Like the desert location itself, 2016’s Serenity Gathering was an escape from the confines of everyday life. Located at the La Jolla Indian Reservation near Joshua Tree, Serenity Gathering consciously attempted to create an accepting and carefree environment for appreciators of art, music, and human interaction. Here, friendship is assumed and not earned. Positivity is contagious from dusk until dawn, and there is never a lack of community. However, organization is also an important aspect in the success of a festival. The phrase “all you need is love” was really put to the test when the only water source dried up half way through the day. One could transition easily from the funky and energetic Pimps of Joytime performance to the psychedelic, mind-numbing experience of Shpongle. Jungle Fire’s set on Saturday was particularly inspiring. The 10-piece L.A. based band specializing in Afro Latin beats and danceable deep funk melodies were experts at getting their diverse audience to get up and move. With Budos Band-esque qualities, Jungle Fire successfully utilized their trumpets, drums, guitar, and saxophone to bring the cultural sounds of L.A. to this desert festival. Despite the chaos of this year-old gathering, relentlessly optimistic festivalgoers were easily able to enjoy themselves with the variety of over 200 acts at 2016’s Serenity Gathering.
Photos by Jacob Avanzato