
By , the xx had just finished a headlining set to the most-dense audience of the weekend (thus far), and with the exception of the Chupacapra tent, every stage had gone dark.
Tame Impala’s set at Bigfoot had been moved to after 11 at the Yeti – which, unexpectedly, placed them in direct competition with Sigur Rós. Decisions had to be made.
In reality, the decision for most was easy. Those looking for more mellow vibes, shuffled down the hill, making their way toward the pavement in front of the main stage. The crowd was more spacious by that point, as the impenetrable sea of people soaking in the pulsating melodies and space-y riffs of the xx had begun to depart. In that instant, the fog and strobes and sexual tension of that set we’re gone, and in its place, a collection of glowing orbs, floating at different intervals above the stage. Beneath them, the intricate, ambient tunes of the Icelandic rock group began to waft across the amphitheatre.
At the other end of the spectrum, tucked at the top of the hill, crowds made their way to the Yeti for a performance expected to be more than a bit lively. Just after , Tame Impala took the stage, their psychedelic rock bouncing off bobbing heads and LED umbrellas near the front of the stage. Those mesmerized by the tunes from the Australian rockers found comfort in the fact the night was young; anyone interested in continuing the party would just have to move next door, where fellow Aussies, Empire of the Sun, were scheduled to deliver the most anticipated set of the night.
Cue tribal masks and face paint and flashing lights. In that moment, the calm before the storm was gone.