Nearly two months have passed since Even Furthur, a three day music festival/campout rave in Somewhere, Wisconsin, and I am still feeling the buzz. The legendary party series put on by Drop Bass Network mastermind Kurt Eckes, with help from Woody McBride and David Prince, returned from a 15 year hiatus, and did so with a vengeance. According to Eckes, it was an accurate representation of what the parties were like the first time around.
I had heard many speak of the legend of these parties and there was a lot of hype heading in to the weekend. It lived up to the hype and then some. On the third day, I had the thought that this was a party that people would be talking about in 20 years. Not a party series, this specific party. There were several iterations of Furthur in the first run from the mid 90s to early 00s, but the one that dominates the rave history books is the 1996 edition, which famously introduced Daft Punk to America. I hope I am proven wrong, but even if there is another Furthur in 2017 or beyond, I believe the 2016 edition will be remembered as the highlight of the reunion era.
I have felt incredibly inspired since Even Furthur and I've been on a creative tear for weeks. This creativity has taken many forms, but I felt a need to pay tribute to this amazing event by documenting it in writing. That's the reason we are four pieces deep into our coverage, and that's the reason there are several more on the way. As long as it continues to pour out of me, I will continue to write. With that said, here is a recollection of the electric festival/techno campout/family re-union from this newly enlisted Prankster:
I pulled in to the festival grounds around 4 PM on Friday. It was already muddy but aside from the driveway the ground was still pretty green. I luckily ran into a few friends right away, who led me to the Stairway to Headphones stage and we set up camp in a little alcove of trees past the RVs. I got my tent set up and proceeded to make 3 more trips across the festival grounds to get all my stuff to camp. It was exhausting and made the first few hours very weird and intense, but I was finally at the place none of us could shut up about since we heard about it on our way to Detroit a few months earlier. The place I had been hearing about for years. It was really real, and I was there! I had never been to a full on campout festival so this was mostly new to me, but it did not take long to adjust.
I explored the grounds, but always kept finding myself back near our camp, hanging out with people from Minneapolis. Which is why I don’t think my Even Furthur experience technically started until I got to the main stage. I could not believe how packed it was right when the music started at 10, and it was a sign of things to come. It was great being all in one place after being scattered since we arrived. Jes-One, Woody McBride, and Frankie Bones started it off real hot. Woody played harder than he normally does, which set a trend for the rest of the weekend.
I started to lose steam after Frankie’s set and had to go sit down for a while, but rallied in time for our guy Dustin Zahn and finished the night off strong with Wade Randolph Hampton and Tim Sweeney. I was already a fan of Tim Sweeney’s, but I was surprised to see him on the flyer; he didn’t seem to fit the Even Furthur mold. When I had seen him, he was on the funky and soulful side, but he played much harder this night. It became clear to me that the DJs were playing to the festival. I had never seen anything like it. I went to bed that first night already knowing I was witnessing something very special.
I woke up after a few solid hours of sleep, and before long I became preoccupied with the show we were putting on at the Headspace Collective dome from 4 -7 that afternoon. I walked around the festival grounds in the rain several times Saturday looking for people who I had lined up interviews with to touch base with them. I didn’t find any of them and even if I did, everyone’s plans had gone to shit anyway thanks to all the rain and mud.
I was putting the show on as a live presentation of my cable access TV show And Now It’s along with Gamut Gallery, which I am also a part of. We had several meetings and a lot of thought and planning went into the shows. We watched the weather reports roll in in the week leading up to Even Furthur, first with dread, then with relief, then with oh fuck it’s going to rain all day. Of course it was disheartening, as we had to scrap several of our plans, but everyone around us was making it work and rolling with the punches. Why shouldn’t we?
I have put on a few variety shows and I have always wanted to find a way to merge what I do with the parties I go to. There is a time and a place for it and most of the parties I go to are neither. I have had some of the greatest triumphs of my life while working with Woody McBride at his Bassgasm parties, but I’ve never had the chance to really spread out and do my thing…until Even Furthur.
