By Sarah Ghasedi
The stretch of washboard road leading to the Apache Lake Marina & Hotel, site of the Arizona music showcase Apache Lake Mus Festival, feels endless. It's like being placed in a blender full of dust on the chop setting. While this may appear to be a deterrent, the promise of good times ahead helps push you forward (much like how I imagine our pioneer forefathers felt), though it's doubtful our ancestors could never imagine the debaucherous events that would one day take place in this beautifully serene oasis.
It's Coachella without the trust-fund, Burning Man without the overt peculiarity, and Bonnaroo without the excessive nudity.
See also: Five Bands to Catch at Apache Lake Music Festival See also: Phoenix Music Heads to Tortilla Flat -- The Story of The Apache Lake Music Festival See also: Zero Zero @ Rogue Bar See also: Flashback Friday: An '80s Conversation with Super Stereo See also: decker.'s Van Flips on Tour, Injures Band Member Kelly Cole
Firmly rooted in the advancement of the Arizona local music scene, Apache Lake Music Festival arose from humble beginnings.
Once a small gathering known as Jeromatherapy, it's grown every year to accommodate increasing interest by offering more music, gratification, and camaraderie. In particular, this year attempted the addition of an extra day to the schedule and as a result more bands and their fans flocked to this usually peaceful area. But what is the overall essence, the underlying grit or the fervent magnetism to this musical affair? The answer can be found in the people that ferociously support this growing community.
Any person can seek a part in this emerging tribe, but there are a few stipulations...
Display Your War Paint:
Whether it's lines, ellipses or a mixture of both, this display of phylogenetic markings is a key attribute to the ALMF experience. Usually emerging the first day of the festival, late- comers can be seen desperately trying to find chieftains to grace them with their rites of passage. It signifies the acceptance that as the sun goes down, primal facets will only become more pronounced. In the morning, those left with large traces of paint on their face witnessed most of the night. Although, whether they regret it or not is a different matter.
Nightly Drum Conference:
It may drive a person into a euphoric state of insanity (with or without the help of hallucinogens), but it is where musicians and fans come to mingle. If you have a 12AM bedtime you'd like to keep, then forget it. Wherever a fire pit exists there will be people tapping, thumping and thrumming away. Early Saturday morning appeared to be the peak of these gatherings, since three drum circles could be heard echoing out of time off the canyon walls. As if this chaos wasn't enough, Big Chief fireworks began to whiz by the tents, exploding red sparks that shook everyone to their core and erupted a thirst for the savage. Lend a Helping Hand:
While drum circles may reveal humanly aspects too primitive for you, Apache Lake is not without its more genial elements. Thursday night proved that the weather in early October is not always sunny. After a torrential downpour most campers found their gear half-soaked. Despite this inconvenience, spirits were quickly recovered as neighbors shared their whiskey, PBR, and smoke amongst each other. Those completely rained out were offered a room to dry off without hesitation. Not only was camaraderie found at the campsite, but also at the stage. It was Japhy's Descent's performance of "Bring Your Umbrella" (note that strange coincidence) that personified these ideals. Halfway through the song, drummer James Sharp began a drum solo that brought the drummer from Darkness Dear Boy (Aaron Ranschaert), Danger Paul (Brett Ridler) and many others on stage to merge a common rhythm. Before long various members of Quick Henry, Future Loves Past and Playboy Manbaby covered every inch of the stage, bringing their unique energy to this auditory microcosm.
The Incomparable Spirit:
2012 has proved to be a tough year for the women in the local music scene. First starting with the feisty Andria Bunnell from the neo-soul group The Hot Birds & The Chili Sauce, who underwent surgery early this year. Then in August, Kelly Cole from the Sedona based group .Decker fractured her neck in a California car accident. Dry River Yacht Club's lead singer Garnet recently broke her arm in a collision. Despite these medical afflictions and limitations caused by casts/neck braces/stitches, these ladies held it together and triumphed over their adversity. Garnet said it best, "Just give me a pain killer and drive fast, cause I'm not missing Apache Lake".
You Better Dance:
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It's the one thing that makes you leave the grips of the normal world and enter into Apache world. Allowing yourself to be swept away among the butterfly people during Future Loves Past's "Cher Ami," or the Nico-esque beach soul of PALMS, or the conga line of Yellow Minute, is what it's all about. Every tribe needs its native dances and when the dust soars above that outside stage is when you know that your part is just one of a whole.