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Unlike most subcultural festivals, your friends and possibly family know what it is, and they all have tales of what it must be like, without ever having witnessed it with their own eyes. The 35-year-old Flint native-turned-Brooklynite exhibited a photography show in Brooklyn in 2010 called A girl in makeshift clownface asks a white guy with dreads, “Do I look like I belong here more than I did yesterday?
But the guy who earns my first one is Sam, a 44-year-old security guard from Newark, Ohio, who tells us about how a huge line of people showed up Tuesday, the day before any official admission, and the Gathering personnel just let them in to start unpacking their campsite. All weekend, people wear cardboard signs that read things like “LSD $10,” or “SHROOMS (THE LEGIT STUFF) $25,” out in the open.There’s a blonde cracking a whip that’s literally on fire to the sounds of a drum circle, for spectators seated on hay bales.Throughout the weekend it remains difficult to describe how the festival is Exactly What You Expect while simultaneously being an utter surprise at every turn.(It’s worth noting that more people of color are spotted at the Gathering than expected, and definitely more women, who in 2015 look to the naked eye to be one in three attendees.There’s also a weird number of people on crutches.) One of the crowd members for Tech N9ne, our first set of the weekend, introduces himself as Zeus and says, “I created a religion in that line, that’s how long it took.” In what will quickly be recognized as a hallmark of what’s truly a “gathering,” the audience begins to chant “FAM-UH-LY, FAM-UH-LY,” waiting for the rapper to go on.Tech N9ne has released 15 albums in 15 years, garnering a hard-won placement on Lil Wayne’s , drawing out the most technically skilled verse from Slim Shady in years.
Tech is said to write to a beat by breathing out complicated rhythms first, and piecing together the actual words later.
During “Dysfunctional,” Tech and Kaliko synchronize jogging in place, while a crowd member with Christmas lights strewn through his dreadlocks periodically drinks from a gasoline can.
Then I take my first beer can to the head; it’s lighter than you’d think.
“F—k a job,” is his enduring catchphrase, and judging by his face tats, he means it.
He performs a lust paean to Miley Cyrus (“Put molly in her ass! The kid holds out his phone to take a selfie before even reaching for the money.
Cops circle the grounds in small, golf-cart-like vehicles and appear to leave everyone be, despite the abundance of nudity and controlled substances and endless illegal fireworks going off between Wednesday and Saturday.