Despite Mother Nature’s best efforts, the show was a smashing success! 2 of the 3 hours we ran were rain free. For a while there, we had a lot of people watching and some participating. The main goal of what I do is to get people to act just a little weirder. A little sassier. That was really working during Glam Slam, Gamut's red carpet runway show. The video of my friend Andy below is a good example of that, he surprised me! We had interviews with DJ Hyperactive and Doubt. We had some good laughs. Grilled cheese sandwiches got made. It was cute as hell. The rain came back for the last hour and some parts of it didn’t hit like the others, but I am very happy with how the show turned out.
Having just the 3 hour commitment made me appreciate those who had any kind of commitment that much more, whether it be DJing, running a stage, helping with parking, or (and especially) being a member of the Support Squad or anyone else who had a hand in running the festival. Between the 3 hour show and the hours of preoccupation before it, it was a bigger commitment than I was planning. Don’t get me wrong, my crew and I are going to get weird as hell next year. Imagine a man with a watermelon on his head. Then put another watermelon on top of that. I’m talking that weird. We will just do it a little differently.
Speaking of watermelons, after our show ended Gamut Gallery director Jade Patrick, Kurtis “Kujo” Johnson (who is a member of both Gamut and And Now It’s) and I channeled one of our all time favorite online videos , and took a victory lap around the grounds with watermelons on our heads. Needless to say this was one of the highlights of the weekend.
The highest of highs gave way to the lowest of lows. That’s right, my friends, for a couple hours there I was not having fun. The melons had been cast asunder. Darkness fell. I was still wearing short shorts from hours earlier. All that walking around was taking it’s toll (my phone says I did 50,000 steps on Saturday) and my feet were killing me. I was freezing and nothing seemed appealing to me. Eventually I took my cranky ass to my tent to lay down for a while and change into dry clothes and that did the trick.
It was not hard to get back into it as myself and a few others left our camp as part of Ian Lehman’s (aka Doubt) posse on his way to the main stage. We in Minneapolis are lucky to have a lot of great DJs representing us, and Ian is one of them. He was the third Minneapolis DJ to play the main stage and also my favorite set of the local guys (Sorry Woody and Dustin!). I like to laugh while I dance. Ian makes me do both. The highlight for me was when he looked through his binoculars (which were actually a flask) and pointed at the crowd. Then right back to being serious DJ guy. Other DJs take note: we want antics! Lehman’s going to take all your gigs until you figure that out.
Fixmer/McCarthy was my favorite set of the weekend. I know it was a polarizing set, but for me it was amazing. I appreciate a good performance and the front man added a powerful element to the show. I was enthralled, I was with a Minneapolis crew on the right but when they came on I went to the left side of the tent, standing directly beneath Douglas McCarthy at times. Sometimes I get in this zone when I’m dancing where it feels more like I’m throwing my body around the dance floor than dancing. I had this kind of thing going on for most of their set. I danced so hard that one of my ear plugs fell out, twice. I was losing my balance, I am lucky I didn’t fall in the mud. This was all just made better by the dude in front of me who kept trying to high five McCarthy, and then later tried to put a piece of licorice in his hand. I never got his name, but if that hero is reading this: THANK YOU!
I was impressed by Bombardier’s set, even more so hearing that he was filling in on a few minutes notice. Perc came on and the dance floor got mental right away. I saw Noel, a member of the SS, freaking the hell out on a speaker. He was in a trance or something, or maybe he was possessed. It was amazing! The music was a little hard for my tastes but if I can look out and see someone reacting like that, I’ll take that music all night! At this point I thought to myself “So this is the Midwest Hardcorps I keep hearing about!”
I kept turning around to look at the lights and visuals in the tent, it was something I was missing by being right up front, so I went to the back of the tent for the rest of the night. I am glad I went back, because shortly after I did all the inflatable hammers took flight and the view from back there was epic. I figured a group of rogue ravers was behind it, but I later learned it was Kurt (I should have known better). The hammer toss was dying down and then all the sudden here comes…a giant inflated peanut m&m man, making its way towards the front. I don’t know why but that thing made me laugh really hard. He seems pretty cool, I hope he’s at the next one!
