Gem and Jam Festival 2023 Festival Review: Interconnectection in Self-Expression

| February 22, 2023

The 15th annual Gem and Jam Festival inspired Gem and Jammers through the interconnection of love, self-expression, and community underneath the Sonoran Desert stars on February 3rd-5th, 2023. Gem and Jammers surrendered to the life-changing beauty of multi-instrumental, genre-blending performances leaving them rejuvenated for the beginning of 2023. Attendees exhibited their authenticity in huge mad hatter hats, king & queen costumes, and most importantly, hugs and glittering eyes like a heavenly camelot. 

 

Emerald Stage: The Birth of Sacred Self-Expression

After leaving The Family Zone for the day, families and friends flooded the stage with flow props just before sunset. Striking to the eye were children flowing with their parents' hula hoops and poi as parents filmed them commemorating it as a special gift. It was heartwarming to see this generation of ravers share the fulfillment of dance and expression with their children as we all hope it continues to trickle down to future generations. 

 


Night 1 commenced with an opening ceremony to welcome the weekend followed by Late Night Radio, Porangui, OTT., Emancipator, and The Motet. Night 2 continued the sonic love affair with Balkan Bump beginning the night with a clarinet, showing Gem and Jammers the instrument’s magnificence that supersedes our notion of clarinets as most of us are exposed to the clarinet through classical music. Haywyre then bestowed light, bouncy lounge music with his piano; the live visuals consisted of his hands stroking his keyboard as he performed. Then, Marvel Years fused his expertise of electric guitar and soundboard at the same time. It was incredible to watch the soul emit from his presence as he mixed rap and funk into his mix. SoDown shared a story with his nature-inspired visuals such as trees attached to the fingers on his saxophone, exhibiting the duality of sound and life. The anticipation for LSDREAM was palpable as he performed “PEACE, LUV & WUBZ” and his remix of The Beatles’ “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”. As Gem and Jammers thought the night couldn’t get any better after he welcomed CloZee to the stage, LSDREAM shared a snippet from his LIGHTCODE set that took place earlier that day. LIGHTCODE included his ambient sounds and visuals of motivational tweets like “A journey starts with the first step”, “Never give up”, “You are loved”, and “Everything will be okay”. As the tweets touched the hearts of Gem and Jammers, LSDREAM asked us “What is a message your higher self would like you to receive right now?” and Gem and Jammers were seen holding hands, hugging one another–humbling and restoring all of us on the journey of life. Night 3 returned with Ayla Nereo, Dirtwire, and the power of The String Cheese Incident’s two sets because who can’t get enough of The String Cheese Incident? 

 


Onyx Stage: A Spiritual Sonic Space

This spiritual sonic space held a plethora of lasers and art installations that turned this dark shack into a disco paradise from the cold temperatures–sick beats are shown to be the cure. Creativity and self-expression were unleashed by the legs of rollerblading and skateboarding Gem and Jammers who saw this stage as a roller rink. Night 1 featured Naughty Princess, Ravenscoon, The Floozies, The Funk Hunters and more to satisfy the bass and funk lovers. Night 2 showcased Zen Selekta, Jon Casey, and Huxley Anne’s combination of house, techno, and trance with blue lasers creating an ocean of submersive sound. Justin Jay, Justin Martin, and Snakes & Stars planted a party during the late hours of night with more genre-blending house. Night 3 highlighted EAZYBAKED’s notorious ability to blast the speakers with heavy bass as well as Defunk, Talking Dead, Thought Process, and other well-loved artists. 

 

 

Quartz Stage: A Refuge for Creativity and Community

Lovers lounged in embraces on pashminas savoring every musical act. Rave families sat in circles or danced with one another in the Arizona sun while flow artists were captured in action flowing for the entire set without breaking a sweat. From dirty space/wook bass to playful funk, The Quartz Stage knows no boundaries of sonic profiles. Every year, this stage produces an array of performances that do not sound alike. Day 1 presented artists McWavy, Aqueous,  KR3TURE and many more to inaugurate the festival. Day 2 scheduled LIGHTCODE by LSDREAM which was the weekend’s highly-anticipated meditation workshop destined to change the lives of many. LSDREAM’s new ambient project allowed them to understand experimentation and authenticity to express one’s self differently. Attendees layed on the ground underneath the morning sun surrendering to a new and one-of-a-kind mediation experience only found at Gem and Jam Fest. Then, Jason Leech, Kaptain, Dogs In A Pile, The Nth Power, granted audiences with sets to feel-good grooviness. Day 3 shined a light on GonZoFuse, Majitope, The Flying Skulls, and Rose Ganache to end the festival weekend.

 


Opal Stage: Celebration of Local DJs, Late-Night Silent Disco Sets, and Stars

The Opal Stage is widely known among Gem and Jammers especially heavy bass lovers due to the Hennessey speakers blasting soundwaves of irresistible bodily vibrations causing goosebumps. Starting performances at noon and ending at 4am, The Opal Stage is also a heartfelt platform for local Arizona DJs with aspirations of creating stage takeovers and late-night silent disco sets for those who love to be feral with the night owls. Because silent discos serve as combining different flavors of EDM at once, this was the stage welcoming pleasant musical differences between three DJs all at once. Day 1 highlighted Atom, Emerald Bass, Kali, and Matthew James played from sun-up to sun-down. Day 2 scheduled Bingo Bango, SAVA, Moon Junkies, and Dusted to keep the celebration live. Finally, Day 3 welcomed Marv, RESIDUO, and Katrina Fire to finalize the festival affair. 

 


Sacred Artistry: Creation of Crystal Collections, Paint, & Meditation 

Muralists and live painters breathed life into spectacular art placed before The Emerald Stage like a scenic corridor before the music. As always, the drumming sounds workshops brought ravers together around a fire to listen to stories underlining the complexity of the human experience. Craft art vendors sold many extraordinary festival finds like abstract stickers, rose quartz dildos, and leather utility belts. The famous Purple Couch Gallery graced the fairgrounds once again for the Gem show with glass and jewelry designers like Jack Straw and Firefly Glass. 

 


After the event, many Gem and Jammers couldn’t be more grateful for this life-altering experience constituting hopeful perceptions of their lives, inspiring them to remain moving forward with the importance of interconnecting with others just as one connects with the self while demonstrating compassion and grace. 



Photos courtesy of Gem & Jam Festival, John Verwey, & Silky Shots

 

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about the writer

Mary Mason

Mary Mason

Read More...Mary is an artist based in Phoenix, AZ. Her favorite mediums to practice are confessional poetry and hula hooping.

When she’s not hula hooping at a local bass and riddim show, she’s at the beach or San Diego Art Museum. Mary’s adoration for EDM (culture & community) inspires her to perform. One of her many ways of celebrating art is attending festivals with her friends.

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