My First Time at Odyssey Gathering
By Cassie Weiss
I sit here trying to describe my experience, and for once… the words that usually come so easily to me are gone. Because, this time, something affected me on a level deeper than the words I use to shield me.
I didn't know what to expect while driving down the highway towards Odyssey Gathering Music Festival. I'd been a part of the festival scene for four years, but I'd never stepped foot anywhere other than the Salmo River Ranch.
I had always considered that place my home… the place that changed my life! Never would I have EVER guessed that this new festival in Northern Alberta would show me an experience to prove me wrong. Odyssey Gathering was a bright star… perfectly nestled into the rolling meadows in the enchanting North Saskatchewan River valley.
Growing up in the countryside, Odyssey was a quaint acreage that soothed my homesickness. I'd seen the photos and footage that had surfaced from last year, but nothing could have prepared me for its openness, its vast skies, and its heartfelt ardor. Though the nights were chilled, I still found myself welcoming the crisp night air and misty mornings with a feeling of enveloping warmth.
Friday night was only a taste -- I met up easily with a group of my closest friends and we set up our camp to a backdrop of gentle pastel colours… the sun setting after the light rain. The scattered puddles on the ground reflected the neon lights from the stages in the distance.
I could hear it, but most of all I could feel it; the bass… the music vibrating through the ground, through the grass and the trees. The tents scattered across the campground formed a makeshift city last weekend, at Metis Crossing, Alberta.
It was easy to fall in love with this feeling. It was comforting and challenging to put into words, and as my friends and I ventured away from camp and into the festival, I couldn't imagine being anywhere else.
No, it wasn't Shambhala, but that was the beauty in it. It was its own little nebula of sound, its own corner of the universe and I felt myself lost in its colours -- the deep, grounded pulsing of the Orbital and light, groovy vibes of the Transmogrifier. Both stages set its own tone contrasting each other harmoniously and hopping between them became a journey in itself.
We were welcomed by blue skies and the smililing sun on Saturday. The light breeze refreshed the day and the warmth, in the people and in the air, made walking around easy. The festival spanned maybe three kilometers, and welcomed the discovery of merchant booths, handcrafted costumes, rope swings, and rushing rivers. The walk back to camp was quick and faces became familiar as I roamed the festival grounds. By the end of the weekend, I felt everyone became my neighbour.
Now, ask yourself: “Why do I go to festivals?”
What is the first answer that pops into your head?
I always said the music. The artists I follow mean the world to me, and unfamiliar lineups were always intimidating, but as the sun sank low on Saturday, spreading shades of pink and purple across the darkening sky, I realized just how much I could discover if I took the risk to dive in.
Odyssey Gathering came alive with bundled up fairy creatures, young and old alike. Children in glowing outfits flitted around the stages, and their pure essence sparked light in all who witnessed them. They embodied the magic of the festival; innocence in its most spectacular form. And as they danced between the legs of the adults around them, the sound waves carried their infectious energy through the air.
Then, everything came back around... back to the music -- to the pulsing that pushed from the speakers, reverberating through the wooden dance floor.
I discovered two new artists that night, both of which I haven't stopped listening to since I arrived home. High Sobriety captured my heart the way only bass and deep house can, and FRASE’s angelic voice and dynamic act was the perfect pair to the pink and orange sunset. After that, I fell for a new, chilled out sound in the darkness as the artists played their hearts out for an inspired crowd.
As the stars twinkled above, circling our heads, I realized this is where we were all meant to be. This was our night, our home, and this was how we could find peace in the mundane world surrounding our everyday lives.
It wasn't complicated, and it definitely wasn't stressful. It was the light from the sun that never fully left the horizon, it was the flashing lights synchronized to the sound, it was the gentle calming woosh of the wind as it cooled down the day, and returning home to the city was one of the hardest things to do.
However, the memories live on! The ones where I laughed until I cried, so blessed to experience a new festival with old friends. Odyssey Gathering 2018 may be over, but the magic isn't gone. It remains in the photos, in the stories, in the people who worked so incredibly hard to show the attendees an amazing time.
The passion put into the festival was evident, and I still close my eyes and picture myself dancing, twirling through the trees with only one thought on my mind -- that I didn't want to leave, and once I did, I couldn't wait to be back.