My friend Kujo provided another highlight of the weekend during Perc's set when he walked in to the main stage tent with 4 orders of cheese curds, barely able to keep them all balanced and spilling curds all over the place. He then proceeded to try to give them away to people who were, by and large, on drugs. Unsurprisingly, it did not go over well. As far as rave comedy goes, it does not get much better.
I stayed at the main stage through the end of Shortee’s set, but I had reached my limit for the day. The mud was too much to overcome for that long, and I thought the concrete in Detroit was bad! Waking up to the sun after a couple hours of sleep was a godsend, and after a visit to an amazingly clean porta-potty and the shower trailer, and eating an honest to goodness meal, I felt like 5 million bucks! Sunday was all about Communion at the Stairway to Headphones stage for me. If you aren’t familiar Communion is a Sunday afternoon outdoor party we have here in Minneapolis during the Summer, and it is my special place. Sundays are the most important day of the weekend from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
My camp was right by the Communion stage and I did not leave that area for about 8 hours straight. One of the few regrets I have from the weekend is not going out and meeting more people from around the Midwest, but I made the right call on this day. It was the best Communion that ever was yet still an accurate representation of what we do every Sunday, and people from other cities got to experience it with us. We had all been battling the elements and the lack of sleep for two days but we were still standing, dancing even. It was sloppy, and it was perfect!
The weekend was really starting to catch up to me at this point, I was having a hard time keeping my eyes open and I went and laid in the grass behind the stage. After a half hour of that, I knew it was time to tap into the reserves. It was time to bring out the big guns. I went to my car and changed into the outfit that I had been waiting all weekend to wear.
That’s all I needed. The next 10 or so hours was probably the sassiest stretch of my entire life. If I’ve ever been sassier, I can’t recall it anyway. This is why I recommend that people get in costume, sometimes it’s all you need to become another person or to be refilled with energy. I had thought up the outfit a few months earlier when I got some overalls and I knew Even Furthur was the exact place to debut it.
The dance floor was pretty thick, and I proceeded to do the body throwing dance for the next few hours. Surprisingly I only hit one person in the face between my hammer and flailing dance moves. The previous night I noticed when my ear plugs fell out during Fixmer/McCarthy and recovered them both times. While I was waiting for the burn to begin I noticed one of them fell out and I didn’t even feel it. All signs point to DJ Hyperactive at the Communion stage being the guy that finally finished the job.
I would like to go to Burning Man some day, but the Satan effigy was a perfect symbol of why Even Furthur is exactly the place for me. I am as positive as they come but I like it a little darker, a little harder, and with a mischievous grin on its face. All the jokes everywhere throughout the weekend made me feel right at home! The whole ritual, from the bra toss to the Paper Queen ashes lighting up the sky to Satan himself getting lit up to the fireworks to DJ Hyperactive almost immediately commencing to drop hammers and kick off the main stage, was epic.
Hyperactive killed it as usual, but Terrence Fixmer did not do the same thing for me he had done the night before, and I had to go sit down and put my hammer down about 7 hours after I picked it up. It was a good run! Rob Acid provided another of the weekends musical highlights and gave me one last burst of energy. I made it through a bit of Reid Speed’s set but I had been running on fumes and an extra helping of sass for hours and it all caught up to me. I went to my tent and thankfully caught a couple hours of sleep.
I could write about 1,500 words about the events of Monday morning, and I already did so I won’t get into it here other than to say it was not just a highlight of the weekend but a highlight of my life! I had a mishap on the way out and one of my tires shredded just a few miles outside the festival grounds. A nice farmer helped me out, and after a short stop at Wal-Mart in Ashland, I was back on the road home. The way I see it is Even Furthur was so cheap that in the end, I paid what I would have paid for a normal festival plus I got new tires. Cool deal!
I went to Eaux Claires festival, another festival put on by a visionary from Wisconsin, the week before Even Furthur and it was the most well run festival I had ever been to. Until Even Furthur. Eaux Claires got a raw deal cause Even Furthur is still on my mind 2 months later! Both of these festivals treated attendees like human beings, and went the extra mile to treat us with respect. After being treated like garbage with a wallet at music festivals for years, this was incredibly refreshing and much appreciated.
