By Alan Ranta
VANCOUVER – 2018 will mark my third time going to Bass Coast. I’ve also been to Shambhala six times, Sasquatch six times, and Entheos three times, as well as Lightning In A Bottle, and Cascadia, so I think I have a pretty good idea of what I’m doing this time around. Here are some tips you may find useful to maximize your experience, focusing on things that maybe aren’t covered thoroughly in the first timer’s guide and harm reduction series on the festival’s website, which is itself a must-read for newbies and full of great reminders for veterans.
Be prepared for Merritt.
My first time at Bass Coast, I was not prepared for the sheer harshness of the terrain. This is semi-arid land. The vegetation has adapted to survive here. Everything on the ground is pointy, and much of it will go through the bottom of your tent like butter. If you can’t bring extra tarps and/or cardboard to put down in advance of setting up your tent, be sure to remove every nub and sliver of weed you can. You may want to bring gloves and pliers or other implements of weeding destruction. You’ll be amazed how quickly an innocuous-looking stem-stump can stab right through your tent and air mattress. I was.
Secure your structures.
If it’s dry, the ground can be super hard. Get heavy duty pegs for your tents, and bring a soft mallet to hammer them in. Last year, a neighbor’s massive shade tent ended up being picked up by the wind like a grocery bag caught in an updraft, and then summarily tossed through the back window of my friend’s rental car, smashing the window and badly mauling the tent. Much better to pay for pegs and a mallet now than someone else’s insurance deductible later.
Shoes… Gotta have shoes.
The fierce flora also means you need appropriate footwear. That’s why it says “we can’t stress this enough” next to Bass Coast’s must have suggestion of comfortable and sturdy footwear. I’ve seen the most dedicated of barefoot hippy humbled by a quick stroll around these parts. Bring sandals or water socks for the rocky riverbed, where you’ll likely spend much of the day on camping chairs or floaties, but don’t forget some close-toed shoes for the rest of the time. Bicycles are a good idea to cut down on the walking too. The grounds are quite spacious. Bring a patch kit for your bike, your air mattress, your floaties, everything with air.
Enjoy the headliners, respect the locals.
As usual, there are a bunch of brilliant bass bombers flying in from all over for Bass Coast. You’d be foolish to miss out on Ikonika, dBridge, Jimmy Edgar, Nosaj Thing, and/or Justin Martin. Just remember to pay homage to the institutions who keep the momentum going here every year, the likes of Jpod, Michael Red, Niña Mendoza, Greazus, Max Ulis, Mat the Alien, the Funk Hunters, Robbie Slade of Humans is hosting a three-hour Wabi Time showcase, and, of course, there’s the Librarian, who is one of the festival’s founders as well as being a bad ass muthafuckin’ DJ. For as much as this festival is a celebration of contemporary electronic music culture worldwide, it’s an obvious demonstration of BC’s prominent role within it, lest we take it for granted. The people who really keep the fire burning at festivals like this every year can’t always get the prime set times, so you may have to make a point to see them. They all deserve to have a glass raised in their honor.
Feed your head.
Go to a workshop at the Brain. There is serious knowledge there, and nightly movies curated by Chris MacLeay to reflect this year’s theme, prism. Tomas Avendano will be giving a glimpse into his uniquely holistic style of artist management, what has made him one of the most important behind the scenes makers and shakers in the BC electronic music. Meghan McDermott from the BCCLA is going to give the latest info on government surveillance, in particular the NSA’s PRISM program. I’m sure a lot of people on Sunday will find Kelsey MacIntosh’s talk on tinnitus particularly relevant by that point. Psychedelics, consent, live drawing, sober partying, self-care… You may very well learn something here that will positively change or even save your life.
Take care of your body.
Drink lots of water. Have some miso soup. Keep yourself hydrated and salty. You might not even notice how much you’re sweating with how hot and dry it can get (or if it’s rainy, for that matter). Consider taking a siesta in the early afternoon or hitting up some yoga or meditation at the Studio. The shopping area is nicely shaded for casual daytime browsing too. Whatever you do, just pace yourself. No point getting cranky when you’re trying to have fun.
Consider avoiding chemicals.
Sadly, Fentanyl is still a big, ugly elephant. That’s why I’m sticking to natural highs, the stuff that’s just grown, dried, and occasionally made into a nice tea or brownie. Like Chip Monck said when he warned Woodstock about the brown acid, it’s your own trip, so be my guest, but it’s not worth the risk for me. Dying is scary and getting near it is a major buzzkill for your friends. Regardless of your choices, make sure you or someone in your camp has a naloxone kit where it’s easily accessible, and say hello to Stacey Marie, the rock star behind Bass Coast’s harm reduction services. Watch out for each other. We’re all in this together.
Bass Coast takes place July 6 to 9 in Merrit, BC. For more info visit https://basscoast.caBasscoast