Nestled deep in the hills of Virginia, Floyd Fest 2021 kept true to its theme ‘Odyssey” when it provided a dreamy, cantina-like oasis for curious seekers and seasoned travelers alike. Artists including Goose and Andy Frasco & The U.N. blended into the crowd for Billy Strings and waited patiently for Leftover Salmon between their own sets in order to bask in the familiar and the favorites.
But what really happened that weekend? Why were there mystical creatures? What was that thing that happened with the full moon and the fire ritual performed by Goose on Friday?
Most that have traveled that far from home for a beach with tented structures that barely qualify as “chair”. Beverages served inside the protective outer layer of a large fruit elevate one’s lounging experience.
Others have always felt the magnetic pull of the electrical currents flowing through consoles responsible for light and sound. The wise were beckoning.
Nestled down in a small valley of rolling hills, tents lit like little huts in a shire. Moon, red like a western sun, rising through the faraway wildfire’s haze. After hours upon hours of travel, it seemed like a mirage, or a figment of imagination.
Uncertainty and overwhelm upon arrival. The seeker arrived to a new town, hustling and bustling as it has for many years. Floyd Fest attendees in 2001 seem more like townsfolk in a small village nestled far away from any industrious city. Everyone goes about their business. No questions. Each and every person appears to have a job, a home, and a role within the community.
There might have been plans to have a meeting of the minds and spirits, but the lack of cell service created a mentality of embracing what was, not what could have been. Any plans to meet friends were let go at which point, the true experience began.
Off in the distance, there was music. Light began seeping onto the edges of the forest. Following blindly on the trail, the hero contorted their way through campsites, following weaving trails until a light began to show.
As the path opened up, a mass of people gathered in the shape of a bowl became illuminated by a flood of beautiful shapes and colors. Attendees entered the area with joy and music. It felt like a dream, looked like a dream, and had the soundtrack of Billy Strings. Everyone was there.
Certain supernatural laws seemed to morph when moving through the dimensional force field that was the gate of Floyd Fest 2021, Friends seemed to appear, exactly at the perfect time, by sheer luck and with a dash of synchronicity. It was often in those moments that we would miraculously have our friends cross paths right in front of us.
It was great to run into friends that I have no seen since shutdown. Usually we get to see each other when I stop in their city for tour. I was not expecting so many reunions.Roger Gant, lighting director, Billy Strings
This was more than just a little town, it was a place for many woodsfolk, elvish types and wizards to gather and celebrate the diversity that has successfully coexisted.
It was a place for young warriors to display the fruits of their training and for elders to inspire support within and between communities.
One wiser, more experienced female traveler easily recognized the look of wonder and amazement on a young couple’s face. She approached the two after Billy’s encore and asked “Is this your first time?” The two cautiously nodded, unsure of why this was being asked. The elder was elated and welcomed the couple. She had spotted the newcomers early in the night and just had to know if her gut instinct was correct, then promptly welcomed the two. She shared that she had been attending Floyd Fest for more than a decade and it felt just as good in 2021 as it did her first year.
The beautiful thing about gathering for Floyd Fest 2021 is that the travelers and the seekers were able to share Goose through one of the highest energy ultra marathon birthday celebrations to date. Many Floyd regulars had only studied Goose through youtube and live streams, but Friday night, they were able to experience a proper southern Goose Flodown. Feet stomped. Crowd pulsed. Andrew Goedde’s smoke with white lights during “Arcadia” awakened the spirit of Tennessee Ted for the first time since Pelham. It could not only be seen, but also heard thanks to the masterful sound engineering by Sam Bardini.
After two and a half hours of anthem after anthem, the young couple ran into the elder as one would in that fantasy fiction we seemed to be living in at Floyd and they were able to ask knowingly, “first time?”
Convergence and Birth
On the eve of the full moon, there was a ritual burning of candles for one chosen bassist. This converged with a chemical reaction from energy between musical newcomers with the wise seasoned ones. The next breakout band emerged from the garden stage around the same time Turkuaz performed their Talking Heads set.
Melt from NYC had a full and engaged crowd despite fierce competitors at the main stage. Empresses Veronica (vocals) and Marlo (guitar) seranaded the garden stage with dynamic melodies.
Keys and horns dances perfectly with bass and drums. Respect for one’s bandmates for melt looked like laying down during a member’s solo. This band enchanted anyone within earshot.
The traveler returned home with tales of strings and salmon as well as intel on Melt for ‘heard them first’ stock brokers everywhere.
At the end of the day, Floyd Fest was summed up best by traveler Cody Wimer when he shared his thoughts on Floyd:
Home festival. Best place. Hot days. Cold nights. Music fire.