I particularly liked the main stage being the big gathering point. In Detroit, I always run into a few friends Monday night that I had not seen the entire weekend before that. Having options is nice but it was even nicer to have a shared experience at night. The main stage music was top notch, there were several DJs that I’d never heard before who completely “tore my shit up” and even the DJs I did know played up to the festival.
I have never felt as in my element as I did at Even Furthur. Personally I believe everything can and should be a joke, and I loved the prankster vibes in every corner of the festival. It all starts with master prankster/dear leader Kurt Eckes. Here’s a guy so committed to having a laugh that he passed up on $20,000 just to make a joke in the ticket pricing (Attendees 35 and up were admitted for $60 versus $80 for everyone else). That’s dedication, I am impressed! The Oldage Wasteland letters were a very nice touch.
Even Furthur gave me space to be me. Over the course of those three days, I was the best version of myself that I have ever been. I am not a DJ and never will be, but I was amazed at how much I was recognized solely for participating. In this community, there are many ways to make a mark. There was space to do everything I’ve ever wanted to do at a party and some things I didn’t even know I wanted. There was space for me (and our new writer Lindsey, who I met at the main stage Friday night) to do some coverage where very few others were. The way the community has embraced our coverage and this website is beyond anything I imagined. We have a big interview coming up with one of the main stage DJs, and he was not only down, but excited to be interviewed for our mostly-unknown website because it was about Even Furthur. I don't know what to say, other than THANK YOU!
For Furthur next year, I would like to have a print publication to hand out at the festival (I figure if enough people say things like this Kurt’s hand will be forced). Lindsey and I will handle the big picture and some of the writing, but if there is something you would like to write about, please reach out! We are both from Minneapolis so I would love to get some perspectives from other cities included!
Speaking of other cities…I’ve been in to this music since 2009. I went to Detroit for Movement for the first time in 2011 and that really cemented my love. I have gone every year since and over the years my techno network has grown quite a bit. I have techno friends all around the country, but most of them are in New York City, Detroit, and Denver. I had heard and read a lot about the badass Midwest techno scene but I had never really seen it outside Minneapolis before Even Furthur. I now feel much more connected to this scene as a region, not just a city. I am very proud to be a small part of this amazing community.
We are almost done here, but first I need to thank some people.
Kurt Eckes - you are a genius and a friggin' mad man and I love you! I never knew that was possible and now I feel like anything is possible! I am about to start throwing some parties, and I learned a lot from you in three days. Thanks!
Woody McBride and David Prince - thanks for helping convince Kurt to do this and pull it off! Woody we've done some great things together, looking forward to doing some more!
The Support Squad - Kurt gets a ton of the credit. These guys are the unsung heroes. Getting cars stuck out of the mud all weekend and doing everything else that needed doing to keep the festival running despite the conditions. As I said above, I have an all new level of respect after giving up just part of one of my days to do a performance. These guys gave away their whole weekend to make things work behind the scenes. Can not say thank you enough to the SS!
The Headspace Collective - These guys invited us to perform very early on. I knew I wanted to do something at Even Furthur and this was the best place we could have done it. They were so supportive from the very first moments our partnership began. It felt like I was a part of something special. Neil came to all of our meetings and was really invested in our show. It was appreciated!
Dave Eckblad - One of the most decent guys I have ever met. He also came to all of our meetings and was very supportive of us and pretty much everyone else.
The Communion Crew and artists - Steve, Christian, Ian, Dustin, Kyle, Ryan, Kevin, Jacob, Emily, Lazlo, Eunice...I'm sure I'm missing a few. Great vibes all weekend over at the Stairway to Headphones stage. This was the capper of the best season of Communion yet.
The Farmer Who Put My Spare Tire On - I'd probably be dead by now if it weren't for you. Refused offers of cash, grass. Did not offer ass. Next time I will.
The Midwest Rave Community/Anyone Who Is Still Reading - Last but certainly not least, THANK YOU for supporting Lindsey, myself, and this website the way you have. It really makes this all easier, and it just makes me want to work harder. To say thanks we arranged a pretty special post for next week. You're probably going to want to check to make sure your lid is tightly secured, because we have a certified lid-blower coming up!